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A Taste of Survivor Island

A Taste of Survivor Island

FROLICKING IN A MUDDY POOL AND SEARCHING FOR HIGHLY VENOMOUS SEA KRAITS ARE NOT EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA. DARYL YEP DID THAT ON SURVIVOR ISLAND AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE

I was tempted to dive right in to the awesomely inviting turquoise waters as we arrived at the dock. The tranquil natural surroundings were reminiscent of an idyllic setting for a summer romance. The bright blue sunny sky, though scorching, was welcomed with much pleasure. We had in fact prepared for the worst after being informed that the past few days were cloudy with torrential rain. Sheer tranquillity, along with sun-drenched pristine beaches, is of the essence on an island escapade. Pulau Tiga, it seemed, had already fulfilled my simple desires.

The feeling of weariness I had earlier slowly dissipated. Somehow, the sound of crashing waves always has the miraculous ability to calm my senses. Any complaint suddenly became trivial. Now, I wasn’t exactly being grouchy but seriously, travelling over five hours in three modes of transportation in a hot and humid day can somewhat sap one’s strength, not to mention enthusiasm.

Upon touching down at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, we were whisked away by a van for a two-hour ride to Kuala Penyu, followed by a twenty-minute speedboat ride.

Though it took place a decade ago, avid fans of Survivor would probably still remember how corporate trainer Richard Hatch outlasted fifteen of his fellow Americans to become a millionaire after being marooned on Pulau Tiga for 39 days. Being the site of the very first season of not only Survivor US but also the UK version had generated wide publicity for Pulau Tiga and Malaysia as millions of viewers tuned in weekly to find out who was being eliminated.

Our arrivals were greeted by a large signboard that read “Survivor Island”, naturally. Some of the props used during the filming of the reality show were also visible.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH THE SLITHERY KIND
Our excursion to Snake Island was eagerly anticipated. Though not entirely without fear and anxiety. The infamous rocky volcanic outcrop, also known as Pulau Kalampunian Damit to the locals, is inhabited by hundreds of the Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina). The 20-minute speedboat ride to the island was probably too short a time for some of us who started to contemplate whether it was a good idea to set foot on the island at all.

To be apprehensive is understandable. Though I had posed almost cheek to cheek with a huge python for a shot, I reckoned that the highly venomous Yellow-Lipped wouldn’t be as docile. Twice as poisonous as the King Cobra, a single bite from this sea krait would be enough to send someone to eternal slumber in no time. To paint a clearer picture, once bitten, one wouldn’t even be able to make it back to Pulau Tiga alive.

It wasn’t a surprise then that once we set foot on its shore, I was totally vigilant. Like a hawk, I observed every boulder, tree root and tree trunk, making sure nothing lurked beneath the rocks. Too engrossed in watching every step I took, I didn’t realise that our guide Nell and the rest had already gone far ahead of me searching for a specimen.

So, if Snake Island sounds dangerous, why are visitors still flocking to this place, you might ask?

Honestly, the snakes are actually quite harmless as they are rather inactive and lethargic during the day due to the heat. They will not attack humans unless stepped on or mishandled. They prefer to coil up among the rocks, tree roots and crevices in tree trunks and will only hunt for food in the sea at night.

Unlike true sea snakes that spend their entire life in the sea, the Yellow-Lipped come ashore to rest, digest their food, slough their skins, mate and lay eggs. They are hunted by the white-bellied sea eagles that circle low over the island. Hence, they head for the sea when it’s high tide to minimise the risk of being caught by the eagles.

A few minutes later, Nell found a pearly-blue snake with black bands resting among some rocks oblivious of curious intruders. Swiftly but gently he held the snakes for us to take a few close-up shots.  Needless to say, as soon as we got what we headed there for, we made a dash to our boat knowing very well that it isn’t a place for sightseeing.

