Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THE WONDERS OF BORNEO - klias wetland.

Borneo - Sabah is my home. Located just south of the typhoon-prone region of the Philippines, is often refer to as "the land below the wind".
  The "Tourist" map of Sabah.

Sabah is blessed with a diverse landscape of tropical rain forests, mountain ranges, lowlands with    indigenous flora and fauna - some of which can only be found in Borneo. Sabah is also gifted with  beautiful beaches and islands, an ideal destination for sea sport especially scuba diving.

Sabah has a population of 3.5 million consisting of Malay, Chinese and 42 ethnic groups with over 200 sub-ethnic groups with their own language, culture and beliefs.

As a retired travel & tour industry player, I wish to share my experience and give some insight of the "wonders" in my home country.

Klias wetland is one of the biggest wetland reserve in Sabah known as the Klias Wetland Mangrove Forest Reserve. It is the home to a diverse range of tropical plants, birds, fish, reptiles and some rare mammals like the Proboscis monkeys. Over the years, this wetland has been developed into one of the top tourist spots for Jungle river adventure. It's an escape to the wilderness and for a thrilling afternoon jungle river safari cruise in search for the rare Proboscis monkeys, macaques, the Silver leaf monkeys and some species of birds that inhabit in the unique wetland environment.  
The rare Proboscis - only found in Borneo
 
 Beautiful jungle wetland river.

There are at least 6 river operators offering 2-4 hours cruise in search for wildlife and in the evening, catch a glimpse of the fireflies blinking around the mangrove trees after dark. The package is inclusive of a traditional Malay buffet dinner.   
Long boats are used for the cruise. It's a fun and exciting. The cruise will return to jetty just before sunset for dinner at the jetty restaurant. Fireflies encounter will be after dinner. 
Many prefer the (all in one) double Decker cruise. Refreshment and buffet dinner are served on-board. After sunset, enjoy the glow of thousands of fireflies dancing on the mangrove trees while the boat is cruising back to jetty.   
 
Sunset over the river
Buffet dinner 
Image of the fireflies! In the event of bad weather, sighting is not guarantee.

Distance from city to the wetland is about 2 hours drive. Pick up time is normally from 14;30-14;30. The tour will end at about 19:30 at the river jetty. Guests should arrive back in the city by 22:30. 
The Klias wetland safari package can be easily booked through the many websites available. The package price is from RM180 per person for a combine tour.
     

           

Saturday, November 19, 2016

COLOURFUL PICTURES OF KUALA LUMPUR .

Judging from the pictures in the social media, it was a colourful day in the city of Kuala Lumpur. The sea of people in yellow and red.
 
The sea of yellow.
The other crowd in red
  It seemed that the people were having a relaxing field day.

I have been off my blog for almost 2 months due to some unforeseen circumstances. Hope to come back once a week. Wishing everyone a happy weekend!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

MALAYSIA SINGAPORE AIRLINES - 01ST OCTOBER: A DAY TO REMEMBER.

Malaysia–Singapore Airlines (MSA) a joint ownership of the airlines by the governments of Malaysia and Singapore in 1966. Both governments later decided to set up their own national airlines. Hence from 01 October 1972, two new airlines were born - Malaysia Airline System and Singapore Airlines. Below are some of the file pictures of MSA aircrafts. The happy days were gone and many of us are still very proud of MSA achievement! 
 
 The Comet 4
 The DC3 at "Jesselton" airport.
 F27
 B737-200
 B707
The main reason for the split was because of the different needs of the two shareholders. The Malaysian government preferred to develop the domestic network while Singapore government wanted to fly the international routes. As a result, two new airlines took the sky on 01 October 1972, 44 years ago.

The MSA aircraft assets were split between two new airlines. Malaysian Airline System took the fleet of of Fokker F27s and Britten Norman Islanders BN2s for their domestic routes. In addition, eight brand new B737s-200 were purchased to strengthen their fleet.  
  Britten Norman Islanders BN2
 F27
 B737-200

Singapore Airlines took the entire fleet of seven B707s and five B737s to continue servicing the regional and long-haul international routes.
 B737-200
 B707

Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines were performing well in the early years and continue to do so. Both the carriers have developed into Asia's premier carriers operating with the most advance Airbus A380-800s. 
 

01 October 1972 was indeed a day to remember.        

Saturday, September 10, 2016

BIRD WATCHING AT HOME

Growing up in the interior of Borneo, I used to spent a lot of time in the wild. I enjoyed trapping  birds and keeping them as pets. Retired now and living in the urban city of Kota Kinabalu, I have been able to enjoy bird watching in my garden. I discovered some of the amazing birds visiting our backyard.
Plenty of green and trees.
 
