Malaysia Travel Guide

Little Known Secrets of the Beads of Borneo

From the Zulu warriors in South Africa, to the ancient Egyptians of North Africa, to the pilgrims of the Middle East or South America, beads have a presence in many cultures but the one commonality is that they have always been more than an eye-catching accessory. The story of the beads of Borneo is no exception.

For many cultures, they were a currency, or perhaps a sign of faith, a symbol of wealth or a family heirloom to be treasured for future generations. Whatever the purpose, the one consistency is that they are always a way of expression.

Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo has a unique relationship with the beads of Borneo. Although there isn’t any definitive evidence of when exactly the beads came to the region, there is evidence to suggest beads were first used in Borneo by visiting sailors for bartering. Back then, beads were made out of shells, teeth, bones and stones that were perforated and worn as ornaments.

Some Sarawak tribes believe that the longer a bead lasts, the more powerful it becomes and the bearer can draw strength from the bead. However, to do so, the bearer must have a strong soul.

Source: Sarawak Tourism Board

There are over 30 tribes in Sarawak and each tribe has its own way of adorning themselves with beads. Some of them use them as necklaces, others as beaded head caps or beaded skirts, others as bracelets or even rings. Beads would also be used as decorations during festivals or other big gatherings.

The baby carriers used by Orang Ulu women to carry their infants are adorned with beadwork and finishes made out of wild boar or leopard teeth. Apart from indicating status, the tingling of the Hawk’s bells and large beads attached to the upper rim of the carrier would soothe the toddler on long journeys through the rain forest.

Many of the antique beads of Borneo are hard to find now. There are a number of reasons for this. Historically, the beads were sometimes buried with their owners as part of their grave clothes, or as “grave gifts”, for the deceased to use in their long journey to the underworld.

As mentioned, beads were also used as currency, often traded with visiting sailors or lost in the sometimes devastating longhouse fires that could rip through 100 doors in less than an hour.

As beads were increasingly hard to come by and time became a precious commodity, modern day beads are mostly imported from Indonesia and China, according to Heidi Munan, Sarawak Museum’s curator of beads. However they are still influenced by the original beads of Borneo.

So while these new beads are still traded, they are no longer the currency of trade. And despite being mass produced, they are increasingly expensive yet have little of the character of the original beads. At the same time, the number of communities still making the beads of Borneo in the traditional manner is slowly diminishing.

Preserving the traditionality of beadmaking

However, the Lun Bawang community in Long Tuma village, Lawas, northern Sarawak continues to make ceramic beads the way they’ve always been made. Partly to generate income for the community but also because they want to keep the tradition alive and let everyone have the opportunity to wear the beads during traditional festivities.

The process begins with a group of five women wading almost nonchalantly into the crocodile infested waters of Pa’ Lawas river to find and dig up the smooth fine clay, which they call “tanah salit”.

The clay is taken to the village by hand, pounded and kneaded to the right consistency and shaped into tiny beads, roughly the size of a pea. The beads are then sun-dried, and strung up on wire loops and fired in a backyard bonfire.

Patricia Busak, daughter of Litad Muluk, who manages the ceramic beads centre, was interviewed by the Star newspaper some time ago and talked through the process, “It takes at least three pairs of hands to make just one bead: one to gather and process the river clay before shaping it into beads; another to paint the underglaze pattern; and a third to paint the glaze and arrange the beads in an electric kiln at the community-owned workshop in the village.”

She went on to say, “It’s very specialised; for instance, only three women in our group are skilled at rolling the beads. I can’t roll, but I’m good at painting the pattern.”

The Long Tuma women are the only beadmakers in Sarawak. Even though their business is thriving, the most important thing for the Lun Bawang community, is the opportunity to preserve their heritage.

“The kind of beads we have, how we string and wear them, give us our sense of identity as a Lun Bawang,” concludes Patricia in the interview.

Beads of Borneo - Painting a bead

Source: Borneo Talk, “The Glistening Beads Of Kampung Long Tuma”

Because beads have been used for so long and came from various parts of the world, the types of beads found in Sarawak vary. Here are a few examples of the types of beads you should look out for during your time in Sarawak and especially if you go to a festival.

Lukut Sekala

The Lukut Sekala beads are worn almost exclusively by members of the Kayan tribe. These beads serve as a symbol of longevity to the community. This is because the beads last for so long that they have become heirlooms, passed down through multiple generations.

Source: @taytayxanadu on Carousell

There are also the Lukut Bela Laba, which are considered male or female depending on whether the shape of the bead was long or flat. The beads are considered extremely valuable. These beads are often of great value to the Kayan.

