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29 May 2015

Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2015 from 11-14 June

Amazing Thailand Grand Sale June 2015

Once again. the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is joining hands with NCC Exhibition Organiser to hold the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2015 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok from 11-14 June, 2015.

Mr. Wiboon Nimitrwanich, TAT’s Executive Director of Tourism Investment Department said, “The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Fair 2015 is held with the objective of stimulating the domestic tourism market and local products during the green season from June to August, as part of our Discover Thainess 2015 campaign. To encourage spending among local and international tourists, TAT has roped in participation from shops, malls, and tour companies, as well as accommodation and spa establishments in offering up to an 80 per cent discount on their products and services.” 

Wiboon Nimitrwanich, TAT’s Executive Director of Tourism Investment Department
Mr. Wiboon Nimitrwanich, TAT’s Executive Director of Tourism Investment Department (4th left) and Mrs. Bussaya Prakobthong, General Manager of NCC Exhibition Organiser (4th right) at The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Fair 2015
Mrs. Bussaya Prakobthong, General Manager of NCC Exhibition Organiser said “Now in its 14th year, the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Fair is one of the country’s major discount events for tourism products and services. This year, a total of 340 exhibitors, including vendors and operators of tourism-related products and services have registered for the event, which will cover an area of more than 10,000 square metres of the C1, C2 and Atrium halls of the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre.”

Thailand Amazing Grand Sale June 2015
Thailand Amazing Grand Sale 2015
The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Fair will also feature fashion products from young designers who have made their names on the Internet. They will use this event as a stage to show their potential and further expand their businesses.

A total of 80,000 visitors are expected for four-day Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Fair 2015 which will representing a 10 per cent increase from the previous year, and generate about 120 million Baht spending on the tourism products and services available at the event held in Thailand. 

28 May 2015

British Airways launches flights to Malaysia

British Airways launches flights to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

As British Airways launches its inaugural flight to Malaysia, Hollywood actress Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, world-renowned Malaysian fashion designer Datuk Jimmy Choo and British supermodel Georgia May Jagger recently added glitz and glamour to the launch of British Airways’ flights to Malaysia with a Cinderella-inspired photoshoot here in Kuala Lumpur.

With the iconic Petronas Twin Towers serving as a stunning backdrop, Michelle Yeoh and Jagger dazzled while seated in British Airways’ Club World business cabin seats as Datuk Choo slipped on a glass shoe specially designed for the occasion.  

British Airways Inaugural Flight to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Georgia May Jagger poses with British Airways pilots, David Sproat (R) and Steve Wydro (L)
to mark the first arrival of its daily service to Kuala Lumpur.
Jagger wore a TEMPERLEY LONDON ‘Long Sand Goddess Dress’ in Almond while Tan Sri Yeoh looked stunning in her own evening gown as they posed for the photograph.  Datuk Jimmy Choo was in a suit by Lord’s Tailor.

British Airways’ inaugural flight to Malaysia arrives at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 2:35pm local time on May 28, 2015. The non-stop route is served by the long-range Boeing 777-200ER aircraft offering customers a choice of four cabins – First and Club World business cabin featuring award-winning flatbeds, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy cabin.

Datuk Jimmy Choo and Georgia May Jagger
Datuk Jimmy Choo with Georgia May Jagger in Kuala Lumpur
Datuk Jimmy Choo said: “Being a proud Malaysian, it has been such a pleasure to support British Airways as they begin services to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has so much to offer those looking for new business and investment opportunities, or a memorable holiday destination for a few weeks. Beyond the action and nightlife of Kuala Lumpur, my hometown of Georgetown in Penang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a marvellous place and one that I highly recommend that tourists visit.”

Michelle Yeoh British Airways Malaysia
Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh (Right) poses with Datuk Jimmy Choo and Georgia May Jagger in KL
for the British Airways inaugural flight to Malaysia
Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh said: “Malaysia is the place I call home so I think it’s tremendous British Airways have launched a new route linking London and Kuala Lumpur. There’s so much to see and do here, be it visiting the historic monuments dotted around the city, tasting the mouth-watering delicacies served at our famous street food markets or wandering one of the many art galleries. I was born to the north in the city of Ipoh and it’s just one of the many inspiring places visitors can explore within easy reach during their stay.”

Georgia May Jagger Malaysia
Georgia May Jagger poses in Kuala Lumpur
Georgia May Jagger said: “I've really enjoyed my time in Malaysia. The people are so welcoming and the food is amazing. I've been trying the local speciality dishes. It has also been an incredible experience working with Datuk Jimmy Choo on this one-of-a-kind photoshoot for British Airways. Being made to feel like Cinderella was a truly magical moment – after all, British Airways knows how to treat its customers.”