A male Orange-bellied flower-pecker.
The female.
A Sunbird eyeing the Japanese roses.
Then .. sucking the nectar.
A small flock of "Burung Pipit" or house sparrows looking for food in the garden turf. These are the very common birds found in Sabah.
A pair of "Peaceful Doves". They usually come for feeding in the morning and in later afternoon.
 
A spotted dove
The green pigeons on the branches of the Bayan tree behind my house.
It's breeding season - caught them mating on camera!
    A "bulbul" was looking for fruits on the Bayan tree.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

EMPTY SEATS ON MALAYSIA AIRLINES

During boarding MH122 from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney in June this year, I was quite surprised that there were not many passengers during boarding. There were less than 50 passengers in the economy class cabin.
   The empty seats.

We have been flying Malaysia Airlines to Australia at least once or twice a year for the past 16 years. It's the first time I saw so many empty seats. Perhaps, there was something wrong with their sales and marketing strategies. This could be the reason that Malaysia Airlines had cut the number of their Australia weekly flights from 73 to 43 by terminating their Brisbane flights and reducing frequencies from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide since last year. 

The new CEO of the airlines has vowed to introducing improved services for passengers both in flight and on the ground. However, I did not see any change - as usual, the queue for "drop bag" at KLIA was so long that it took us about 40 minutes just to drop our 2 pieces of baggage.   On board, I also did not see any improvement in their inflight services especially their inflight meals. Despite a very empty flight. Welcome drink like water or juice was only served 45 minutes after the seat belt sign was off.    
Packages of salted peanuts were passed around just before the welcome drink.  
The same old inflight meals - a main course of "rice with sweet and sour fish", cut fruits, a cake, a "cold" croissant and jam.

For this seven and a half hours flight, they maintained the twice meal services which they have been doing for years. It seemed that they had no new ideas in providing passengers with the better in flight services and meals.    
 2 hours before landing, coffee or tea was served with a packed sandwich.

There was nothing outstanding on this flight. Luckily, the inflight movies were reasonable. Malaysia Airlines should make changes to make passengers happy by changing their inflight services and quality of meals. They should work on a better serving schedule, say, at least 3 times with drinks and meals. Perhaps, ice cream before landing?

Malaysia Airlines used to be one of the top airlines in the world in term of services and food. Now it is not even listed. Here are the top 10 international airlines for food and services:

1. Singapore Airlines
2. Emirates
3. Etihad Airways
4. Qatar Airways
5. Cathay Pacific
6. Turkish Airlines
7. All Nippon Airways
8. Japan Airlines
9. Virgin Atlantic Airways
10. Thai Airways International
 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

DRIVING HOLIDAY FROM SYDNEY TO BRISBANE VIA THE COASTAL ROUTE

Hiring a car from Apex Car Rentals near Sydney airport, we took a side trip holiday to Brisbane. The  1.8L automatic Hyundai Elantra was rented for the return trip. We started off from Sydney Airport after lunch.
  The .8L automatic Hyundai Elantra.
The Sydney city traffic was terrible. We only managed to get on the M1 (Pacific Motorway) after going through an hour and half in heavy traffic. 
It's a leisure drive once on the motorway, 
We put up a night at Port Macquarie motel. Port Macquarie is a beautiful coastal town north of Sydney. We did not go around the area as we check-in the motel after dark and we left early the next morning.  

It was a pleasant drive all the way from Port Macquarie to Brisbane except we were forced to slowdown in many parts of the highway due to upgrading road work. I was told that the Pacific Highway would be eventually upgraded into a four lanes highway.
   
 
 
 
Brisbane city in sight after about 6 hours + drive passing through Kempsey, Nambucca Head, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Ballina and Golf coast area.
 
 
Just in time for a Thai dinner at Nundah

We put up with our daughter in Nundah for almost a week before returning to Sydney on the same coastal route back to Sydney.
 
On the way, we made a brief visit to Byron Bay.
 KFC lunch at Park Beach Plaza in Coffs Harbour.
 
We put up a night at Karuah, a small coastal town, 250 kms from Sydney, an ideal place for recreational activities such as swimming, fishing and boating. 
 We selected this Motor Inn through websites.
Our room was well-furnished with 2 queen beds plus all the amenities, like complementary coffee/tea, Wi-fi, extra pillows, towers, shower facilities and etc, etc.  I like this motel as it was in a quiet location and the perfect place to take a break from driving.  
 
A coffee break at the restaurant in one "rest area" along the Motorway before arriving Sydney in the afternoon.

It was an enjoyable drive from Sydney to Brisbane and back covering almost 2,000 kms. This was my fifth experience driving through the route. I must comment that the 1.8L automatic Hyundai Elantra rented from Apex Car Rentals was a good reliable car and value for money. The rental cost was AUD51 per day  inclusive of Free mileage, full insurance cover with zero excess, roadside assistance and GPS navigation. I must also say "thank you" to my son for arranging the car rental.