According to legend, a trader who wanted to travel by river to the interior of Sarawak bought a second-hand outboard engine with just one Lukut Sekala bead.

Beads of Borneo - bead designs

Source: Rustic Borneo Travel, “Borneo Beads – Beautiful Status Symbols”

Ba’o Rawir

The Ba’o Rawir, or the drinking straw beads are created by Kelabit ladies. The Kelabit tribe originates from the Bario Highlands located in the northernmost part of Sarawak. The Kelabit people have a close association with the Lun Bawang tribe as they are geographically close to one another.

The Ba’o Rawir beads are used to create intricate designs on the Peta, a hat worn by Kelabit ladies. It is a status symbol which had the equivalent value of one buffalo in the old days when owning a buffalo was considered a sign of wealth. Today, an antique Peta hat made out of Ba’o Rawir can fetch up to RM 30,000 (US$ 7,150).

Beads of Borneo - Kelabit woman head gear

Source: Kelabit Wiki, “Peta”

Experience bead making yourself

Located in the north of Sarawak, the Long Tuma village is close to the Brunei border. The Ceramic Bead Centre holds workshops where you can learn how to make the beads and create your own piece. The Beads centre is currently managed by Litad Muluk and her daughter Patricia who is quoted above.

These women work the fields during the day and use the bead centre as an extra income stream while keeping the tradition alive. You can even see how this group of dedicated women put together beautiful pieces of jewellery.

And if you like what you see, you can support their efforts by purchasing beads from the souvenir shop.

Here is where it’s located:
Pusat Kraftangan Manik Seramik
Kampung Long Tuma, 98850 Lawas, Sarawak
Tel: +6013 565 6951

If you’re interested to learn more about the beading culture of Borneo, Heidi Munan’s book on Bornean beads is a highly recommended read. In it, she explains the historic significance of beads and how they transcend its mere aesthetic appeal.

You can also order beads online and support the Lawas bead community at the same time. These 3 online stores offer authentic products sourced from Sarawak:

  1. Gerai OA
  2. Gaya Borneo
  3. Bonita and the Beads
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Malaysia Travel Guide



KUCHING, Friday – Michael Veerapen, an acclaimed Malaysian Jazz musician, will be performing with the Michael Simon’s Asian Connection at the Borneo Jazz Festival on May 12 to 13, at ParkCity Everly in Miri.

Veerapen is well-known in the Malaysian Jazz scene since his time in funk-fusion band Asia Beat with Lewis Pragasam and has established his place as a Jazz pianist, producer, record studio head and mentor, now with a new title to his name: Student.

Despite his 60 years of age and incredible achievements in the Malaysian Jazz arena, Veerapen intends to pursue his master’s degree in Music at Universiti Sains Malaysia with a research paper focusing on local Jazz composers such as Alfonso Soliano, Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Jimmy Boyle.

Veerapen will also be leading one of the Borneo Jazz Festival’s Outreach Programmes, where the Festival performers provide tutorials and talks with young aspiring musicians. His slot entitled “I Want To Break Free! The art of improvising at the keyboards” takes place on Saturday, May 13 at 9.30 am to 11.00 am.

“On the one hand, there is a group that lacks basic knowledge such as reading notes. On the other is a group with a lot of knowledge but little understanding of what’s happening on the ground,” Veerapan said during an interview with The Star Newspaper earlier this year.

Veerapen’s message of lifelong learning is inspirational in its own right, made more so by his goal in bridging the gap between passionate self-taught musicians and musical scholars, starting with himself.

Bands from Japan, South Africa, Italy, USA, Netherlands, Canada, Taiwan and countries from around the world will be performing at the Festival.

The Festival will be expanding its musical outreach programme, where aspiring musicians can learn the basics of Jazz Keyboard from professional musicians, by introducing additional classes for percussions.

The Festival includes night performances with sitting and dancing areas and a wide lawn for night picnics surrounded by arts, crafts and food stalls.

Pre-sale festival tickets are available now and more information can be found at

Borneo Jazz is organised by Sarawak Tourism, endorsed by Tourism Malaysia and is jointly supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Sarawak and partnering with Malaysia Airlines as the presenting sponsor.       