British Airways’ service schedule between London Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur is as follows:

Flight number
Departs from
Flight time
Kuala Lumpur at 11.05pm
London at 5.25am next day
13 hrs 20 mins
London at 8.15pm
Kuala Lumpur at 4pm next day
12 hrs 45 mins

To celebrate the inauguration, British Airways is offering special fares to London, the UK and Europe from Kuala Lumpur starting from just RM3,088 for travel between May 28 and November 30, 2015.  The fares are valid for booking until 16 June 2015 after British Airways launches its inaugural flight to Malaysia.

MAB, the new company for MAS

MAB Berhad

MAB is the new company for MAS after months of speculations, it was recently disclosed in the media and also from an Enrich program where it announced that Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah), has appointed Dato’ Mohammad Faiz Azmi of PricewaterhouseCoopers, as Administrator of MAS. 

Under the MAS Act, the Administrator plays a critical role, which includes facilitating the transfer of selected assets and liabilities to a new company, MAB, which will replace MAS as Malaysia’s new national carrier. 

The appointment of the Administrator reflects the continuing and considerable effort towards the beginning of a new airline, MAB. We intend the transition to MAB to be seamless with no interruption to airline services.

MAB will become operational on 1 September 2015, with a new business model and a new management team, which will be led by Christoph Mueller, CEO of Malaysia Airlines and CEO-Designate of the new airline. These upcoming changes will not have an impact on flights, schedules, or the Enrich programme.

With the news out, we should be expecting possibly a new logo for MAB plus more information in the months to come as this is a massive part of the restructuring program undertaken by Malaysia Airlines since last year. 

Khazanah said in a statement recently that MAS would continue to operate until August 31 2015, after which MAB Bhd would take over business operations. A report also claimed that MAS would terminate its entire staff and re-employ two-thirds of the 20,000 workers under new conditions. 

According to the deal crafted by Khazanah, those who will eventually be offered employment at the new company Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) will also not be left out.

Those who accept employment at MAB will be paid a sign on payment of two months pay with their first month's salary at the newco and another two months upon completing 18 months service at the newco as part of its retention payment.

On August 30 2014, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, MAS's sole shareholder, unveiled a radical plan to revive MAS that called for job cuts, a capital injection of up to RM6 billion and the creation of a new company to carry out the airline business.

MAB is the acronym for Malaysia Airlines Berhad and not to be confused with Malaysia Airports Berhad which also carries the MAB branding who manages the airports in Malaysia and overseas. 

27 May 2015

Sky Bars in Kuala Lumpur

Sky Bars in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It is no shock to see a growing number of Sky Bars in Kuala Lumpur mushroom in the last few years and to date, there are about 7 of these rooftop bars in KL where most of them are located at hotels or on top of skyscrapers here.  

While Kuala Lumpur is developing on a very fast pace, the number of Sky Bars to open from 2012-2014 almost tripled with many more being planned around the city. This exclusive trend was picked up a number of years ago when many were talking about these sky bars in other countries like Bangkok, Singapore and around the world and now we have not one, not two but a total of 7 Sky Bars in KL alone.

A general view of a Sky Bar in Kuala Lumpur - Image from skyscrapercity.com
What is a Sky Bar or Rooftop Bar? 

Generally it is a bar or lounge located on the rooftop or a very high floor of a building offering you breathtaking views of a city from up above. Most sky bars are outdoors and have unobstructed views while many are indoors with large glass panels in between you and the views. 

Sky Bars are a great place to entertain friends, business partners and quite popular with the newly dating couples. They are usually priced on the higher side compared to your regular bar or lounge due to the exclusivity and some even have an entrance limit due to space and privacy.

Rooftop Bars are similar but can be located on a rooftop of a 2-storey building or 5 story building which doesn't qualify to be named as a sky bar. Sky bars are supposed to be reach the skies, located above 20 storeys. 

Below is a list of Sky Bars in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Marini’s on 57 KLCC
Jose Padilla poses at Marini's on 57 in Kuala Lumpur
Marini’s on 57

Hands down the highest Sky Bar in KL is Marini's on 57 and this is also one of the pioneer skybars in Malaysia too. In terms of ambiance, Marini's offers a pretty amazing mix of luxury and lifestyle while the views are hands down the closest you will ever get to the world famous Petronas Twin Towers.

As Marini's is on level 57, you are assured on some incredible closeup views of the Twin Towers. The bar offers indoor and outdoor seating while after 9pm, there is a DJ spinning music. In 2014, World renown Chill Out Guru Jose Padilla launched his Sunset Hours in Kuala Lumpur album and then played a special DJ set that night. Highly recommended for just about anyone visiting KL.

