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Malaysia Travel Guide

Medicinal plants you can try in Sarawak!

Sarawakians and the jungles of Borneo have lived in harmony for centuries. And one way we stay healthy is by incorporating the medicinal plants found around us into our diets or using them as a cure when we are sick or injured.

We’ve come to deeply respect and appreciate the delicate ecosystem of the jungle and all that live inside it. We believe that by taking care of nature, nature will take care of us!

Credit: Nigel Dickinson

These medicinal plants hold valuable healing attributes. They’ve been utilised for centuries by our people to keep them in good health and provide relief to a myriad of ailments. Now, these plants are making their way into alternative medicine.

Sarawakian concoctions of traditional medicine are used to treat skin diseases, fevers, headaches and even detox after childbirth.

So while you may recognise many of these plants and even eat them or use them for cooking, you’ll probably be surprised to know they have excellent healing benefits. Allow us to open your eyes to Sarawak’s world of medicinal plants! Who knows, the information you learn might be useful to you too one day. *wink*

Turmeric

Source: Swanson Vitamins

In the West, turmeric was first embraced as a fabric dye. However, in Asian communities, it is known for being the spice that will stain your hands yellow! It also makes a great addition to a lot of dishes, but Sarawakians have used this plant for more than just making great tasting food. It is also used for its many health benefits.

In fact, recent clinical trials have confirmed the ways turmeric can improve health, which shows the wisdom of our people! Turmeric has been discovered to be a powerful antioxidant, and it has anti-inflammatory qualities, plus it makes an effective pain reliever.

Source: Eden Project

The indigenous Iban tribe in Sarawak use turmeric to treat skin diseases by pounding the roots into a poultice which is then applied to the affected area. They also add turmeric in food or herbal drinks as nourishment for women after childbirth. Meanwhile another indigenous tribe, the Melanau, consume turmeric to relieve headaches.

Curcumin, an active substance found in the turmeric plant, is said to improve memory and mood swings. It also helps in alleviating depression. Not only that, but curcumin also promotes digestion, lactation and diminishes stretch marks while adding a glow to the skin. It is even being researched for use in cancer prevention and treatment!

Guava

Source: Healthline

We’re pretty sure you’ve walked into a convenience store and seen guava juice on the shelves and it’s also a delicious fresh, pink fruit but did you know that Guava has multiple health benefits?

Guava is most commonly cultivated in villages and even in urban homes. Its leaf extract improves blood sugar content, which is beneficial to diabetic people or those at risk of contracting diabetes. Consuming the plant’s young leaves raw reduces diarrhoea and constipation, which is why Sarawakian indigenous communities, like the Iban and Kayan, eat the leaves when they have a case of upset tummy!

Source: Gardening Know How

Traditionally, the leaves of the guava plant are pounded into a paste and spread onto skin as a treatment for skin diseases, such as rashes or ringworm. The Iban apply sap from the leaves directly onto open wounds to heal them. The Kenyah and Kelabit do the same, except that instead of using sap, they use a poultice of the young leaves.

The fruit itself is naturally healthy as it is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, and it contains natural folic acid, which is essential for pregnant women!

Galangal

Source: One Green Planet

Many people confuse galangal with ginger because they both look eerily similar! However, they have very different tastes. While ginger is known for being pungently spicy, galangal has a sharp citrusy flavour. They do, however, belong to the same family.

Galangal can be used fresh, dried, powdered, as an oil, or even as a juice, and is a staple ingredient in many curry dishes. It’s widely cultivated in villages or grown near villages. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and small doses can help to prevent various types of nausea, especially morning sickness. The Kelabit even prepare galangal tea for mothers after childbirth to help regain their energy and for revitalisation!

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily

The Bidayuh reduce the effects of fever by crushing the leaves and stems of the galangal plant, boiling them and then using the water to bathe in.

Although galangal is considered a spice by many communities, the Iban turn it into a remedy by pounding and mixing it with a pinch of salt. By applying this mixture onto skin, it can reduce itchiness caused by accidentally rubbing against plants similar to Poison Ivy or Hogweed.

Tapioca

Source: The Spruce Eats

If you are lucky enough to get invited into a Malaysian home at tea time, you might get to try ubi kayu with sambal tumis (fried chilli paste)! The young leaves of tapioca plants are traditionally eaten as vegetables. They are also served as a local salad alongside sambal belacan (chilli shrimp paste).

