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Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri is a resort city located in the northwest of Sarawak which borders the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam and also the gateway to Sabah. While many may have not head of this resort city in Borneo, Miri is home to some amazing national parks of Sarawak.

The charm of Miri lies in the location where it is also one of the gateways to the Mulu National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors need to fly to Mulu from Miri or Kuching. Other parks in the vicinity of Miri include four national parks which are:

  • Niah National Park (1 hour drive)
  • Lambir Hills National Park (45 minutes drive)
  • Loagan Bunut National Park (2 hours drive)
  • Bukit Tiban National Park (2.5 hours drive)

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Inside the Niah Caves

Most visitors have heard of the Mulu Caves or the national park here due to worldwide publicity over the years.

However, the other national parks mentioned above provide amazing adventure tourism, flora and fauna, and a true Bornean rainforest experience.

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

A beautiful sunset view from one of the many beaches at Miri

In total, Sarawak offers 30 national parks, a wonderland for nature lovers. Out of that 30, four of them are wildlife sanctuaries and 10 nature reserves. Just in the Miri area, there are a total of six national parks. More more information, visit the Sarawak Forestry website (https://www.sarawakforestry.com/htm/snp.html)

Miri, A National Park Gateway in Sarawak

Miri’s ethnic market known as ‘Tamu Khas’ or Special Market

Miri’s resort city also offers visitors a wide range of activities including scuba diving, authentic Sarawakian food, entertainment, beaches and local markets. Miri is also home to the world class Borneo International Jazz Festival which is held in the month of May and the Miri Country Music Festival held in February.

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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Secret Beaches of Malaysia

Written by Aura Farrando

Perhentian Islands, Tioman Island, Langkawi and Penang are popular destinations for a reason. They offer everything a beach lover wants. But for those who are after a bit more adventure, something off the beaten track or just an escape from resort beach lifestyle, we’ve compiled a list of the best hidden treasures of Malaysia.

Pulau Mabul

Pulau Mabul or Mabul Island is a small island off the southeast coast of Sabah – just 15km away from Sipadan. There’s a fishing village, no cars, no roads and perhaps some of the best muck diving in the world. You can even circumnavigate it on foot! The beaches here are pristine and a perfect place to unwind after a long day snorkeling or diving. If you are lucky you will even catch some turtles laying their eggs on the beach.

Getting there: Take a boat from Semporna to Pulau Mabul. Speedboats are around 30 minutes, while ferries take about one and a half hours.

Locals enjoying the pristine sand of Pulau Mabul. Image: http://www.projectaware.org/blog/scuba-junkie/oct-07-11/mabul-marine-week-2011a-job-well-done

Locals enjoying the pristine sand of Pulau Mabul. Image: http://www.projectaware.org/blog/scuba-junkie/oct-07-11/mabul-marine-week-2011a-job-well-done

Pulau Tiga

Pulau Tiga is so wild that it was once used as the setting for reality show Survivor. It is a relatively young island; in 1897, an earthquake in the Philippines caused a volcanic eruption in Borneo to form new land. It’s no surprise then that Pulau Tiga is famous for its volcanic mud baths. On top of that, there’s kilometres of white sandy beach to enjoy. A hike around the island is a great way to see its native flora and fauna.

Getting there: Catch a 30-minute boat from Kuala Penyu, Kota Kinabalu or Labuan.

The mud baths in Pulau Tiga are great for your skin. Image: http://aroundtheworldwithjustin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/IMG_2380_new.jpg

The mud baths in Pulau Tiga are great for your skin. Image: http://aroundtheworldwithjustin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/IMG_2380_new.jpg

Bukit Keluang

Can’t decide between the mountain and the beach? Get a taste of both at this tiny cove off Terengganu, close to the Kuala Besut jetty where you’ll see droves of people lining up to head to the Perhentian Islands. Bukit Keluang is a perfect match of pristine white sand, beautiful sea breeze and breathtaking mountains where you can explore beach caves, go windsurfing, kayaking or simply relax with your family at the resort. Be sure to head up the escarpment each morning to catch the amazing sunrise. What a view!

Getting there: Accessible by car from Kota Bharu, Kuala Besut, Kuala Terengganu and Kampung Teras.

The picturesque coastline of Bukit Keluang. Image: https://anotherguywithcamera.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/the-shoreline.jpg

The picturesque coastline of Bukit Keluang. Image: https://anotherguywithcamera.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/the-shoreline.jpg

Pulau Kapas

Known as Cotton Island due its white, soft sand and crystal, clear blue water, Pulau Kapas is like a scene out of a movie — but 100 times better. With a designated marine park protecting its waters, Pulau Kapas is the perfect place for snorkeling or dive deep to enjoy the coral reef that surrounds the island. If that’s not for you, then just sit back and relax in style under a palm tree.