Marini's on 57
Level 57, Menara 3 Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC
Tel: 03 2161 2880

SkyBar at Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur
SkyBar at Traders Hotel KL - Image from Shangri-La
SkyBar at Traders Hotel 

Kuala Lumpur Skybars
Incredible views at SkyBar KL
The first sky bar in KL was literally named SkyBar and located at the Traders Hotel by Shangri-La offering fantastic views of the KLCC skyline from a distance.

This is one of the popular sky lounges in Kuala Lumpur with it's ultra modern designs and views and still holds one of the best skyline views of the Petronas Twin Towers.

One of the highlights here is the centre pool that is bordered by cabanas on one side, and a bar area with sofas and woven rattan high tables and bar stools on the other. Special reservations are required for booking the cabana areas as this is the best spot to chill out and enjoy the evening. Gets pretty crowded on weekends too. 

SkyBar KL
Level 33, Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Tel: 03 2332 9888

Luna Bar at Pacific Regency Hotel KL
Luna Bar at Pacific Regency Hotel KL
Luna Bar

The first skybar of Kuala Lumpur which made headlines and also super long lines to get up there. This was hands down the introduction to skybars in KL with a beautiful design complimented with a centre swimming pool.

Located on the 34th floor of the Pacific Regency Hotel, Bar Luna KL offers some incredible views of the KL skyline. It is noted that this sky bar also practises the bottle of liquor to get the best spots so tourist take note.

Luna Bar
Level 34, Pacific Regency Hotel,
Jalan Punchak, by KL Tower, off Jalan P Ramlee
Tel: 03 2332 7777

Fuego Sky Bar Troika Sky Dining KLCC
Fuego Sky Bar and Grill in KL
Fuego Sky Bar at Troika Sky Dining KLCC 

While the rave is about the entire Troika Sky Dining package, this will feature the Fuego Sky Bar and Grill that offers the beautiful KL city skyline view. Fuego focuses on classic cocktails, incredible tapas and of course the big slabs of meat on grill while there are three other theme restaurants in this Crème de la crème outlet.

Open all week, there are also 2 seatings for dinner so reservations need to be made in advance at this classy package called Troika Sky Dining KLCC which was opened by the owners of Frangipani KL in 2014. Expect to see well heeled patrons here too.

Fuego Sky Bar and Grill @ Troika KLCC
Level 23A, The Troika, Tower B, 19 Persiaran KLCC
Tel: 03 2162 0886

Mai Bar at Aloft KL Sentral
Mai Bar at Aloft KL Sentral
Mai Bar Aloft KL Sentral

This skybar is a Tiki-themed bar located on the 30th floor of new Aloft KL hotel located just next to KL Sentral. The interior and feel of Mai Bar is pretty modern and funky while it offers spectacular views of the KL skyline.

Cocktails, food and DJ's are found here and for anyone visiting this place, do check out the Mai Bar’s signature cocktail which is the Malaysian Princess Mai Tai. The sky bar also has in indoor and outdoor area.

At the end of the day, all sky bars have their own crowds and visiting some of them will let you know which you prefer in terms of comfortably, service and overall ambiance. 

Mai Bar Aloft
Level 30, Aloft KL Sentral
Tel: 03 2723 1188

Heli Lounge Sky Bar Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Heli Lounge Bar, one of the new rooftop bars in KL - Image by Thrilling Hong Kong
Heli Lounge Bar KL

One of the latest sky bars in KL, the Heli Lounge Bar KL still serves its purpose as a helipad on Menara KH in the day. Come evening, it turns into the Heli Lounge Bar offering guests amazing 360 degrees panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur city and is currently the talk of town.

This one-of-a-kind sky bar was opened in early 2014, there are two levels here, the bar and club level on level 34 and of course, stairs to climb to the rooftop or helipad where you can catch some pretty amazing views. This is best visited from 6.00 to 7.00 pm.

Note for anyone wanting to party on the helipad after 9pm, guests are required to purchase a bottle of alcohol to do so. This is one of the bad things that KL city practises, especially at the sky bars. No bottle, no access.

Heli Lounge Bar
Level 34, Menara KH, Jalan Sultan Ismail
Tel: 03 2110 5034

SkyLounge at Ascott KLCC
SkyLounge at Ascott KLCC (Now closed)
SkyLounge by 7atenine

Apparently this sky bar is closed and there is no information if it will re-open anytime soon. This swanky sky bar offers one of the best views of the Petronas Twin Towers and also one of the closest to them.

The Ascott has also been a very popular place to hang out, especially on festive nights where you see amazing fireworks on major festivals at the KLCC. We believe that the beautiful views was obstructed by a new skyscraper that was built in front of the Ascott KL. 