On the way to Snake Island and on our way back, our boat passed by another island namely Pulau Kalampunian Besar or Sand Spit. It has been reduced to a strip of sand bar as a result of wave erosion. Some land and sea-based challenges during Survivor were held there.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Both Pulau Kalampunian Besar and Pulau Kalampunian Damit, together with the main island, Pulau Tiga (meaning “Island of Three”) form the Pulau Tiga National Park. They were designated as forest reserve back in 1933 and finally gazetted as a park in 1978. It was only in 1998 that the Sipadan Dive Center signed an agreement with the park to develop the Pulau Tiga Resort which was completed in 2000.

If Pulau Kalampunian Besar and the creepy Pulau Kalampunian Damit are nothing to shout about, the same cannot be said about Pulau Tiga. It was apparently formed sometime on 21 September 1897 when a huge earthquake at Mindanao Island in the Philippines triggered a volcanic eruption at the northern part of Borneo. An island measuring 66 feet wide was formed as a result. The subsequent eruptions of the same volcano over the next 40 years and the eruptions of two adjacent mud volcanoes that expanded and coalesced formed the present Pulau Tiga.

The last eruption took place more than 60 years ago. Nevertheless, warm mud still oozes from these geothermal vents of the island. Pulau Tiga is currently about 4.5km long, 1.5km wide and covers an area of 20.7 sq km. Except for the resort and the Park Headquarters that occupy a small part of the island, majority of Pulau Tiga is still untouched vegetation.

A NATURAL SPA TREATMENT
Although nature and recreational attractions are aplenty on the island, no trip to Pulau Tiga is complete without a dip in the mud volcanoes, not the eruptive kind but merely bubbling mud pool. The mud bath is said to have therapeutic effect, capable of curing rashes, for example.

The prospect of getting a free natural spa treatment got all of us excited. We had to hike up the 1,100-metre scenic Pagong-Pagong Trail that leads to the Mud Volcano. The downpour last night made the trail extra slippery. After hiking for about half an hour, we were greeted by basically a large pool of mud.

The muddy pond looked rather diluted, probably due to the rain. Not everyone would find the idea of coating themselves with natural mud appealing unless it’s done in a spa. Some people are hesitant about jumping into the muddy pond. Perhaps, they are afraid that they might get sucked in, quicksand-style.

To prove that it’s totally safe, Nell immediately stripped to his boxers and splashed into the pond, encouraging us to follow suit. Those who were convinced joined him to test the therapeutic effects of the mud, while others were satisfied to just observe from a nearby hut, built for visitors to leave their clothes and belongings. The surprisingly cool mud was pleasant to soak in. Bubbles of thermal gas that rose to the surface every few minutes made ‘gloop’ sounds.

As the mud in the pond was quite watery, any attempt to splatter it all over our body for a more realistic group photo was futile. All hope was not lost when Nell informed us that there is another small mud volcano with thicker mud which is specifically meant for “touching-up”. If you want the mud to work its magic, don’t wash it off before it is completely dry. Just lie on the sandy beach for a while before taking a dip in the sea to cleanse yourself.

WHAT ELSE TO DO?
Besides having props from Survivor scattered here and there on the island, names of the tribes were also being used. Hence, the beach on the northeast side of the island is called Pagong while the one on the southeast side is Tagi. Also, check out the Tribal Council.

Those who go jungle trekking at the various trails can see monitor lizards, macaque and proboscis monkeys, hornbills, sea eagles, and other flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you will find the Megapodes (Megapodius Freycinet), a ground dwelling bird that looks like a chicken but can meow like a cat!

Pulau Tiga also offers a number of dive sites including West End, Tiga’s Trail, Dunlop Corner, Coleman Shoal, Midreef, Asmarqa Point, Larai Point, and House Reef. Non-divers can enjoy snorkelling at a designated area near the resort, or try kayaking and fishing.

Bidding farewell wasn’t easy. As I reminisced on my adventure at these islands, my mind was filled with colourful images and vivid exotic memories of my stay there.