However, unknown to many, rubbing the latex onto the skin is said to relieve swelling while drinking fresh juice squeezed from tapioca leaves may stop the vomiting of blood. Furthermore, regular intake of tapioca leaf tea offers protection against colon cancer.

Source: Gardening Know How

The tapioca can be turned into a poultice that is used to mitigate headaches, as practised by the Sarawak’s indigenous tribes like the Bidayuh, Selakoh, and Melanau. Drinking a concoction of its leaf juices and honey is also said to alleviate constipation. The latex from the plant can relieve swelling on the skin, and some indigenous communities use that as an antidote against the sap of the rengas tree that can cause an adverse reaction if touched.

Chinese Motherwort

Source: Crimson Sage Nursery

This herb, better known as kacangma by Sarawakians, is also listed as one of the 50 most fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is mostly used by mothers after childbirth. Its Chinese name is even yi mu cao, which means “beneficial herb for mothers”.

Chinese motherwort is a herb not commonly sold in other parts of the world, or even in Malaysia! You can only get it at Chinese herbalist stores in Sarawak, or by growing your own. However, a word of caution! The leaves of this plant look like marijuana leaves, so you might need to do a bit of explaining if the authorities catch you with it!

Source: HashtagEn

Technically, the Chinese motherwort on its own, is not widely used in Sarawak. However, we think it deserves a mention as this herb is used to cook “motherwort chicken”, which is a uniquely Sarawakian dish prepared by the Hakka Chinese community. It is a common (and tasty!) confinement dish for women after childbirth. In fact, tastes so good, that people eat it even if they’re not new mothers!

Honourable mention

Source: Langit Collective

Pepper is probably the most famous spice in the world, enjoyed by everyone everywhere!

Many people might know that Malaysia is one of the top 5 pepper-producing nations in the world. But did you know that Sarawak produces 95% of Malaysia’s pepper?

In fact, our pepper is said by aficionados to be the best in the world. You can believe us because our pepper has even been awarded the Protected Geographical Indication* status (PGI). This is why we believe it deserves an honourable mention!

*Geographical Indications (GIs) are goods with special characteristics or with a certain prestige due to their geographical origin.

Source: Serious Eats

Pepper is not only a tasty addition to any food. In fact, it is one of the main ingredients in our famous Sarawak laksa! Pepper is also a powerful antioxidant that helps expel wind from the body and improves blood circulation. It also can prevent tooth decay and helps to cool down the body by inducing sweating!

If you’ve ever seen people spreading pepper on meat, that’s because its antibacterial qualities make it a good preservative. It also stimulates the appetite and has been used to treat people with eating disorders. It’s been said that strong black pepper and mint tea will help bring up unwanted mucus and phlegm, clearing the chest! Nice!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to some of the medicinal plants in our jungles. If you do visit Sarawak and go foraging for any of the above, we recommend to take a guide with you and please remember the jungle has a unique and very delicate ecosystem that must be respected. If you take care of nature, she’ll take care of you!

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

CHASING WILDLIFE IN SABAH

They say travel broadens the mind, and I totally agree with that statement. However, the more I travel, the more I begin to appreciate all things back home, be it food, culture, nature or even our wildlife. I mean we saved enough money to go all the way to Africa for example, so that we can see the lions or cheetahs running wild in their own habitat but did it ever cross our mind to do the same thing in our own country. Do we even know what kind of species of wildlife that are unique to our country or native to the Asian region?

I wonder whether we care enough about our wildlife to do at least the simplest thing or take the smallest step to conserve and protect our animals whether they are endangered or not.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu

My quest to learn more about our wildlife had taken me all the way to the east coast of Sabah, Lahad Datu, to be exact. It is where Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the largest of its kind in Malaysia is located. Mind you, it took me about 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach the wildlife reserve from the airport in Tawau. I chose to stay at the river lodge owned by Tabin Wildlife Resort, which was located within the wildlife reserve.

The mummified remains of Puntung

While waiting for
the sun to go down so that I could go for the night safari, I took the
opportunity to visit its Visitor Centre to learn more about the wildlife
reserve. This was where I met Puntung, well, the mummified remains of her, that
is. Puntung was one of the last trio of the Sumatran Rhinos that lived in
captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve after the species was declared extinct
by the Government of Malaysia in 2015. I could hardly hold back my tears when the
guide told me the story of Puntung’s life. When they found her in the wild in
2011, she was missing a front left foot, believed to be caught in a poacher’s
snare when she was a baby and yet she survived for so many years in isolation.
However, Puntung had to be euthanized in 2017 because she was suffering from
cancer.

