Thursday, February 09, 2017

The deadliest places on earth

Interestingly, Malaysia has an attraction that made it to MSN's The Deadliest Places on Earth .

The place is the Gomantong Caves in Sabah, Sandakan to be exact.

Source: MSN

Why the Gomantang Caves made the list..
Simud Hitam (Black Cave) and Simud Putih (White Cave) are the two dark cave complexes in the Gomantong cave system. Simud Hitam is up to 295 feet (90 meters) high and is more accessible than Simud Putih. The caves are surrounded by a forest having various animals, including orangutans. However, the thousands of live bats, Malaysian cockroaches and huge Scutigera centipedes give way to layers of waste and remains of dead creatures, with rats feeding on them, making this space extremely mucky.

The Gomantang Caves is actually one of Sabah's many attractions. Located in the heart of the Gomantong Rainforest Reserve, the caves have been claimed by the World Wildlife Foundation to be the best managed edible birds' nest cave in the world and has been the focus for birds' nest for many centuries.

They are not as scary as it's made out to be if you enjoy caving or don't mind creepy-crawlies like coaches and centipedes, bats, swiftlets and such. Oh yes, wild orangutans as well in the vicinity.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Malaysians visiting Qatar accorded Free visa-on-arrival

From The Star..

Honoured visitor: Dr Ahmad Zahid visiting the Souq Waqif market with Sheikh Abdullah. — Bernama

DOHA: Malaysians will no longer need to pay any visa fee to visit Qatar, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said Qatar’s Prime Minister and Home Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani informed him of this during their meeting here.

He said Malaysians would also be accorded the visa-on-arrival facility allowing them to stay in Qatar for 60 days and an additional 30 days on application.

“This is a new decision which was reached and agreed with the Qatari government,” he told Malaysian journalists here.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the change would take effect after a follow-up meeting to be handled by Malaysia’s Ambassador to Qatar Datuk Ahmad Jazri Mohd Johar. — Bernama

Along the topic of visa, in another news article as reported by The Star, Indian nationals living outside their country can enjoy visa-free travel to Malaysia now, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“We welcome them to visit Malaysia as tourists,” he said.

“This will help increase our foreign exchange earnings as tourist arrivals will go up.”

Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said this did not mean that the nation’s security would be compromised as they would have to undergo Airline Passenger Security Screening (APSS) before being allowed entry into Malaysia.

This flexibility, he added, would attract some 500,000 Indian nationals currently in Qatar as businessmen, professionals and technical experts.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Langkawi hotels take top three spots in TripAdvisor's 2017 Travel Awards

TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travellers’ Choice Awards for Hotels sees the top three spots for hotels in Malaysia go to three Langkawi hotels:

* The Danna Langkawi,
* The Datai Langkawi, and
* Casa del Mar Langkawi.

The Danna Langkawi has taken the top spot for the third consecutive year in a row.

The five-star Danna Langkawi bags the top spot in the Travellers' Choice Awards for Best Hotel in Malaysia. Photo: TripAdvisor

Other Malaysian hotels that made it into the list in order are: Pangkor Laut Resort in Perak; Grand Hyatt in Kuala Lumpur; Tanjong Jara Resort in Terengganu; Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa in Sarawak; Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi; The Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort in Kuala Lumpur; and Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur.

In Asia, the top three hotels are all located in South-East Asia. They are: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Ubud, Bali; Shinta Mani Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Mandapa, in Ubud, Bali, wins the Travellers’ Choice Award for Best Hotel in Asia. Photo: TripAdvisor

Read more: Langkawi hotels take top three spots in travel award

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Malaysians not affected by Trump's immigration ruling

Source:The Star

The Star reported that:

Malaysians are not affected by United States President Donald Trump’s Executive Order temporarily blocking the entry of refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

A spokesman from the US Embassy clarified that Malaysians are not affected by the ruling.

“Malaysian citizens are not affected by the Executive Order. Malaysians can continue to travel to the United States with a valid visa,” the spokesman said in a text message on Sunday afternoon.

The spokesman added that the US government is committed to facilitating legitimate travel for international visitors while ensuring the security of its borders.

