Sarawak Cultural Village – An Opportunity Not to Be Missed!

KUCHING – Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) has announced new discounted entrance rates for visitors who want to visit the largest living museum in Sarawak with various packages offered. The rates are available from July 1 to December 31, 2020.

The ‘Cuti Berami-Rami’ package rate entitles local Sarawakians to a discount of between 33 to 50 percent from the previous rate, which is from RM30 to RM20 per adult and RM20 to RM10 for children aged between 2 to 12 years old.

Meanwhile, the ‘Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ package is RM60 per adult and RM30 for children aged between 2 to 12 years old – applicable to non-Sarawakians. Previously, the rate was RM95 and RM60, respectively.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with SCV’s 30th Anniversary celebration, it is also offering family packages suitable for those who are eager to spend their quality time with their families and at the same time, be part of SCV’s 30 years of glorious journey. The packages are the ‘Family Together Gather Package’ and ‘Family Berami Package’.

Previously, the ‘Family Together Gather Package’ was offered at RM270 (for 2 adults and 2 children) and RM320 (for 2 adults and 3 children) but the new discounted rates are at RM180 and RM210 respectively.

For Sarawakian families, they can go for the ‘Family Berami Package’ where the new rates are RM60 for 2 adults and 2 children, and RM123.60 for 2 adults and 3 children.

All these special rates and packages are inclusive of the entrance fee, a visit to the ethnic houses and watching cultural performances.

For more information, visit the Sarawak Cultural Village official website at https://scv.com.my/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SarawakCulturalVillageOFFICIAL.

Photo shows the entrance of Sarawak Cultural Village.
Photo shows the entrance of Sarawak Cultural Village.

Delving into Borneo’s First Ever Full-Fledged VR Theme Park

The D-Virtual Park, located on Jalan Meranek, Kota Samarahan is Borneo’s first ever full-fledged Virtual Reality (VR) Theme Park which is now open to the public.

The VR theme park offers 10 adrenaline pumping VR entertainment rides that would swipe anyone off their feet. The rides include VR Speed Cruiser, VR Giant Slide, The Enchanted Chamber, VR Gatling Gun, VR Knight Rider, VR D’Battleship, VR Gyrate, VR Trekker, VR Quad Squad and the park’s all-time favourite, VR Elevation D’luxe.

The public can also experience entertainment services such as eSports Centre and a customised Hologram Theatre screenplay, which showcases the most revolutionary form of cinematic experience. It also houses SD X Studio, SD X FabLab, SDX-Arena, GiGA Virtual-Cafe and D-Tamu. They provide a Virtual Tour for the public to get an early insight of the facility which can be found on its main website.

During the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), D-Virtual Park will be reducing the number of visitors in accordance with the health and safety procedures imposed by the Government.

“We are evaluating several new and enhanced safety measures to ensure everyone’s safety while we work, stay and play at D-Virtual Park”, said Dato Dr. Ir. Ts. Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah, Serba Dinamik Group Berhad Managing Director regarding the changes in the park’s operation procedures.

Visitors are required to wear facemasks upon entering the premise and to practise social distancing, while the park’s staff will be managing the crowd during their rides, at queues and at the café. Guests will need to book tickets in advance and scan a QR code before entering for contact tracing.

For more information, visit D-Virtual Park main website at
https://d-virtualpark.com/ or their main Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DVirtualParkKotaSamarahan/.

Photo courtesy of D-Virtual Park
Photo courtesy of D-Virtual Park

Appreciation Dinner for STB Chairman

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) held an appreciation dinner for the outgoing STB Chairman, Datuk Abdul Wahab Bin Aziz who is retiring after his 2-year term, along with the STB Board of Directors, who had successfully completed their tenure.

The appreciation dinner was held on July 6, 2020 at the Grand Margherita Hotel Kuching. It was attended by the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, the Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak, Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew and STB staff.

Last year, Sarawak had achieved commendable results for its visitor arrivals which was 5.22% higher than 2018.

