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Trekking the islands

Posted By Dennelton Mandiau on Monday, October 16, 2017 | 18:48

The 5 islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park are just a stone’s throw away from the City of Kota Kinabalu. Most visit the park to swim, snorkel or even do leisure dives, but very few actually walk the trails on the island and this is a shame as we have some great Lowland forest on the islands.

The most popular and interesting trail has to be the one that runs from Park HQ to Padang Point on Gaya Island. Its only 1.95 km long and will take you just under 2 hours to do a nice slow walk. To get there, you will need to get your boatman to send you to Park HQ on Gaya Island and make sure you ask him to pick you up 2 hours later at Padang Point.

At Park HQ, you will have to register and inform the ranger on duty of your intention to trek. The start of the trails runs along the beach and soon the cool, shady forest canopy will envelop you.

It takes a couple of minutes to adjust your eyes to the surroundings before you start to see the many wonders found in the rainforest. The forest on Gaya island is the closest example of Lowland rainforest that we have to the City and was actually Sabah’s first timber concession which was granted out in 1879 and it was also Sabah’s first Forest reserve (1923). The trails are shaded by the canopy of tall trees of various species with the tallest being “keruing” (dipterocarpus grandiflorus).

In season you will find hundreds of the strange two winged seeds littering the ground. Some of the other unique trees that you will see along the trek include the primitive Cycads - considered a living fossil as it has been around from the time of the dinosaurs. Tall Clumps of Nibong, fish tail and rattan palms with some orange ixora bushes. Delicate Maidenhair ferns cling to the rocks and look out for bulbophylum orchids that grows on a large boulder next to the trail.

Close to it are the wild vanilla orchids hanging from the branches overhead and you might also see bright red
Views from the trail.
wild nutmeg fruits on the trail, as they commonly grow here.

There is a wooden boardwalk that leads through an area of Mangrove and it’s a surreal experience to be walking amongst the stilt roots of the mangrove forest.

There are not many animals on the islands, but Gaya is home to some Wild boars they are rarely seen and you can count yourself lucky if you come across monitor lizards and long tailed Macaque monkeys on the trail. Often the raucous call of the Pied Hornbill can be heard as they forage for fruits in the canopy.

All too soon you find yourself at the end of the trail at Padang Point. A restaurant has been built here and you can enjoy a refreshing drink while waiting for you boatman to come pick you up.

Getting there: Boats are available at Jesselton Point in the City.

Text and photos by David de la Harpe

Desa Cattle Dairy Farm

Posted By Dennelton Mandiau on Thursday, October 5, 2017 | 18:51

The state of Sabah is blessed with many wondrous attractions and generally easily reached on rather good paved roads .Mesilau situated on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu is no exception .

Mesilau is a small village situated on a ridge on the slopes of Mountain Kinabalu and is about 100kilometers from Kota Kinabalu . Mesilau, named after the Mesilau River, is an area situated at approximately 2000 m above sea level on the East Ridge of Mount Kinabalu in the Kinabalu National Park. To get to it , one first goes to the farming town of Kundasang between Kinabalu park and the town of Ranau.Drive straight through the town of Kundasang and head for the mountain . Places of interest here are the Desa Diary farm, an 18 hole golf course (which is the highest golf course in Sabah ) the Mesilau Nature resort which is sadly now closed due to logistical issues after the last Earth quake and various home stays and small resorts. It has a delightful climate which is cool and windy being at such a high elevation and next to Mount Kinabalu .

Currently on of the most visited attractions at Mesilau has to be the Dairy farm. Many local and foreign visitors make a point of visiting the farm for it cool weather and scenic views. Fields of green grass with black & white Frisians grazing cows amidst rolling valleys and hills with a backdrop of majestic Mount Kinabalu if the weather permits , otherwise it will be pillowly clouds , remind many people of similar scenic views in New Zealand . it has also became the haunt of many local newly weds for photo shoots.

The farm has undergone tremendous renovations since its inception for the betterment of the cows and visitors . There is a glassed viewing gallery for visitors to observe the daily milking of the cows. A couple of pens to which visitors are allowed to get up close to some calf and goats . You may also feed them with grass or milk for a small fee . It is a great bonding opportunity for families with young children. The farm also produces its own Gelato which is delicious and creamy , fresh flavored milk together with about 4 varieties of cheese. All these items, together with a gift shop selling memorabilia of the Cows are available for visitors to purchase .