Getting there: Take a ferry from Marang, located 45 minutes from Terengganu.

They don’t call it Cotton Island for no reason. Image: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5522/9262235120_7f68dcf2d6_b.jpg

They don’t call it Cotton Island for no reason. Image: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5522/9262235120_7f68dcf2d6_b.jpg

Pulau Tinggi

If Pulau Tioman seems too mainstream for you, visit Pulau Tinggi off the Johor coast. It only has 500 inhabitants and is quite laid back. It is ideal for relaxing holidays and family vacations or can double up an adventure haven, perfect for snorkeling, trekking and canoeing. The beaches are less manicured, but more natural and idyllic.

Getting there: Just a 45-minute boat from Mersing in the state of Johor.

Allow yourself to escape into another world. Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TLkxUzOtKTU/U5mYX1y2owI/AAAAAAAAAsQ/pJD_Agv5s74/s1600/IMG_6881.jpg

Allow yourself to escape into another world. Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TLkxUzOtKTU/U5mYX1y2owI/AAAAAAAAAsQ/pJD_Agv5s74/s1600/IMG_6881.jpg

Pulau Sibu

Here you’ll find not one, but four charming islands: Pulau Sibu Besar, Pulau Sibu Tengah, Pulau Kukus and Pulau Sibu Hujung. The main isle is just 6km long and 1km wide, with thick vegetation and secluded beaches dominating the landscape. It’s not the easiest to access, but that’s the price you pay for heaven on earth. You’ll also most likely have the whole place to yourself.

Getting there: Arrange a boat transfer from the small town of Tanjung Leman, 130km from Johor Bahru. There’s no direct bus from Johor to Tanjung Leman, so we highly recommend you to get the hotel in Johor Bahru or Singapore to arrange a shuttle bus or minivan for you.

Photo by Peter D. Kennett

Photo by Peter D. Kennett

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

The land below the wind

THE LAND THAT INSPIRED THE MOUSE

If there is one thing we’ve learned from our Taming Borneo adventure in Sarawak, it’s that when in Borneo, always expect the unexpected!
Talking about what’s unexpected, we’ve come to learn that Sabah’s rainforest is in fact the prime inspiration for the environment setting of Disney’s 2016 live remake of The Jungle Book? True story.
So the story is that one of the main VFX artist (Visual effects, fyi) for the movie, Helen Brownell, went on a 10-week expedition trip in Sabah 10 years ago.
10 years later, Helen was instantly transported back into the heart of the Sabahan jungle upon hearing her involvement with The Jungle Book remake. She said;
“I can still vividly remember the sounds, colours and the textures of the Borneo jungle. The gibbon’s constant calls, the constant humming of insects and birds” #tbt
It’s wonderful to think that Helen’s short stint in the Sabahan jungle 10 years ago, could still immensely inspire her when she brought the jungles in The Jungle Book to life. In her words;
“Nothing can compare to the real experience of being in the jungle. But having the challenge of re-creating such an amazing environment in CGI was a real joy. So many things during the project would spark up memories of my Borneo adventure. I was excited to re-create some of the beautiful and unique environments from my trip, and let my adventure influence a lot of the work I did towards the jungle in the film.”
It’s pretty cool that Sabah had contributed its magic of the jungle to the magic of the house of mouse.
So, coming to Sabah, the bar was pretty much set high and we couldn’t wait to see what it was installed for us.

THE ONE WHERE WE MADE IT TO SABAH

Let us start by saying Sabah is home to some of Borneo’s best attractions. Like Sarawak, it’s one of the best places in the world to immerse yourself in the wild and see rare primates like Orangutans, both in vast forest sanctuaries and out in the wild. But Sabah offers so much more than that to keen adventurers like us. So this time, in our blog and video series, we are going to tell you the best of the best that Sabah has to offer.
Situated at the northern tip of Borneo, Sabah is also fondly nicknamed The Land Below the Wind for its relative distance from the typhoon belt. First, let us tell you the 3 initial attractions that gravitated us towards this part of paradise;

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*speechless*. Kinabalu Park, Sabah

THE CULTURE

Like Sarawak, the state itself has an impressive diversity of culture, 32 officially recognized indigenous tribes. But comprising of two groups with 40 sub-groups, Kadazan-Dusun is the largest indigenous group in Sabah. Here we got to see the beautiful handicrafts made at the Rungus Longhouse, learn how they harvest honey in Kampung Gombizau and the handcrafted gongs at Kampung Sumangkap. Seriously, if you want to know more about the traditional arts and culture of Borneo, Sabah is your destination.

If you’re following our video series, you’d also be excited to know that Sabah is also home to the Bajau Laut people, some might recognize them as “Sea Gypsies” or “Sea Nomads”, popular for their seaborne lifestyle.