MICHAEL SIMON - PubPhoto - Michael Veerapen

Issued by:

Communications Unit
T: +6 082-423600  F: +6 082-416700
E: [email protected]

Travel to Melaka

Melaka History



It was in the fourteenth century that the fishing village of Melaka gained the attention a Hindu prince named Parameswara from Sumatra. He was the last ruler of ancient Singapore who was of Malay origin. The ruler decided to make this place a permanent settlement and named it ‘Melaka’ after a tree. A special position is occupied by Melaka Sultanate when it comes to history of Malaysia. The discovery of this new place led to the emergence of new Malayan Empire. Melaka served as the perfect platform on which the Dutch, Portuguese and English played their roles towards shaping the history of this beautiful place. The industrious nature of Parameswara along with chiefs made this place a powerful maritime trading destination attracting traders from different parts. Muslim traders from India and West Asia shifted their attention towards Melaka from other trading places. The strategic location of Melaka made it a popular trading centre with merchants and ships arriving from India, Japan, China, South Africa and Arab. Ludo King for PC

In the year 1511, Melaka was captured by the Portuguese which soon shifted to the hands on the Dutch in the year 1641. It was in the year, 1795 the British took control of Melaka to prevent French occupancy. However, after treaty of Vienna came into effect, Melaka was again handed over to the Dutch. KineMaster for PC 

Following the year 1826, British East India Company together with Penang and Singapore started to govern the place. The place was ruled by the Dutch for more than a century which is prominent from the fine buildings that exist still today. Free Fire Download for PC 

The red Christ Church which is a prominent feature of Melaka city was built with pink bricks that were imported from Holland. Local red lacerite was then used to give the structure that red appearance. The European presence is constantly reminded by some of the famous structures like the St. Paul’s Church and A Famosa.


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Tourism Malaysia

Protection for travellers

As the world grows smaller and travel more affordable, the value of travel insurance has become priceless.

WHETHER you are a frequent or occasional traveller, here are six things you might want to know about travel insurance.

1. Travel insurance is super affordable: Many people assume that any form of insurance is costly, but a premium can start as low as RM24 per person, for the duration of up to five days. Considering the time and expense of planning a holiday – from flights and hotels to meals and transportation, not to mention shopping – travel insurance represents only a small percentage of what you’re already spending on your trip.

2. Travel insurance can help you save money: While you can’t get something for nothing, you can certainly avail yourself of many of the valuable benefits that come with a travel insurance policy, such as 24-hour Emergency Assistance and 24-hour interpreter assistance, in addition to the various medical expenses that may be incurred through accidents and illness, whether it involves only medication and out-patient treatment, or costly hospitalisation or medical evacuation.

3. It covers you even before you depart on your trip: One unforeseen aspect of travel is delay, whether it’s due to bad weather, natural disasters, civil unrest or unexpected illness. This is exactly what a traveller experienced when he was hospitalised for dengue fever on the very day of his departure, forcing him to cancel his long-awaited trip to South Africa. Fortunately, his travel insurance plan included compensation for his situation.

4. It’s available for both domestic AND international travel: So is travel insurance even necessary when you’re only travelling within the borders of your own country? The answer is a resounding “Yes�! After all, the unexpected can occur even when you’re on home ground, whether it’s an emergency cancellation, lost or delayed luggage, or loss of cash or valuables.

Hence it doesn’t matter if your destination lies a few hours’ drive away or halfway across the planet – a travel insurance policy provides valuable protection and peace of mind, be it for domestic or international travel.

5. Low premium, high returns: Even with a low premium, a travel insurance policy can still provide broad coverage, buffering you against unexpected – and often costly – occurrences such as loss of cash, valuables and travel documents.

For example, when a customer’s handbag was snatched while she was on holiday in Cambodia, she lost her cash and passports. However, her travel insurance helped her get an embassy referral and replacement passport. This assistance was hers for a low premium of only RM35.

6. It can assist you in preparing for your trip: The benefits of a travel insurance policy include consultation with experienced travel consultants who can advise you on additional preparations and precautions which you may not have planned for, such as medical advisories and visa requirements particular to your destination.

Do I really need travel insurance?

JUST as you wouldn’t go anywhere without an umbrella or some extra cash, “just in case�, you shouldn’t go on any trip, whether for work or leisure, without a travel insurance policy because it’s not just about financial reimbursement but also about peace of mind.

Some insurance plans can cover medical expenses of up to RM10mil, but more than that, it provides medical advice and assistance on call, plus translation services, so that you can get the care you need, wherever you may be, whether it’s a road accident in China or falling off a cliff in Greece, as some customers have experienced, which required immediate evacuation for emergency medical treatment and alternative travel arrangements to return home.

Travel is a complicated knot of interconnected schedules and involves many logistical challenges, hence even a small hiccup can have incredibly inconvenient consequences.