Last May, we also lost the only male rhino we had, Tam, who died of old age. Right now, Iman is the nation’s sole remaining member of its species in Malaysia but she is also suffering from cancer. The Borneo Rhino Alliance or BORA, a non-profit company, had tried so hard to keep the Sumatran Rhinos from going extinct but it wasn’t meant to be. The heartbreaking story of our Sumatran rhinos made me feel helpless but at the same time just made me more determined to go and see our native animals in the wild as many as I can before they disappeared.

Finally, the time had come for me to take a ride on the makeshift truck to hunt for the nocturnal animals in the wild, and instead of a rifle, I was equipped with camera and handphones. I was hoping to see some magnificent creatures along the way, but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough. However, I did get to see the pygmy elephants’ droppings and footprints though. I suspected my guide was one of those nocturnal creatures himself because his eyesight was so sharp, he could spot a small flying squirrel on top of the trees in the dark of the night. For the first time ever, I got to see a flying squirrel glided through the air between trees in the blink of an eye, thanks to my guide.

Searching hard for the nocturnal creatures

We spotted a Buffy Fish Owl trying to capture its victim at the lake, hornbills, a family of civets climbing up the trees probably looking for a new home, a couple of Bornean wild cats roaming between the tall grass looking for rats and that’s about it. It’s probably not much but the experience was exhilarating and it was such a great feeling to know that our wildlife can roam free at this wildlife reserve and I could just imagine the orangutans making their nests to sleep at night deep in the forest, and somewhere out there the pygmy elephants (the world’s smallest elephant) were having the time of their lives. And also, during the whole journey, don’t forget to look up because you will get to see all the beautiful twinkling stars with your own naked eyes, something that you can’t experience in the big cities.

Having fun at the Lipad mud volcano
A hornbill is spotted perching on top of the tree

The next morning, I went for a short hike to check out the well-known Lipad mud volcano and I was so glad to see an eagle, one of the eight species of hornbill, a monitor lizard and the macaques along the way. The active Lipad Mud Volcano is an elevated muddy hill with warm, salty mud bubbling from below the surface almost continuously; occasionally, the mud volcanoes have mild eruptions that add to their height and scatter small stones around. It is an area frequented by wildlife and birds for much-needed minerals and nourishment – and the evidence is in the foot/paw prints left behind on the grey mud. I saw a few footprints of the pygmy elephants at the mud volcano. While there, I came across a couple of tourists returning from the mud volcano and was informed that they camped all night at the observation tower at the mud volcano to spy on the animals that visited the place at night. Oh my, why didn’t I think of that?

Kinabatangan River, Bilit Village

My plan to chase the wildlife of Borneo did not end at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. This lowland part of Sabah has plenty of spots for wildlife sightings. I took another one hour and a 22-minute journey to the Lahad Datu airport to fly to Sandakan for another wildlife adventure. After the half an hour flight, I arrived at the Sandakan airport and went straight to Bilit in Kinabatangan, which took me about 2 hours and 9 minutes to reach the place. I chose to stay at the Mynes Resort, which was situated on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Upon arriving at the resort, my guide brought me straight to the jetty for a river cruise. My aim was to take a closer look at Sabah’s most famous primates – the proboscis monkeys or also known as the “dutch monkeys”, as well as the orangutans.

Baby proboscis

The cruise took about 45-minutes and at first all I saw were the macaques and gibbons until the boatman suddenly steered the boat closer to the river bank, and that was when I saw a male proboscis monkey with its harem munching on leaves while sitting on the branches on the top of the trees. Oh, what a beautiful sight! Endemic to Borneo, these endangered monkeys are easily recognisable because of their comical appearance e.g. big noses and protruding bellies. Compared to other exotic creatures in Sabah, the proboscis monkey is the most likely to be spotted in the wild, due to their proximity to the rivers. I was a bit disappointed about not being able to spot orangutans, pygmy elephants or even Irrawaddy dolphins, but sunset at the Kinabatangan River was simply breathtaking, that I can guarantee.