SkyLounge KLCC
Level 22, Ascott Kuala Lumpur, 9 Jalan Pinang, KLCC
Tel: 03 2142 6868 (ext 4340)

View Rooftop Bar G Tower in KL
View Sky Bar at G Tower in KL - Image from www.accidentaltravelwriter.net
View Rooftop Bar at GTower 

Located on the 30th floor of GTower along Japan Tun Razak, this sky bar offers indoor and outdoor seating but of course, nothing beats the outdoor section which offers guests views of the surrounding Jalan Ampang area with skyscrapers in view.

Cocktails, Single Malts, Alfresco Bar and a DJ are the usual suspects that perform nightly. Great for anyone wanting a sky bar experience in KL.

View Rooftop Bar
Level 30, G Tower, Jalan Tun Razak, KLCC
Tel: 03 2168 1881

Heli Lounge Sky Bar in Kuala Lumpur
View from the Heli Lounge Sky Bar in KL - Image from: www.saimnicy.blogspot
Pro's and Con's of visiting the Sky Bars in KL

The Good
• Obviously on a clear day, you will see some of the best views of Kuala Lumpur
• Amazing Kuala Lumpur Sunsets
• Some SkyBars offer 360 degrees view
• Swanky and ultra-chic modern designs
• Meet beautiful people

The Bad 
• Hot and humid when sitting outdoors
• Rain and smog
• Over crowded on weekends
• Buy a liquor bottle as entry to these sky bars
• Buy a liquor bottle to get the best seats
• Expensive cover charges after 9.00pm
• Bad service

Malaysia Sky Bars
View of the Petronas Twin Towers from Marini's on 57 SkyBar
In general, sky bars or rooftop bars in Kuala Lumpur are a great way of seeing the city's skyline in the day or night and also catching a beautiful sunset in the evenings. It is also best to visit with friends of loved ones as it would compliment your visit to any of these touristic entertainment spots.

When to visit? Some of the sky bars are best visited at nights to see the city lights while some of them are awesome to visit in the evenings just before the sunset. As I travel quite a bit, I have visited some of the beautiful sky bars in Thailand, Shanghai, Japan and Singapore and I am sure there are many others waiting to be discovered. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to get updates.

Banyan Tree Sky Bar Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
An impression of the Banyan Tree Sky Bar in Kuala Lumpur
There are also a few new sky bars opening in Kuala Lumpur in the near future and one of the much talked about is the Banyan Tree Sky Bar KL which is to open somewhere in 2017 or 2018. Word is that a few other high end residences in Kuala Lumpur will also feature rooftop bars and until then, enjoy your visits to any of the Sky Bars in Kuala Lumpur. 

25 May 2015

Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015 Winners

Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015 Winners

The recent Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015 that took place from the 22-24 March saw 44 teams participating for the three day birding event which has been around for the last 28 years. This year, the weather was almost perfect and teams were out and about the birding area gunning for the championship. Winners were categorised into three main categories which are;

• Advanced 
• Novice 
• IPTA/School 

The bird race also saw a number of international teams participating namely 2 teams from Singapore and 2 teams from Myanmar/Cambodia. Below is the complete list of winners and also the list of prizes that the birders won at the Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015. 

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015
Participants at the launching of the bird race here
Advanced Category Winners

Team Piculets from Singapore
Team Piculets from Singapore, the Champion of the Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015
Champion - Team Piculets (Singapore) - 75 Species

Blue Nuthatch H2 from Kuala Lumpur
Team Blue Nuthatch H2 from Kuala Lumpur
2nd Place - Team Blue Nuthatch H2 (Kuala Lumpur) - 74 species

Team Triple AAA from Sabah (Alim, Andrew and Andy) 
3rd Place - Team Triple AAA (Sabah) - 73 Species

Team Sitta Azurea - 69 Species
Team Penang Wings - 65 Species
Team Tahan Prinia - 62 Species
Team Taman Negara Flycatchers - 61 Species

Novice Category Winners

Team Twin Birds from Malaysia
Team Twin Birds from Malaysia
Champion: Team Twin Birds (Malaysia) - 51 Species

Team Peacock from Malaysia
Team Peacock from Malaysia
2nd Place: Team Peacock (Malaysia) - 39 species

Team Pororo from Malaysia
Team Pororo from Malaysia
3rd Place: Team Pororo (Malaysia) - 38 Species

Team Bowfly Birders - 22 Species
Team Wira Alam - 21 Species
Team Wiskered Tree Swift - 18 Species
Team Triple 'H' - 18 Species

IPTA/School Category

Champion - Team Iridescent Blue - 18 Species
2nd Place - Team Alumni UMP 1 - 18 Species
3rd Place - Team Alumni UMP 3 - 16  Species

Launch of the Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015
VIP's officially launching the Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015
This years birding prizes were also interesting as there was a good mix of prizes consisting of books, hampers, binoculars, sleeping bags, dry bags and many other items. almost every winning team received the Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands book as part of the prizes too. 