“If it were not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would be able to achieve our target this year as I am confident that we have the right ingredients to attract more visitors”, said Datuk Haji Abdul Karim. He hoped that by 2021, Sarawak would be able to come out strongly despite the challenges faced, to show the State’s focus of developing the tourism industry and helping Sarawak to flourish.

STB Chief Executive Officer, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor also mentioned her gratitude to the STB Chairman and the Board of Directors for their commitment throughout their term.

“It has been an honour to work closely with the Chairman in handling the various challenges within the industry, with the support from the Minister and the Board of Directors. This year, we were so confident that we could hit the 5 million target, with 16% increase in January, however, we are now faced with unprecedented challenges. We will give our best to bring the State’s tourism to a faster recovery, working closely with the industry players and in alignment with MOTAC’s direction,” she said.

  Photo shows the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (second right) presenting an appreciation gift for STB Chairman, Datuk Abdul Wahab Bin Aziz (second left), with STB CEO, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor (right) and Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak, Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew (left).

Photo shows the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (second right) presenting an appreciation gift for STB Chairman, Datuk Abdul Wahab Bin Aziz (second left), with STB CEO, Sharzede Datu Haji Salleh Askor (right) and Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak, Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew (left).

Diveheart Borneo: Bringing Smiles To Some Very Special Kids

Meryl, a lovely nine year-old girl with cerebral palsy has found confidence in herself when her mother, Kimberly, signed her to try out the Diveheart Kids programme by Diveheart Borneo team and immediately she fell in love with scuba diving.

The Diveheart Kids programme in Kuching, Sarawak is the first one to have been done in Borneo. The programme aims to instill the “can do” spirit in participants, inspiring them to take on challenges that they may not have considered before.

The in-water training was organised by the local Kuching PADI dive centre, Premier Marine and Scuba Centre and the Diveheart training was conducted by Ernest C.Teo, a PADI Instructor and  Diveheart Borneo Coordinator. Among the volunteers were medical professionals and a professional rehab physiotherapist.

“Scuba therapy has benefitted Meryl in a lot of ways. She is able to move every part of her body and it gets her to think what she needs to do. Nowadays, she is more alert of her surroundings and feels more confident of herself,” Kimberly added. 

Diveheart is a non-profit organisation based in Chicago, USA, offering scuba programmes for people with disability or adaptive scuba. Currently, it is the leading adaptive scuba training organisation in the world. While here in Asia, Diveheart is currently available only in Malaysia and at two locations, Kuala Lumpur and Kuching. 

Diveheart supports educational scuba diving programmes to provide both physical and psychological therapeutic value to participants. With the programme, the Diveheart team discovered the forgiving, weightless wonder of water which provides the perfect gravity-free environment for those who might otherwise struggle on land. Underwater, we are equal.

For those who are interested to be a Diveheart volunteer, they can contact the Premier and Scuba Centre in Kuching at +6011-10572822 (Office) or visit http://www.divekuching.com/index.html. Volunteers do not have to be scuba divers as there are many areas they can be of assistance.

Photo shows one of the activities for the Diveheart Kids programme.
Photo shows one of the activities for the Diveheart Kids programme.


Reopening Of Sarawak National Parks

KUCHING – Following the reopening of the Sarawak tourism sector, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak, Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had also announced the reopening of Sarawak national parks in stages to the public from June 17, 2020 onwards. 

National parks which reopened on June 17 are Kubah National Park, Gunung Gading National Park, Tanjung Datu National Park, Santubong National Park, Talang Satang National Park, Wind/Fairy Cave National Park, Batang Ai National Park, Samajaya National Park, Maludam National Park, Gunung Mulu National Park, Lambir National Park, Niah National Park, Loagan Bunut National Park and Pulong Tau National Park.

Meanwhile, Bako National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Kuching Wetland National Park and Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park was reopened on June 22, 2020.