THE BEAUTY

With its national parks, wildlife reserves, and pristine untamed Bornean jungle, Sabah is truly the place to be if you want to root yourself back to mother nature (Besides Bako National Park). Pun intended. There is more than one way to enjoy the tropical beauty of the land. As for us went for a trek on Gunung Kinabalu to see the breathtaking mountain view of the land, but others who might want to have a more laid back trip can go for a gentle cruise on the Kinabatangan river. Other than that, one of the main star attraction here is Canopy Walk at Danum Valley which stretches across the tree canopies where we enveloped ourselves yet again in a sea of green, this time with the view of the jungle wildlife below. Whichever how you choose to view the land, Sabah’s natural beauty will leave you in awe the same.

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End of the world? Tip of Borneo, Kudat, Sabah

THE WILDLIFE­­

For all birdwatching enthusiasts, Sabah’s Danum Valley is also home to half of the bird species in all of Borneo. That’s approximately find 290 bird species including 8 species of rare Hornbills. But other wildlife lovers would also be satisfied with its 92,400 hectares of virgin forest, that habituates rare and some even endangered animals like Sumatran Rhino, Sun Bear, Benteng and Pygmy Elephants, primates such as Orangutan, Proboscis Monkey, Leaf Monkey, Tarsier, Slow Loris and Macaque, highly secretive cats such as the Sunda Clouded Leopard, Bay Cat and Leopard Cat.

On a last note, we’d really say that Sabah is a haven for all eco and thrill seeking tourists out there so we definitely urge you to plan your trip a head of time to make sure your itinerary is in check and is booked ahead of time. Just so your trip would go as smooth as possible. Trust us, with everything they have here, you’re going to want to turn yourself into a scheduling freak so you’d get the most out of your time here. Cause if you do plan your trip well, it’s going to be an adventure of lifetime!

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Not worried about piranhas! Sepagaya Reserve Forest, Sabah

If you have more questions regarding our Taming Borneo adventure, please do leave a comment in the comment section below, or start a discussion; tell us your personal Taming Borneo experience!

Also do follow along our adventure on our social media platforms:

Instagram: @MyTourismChannel or #tamingborneo

Catch up with the latest episodes of Taming Borneo by clicking on the thumbnails below:

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Sabah: EP13

Sabah: EP14

Sabah: EP14

Sabah: EP15

Sabah: EP15

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Diving into the heart of Malaysia: Sipadan

By Vishnu Krishnan

Sipadan is the crown jewel of Malaysian islands and is one of the best diving spots in the world. The tiny island off the coast of the Bornean state of Sabah is paradise, filled with spectacular marine formations, flora and fauna. Here’s a list of some the best dive sports on the island.

  1. The clear blue and unpolluted waters of Sipadan makes for great visibility when diving. One of the best dive spots is Barracuda Point, which is a 10 meter plunge into massive shoals of swirling barracuda and chevron.

The magical swirling barracudas of Barracuda Point. (Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmalaysia/5527609199)

The magical swirling barracudas of Barracuda Point.
(Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitmalaysia/5527609199)

  1. If you’re into underwater photography, Coral Garden is home to countless green turtles, humphead wrasse, triggerfish and many other wonderful large marine animals. To get up close and personal with these reef dwellers, be ready to be approached by the ever curious butterflyfish and humpback unicornfish.

Coral Garden is beautiful beyond measure! (Source: http://tourmagz.com/pulau-sipadan-sabah/)

Coral Garden is beautiful beyond measure!
(Source: http://tourmagz.com/pulau-sipadan-sabah/)

Hanging Gardens is a majestic dive site littered with yellow, pink and lavender coloured coral that’s famous for moray eel sightings and imbricate turtles. Don’t be startled if you see a shark bashing the life out of something with its long tail fin That’s one of the rare thresher sharks you can see

The colours! Simply amazing. (Source: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Colourful-Crinoids-and-Solt-Corals-at-Hanging-Gardens-Sipadan-Island-Sabah-Malaysia-Posters_i2946141_.htm)

The colours! Simply amazing.
(Source: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Colourful-Crinoids-and-Solt-Corals-at-Hanging-Gardens-Sipadan-Island-Sabah-Malaysia-Posters_i2946141_.htm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Whitetip Avenue is aptly named for its abundance of whitetip reef sharks. These guys are really gentle, so swimming close to them is safe and an amazing experience. Sometimes, if the tides are right, you might suddenly find yourself in a plethora of bigeye silver travellies and multihued, giant humphead parrotfish.

Whitetips on their avenue! (Source: http://bluewaterdive.weebly.com/whitetip-avenue.html)

Whitetips on their avenue!
(Source: http://bluewaterdive.weebly.com/whitetip-avenue.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Turtle Cavern is a beautiful labyrinthine cave system eighteen meters deep. Here, there are a number of green and hawksbill turtles that are simply glorious to see. Within the caves, you will find hundreds of turtle skeletons, hence earning it the famous moniker; Turtle Mausoleum.