The next morning I took another chance on the river cruise because I wanted to see more of the wildlife there. Lo and behold, I got more than I bargained for because my guide spotted a huge female crocodile on the river bank patiently waiting for its prey while a baby crocodile was playing near the water. I was, you can say, entranced by the size and beauty of the crocodile. This was my first time seeing wild crocodiles in their natural element. It was exhilarating but also a bit scary. I could just imagine their massive jaws crushing down on their victim before drowning it. But that was the highlight of my morning cruise though. On the way back, I spotted a troop of silver leaf monkeys, and pig-tailed macaques. Not bad for an early morning cruise but I was a happy camper, after all I was dealing with nature, and they didn’t follow our rules, we followed theirs. So I left Bilit with beautiful memories and headed back towards the city of Sandakan for another 2-hour plus journey.

Sandakan

I know that orangutans live a solitary existence so it is almost impossible to see them in their natural habitat, which was why I made the decision to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, located about 25km north of Sandakan. This internationally well-known centre helps rehabilitate the orphaned, injured and displaced orangutans before returning them to the wild. I arrived early to secure the best spot at the feeding platform so that I could get a closer look at our beloved orangutans. I started to get excited when I saw two rangers arriving with fruits and sugar canes and placing them on the feeding platform, approximately 60 feet from the viewing platform. It was just my luck I guess, no orangutans turned up to eat the fruits that day. So many international visitors were there waiting patiently for the orangutans to appear but we all left with disappointment.

The youngsters eating and playing in
outdoor nursery

However, fret not because there was an outdoor nursery, which was just a short walk from the feeding platform where you can watch orphaned youngsters at play. I spent almost half an hour observing the youngsters eating and playing behind the glass window. When the youngsters were moved to the outdoor nursery, it meant that they had become more independent and were less emotionally dependent to their care-takers, and for that I am thankful for the hard work done by the staff at the rehabilitation centre.

I ended my quest to see as many wildlife as I can in the lowland of Sabah by visiting one of my favourite animals, the cute sun bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSCC), just next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The BSCC is the only sun bear conservation centre in the world.  I must tell you that sun bear is listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. So, I suggest that you add seeing sun bear before they disappear in your bucket list. The sun bear is the smallest and the second rarest bear species, after the giant panda. Wouldn’t you feel proud to have such rare bears in your own backyard? Once I met them, it was love at first sight. They were just so adorable, thus making you feel like wanting to protect them from any threat. All 43 of them at the centre were rescued sun bears.

Mary, the lovable sun bear

If you plan to visit
the centre, look up for the lovable Mary, the cutest little sun bear I have
ever seen and she’s very friendly towards us, human despite her sad upbringing.
She was captured by poachers and kept as a house pet in Ranau district (West
coast part of Sabah). Due to her unbalanced diet, she showed symptoms of
calcium deficiency like walking in an abnormal way and shorter body structure.
Now that Mary’s physical condition has improved, she can climb around like
other bears. And if you are lucky, you will get to meet the founder of the
centre, the Penang-born wildlife biologist Dr. Wong Siew Te who was once hailed
as a CNN Hero. (CNN Heroes is created by the American Cable News Network to
honour individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and
make a difference in their communities).

It is my hope that this article can help evoke the interest among Malaysians to visit the east coast of Sabah to see the wildlife that is endemic to Borneo. Many of them are either extinct, endangered or vulnerable, so it is not too late for us to explore those places and the most important thing is the proceeds will go to protecting more habitats and conservation activities. It means that playing tourist can actually help save, protect and conserve our wildlife.

Tabin Wildlife Resort:
Location: KM 49, Jalan Tungku, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Tel: +6 088 267266
E-mail:[email protected]
GPS Location: 5° 11′ 15.35″ N 118° 30′ 8.47″ E
Website: http://www.tabinwildlife.com.my
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Tabin-Wildlife-Holidays-Borneo–111441605544390/

Myne Resort:
Location: Kampung Bilit, Kinabatangan, Sabah
Tel: +6089 278288 / 278291
E-mail: [email protected][email protected]
Facebook: Myne Travel Resort

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Location: Batu 14, Jalan Labuk Sandakan , Sabah WDT200, 9009 Sandakan, Sabah.
Tel: +60 89 633 587
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.wildlife.sabah.gov.my/?q=en/content/sepilok-orangutan-rehabilitation-centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSCC)
Location: BSBCC, PPM 219, Elopura, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah
Tel: ​+60 89-534491
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/sunbear.bsbcc
 