Frasers Hill Bird Watching
A hummingbird in action
Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015 Prizes

Advanced Category Prizes

7th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Sleeping Bag
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

6th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Sleeping Bag
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

5th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Sleeping Bag
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

4th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Sleeping Bag
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

3rd Place
- Pentax Binoculars
- Feel Free Bag
- Plaque 

2nd Place
- Backpack
- Manfrotto White Bag
- Plaque

1st Place - Advance Champion 
- Binoculars
- Backpack
- Cullman Protector Backpack
- Champion Plaque

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015
The many booths during the bird race here
Novice Category Prizes

7th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Self Inflatable Pillow
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

6th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Self Inflatable Pillow
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

5th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Self Inflatable Pillow
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

4th Place
- Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands Book
- Self Inflatable Pillow
- Plaque 
- Hamper from BOH Tea

3rd Place
- Multipurpose Dry Bag
- Minox T-shirt and Cap
- Plaque

2nd Place
- Kovea Portable Gas Stove
- Minox T-shirt and Cap
- Plaque

1st Place - Novice Champion
- Nikon Binoculars
- Coleman
- Minox T-shirt and Cap
- Champion Plaque

Bird Watchers at Fraser's Hill
Bird Watchers at Fraser's Hill
Overall, the bird race saw growing interest as many locals from around made their way up to find out more about this fun hobby. As the bird race was held over the weekend, there were about 20 booths set up along the event area showcasing many related products. 

Driving up to Fraser's Hill from Kuala Lumpur takes about 2 hours and there are a number of hotels available one there. Fraser's Hill was once a British highland retreat due to the cooling climate and nowadays, many visitors come up here for the weekend or even day trips to enjoy the beautiful nature available here. 

Activities around here include bird watching, trekking, visiting the waterfalls or simply to take a stroll around the hill area here. A number of bird watchers also make their way here all year through for birding activities. 

Frasers Hill Bird Watching
Bird photographers at Fraser's Hill
You can also read my other stories on Bird Watching in Malaysia as there are huge plans to bring this niche hobby to the next level. There are quite a number of place to do this around Malaysia too. I have also covered a story on Bird Watching in Sabah and also Bird Watching in Borneo for those interested too.   

The next big birding event in Malaysia is the Borneo Bird Festival and also the Borneo Bird Race which takes place from end September to early October and is the premier birding event in this region due to the 3 different destinations that birders will visit in the race. 

The Fraser's Hill Bird Race event is brought to you by Tourism Pahang and the Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) and for interested birders, local and international, you are welcome to participate in next years Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2016 as the dates are around the same weekend as this year. 

22 May 2015

Harrods Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Harrods Hotel Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

The world's first Harrods Hotel Kuala Lumpur will be opened in 2018 and this will also be Malaysia's first 7-Star Hotel right here in the Golden Triangle of KL just next to the upmarket Pavilion Shopping Mall and this project will easily compliment the many other luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur. 

This spectacular hotel will be 30 stories high and will feature 300 hotel rooms and also serviced apartments built at a cost of RM1 Billion. The Harrods Hotel KL project will comprise two residential towers, an office building and a retail podium, with direct connectivity to the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall. The KL Harrods Hotel will complement the vibrancy of the cosmopolitan lifestyle, adding to its comprehensive fusion of malls, hotels, retailers and leisure experiences.

The seven-star Harrods Hotel in Malaysia is expected to be the first to open worldwide followed by the other two Harrods Hotels in London, UK and Costa Smeralda, Italy. 

Harrods Square Kuala Lumpur
Harrods Square KL - Image from The Edge Malaysia Weekly
Harrods Square Kuala Lumpur

This massive project will also be under the Harrods Square Kuala Lumpur project where there will be 4 blocks of buildings including a commercial area. 

Tower A - 27 floors (102 Hotel Rooms and 2014 Service Apartments)
Tower B - 61 floors (530 Service Apartments)
Tower C - 52 floors (390 Service Apartments)
Tower D - 31 floors (Offices and other facilities)
Commercial Area - 4 floors

Harrods Hotel and Residence
Harrods Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur
Qatar Holding bought the iconic London department store in 2010 from Egyptian-born businessman Mohamed al-Fayed in a deal reported to be worth around £1.5 billion. Since then, the new owners have aimed for Harrods to become a “global enterprise that defines the luxury retail and leisure sectors”. 

The owner of the Harrods Hotel KL is Qatar Holdings LLC, Tradewinds Corp Bhd in collaboration with developer Jerantas Sdn Bhd where the hotel is built on a prime piece of property in Kuala Lumpur where Chulan Square and Sri Melayu Restaurant are currently sited. The land was acquired by Jerantas Sdn Bhd from the government for RM429.68 million or 1,800 per sq ft.