“For national parks, leisure and adventure activities, nature walk, caving, snorkelling and scuba diving with or without company of park guide, wildlife viewing activities and expedition activity in totally protected areas and wildlife centres are allowed”, said   Datuk Haji Abdul Karim.

“However, for trekking (leisure), only a maximum of ten (10) persons per group are allowed to enter at any one time per trail, while under trekking for adventure, only a minimum of two and a maximum of eight people per group are allowed to enter at any one time per trail,” he added.

As for adventure caving, only a minimum of two and a maximum of eight people per group are allowed to enter at any time and must be guided. Only specific forest trails, not exceeding three to five hours walk are allowed to be accessed.

The details of the SOPs can be downloaded through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak website at mtac.sarawak.gov.my or Sarawak Forestry Corporation official website at https://www.sarawakforestry.com/.

Photo shows the entrance to Kubah National Park – one of the national parks reopening on June 17
Photo shows the entrance to Kubah National Park – one of the national parks reopening on June 17

LitSara®: Borneo’s Natural Gift to Mankind

Blessed with breathtaking views and rich natural resources, one can find endless secrets hidden behind the health and beauty of the different communities in Sarawak.

The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), in partnership with the indigenous communities in Sarawak have studied and developed LitSara® products through its Traditional Knowledge (TK) Documentation Programme to bring out Borneo’s natural gift for all to enjoy.

LitSara®, a product derived from the indigenous communities’ traditional knowledge, comes from Sarawak Litsea (Litsea cubeba), a plant well known to the Bidayuh, Kelabit and Lun Bawang communities. It has been used by the communities for generations because of its culinary and healing properties.

The Bidayuh calls it “Pahkak” while the Kelabit and Lun Bawang calls it “Tenem”. Traditionally these communities use the fruit in their cooking, as medication for stomach ailments and its leaves to treat backaches.

The plant produces a scintillating scented essential oil that invigorates, rejuvenates and inspires one’s senses and instantly refreshes intone to the core. It also shows good antimicrobial and insect repellent properties, making it suitable as an active ingredient for personal care products.

LitSara® is a pilot project that utilises the acquisition of Prior Informed Consent (PIC) from participating communities, who are actively involved in implementing Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). This is to ensure that the traditional knowledge is valued by those who use it and that benefits are shared equitably.

To know more, visit the LitSara official website at https://www.litsara.com/.

Photo shows a few of Litsara’s products. (Photo by Litsara)
Photo shows a few of Litsara’s products. (Photo by Litsara)

Moving the Travel Industry Forward

It is without doubt that the recent COVID-19 outbreak has greatly impacted the tourism industry in Malaysia, including Sarawak, with a drop of 52% in its estimated tourist arrivals.

With health and safety placed as the top priority, people are now resorting to teleconferencing to communicate, rather than exhibitions and conferences as previously done. This has urged the authorities to review strategic plans to regain tourists’ confidence.

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that the state is reviewing the industry insights through surveys conducted by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Business Events Sarawak (BES) and Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) to analyse the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. It is also looking at ways to improve the current “responsible travel” experience in Sarawak, in addition to being innovative in marketing products after the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted.

“Tourism will be slower to pick up its momentum after the MCO is lifted compared to other industries. “It is the right time to do a product audit to improve the standard and quality of current products as well as introduce new products to tourists”, he said, adding that products and packages would be made available on e-commerce platforms by leveraging the Sarawak Travel App and portal.

Photo shows the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah during the interview with the StarMetro. (Photo from The Star)
Photo shows the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah during the interview with the StarMetro. (Photo from The Star)

Domestic Tourism Recovery Takes Off in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA – The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) launched the domestic tourism recovery programme on June 10, 2020, in its efforts to revive the tourism sector and boost confidence in the market following the onset of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) starting from June 10 until August 31, 2020.