We pay our respects to the fallen of Turtle Cavern (Source: http://www.sipadanscuba.com/turtletomb.htm)

We pay our respects to the fallen of Turtle Cavern
(Source: http://www.sipadanscuba.com/turtletomb.htm)

 

  1. South Point is ideal for spotting the majestic hammerhead shark. You would have to dive a little deeper than usual as these beauties tend to dwell around 40 metres below sea level, so this is usually reserved for more experienced divers. If you are lucky, the hammerheads will form a huge encircling school and this is one of the most amazing sights of Sipadan.

The magnificent hammerheads of South Point (Source: http://www.atlanticadventuredivers.com/tour/sipadan-island-malaysia/)

The magnificent hammerheads of South Point
(Source: http://www.atlanticadventuredivers.com/tour/sipadan-island-malaysia/)

 

  1. Last but not least is Staghorn Crest; home to the gentle giants; manta rays. These behemoths leave many divers awestruck. Imagine a giant underwater plane gliding past you gracefully.

 

For more information, go to official website: http://www.sipadan.com/

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Lets go, Borneo!

THE CURIOUS CASE OF WANDERLUST FEVER

Looking back now, waiting to board our plane back home, we still can’t believe that we actually did it!

The journey has been unbelievable to us, after months of planning and restless anticipation, we finally got to pack our travel gear, cameras a really really good powerbank (we’re millennials after all) and headed off for an adventure of a lifetime in Borneo!

For a month, we travelled across the South China Sea, to the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah; to experience the best they have to offer. We sought out the best experiences, to learn new interesting cultures eat tantalizing local cuisines. But, our main purpose was to really immerse ourselves in the adventure that awaited us.

Like you probably are now, we were tired and bored of our 9-5 working lives. Day in and day out of the office, which one of us hasn’t felt like living zombies before? We needed a break from the rat-race, away from the overbearing ambiance of the city. Living in metropolis had exhausted our senses.  A short respite from the never ending sights of cold glass skyscrapers and the screeching sounds of the passing traffic was all that we needed.

Crashing waves, chirping birds, cool sea breezes and warm sandy beaches; what do they all have in common?

Answer: They are all constant in our lunchbreak fantasies. If you won’t admit it, we will!

Bitten by the travel bug, we were your definite stereotypical Wanderlusters.

At first, we were skeptical of curing our wanderlust fever in Sabah and Sarawak. Even as local Malaysians, the two states were still a mystery to us as everything we’ve ever known about them were from school textbooks or local papers. But after reading great reviews online and hearing personal experiences from family members alike, we decided not to skip this one out.

Now that we’ve experienced it, we can say they are truly the hidden gems of Malaysian tourism.

INTO THE WILDS OF BORNEO

IMAGINE THIS.

You are now standing in the middle a 130-million-year old tropical rainforest, while your cityscape fades to the recesses of your mind, let it stay there. It is truly a breathtaking sight; you are surrounded by towering ancient trees while rays of sunlight warm your face through the rustling greens of the canopies. Said to not only have one of the most biodiverse rainforests, it is also one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet. There is so much to be discovered here in Borneo!

Sunset straight out of a dream! Miri, Sarawak

Sunset straight out of a dream! Miri, Sarawak

On our journey, we’ve passed through the enchanting forests of Bako National Park, had a little dance battle in the center of a drum circle at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak, swam in the clear waters of Semporna and trekked the Mountain View in Kinabalu Park, Sabah. Being the beach bums we are, we also hung out at some of the most pristine secluded beaches in Malaysia. That’s just us touching the surface of the water.

All things fresh and rare at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

All things fresh and rare at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

No picture in the world can do justice to Mount Kinabalu, Sabah

No picture in the world can do justice to Mount Kinabalu, Sabah

We saw rare Proboscis Monkeys in the lush greeneries of Danum Valley, and not to mention majestic Hornbills taking flight right in front of our eyes! We even saw the legendary Orangutan at the Matang Wildlife Centre and visited endangered Sunbears at The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. It’s literally the wildest we’ve ever been!

One thing we’ve learned from the trip is that the world has so much more to offer; if you show your interest in it. If there is anything we hope to accomplish with our Taming Borneo series, it is to encourage others to follow in our footsteps, and explore the world beyond the comfort of your front door.

Take action. Plan your trip, and cure that wanderlust fever!

If you have more questions regarding our Taming Borneo adventure, please do leave a comment in the comment section below, or start a discussion; tell us your personal Taming Borneo experience!

Also do follow along our adventure on our social media platforms:

Instagram: @MyTourismChannel or #tamingborneo         

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/