Harrods Hotel Malaysia
Harrods Hotel KL
The Harrods Hotel Kuala Lumpur mixed development is a joint venture between Tradewinds Corporation Bhd (Tan Sri Syed Azman Mokhtar), the Pavilion Group (Malton Bhd’s Datuk Desmond Lim, among others), and Qatar Holding LLC (Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund). The latter two were also owners of Pavilion mall before it was listed as part of the Pavilion REIT.

Qatar decided for Malaysia to house one of the world’s first three Harrods hotels because of the country’s good investment environment and because Malaysia gets up to 25 million tourists every year, said Qatar Holding LLC vice chairman Dr Hussain Ali Al-Abdullah. 

Qatar Holding is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority. Its key investments include Agriculture Bank of China, Harrods Group, Hassad Food Company, Iberdola SA, J Sainsbury plc, London Stock Exchange, Lagardere, Porsche, Qatar Exchange, Qatar Telecom, Qatar National Bank, Santander Brasil and Volkswagen AG. They also have stakes in British bank Barclays, French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and American jeweller Tiffany.

At the moment, there is not much information available for the hotel as it is still in the construction process and we estimate that by 2016 or 2017, there would be more information available on the 7-star luxury hotel here in KL. 

For luxury hotel fans, be ready as when it is 2018, Malaysians will be the first few to experience the Harrods Hotel Kuala Lumpur, the only 7-star hotel in Malaysia. 

20 May 2015

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015

Birdwatching in Malaysia showcases the Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015 which takes place this 23-24 May 2015 and this is also the 28th series for the unique bird race here.Since 1998, over thousands of birders and bird watchers have visited Fraser's Hill to participate in the Bird Race which is conceptualised by the Selangor Bird Group and Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) and the Fraser's Hill Development Corporation. 

This year, local and international birders will make their way to Pahang to participate in this niche event which has seen a steady growth in this sport over the last decade. Birdwatching in Malaysia has also seen a number of local birding clubs form in Peninsular and also over in Sabah and Sarawak Malaysia. 

Frasers Hill International Bird Race
Birders in Malaysia
Fraser’s Hill is often been referred to as a first-class bird watching destination in Peninsula Malaysia, since this highland paradise is home for more than 250 species of wild birds. 

Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2015
Come November and December each year, the virtually untouched Montana forests of Fraser’s Hill receives many species of newcomers, that is the migratory species that fly across from places as far as northern Siberia of Russia and remote islands north of Japan and neighbouring land mass, to seek new feeding grounds as well as to escape the freezing winter up north. 

The sightings of Siberian thrush from Siberia are often reported and they are truly a rare treat to ardent birdwatchers. 

Normally these migratory visitors stay around in Fraser’s Hill for couple of months before migrating southwards to Australia and New Zealand. 

They will eventually leave here and fly back home to the north in March and April when to welcome the summer there. 

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race Objectives

• To promote Fraser's Hill to local and international birdwatching as a top class bird watching destination.

• To encourage birdwatching as an academic and healthy outdoor activity

• To create awareness among both Malaysians and foreigners on the rich flora fauna in Fraser's Hill

• To protect Fraser's Hill as a bird sanctuary and as an important part of Malaysia 's rich natural heritage to be preserved for the future generations.

Birdwatching at Fraser's Hill Pahang
Bird Watchers in action
It is known fact that many rare and endangered species are often sighted in Fraser’s Hill. Endangered local species such as the wreathed hornbills and rhinoceros hornbills can be easily spotted at times too. 

Bird watching is non–spectator activity. Many people have the impression that a bird race is an event where birds actually race or being raced against each other. 

Actually, a bird race is a ‘fun race‘ where teams of three bird watchers compete against each other in sighting, identifying and recording the most number of species (not birds!) within the boundaries of Fraser’s Hill which cover an area of 2,804 hectares of hush tropical jungles, and subjected to stipulated ground rules set by the organizers. 

A bird spotted at one of the recent bird races in Malaysia
For instance, in order not to disturb the birds, the use of electronic equipment such as tape recorders and loudspeakers is strictly prohibited. Throughout the race, participants are not allowed to communicate with other competitors regarding the whereabouts of the birds except members of his/her own team. Failure to comply with the rules will result in the forfeiture of species that have been recorded in their team logs.

This year, the competition will be divided into three distinctive categories;

1. Advanced category: For serious and experienced bird watchers.
2. Novice category: For those who just take up bird watching out of curiosity or treat bird watching as an academic hobby.
3. Local category: For the local residents who know the whereabouts of the birds in Fraser’s Hill are.

Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015 Banner
The Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015 Poster
Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015 Prizes

For the prizes, a total of RM15,000 has been allocated which include RM 2400, RM 2100 and RM 1800 for the first, second and third prizes respectively in the advanced category and smaller sums for the novice and local categories. 