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

Categories
Tourism Malaysia

A Toast to a ‘Pink Jazz Affair’

November 15, 2011 during 12:00 pm

One of a many common forms of cancer that afflicts many Malaysian women is breast cancer. According to a National Cancer Registry, 1 in each 20 women is expected to get breast cancer in her lifetime. However, many trust that this figure might be improper due to a problem in receiving total and under-reporting of cases. Breast cancer is now also a heading means of cancer deaths among a women in Malaysia.

Breast Cancer Welfare Assocation (BCWA) is a intentional organization founded in 1986. BCWA believes that a breast cancer survivor can use her knowledge to assistance others confronting a disease. They are also there to yield emotional, amicable and element support for those who are pang from breast cancer and to strengthen a ability of people with breast cancer to self-manage during and after treatment. Survivors and patients would determine that BCWA’s many critical design is to foster open preparation on ubiquitous health and breast health issues including early showing of breast cancer.

Ms Ranjit Kaur, CEO of Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA) giving a brief though ominous debate during a function

Mr Amir Firdaus Abdullah, Regional CEO of Gleneagles Hospitals and CEO of Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, presenting his opinion on a theme matter during a function

Though most recognition has been lifted to teach a open on breast cancer, there are still many women who find it tough to come brazen for screening and annual breast examinations. Those who do find assistance in a finish mostly find that their breast cancer has modernized to after stages, where a illness has already widespread to other collection of a body, that in spin might means pre-mature deaths. Women pang from breast cancer who live in a farming areas might confront problems in receiving suitable medical care, call them to spin to other choice medical solutions like visiting a internal magician alloy or ‘bomoh’.

Realising a intensity problems faced by those in a farming areas, BCWA shaped a mobile section called Mobile Unit Reaching Nationwide with Information (MURNI) that is means to yield a compulsory assistance, collection and materials. MURNI offers a three-pronged approach, namely a MURNI Early Detection Programme, MURNI Supportive Care Programme and MURNI Capacity Building Programme.

Ms Ranjit Kaur, Mr Amir Firdaus Abdullah and mythological crooner Donne Ray Radford toasting to a event

The guest of honour responding questions from a floor

Even with a participation of a energetic organization such as BCWA, zero can still assuage a feeling of being diagnosed with breast cancer any better. Once a chairman is diagnosed with breast cancer, their once normal lives will spin upside down in all ways – physically, mentally and socially. Not usually do they have to make extreme changes in their lives, there is a cost means that these patients have to take into comment for whatever treatments that they might need soon. However, early showing and medical diagnosis during a early stages of breast cancer has many advantages including being means to save a breast, reduction extreme diagnosis and diagnosis costs that indirectly reduces physical, financial and romantic suffering. Most importantly, early showing can assistance forestall pre-mature deaths.

Playing an critical partial in assisting breast cancer patients in any approach probable is Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur (GKL). Being a world-class medical provider, GKL offers a best medical comforts to assistance detect any signs of breast cancer prolonged before a modernized stage. As partial of a efforts to a grant to a society, Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur together with Hilton Kuala Lumpur is set to horde a gift cooking uncover on 20th Nov 2011. Aptly named ‘A Pink Jazz Affair’, this glitzy cooking is Gleneagle’s initial ever ‘pink themed dinner’ and is all set to be a grand culmination for a month prolonged breast cancer recognition program. This cooking was conceptualised to commemorate a jubilee of health and life and will see performances by Dato’ Sheila Majid and Donne Ray Radford, a eminent thespian from a famous band, The Platters.

Come and support a good means during Hilton Kuala Lumpur this 20th Nov 2011

Guests will not usually be entertained by this dual mythological artistes via a dinner, though also get to take partial in a wordless auction that facilities superb trinket pieces from Danish jeweler, Pandora; and a disdainful art pieces of a rarely worshiped internal artist, Jake Goh. All deduction from a wordless auction goes to a Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA). Tickets for a cooking uncover are accessible during RM 250 (for cooking and show) and RM 450 (for cooking and uncover and an disdainful Meet Greet event with Dato’ Sheila Majid). For some-more information, greatfully hit 03 4141 3162 / 3165.

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