“Although the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY 2020) has been cancelled, efforts to promote the country as a safe tourism destination will still continue. This campaign also encompasses both the Tourism Recovery Plan and Culture Recovery Plan,” said the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri.

Detailed standard operating procedures have been proposed by the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health for eight sub sectors. The sub sectors are arts, culture and heritage exhibitions at cultural public facilities; hotel and accommodation; tour operator companies, tour guides, tourism training institute operations; homestay programmes’ adventure tourism, as well as scuba diving and snorkelling.

Several strategies had also been identified, which include prioritising the use of digital platforms such as social media, blogs, websites, as well as e-marketing to regain the public’s confidence to travel again. A survey would also be carried out to strengthen domestic tourism and in preparation for an increase in foreign tourists from nearby countries upon the reopening of the country’s borders.

“A ‘travel bubble’ will be created for green zone countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Cambodia or ASEAN countries and those in the Asia Pacific region, that are safe and acknowledged by the World Health Organisation, the Health Ministry and Home Ministry,” she added.

Photo shows the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri during the launch of the domestic tourism recovery plan. (Photo by BERNAMA)
Photo shows the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri during the launch of the domestic tourism recovery plan. (Photo by BERNAMA)

Reconnecting with Nature at The Village House

Dreaming of sinking your feet into flour-soft sand, forging through the depths of the rainforest and enjoying the beautiful evening sunsets? While we wait to get the OK to travel again, plan out your trips to enjoy the outdoors at The Village House, located near Santubong.

Fun In the Sun
The Village House one (1) night stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided and Bike Tour for only RM180 nett per person
*Twin sharing basis in Village Double/Twin room

Get Wild at the Wetlands
The Village House one (1) night stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner provided and Bike Tour for only RM300 nett per person
*Twin sharing basis in Village Double/Twin room.

Summit Mount Santubong
The Village House one (1) night stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner and Bike Tour for only RM250 nett per person
*Twin sharing basis in Village Double/Twin room.

Book now till June 30, 2020 for stays from June 10 to December 31, 2020.

The Village House only accepts guest above 12 years of age.

For further enquiries, visit The Village House at https://villagehouse.com.my/.

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Legends of Sarawak’s Floating Natok Kon Sebauh Temple

Located about 48km from Bintulu, Sebauh is a small town with over 20,000 residents. Seated on an island directly opposite Sebauh is the floating Natok Kon Sebauh Temple.

Locals believed that the temple houses three deities that possess immense powers and will come to aid anyone in need. To get there, one must take a boat from the jetty. Upon arrival, you will notice that the temple is completely separated from land, surrounded by water. There are many legends on how the temple came along. The Chinese have their own version while the Ibans have theirs.

According to the local Chinese community, the legend involves three fishermen on board looking for wild ferns across the river before their boat was struck by a storm, flipped over and disappeared at the scene. A huge rock that resembles a boat then appeared at the spot where the boat sank. Apparently, when the moon is high, three figures in white robes can be seen lurking on the island.

A slightly light-hearted version involves three Malay fishermen; Haji Salleh, Tuanku Silai and Mohammad Su who were fishing at Kuala Sebauh a month before the Lunar New Year.  While having lunch on their boat, two fishes suddenly jumped up from the river and landed on Haji Salleh’s plate which made his friends laugh out loud. Then, a lizard from the roof of their boat dropped on to his plate, making them laugh even louder. They laughed so hard that the boat sank. Half a year later, an island appeared at the very site the boat sank and the three figures can often be seen on the island when the moon is high.

Meanwhile, the Iban folklore tells that there were three Malay sailors on a boat from Kuala Bintulu to Sebauh. One day, the cook had made some sago porridge. Instead of eating it, they played with the porridge by stretching and stirring it around each other’s heads. Their foolishness angered the Almighty, turning them into stones. A powerful shaman came along and charmed the stone boat, moving it to the current site. A long time ago, the island resembled a boat however, over the years, erosion took its toll.

Floating Temple Sebauh