The rules this year will also be slightly stricter with the inclusion of checkpoints at various strategic spots where participants will have to register in order to maintain their eligibility.

For more details contact :
Tourism Pahang
JKR 300, Jalan Masjid, 25000 Kuantan, Pahang
Telephone: 609-517 1623            
Fax: 609-517 1626
Email: pkbf2006@yahoo.com or pkbf2009@gmail.com
Website: www.pahangtourism.org.my or www.pkbf.org.my

This year's sponsors include Omicron, Minox dan BOH and DSC World Sdn Bhd and the bird race is also supported by Tourism Pahang, Tourism Malaysia and endorsed into the Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 or MyFest2015 Calendar. 

If you are a birder, you can also see my other articles about Bird Watching in Borneo and also Bird Watching in Malaysia. Otherwise, see you at the Fraser's Hill International Bird Race 2015. 

19 May 2015

Tadau Kaamatan Festival 2015

Tadau Kaamatan Harvest Festival 2015

The largest festival in Sabah called Tadau Kaamatan Festival 2015 will be celebrated from 30th to 31st May and this is where the Kadazandusun and Murut communities come together during the month of May to offer thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.

The theme for this years Tadau Kaamatan 2015 is "Peace & Unity Through Culture" and this was officially launched on 1st May 2015 at Pisompuruan Square in Tambunan, Sabah. This festival has also been celebrated for the last 55 years here in Sabah.

Tapai Lihing Tasting
Visitors tasting some Tapai and Lihing
Visitors and locals are invited to join in the merriment and be entertained by a variety of traditional and unique cultural dances which are performed at the KDCA on the last weekend here in Penampang. 

There are also traditional sports competition such as mamarampanau (walking on bamboo stilts), arm wrestling and many more. For craft lovers, there are a number of shops that are showcasing or even selling traditional Kadazan craft. Some of the interesting pieces are in the form of ladies accessories.

The Ka'amatan Festival is also a great opportunity to sample traditional local food and drinks which include the fascinating lihing or tuak (local rice wine as in the picture above) where they are found in the traditional houses at the KDCA.

Hongkod Koisaan KDCA Penampang
The Hongkod Koisaan KDCA building in Penampang
2015 Unduk Ngadau
Unduk Ngadau contestants take stage on the final day
Unduk Ngadau 2015

One of the much talked about highlights of the harvest festival is to witness the highly anticipated Unduk Ngadau Harvest Queen beauty pageant as it takes place at the end of the festival to crown the harvest queen for the year. The title Unduk Ngadau comes from the ethnic word Runduk Tadau which means 'the girl crowned by sunlight'. 

This is one beauty contest that no one should miss as it showcases the beautiful Kadazandusun women from each district who are up for the main crown title. The Unduk Ngadau 2015 finals take place at the Hongkod Koisaan KDCA on the 31st May in the Penanpang district which is about 15-20 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu city.

Unduk Ngadau Tambunan, Sabah
Unduk Ngadau contestants from Tambunan, Sabah
For this years prizes, the champion will win a cash prize of RM6,000 and a return ticket to Melbourne, Australia sponsored by Royal Brunei Airlines. Additional cash prizes of RM4,000, RM3,000, RM2,000, RM1,700, RM1,500 and RM1,300 respectively will go to the first to seventh runners-up while consolation prizes will be given to the other contestants.

The main sponsor, Altel, will sponsor the award for the Ratu Popular Altel and a scholarship for diploma course in tourism will be sponsored by ATI College for the Unduk Ngadau Winner 2015. 

Tadau Kaamatan 2015
Traditional Sabahan Dance during Kaamatan
Sabah Harvest Festival 2015 State Wide Celebrations

As Kaamatan is celebrated throughout Sabah, there are various districts that hold their own celebrations to the harvest festival and below is a list of dates and places where you can catch the celebrations. 

Date         Venues
May 1 Tambunan (Grand Launching)
May 2 Keningau
May 7 Tongod
May 9 Kuala Penyu, Menumbok, Klang Valley, Papar, Ranau, & Sook
May 10 Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan & Kinabatangan
May 14 DBKK, Matunggong & Sipitang
May 15 DBKK & Kudat
May 16 DBKK, Kudat, Penampang, Sandakan, Johor Bahru, Pitas, Tungku, Tawau, Putatan, Lahad Datu & Membakut
May 17 Tuaran, Tamparuli, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Inanam, Kunak, Banngi (Kinobungan) & Lahad Datu
May 23 Nabawan, Kemabong & Beaufort
May 24 Kota Belud & Tenom
May 30 Hongkod Koisaan KDCA, Penampang (Launching Ceremony & Traditional Games Exhibitions KDCA)
May 31 Hongkod Koisaan KDCA, Penampang (Grand Finale)

Traditional Bamboo Band from Kundasang
Traditional Bamboo Band from Kundasang, Sabah
Sabah Fest 2015

The Sabah Fest is a prelude to the Statewide Harvest Festival celebration that incorporates dance, music, fashion, food and crafts that is ethnically Sabah. Widely known as Agop by many communities on the east coast, caves have been a definitive feature of their cultural identity spawning a wealth of folklore and ancient practises related to dwellings, deaths, burials as well as a supply of resources for present-day economic activities. 

