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JOM! DO: 5 adventure sports to do in Malaysia - August 4, 2020

White water rafting near Lata Lembik in Raub, Pahang. Pictures by Zulkifly Ab Latif
 
IN case you still didn't know, Malaysia IS a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Its rugged landscape of rainforests, mountains, valleys and coastline brimming with flora and fauna has earned the country a prestigious spot as one of the 12 mega biodiversity countries in the world. Along with this rich natural heritage comes endless possibilities for adventure and exploration. From weekend warriors to professional adventurers, there is always something exciting and thrilling for them to do here even when the rain pours. Without a doubt, adventure sports have become increasingly popular in Malaysia with plenty of adrenaline rushing activities now available. For those wanting to take their first leap into the world of adventure this country has to offer, here are the 5 must do adventure sports.
 
CAVING
Thanks to the country's many limestone caves, caving or spelunking is fast becoming a popular adventure sport. With challenging conditions such as dark flooded chambers and tight cramped spaces, the sport of caving is of exploration and discovery. The caves of Malaysia are home to exotic and unique insects, bats and reptiles. Some caves are also shrouded in mystery and steeped in history as well as folklore. A few of the best adventure caves found in the country suitable for beginners are Gua Tempurung in Perak, Gua Hari Malaysia in Pahang and Gua Batu Maloi in Negeri Sembilan.
 
ROCK CLIMBING
Rock climbing is a sport that builds up one's strength, endurance and problem solving skills. The sport of rock climbing is gaining attraction and there are now even indoor climbing facilities for people to train such as Camp 5 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Even so, nothing beats the thrill of climbing up a natural rock surface and with its many limestone, sandstone and granite hills, Malaysia has a unique selection of rock climbing spots for almost all levels of proficiency. One of the best spots to try rock climbing is Gua Damai Extreme Park near Batu Caves, Selangor with their on site trainers and mostly vertical routes suitable for beginners.
 
SCUBA DIVING
Malaysia's many tropical islands surrounded by crystal clear waters is naturally the perfect location for scuba diving since it is an activity that lets people go deeper underwater and really take in the magical scenery. Nevertheless, some may view scuba diving as an expensive sport to dive in due to the costs in certification training and investing in scuba gear.
For those who want to give scuba diving a try but are still a bit hesitant to fully commit and sign up for certification, there are actually Discovery Dive programmes available at almost all scuba diving centres on islands. Under the supervision of diving instructors, the discovery dive lets beginners feel what its like to breathe underwater while up close with the colorful marine life. So if you happen to find yourself on Redang Island in Terengganu or Gaya Island in Sabah on a holiday, why not drop by any of the dive centres and ask about their discovery dive programmes.
 
WHITEWATER RAFTING
Malaysia' s rugged landscape and highlands have resulted in mighty gushing rivers that serve as the perfect playgrounds for whitewater rafting activity. Undeniably thrilling, white water rafting is an adventure sport that requires team work and is often used in team building programmes all around the country. Graded according to the international scale of river difficulty, there's always a river waiting to be navigated for almost all levels of rafters. Rated from grade 1 to grade 3 in difficulty, Kampar River near Gopeng, Perak is the best spot for beginners to visit and give white water rafting a try.
 
MOUNTAIN BIKING
The undulating terrain of Malaysia's jungle capped hills is not only attracting weekend hikers but also mountain biking enthusiasts. Often time the same routes are even shared by hikers and cyclists.
Mountain biking is but another way to explore the wilderness of a particular location albeit in a more fast paced and adrenaline pumping manner. Rough terrain, steep climbs and hidden obstacles only add to the thrill of the sport.
Perhaps one of the most popular mountain biking trails is at Bukit Kiara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor with almost 30km length of trails. For beginner cyclists the
Putrajaya Challenge Park MTB trail is the best choice, and there are even mountain bicycles available for rent.
 

#JOM! GO: Tioman's top 5 kampungs - July 28, 2020

TIOMAN got its first shot to fame when it was chosen as the shooting location for a 1958 Holllywood movie titled South Pacific. In the musical movie, Tioman was to represent "Bali Hai", thanks to its beautiful white beaches and clear azure waters. Thanks to the movie, Tioman, the largest of an archipelago of nine islands, was hailed as one the world's most beautiful islands. And it still is. To safeguard its marine and ecological wonders, the archipelago and the surrounding which is located 56km off the coast of Pahang was gazetted as a Marine Park in 1994. Tioman has eight main villages dotted along its 69km coastline of sandy beaches and rugged rocky cliffs whose peaks are dominated by exposed granite boulders, with the most impressive are Batu Sirau (747m) and Nenek Si Mukut (685m). For first time visitors who unsure of where to go for their island holidays, here are Tioman's top five must-know villages and what to expect there.