Definitely an interesting option to do on a day out of the city. 

Text and photos by David de la Harpe

Khoo Kongsi – Heritage jewel of Penang

Posted By Dennelton Mandiau on Friday, September 22, 2017 | 18:38

The Clan house.
After the founding of Penang by Captain Francis Light of the British East India Company in 1786, Penang became a magnet for many Chinese who left China seeking their fame and fortune. These imigrants came from various districts and villages in China and upon arriving in a new strangy country , usually banded together into clans . There were 5 such clans in Penang and one of them was the Khoo clan and it is to them that we owe a debt of thanks for building the incredibly beautiful Khoo Clan house in George Town . The khoo’s originally came from Sin Aun Village in Xing Lin District, Xing Lin Town, Amoy (Xiamen) and the first documented account of one of its members was Khoo Mo Liu, a 14th generation descendant of Chneh Pang. Born in 1752, he died and was buried on the island in 1795.

By 1816, the Khoo population in Penang was around 100. Most of who were enterprising traders and established businessmen. When the Cheng Soon Keong temple of their home village in China needed funds for restoration, they donated 120 Dollars in the name of the “Penang Tua Sai Yah Public Fund” and soon after the members decided to build their own clan house or Kongsi as it is locally known. In 1850, they purchased a block of land from an Englishmen and converted the existing house into a clan house. It was named Leong San Tong and was used for gatherings, ancestral worship and weddings. A few years later, the Board of Trustees built a block of office buildings on the vacant lot of the courtyard to house a conference and administration hall. With the respective clan houses as the nuclei, these kongsi demarcated their territories with their own terrace houses on three or four sides of the perimeters. This adjoining, closely-knit and defensive model settlement, like a clan village in the colonial city, is a rare form of congregation practiced among migrant communities. Today this secluded and defensive sort of construction is very visible as you leave Canon Street and walk through the gates into the settlement.

Half a century later (1894), with many of the clan members now wealthy businessmen of Penang, the board of trusties decided to demolish the old clan house and build a new one using master craftsmen from Southern Fujian. It took eight years to complete this new clan house but unfortunately, the magnificent building was almost completely razed by fire on Chinese New Year’s Eve in 1901.

The loss of the grand clan house was a painful blow for the clan, but they decided to reconstruct the clan house from scratch in 1902 and it took them 4 years to complete. The two constructions spanned thirteen years and cost more than one hundred thousand dollars each. The Leong San Tong we see standing today is the one completed in 1906. It was partially damaged in World War II when the Japanese bombed George Town however repair works were done to fully reinstate the clan house to its former glory in 1958.

Main hall of the ancestrial temple.
The Khoo Kongsi has to be one of the finest examples of Chinese architecture in Malaysia . The entire building is covered with intricate tiled shard work, mural paintings, wood and stone carvings many of which have been gilded in gold leaf. It is a not to be missed attraction on the Penang Heritage trail.
Open Daily from: 09:00 am to 5.00 pm.
Entrance fee: RM10.00 per person.
Text and photos by David de la Harpe (

Saint Michaels Church

Posted By Dennelton Mandiau on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | 18:58

Monsignor August Wachter.
The story of the coming of Mill Hill missionaries of the Catholic Church, to Borneo, came about due to the reverent desire of an English mother for her son to perform his religious obligations. In 1876, Mrs. E Rodway of England, wrote a letter to an English Benedictine priest, complaining that her son, Captain WH Rodway, an officer in the Sarawak service, was unable to fulfill his religious duties as there were no Catholic priests Borneo. This set in motion the Mill Hill Missionaries who were given the task of bringing the Catholic Church to Borneo. The first priest of the Mill Hill mission arrived in Labuan on the 29th of July 1881

They went about their mission of converting the native animist to Christianity from Labuan and soon spread to the mainland. Putatan was at that time regarded as a large district populated by many rice farming Dusuns and the area of Penampang was considered part of Putatan. In order to travel to the villages in Penampang, people would travel up the Moyog River from Putatan.