The celebration of Agop this year takes us on an expedition mostly to the east coast of Sabah to sample the charms of the communities – Ida'an, Dusun Sungei, Begak and Dusun Subpan identified with the ancient cave culture and related on-going traditions and practises. 

Other rarely seen groups such as the Tidong of Tawau, Dusun Sandayoh of Paitan and Dusun Melangkap of Kota Belud also shared the stage to perform and display their culture and musical traditions at this year's Sabah Fest production – one of Sabah's most anticipated annual premier events. The Sabah Fest 2015 show was held from 1-3 May 2015. 

Kadazan Dusun Food at Kaamatan
Various ethnic Kadazan Dusun Food at Kaamatan
Sabah Harvest Festival 2015 Food Showcase

As Sabah is known for their unique ethnic foods, there will be a series of food showcases throughout the month of May and around the city of Kota Kinabalu. For any food lovers, this is the best time to explore the Sabahan delicacies at these events. 

Kaamatan Buffet Dinner
Date: 1 - 31 May
Venue: Golden Dew Bistro, Ming Garden Hotel & Residences, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person: Mr. Azree Bin Jaidun (+6016 832 6027)
Tel: +6 088 528 888 (ext. 6611)

Sabahan Set Dinner + Cultural Show
Date: 1 - 31 May
Venue: The Kingfisher Restaurant, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person: Mr. Shahrun Nidzam Sharoom
Tel: +6 088 480 888 (ext. 6004)

Mother's Day Champagne Brunch featuring a Sabah Cuisine
corner Date:10 May
Time: 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Venue : Cafe TATU, Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person: Ms. Jeslia 
Tel: +6 088 327 919

Ethnic People of Sabah
An ethnic group from Kota Belud called Walai Tindal
Kaamatan Feast Buffet Dinner
Date: 30 - 31 May
Venue: The Penyu Restaurant, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person: Mr. Shahrun Nidzam Sharoom
Tel: +6 088 480888 (ext. 6004)

Harvest Festival Buffet
Date: 30 - 31 May
Venue: Tanjung Ria Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person: Mr. David Lim
Tel: +6 088 221234

International Buffet Dinner Spread - Featuring Local Delicacies
Date: Every Saturday night in the month of May & Sunday 31st May
Venue: Promenade Cafe, Hotel Lobby / Ground Floor, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person: Mr. Hillary Bestan & Mr. Husin Hasan
Tel: +6 088 265 555 (ext. 1134)

Weekend Dim Sum Buffet Brunch at Shang Palace 
Date: Every weekend in the month of May
Time: Every Saturday from 11:30am to 2:30pm & every Sunday from 10:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m
Venue: Shang Palace, Level 1, Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person : Ms. Jeslia
Tel: +6 088 327 919

Sabah-inspired Champion Cocktails at Sunset Bar
Date: Daily throughout the month of May
Time: 2:00pm to 11:00pm 
Venue: Sunset Bar, Kota Kinabalu
Contact Person : Ms. Jeslia 
Tel: +6 088 327 919. Reservation is highly recommended 

Tadau Kaamatan Festival 2015
A Sabahan ethnic group dancing during the Kaamatan celebrations
Tadau Kaamatan Festival Grand Celebrations

The large scale Tadau Kaamatan Festival will also be celebrated in the town of Ranau on the 6th June 2015. This will include the tourism ministers, VIP's, state officials and will showcase some interesting performances and local foods. 

For more information on Kaamatan 2015, please contact;
The Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA): +60 88 713696
Sabah Tourism Board: +60 88 212121
Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd: +60 88 232121
Sabah Tourism Website for Kaamatan

KDCA building in Penampang Sabah
KDCA building in Penampang
Having attended the Kaamatan Harvest Festival in Sabah in 2011, it opened my views to the unique and interesting culture of the Kadazandusun people and also the many other ethnic groups that celebrate this unique festival here. Among the highlights, I have to admit that the Unduk Ngadau Beauty Contest was something unexpected and so very different. 

For anyone who has never been to this, I highly recommend for you to attend this harvest festival which is very unique to east Malaysia. The best time to do this is also at the end of Kaamatan at the Hongkod Koisaan KDCA in Penampang. Otherwise if you are in Sabah anytime in May, you can also visit some of the districts to have an experience for Tadau Kaamatan Festival 2015 on a district level. 
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