Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sipadan Island

Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 2,000 feet or 600m from the seabed. It is located east of Tawau (Borneo), in the Celebes Sea. It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem. Rare diving scenes such as schools of greenback turtles and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda & big-eye trevally in tornado-like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks can be seen here. A mysterious turtle tomb lies underneath the column of the island, formed by an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of turtles.

In the past, the island was at the centre of a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia. The matter was brought for adjudication before the International Court of Justice and, at the end of 2002, the Court awarded the island along with the island of Ligitan to Malaysia, on the basis of the "effective occupation" displayed by the latter's precedessor (Malaysia's former colonial power, Great Britain) and the absence of any other superior title. The Philippines had applied to intervene in the proceedings on the basis of its claim to Northern Borneo, but its request was turned down by the Court early in 2001. In year 2004, the Government of Malaysia ordered all on-site dive & resort operators of Sipadan to move their structures out of the island by the 31st of December 2004. This move is mainly to conserve a balanced eco-system for Sipadan and its surrounding. Diving will continue to be allowed in Sipadan for divers who are ferried in and out by dive & resort operators from the mainland and surrounding islands. On May 15, 2006, a barge carrying thousands of tonnes of building material beached on the island, destroying a significant portion of reef between the old pier and Barracuda Point, said to be about 372sq metres. The purpose of the building supplies (mainly concrete and gravel) was apparently for a USD1.3 million tourist facility including resthouse, toilets and scuba shop, said the State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat but denied by the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. Later, it was reported that it was a Federal Government funded project

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Poring Hot Springs

Poring is a small tourist resort in Sabah, Malaysia. Located 40 km south-east of the Kinabalu National Park Headquarters, in the district of Ranau, Poring is situated in lowland rainforest, contrasting with the montane and submontane rainforest of Kinabalu National Park. The name Poring comes from a Kadazandusun word for a bamboo species found in the area. Poring is known for its hot springs and the popular recreation and tourist complex is known as Poring Hot Springs. The springs are known for their therapeutic properties and the waters with their sulphuric minerals are reputed to ease aching muscles. The baths are favored by returned climbers of Mount Kinabalu. Features of the area include the:

Butterfly farm: Here you will find several species of colorful and striking butterflies, Borneo's first butterfly farm features a garden, nursery and hatchery for the purpose of research, education and the conservation of endangered species.
Poring Orchid Conservation Centre: With 1,200 species of orchids found with Kinabalu Park, the centre has the largest collection of Sabah's endemic orchids.
Kipungit Waterfall: Kipungit Waterfall is a 30 minute walk from Poring Hot Springs. Signboards and a well-marked path through the forest will lead you to your destination. The waterfall is smaller than the Laganan Waterfall, which is a 90 minute walk from Poring Hot Springs. With its shady canopy and beautiful rocks, the area is private, peaceful and a great place to spend a lazy afternoon with family and friends.
Tropical Garden: Mouse deer and other deer are exhibited with colorful birds in the aviary.
Poring Canopy Walkway: Visitors can stroll amidst the canopy of the Menggaris tree - the King of the Forest. The Walkway is 157.8m long and 41m high.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kinabalu National Park

Kinabalu National Park or Taman Negara Kinabalu in Malay, established as one of the first national parks of Malaysia in 1964, is Malaysia's first World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO in December 2000 for its "outstanding universal values" and the role as one of the most important biological sites in the world. Located at west coast of Sabah, east Malaysia on the island of Borneo; it covers an area of 754 square kilometers surrounding the majestic Mount Kinabalu which at 4,095.2 meters, is the highest mountain in south-east Asia. This botanical site is blessed with astonishing variety of flora and fauna that ranges over 4 climate zones; from rich lowland dipterocarp forest through the Montana oak, rhododendron, to the coniferous forests, to the alpine meadow plants, and to the stunted bushes of summit zone. The mountain is famous for its many carnivorous plant and orchid species, most notably Nepenthes rajah. It is also home to a multitude of endemic animal species, including the Kinabalu Giant Red Leech and Kinabalu Giant Earthworm. Kinabalu Park Headquarters is 88 kilometers away from the city of Kota Kinabalu. Highways and sealed roads made the Park easily accessible. It is situated on the southern boundary of Kinabalu Park, at an elevation of 1,563m (5,128 feet). Resorts, restaurants, exhibit centers, and park offices are within the headquarter vicinity. All climbers and overnight visitors must register at the HQ Park office. Nine different types of accommodation are available, ranging from the relatively cheap Menggilan Hostel to the luxury, five-bed Rajah Lodge. In 2004, more than 415,360 visitors and 43,430 climbers visited the Park. This park is administered by an organization called Sabah Parks and reservations are processed through Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.