St. Michael Church Penampang.
In 1890, the Mill Hill missionaries decided to build a school in Penampang . They chose the village of Dabak along the Moyog river .The school was to introduce Catholism to the people there and after a number of years, many of the local people had been converted into Catholicism. There were a number of small wooden churches in the area but Monsignor August Wachter who was in charge of the mission there, decided to have a permanent stone church built for the growing followers. This is today the St. Michael Catholic Church and is the oldest church in the Penampang District. It is located on a steep hill on the far side of Penampang town. The Foundation stone was laid during a special ceremony on 29th September 1936, during the Feast of St. Michael. It took a long time to build, as the stone had to be hand hewn from local stone nearby. When the Japanese army arrived in conquest of North Borneo during the 2nd World War, only the walls of the church had been constructed. However due to this fact the building was not bombed and construction resumed after the war. It was finally completed in 1947. Sadly, Wachter was not able to see his completed church, as he became a victim of the Japanese regime. He and seven priests, one religious brother and three lay workers perished between July and August 1945 at Sapong, Tenom. They were arrested and forcibly made to march the 100km to Tenom in the hot sun, on the railway track under the command of the Japanese soldiers.

Today the St Michael’s church in Penampang is a bastion of the Catholic mission and well worth a visit for it historical significance.

Text and photos by David de la Harpe.

300 juta kanak-kanak hiruf udara sangat bertoksik: UNICEF

Posted By Dennelton Mandiau on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | 22:41

Kira-kira 300 juta kanak-kanak hidup dengan udara luar sangat tercemar yang akan menyebabkan
kerosakan serius terhadap kesihatan fizikal, termasuk membantut tumbesaran otak mereka, kata Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) dalam satu kajian dikeluarkan pada Oktober 2016.

Hampir seorang dalam tujuh kanak-kanak di seluruh dunia menghirup udara luar yang sekurang-kurangnya enam kali lebih kotor daripada garis panduan antarabangsa, menurut kajian oleh Tabung Kanak-Kanak PBB, yang mengatakan pencemaran udara faktor utama kematian kanak-kanak.

UNICEF mengeluarkan kajian itu seminggu sebelum perbincangan tahunan perubahan iklim PBB, dengan pusingan seterusnya dianjurkan oleh Maghribi pada 7 hingga 18 November pada tahun yang sama.

Agensi tersebut, yang menyokong hak dan kesejahteraan kanak-kanak, menggesa pemimpin-pemimpin dunia supaya mengambil tindakan segera untuk mengurangkan pencemaran udara di negara mereka.

“Pencemaran udara adalah faktor penyumbang utama dalam kematian kira-kira 600,000 kanak-kanak di bawah lima setiap tahun, dan ia mengancam nyawa dan masa depan berjuta-juta orang lagi setiap hari,” kata Anthony Lake, pengarah eksekutif UNICEF.

“Pencemaran bukan sahaja membahayakan tumbesaran paru-paru kanak-kanak. Ia sebenarnya boleh melintasi halangan darah otak dan merosakkan secara kekal tumbesaran otak dan masa depan mereka. Tiada masyarakat boleh mengendahkan pecemaran udara,” kata Lake.

UNICEF menunjukkan imej satelit yang dikatakan mengesahkan bahawa kira-kira dua bilion kanak-kanak hidup dalam kawasan di mana pencemaran udara luar melebihi panduan kualiti udara minimum yang ditetapkan oleh Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia.

Udara tercemar akibat asap kenderaan, bahan api fosil, habuk, sisa pembakaran dan bahan cemar bawaan udara lain, katanya.

Asia Selatan mempunyai jumlah terbesar kanak-kanak hidup di kawasan seperti itu kira-kira 620 juta, diikuti oleh Afrika dengan 520 juta dan wilayah Asia Timur dan Pasifik dengan 450 juta orang.

Kajian itu juga menganalisis pencemaran udara dalaman, biasanya disebabkan pembakaran arang batu dan kayu untuk memasak dan pemanasan.

UNICEF menggesa langkah-langkah yang lebih kukuh bagi mengurangkan pencemaran, meningkatkan penjagaan kesihatan, memantau dan mengelak kanak-kanak terdedah udara tercemar.

Sumber AFP
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