The suspension provided for in the immigration ruling will allow the US government to review current screening procedures while protecting national security, the spokesman added.

On Friday, Trump signed the Executive Order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”, which effectively suspended refugee entry for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

It also bars the issuing of visas for 90 days for citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism.

Those countries are Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It was reported that green card and visa holders from the affected countries had been blocked from entering the US within hours of the order being signed.

However, Trump’s plans might be derailed after a US Federal Court judge temporarily halted parts of the Executive Order late Saturday night.

Trump has been criticised over the move, and in particular due to the fact that a few of the Muslim-majority countries not listed as part of the order despite facing terrorism concerns, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have business dealings with the Trump Organisation.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Terengganu and Kelantan are flooded

Malaysia is in the midst of the monsoon season. We have not one but two monsoon seasons in a year.

The east coast states of peninsular Malaysia are still flooded as we speak. We are experiencing the north-east monsoon at the moment.

Terengganu, for instance is seeing the number of flood evacuees here increased drastically from 54 victims to 1,303 this Saturday morning.

The Star reported that:

'The victims have been placed at 25 evacuation centres.

"In Setiu, eight evacuation centres have been opened housing 266 victims from 47 families.

"In total, as of 6am, there are 1,303 flood victims from 350 family housed in 33 evacuation centres."

While in Kelantan the floods have worsened in Kelantan, requiring the evacuation of 3,232 people in seven districts as at 8am this morning.

The state of Kelantan is the other east coast state that is affected by bad flooding this time each year during the north-east monsoon season.

35 relief centres have been set up in the districts of Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Pasir Puteh, Bachok, Machang, Tanah Merah and Tumpat where 866 families are being temporarily housed, according to the Social Welfare Department's "infobanjir" app.

But hey, if you are still planning to visit Malaysia this time of the year, there are many places not affected by the floods. Take the west coast for instance, there's the capital city of Kuala Lumpur that has many attractions to provide you with a full and interesting itinerary.

Penang, in the north, is one other place not to be missed if you are here in West Malaysia. The island of Penang has gained much popularity recently. Penang along with Kuala Lumpur has been listed in a survey as one of top destinations for medical-tourism. Penang is also popular as a place to retire for foreigners.

Malacca, a two-hour road-drive away south of Kuala Lumpur. It is a city chockfull of tradition and culture and is rich in history as well - Dutch and Portuguese.

And then there is East Malaysia, i.e., the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. If you are a diving enthusiast, Semporna in East Malaysia offers one of the world's best diving sites.

Malaysia has been voted Best Travel Destination in Asia

People take advantage of the good weather to be outdoors at the Petronas Twin Towers park. Photo: The Star/Muhamad Shahril Rosli

Image source: The Star

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Malaysians do feel they don’t have enough holidays

I've always thought Malaysian workers enjoy one of the highest public holidays in the world but I found out recently that there are a good number of countries that are way ahead.

Still, to some of us 16/17 public holidays in a year (depending on location/states) is plenty already -- for many of us are still not able to get away from work for various reasons.

According to the 2016 Expedia Vacation Deprivation survey across 28 countries worldwide, it was found that many Malaysians can only dream of a holiday by a beach, as their circumstances do not allow them to take a vacation.

Based on the results, Malaysians are the third most vacation-deprived nation globally! The slightly good news is that we don’t seem to be as deprived compared to 2015 when the nation was the second most deprived in the world.

The majority are taking only 25% of their allocated leave days. The main reason most Malaysians don’t take their vacations is likely poor finances (36%).

The survey also reveals significant disparity in the number of vacation days received across the globe. From countries like Germany and France where average annual allocation for leave is 30 days, Australia (20) and Singapore (18), Malaysia is close to the lowest world bracket with its 16 days a year.

Only 51% of Malaysians use up all their allocated vacations days. But even then, there seems to be difficulty disconnecting from work as 35% admit to checking work e-mails or voicemail at least once or twice while on holiday.

You can read more about it here: Malaysians feel they don’t have enough holidays

Image source: The Star

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