For example, one delay can cause you to miss a connecting flight, cruise liner or sold-out Broadway performance. Even lost luggage can be a major hassle, especially if you’re travelling to attend a wedding or any other event requiring the formal wear you had carefully packed, or if you’re travelling on business, with important equipment or materials to share with clients or shareholders.

? Source: Travel Guard Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysian branch office), is AIG Malaysia Insurance Berhad’s business partner that provides travel, medical and claims service assistance. For more information on travel health insurance, log on to or Claims cases mentioned are actual events.

Tourism Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump Malaysia 2011

October 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, Earth) jumpers all around the world were given another opportunity recently to come together and do the one thing that they love most – jumping off dizzying heights with only a parachute to delay their fall as gravity takes over. This prestigious event organised by the Kuala Lumpur Tower took place from the 28th September till 2nd October 2011.

All jumpers posing for a group photo during the opening ceremony on 28th September 2011

This time, the tower became the ‘leaping point’ as 93 jumpers from all over the world including Malaysia participated in this exciting event. Considering the high risk involved in this extreme sport, it is not uncommon for many to assume that women are not into extreme sports. It was therefore surprising to hear that out of the 93 people who participated, five were women jumpers. The participants who joined this event came from countries like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Finland, United States, India, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Oslo, Chile, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France and Poland. The five women participants were from India, the United States, Hungary, Germany and South Africa. The event was also made open to members of the public who were keen to come and watch the jumpers in action. Tickets were sold at a premier rate of RM 100.00 to RM 150.00 for day jumps and RM 150.00 to RM 200.00 for Night Jumps, which took place on 30th September and 1st October 2011.

One of the jumpers on his way to the landing area

It is amazing to see these jumpers leaping off the platform at the heights of 300 metres!

Some jumpers practise the way to leap off the building before actually jumping off with their friends

The closing ceremony for the Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump Malaysia 2011, which took place on 2nd October 2011, coincided with the tower’s 15th years anniversary, hence it was a double celebration for both the jumpers and the tower’s management. The tower was officially launched by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 1st October 1996, who was the current Prime Minister of Malaysia at that time. The event was held at the Megaview Banquet Hall at Menara Kuala Lumpur. It was attended by YB Datuk M. Saravanan, Deputy Minister Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing, Yg Bhg Tan Sri Dato’ Ir. Muhammad Radzi Mansor, Chairman of Menara Kuala Lumpur and Pn. Zuraidah Mohd Said, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Menara Kuala Lumpur.

YB Datuk M. Saravanan, Deputy Minister Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing presenting a Certificate of Participation to Mr Gary Cunningham

The closing event also proved to be a memorable day for 21 youths who shared the same birthday as Menara Kuala Lumpur. Their presence made the ceremony even more merrier as these youths joined in during the cake-cutting ceremony. A gift was also presented to all the birthday boys and girls, much to their delight. It definitely was a memorable birthday for them. After the cultural performances, the jumpers were all invited to the stage to receive their certificates from Kuala Lumpur Tower. Pn. Zuraidah also announced the dates for next year’s Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump Malaysia, which will be taking place from the 26th till 30th September 2012. This is truly a great opportunity for most jumpers to break their own records as next year they will have five whole days to jump to their hearts’ delight!

The cake cutting ceremony to celebrate Menara Kuala Lumpur’s anniversary together with the birthday of Menara Kuala Lumpur Youths

There were also five special prizes prepared by Menara Kuala Lumpur together with one of its main sponsors, World of Watches II for five of the jumpers. The winners each received a watch from World of Watches II worth RM5, 000 each. The categories were:-

The Overall Jump
Most Jumps of the Day
Most Creative Jump
WWII Jumper (International Ambassador), and
WWII Jumper (Local Ambassador).

The winners were:

The Overall Jump – Jean-Phillipe Teffaud
Most Jumps for the Day – Adam Gardner
Most Creative Jump – Rob Heron from Canada
WWII Jumper (International Ambassador) – Brandon J Chance AND
WWII Jumper (Local Ambassador) – Hizam Sahibudeen

Winner of Most Creative Jumper, Mr Rob Heron from Canada

Winner of Most Jumps of the Day Category, Mr Adam Gardner

Winner of Overall Jumps Category, Mr Jean-Phillipe Teffaud

Winner of WWII Jumper Local Ambassador, Mr Hizam Sahibudeen

Winner of WWII Jumper International Ambassador, Mr Brandon J Chance

As the closing ceremony came to an end, many of the jumpers took the opportunity to mingle around with each other. Some even joined in the cultural dancers’ performance. All in all, the KL Tower International Jump Malaysia 2011 had a good start and ended with a great bang.

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