SABAH – BACKGROUND:
Often called the ‘Land Below the Wind’ as it lies below the typhoon belt, Sabah occupies the eastern part of North Borneo and is East Malaysia’s second largest state with an area of 74,500sq. km. Sabah has the South China Sea on the west and the Sulu and Celebes seas on the east and a coastline of some 1,440km. Sabah is mountainous with lush tropical rainforests and its population of nearly two million is made up of more than 30 ethnic communities, speaking over 80 local dialects.
FOR RESERVATION / INQUIRY, KINDLY CONTACT:
SIPADAN DIVE CENTRE SDN BHD
Lot No. A1103, 11th Floor, Wisma Merdeka (Mail Box No. A236),
Jalan Tun Razak, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Tel: +6 088-240 584
Fax: +6 088-240 415
Email     : rsvn@pulautiga.com.my
sdc@sipadandivers.com
Website : http://pulau-tiga.com
http://www.sdclodges.com
USEFUL CONTACTS:
1) Tourism Malaysia Sabah Office
Lot 1-0-7, Tingkat Bawah, Blok 1 Lorong Api-Api 1,
Api-Api Centre 88000, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Tel: +6 088-248 698 / 211 732 / 447075
Fax: +6 088-241 764
Email: mtpbbki@tourism.gov.my

2) Sabah Tourism Board
51 Gaya Street, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Tel: +6 088-212121
Fax: +6 088-212075, 219311, 222666
Email: info@sabahtourism.com
Website: http://www.sabahtourism.com/

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Dinos Alive!

Dinos Alive!

Apatosaurus (pronounced ah-PAT-uh-SAWR-us).

This long –necked quadrupedal dinosaur, which lived during the late Jurassic period, is one of many dinosaurs now roaming the Pusat Sains Negara, located at Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. An exhibition highlighting these amazing creatures, titled ‘Dinos Alive’ is currently on display until 31 May, 2011.

It’s extremely long neck, and long whip-like tail may measure up to 22 meters and can weigh up to roughly the weight of four elephants.

Widely known as a brontosaurus, the Apotasaurus is joined by the likes of the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose real-life skeleton is also on display and will definitely delight those who wish to view up close the ancient and extinct species. The T-Rex was one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs that ever roamed earth.

Since watching the popular Jurassic Park film in 1993, depicting the lost world of dinosaurs, the fascination with dinosaurs has always captured the imagination.

To live and breathe on the same land as the dinosaurs, who once roamed the earth before their sudden demise, is surely surreal.

What did their life look like? How did dinosaurs really look like, back then?

Pusat Sains Negara has been turned into an interactive display and an extremely interesting educational experience for children and adults.

Visitors to the exhibition can view two main galleries depicting the various types of dinosaurs, the carnivore-typed dinosaurs as well as the herbivore-typed dinosaurs. Each dinosaur comes with a brief history of its life, habitat and eating habits.

Other dinosaurs on display include the triceratops, brachiosaurus, stegosaurus and megalosurus. They are animatronic dinosaurs providing an educational and fun learning experience to children and adults, alike. Besides this, there is also the pit for the ‘fossil dig’, where children can try their skills at finding buried fossils.

If you are tired from walking around the exhibits, try taking a ride on the Dino train that passes the exhibits. There is also the Dino Explorer, a vehicle simulating the world of dinosaurs.

Those wishing to visit Pusat Sains Negara, the visiting hours are from 9 am to 5 pm daily (including Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays). There is a nominal fee to enter the exhibition.

For further information, check out the site’s website: http://www.dinosalivetour.com/ or call Pusat Sains Negara at 03-2089 3400 (office) and 03- 2089 3401 (fax).

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Sam’s Kitchen and Sam’s on First

Sam’s Kitchen and Sam’s on First

Piping hot rice is gently scooped onto freshly cut banana leaves, with savoury rasam, spicy chicken curry and crispy papadom.

Eating as the locals do, with their hands, is a messy but delicious experience. The banana leaf rice is eaten with several choices of condiments such as vegetables, pickles, moru, chutney, rice crackers, sweets and chips for a delightful meal.

Top it all off with aromatic masala tea or local teh tarik for a hearty fare at Sam’s Kitchen.

This quaint restaurant, tucked in a corner of Taman Maluri in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur serves traditional Southern Indian cuisine. Dishes here are specially prepared with the flavours of Karaikudi, by professional chefs with over 50 years of combined food service experience.

Other items on the menu include dishes such as Dum Briyani, Onion Uthappam, Pal Appam, Tairu Vada and Indian Kotthu Parrotha, Kal Dosa and other popular dishes.  These are made using the freshest and best ingredients, handpicked daily by the chefs.

The restaurant is open daily from 7.00 am – 12.00 am.

For more on the restaurant, contact :

Sam’s Kitchen

No.234, Jalan Mahkota, Taman Maluri,

55100 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur

Telephone: 03 9281 8839

Email: samskitchen@ibnfinefoods.com

Sam’s on First

A floor above Sam’s Kitchen, is Sam’s on First restaurant. It offers diners a choice of Northern Indian cuisine in a stylish yet casual setting.

It’s warm and cosy interiors; provide the backdrop to a rich sample of cooking using fine Indian produce prepared using traditional cooking methods.

Some of the restaurant’s cuisine specialties are Rangoli Chicken Sheekh Kebab, Dil Wala Jinggha, Murgh Tikka, Machli Ajwain, Mirchi Ka Saalan and Dhal Palak. Others are Tawa Fish, Baigan Ka Bhartha and Dum Ka Gohst Briyani.

Sam’s on First is open for dining from Tuesdays to Sundays between 12.00 noon to 3.00 pm and 7.00 pm until 11.00 pm.

Address:

No. 234-1, Jalan Mahkota, Taman Maluri, 55100 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

Email:samskitchen@ibnfinefoods.com; Telephone: 03 9281 8839

* Both restaurants are pork free

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Gua Tempurung Perak Malaysia

Gua Tempurung Perak Malaysia

Are you the energetic and outdoor lover type?

If your answer is yes then you’ll definitely enjoy your time at Gua Tempurung .

Gua Tempurung is located at the outskirts of Perak , Lembah Tempurung near Gopeng. If your traveling from the North-South PLUS Expressway , the turning point will be Gopeng exit.

Inside Gua Tempurung is a massive cavern standing at 497 meters high. It is visible from the North-South Expressway near Gopeng. The cave is made of marble limestone (calcite calcium) of the Kinta limestone type.

It is more than 400 million years old and has a length of 1.9km , height of 120 metres. There is an underground river it is called Sungai Gua Tempurung. The river passage runs about 1.6 km through the cave inside Gunung Tempurung.

There are four cave exploration packages available for tourist. The shortest tour takes only about 45mins and the longest takes about 3 ½ hours. The tours consist of dry and wet. Dry tour will take you to see how nature has shaped magnificent sights that are over 400 million years old while the wet will take you through a short river adventure.

However for the river adventure you need to be ready to face the leeches and the scorpions but it goes by season therefore you do not need to worry as the guide will tell you the season beforehand. Additionally, on some parts of the river adventure you may have to crawl.

The fees for the tour packages range from as low as RM6.00 to RM22.00. All of the tour packages start at 9.00am but the last entrance for each tour is different. Gua Tempurung opens daily except for every Fridays.

The facilities are prepared to accommodate the needs of tourist such as ample parking space near cave entrance, food stalls, convenience store , handicraft and souvenir stall , toilets , changing rooms , surau (prayer rooms for Muslims) , reception and ticket counter.

Besides all this information, advice on what to bring and what not to bring is one of the important matter. As you all know , cave explorations makes you sweat and muddy therefore it is essential for tourist to bring extra clothing , towel and shoes to change.

There are neither shops nor malls nearby for tourist who forgotten to bring the essential stuff , so be prepared. Dress comfortably like cotton T-shirts with sweat pants , denim is not advisable as it obstruct movement.

Torchlight would come in handy at some places that is pitch black , gloves and knee-pad are highly recommended for the wet tour.

Camera and caving helmet are optional , however if you think there is a need to bring a camera , just bring the inexpensive ones and put it in watertight plastic or container. Bring mineral water and other personal small stuff in a bag pack

You may be all worn out after the cave explorations at Gua Tempurung, therefore it is advisable that you take a rest at a nearby hotel for a night to recharge your energy before you travel home.

More Info – Gua Tempurung

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Homestay Taman Kenanga, Jln Lorong Pandan, Limbongan, Melaka

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