KAMPUNG TEKEK

Tekek is more like a small town and the administrative centre for the island. The island's police station, health clinic, other government offices and the one and only ATM machine are located here. There are also a handful of duty free shops thanks to Tioman's status a duty free island but there are only cigarette, alcohol and chocolates on sale. One of Tekek's real attractions is Tioman Marine Park Centre, located at Tanjung Mesoh. The centre puts up an exhibition and informative displays on the marine life in Tioman. But its star attraction is the marine life thriving underwater off its coast. A typical Tioman holiday package usually includes a visit to the centre, offering snorkeling activity.

KAMPUNG SALANG

Located at the northwest tip of the island, Salang is perhaps one of the popular villages of Tioman. When the sun goes down, Salang comes alive and colourful, thanks to the seaside eateries and cafes. Salang also has one of Tioman's most beautiful beaches that is ideal for snorkeling or simply sun bathing, while the small island of Soyak which is a popular dive site is just a stone throw's away from the beach. The more adventurous can even try hiking to the adjacent and more secluded Monkey Bay for the rewarding scenery of a gently sweeping deserted beach.

KAMPUNG GENTING

On the west coast, Genting is a rustic mix of picturesque island village and charming small resorts. Genting makes a good choice for those looking for a laid-back, kampong atmosphere. At a glance, the village looks dense and cramped as it is being sandwiched by a lush green hill and the beach. But its vibrant and upbeat kampong setting will in no time sets into visitors' holiday mood. But on a busy weekend, do expect its main jetty to be abuzz with activities and business at its souvenir shops, mini markets and sea side eateries.

KAMPUNG JUARA

Juara is unique for being the only village sits facing the wide open waters of the South China Sea. If compared to Tekek or Genting, Juara is far more quieter and relaxed, which is perhaps the reason why it is also home to a turtle sanctuary. Most visitors to Juara usually start their journey by taking offroad taxies from Tekek, while the more fit and adventerous hike on the 6km jungle trail that takes them through the pristine rainforest interior of Tioman.

KAMPUNG MUKUT

The southernmost part of Tioman is home to Mukut. Although the rickety old wooden jetties have given way to sturdy concrete ones, not much else has changed in the village. This only means that Mukut still has that a rural island charm which is hard to beat. Its small cluster of simple chalets and houses are framed against the island's twin peaks – Gunung Nenek Semukut and Batu Sirau. Most of the available lodging are simple and basic while the main attraction here is jungle trekking since the village is the starting point for treks to scale the twin peaks. The multi-tiered and spectacular Asah waterfall which was once a source of fresh water for ancient mariners is also a 45 minute trek away.

Source - https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/jom/2020/07/612164/jom-go-tiomans-top-5-kampungs

 

#JOM! STAY: Club Med Cherating reopens for guests soon - July 06, 2020

Good news for holidaymakers in Malaysia, Club Med's first resort in Asia located in Cherating, Pahang will resume operations on July 28 with the launch of its Safe Together program. Developed by Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services, the guest assurance program will reassure guests of the clean and safe environments allowing them to visit with confidence. Under the Safe Together program, a series of heightened safety and hygiene protocols aligned with guidelines from global and local health authorities will be implemented at all resorts. The Safe Together program's enhanced hygiene measures will be communicated throughout the resort - from arrival and reception, public areas and rooms, dining and resort activities, to kids facilities, entertainment, and staff operations. Resort guests can enjoy their holiday with ease as all activities and facilities have been adapted to suit the current climate while still adhering to safety standards such as frequent sanitisation using Ecolab's disinfecting agents and procedures, social distancing and precautionary practices including filling up of health declaration forms and temperature checks. Guests will still be able to experience Club Med's convivial all-inclusive offerings and 'MustTry' experiences from tailored services to the little touches that make Club Med simply unique.

Holiday-goers looking for adventurous fun under the sun will be thrilled as a range of in-resort activities like outdoor yoga, watersports, nature walk, rock climbing, archery, and its signature Kids' Club, as well as other outdoor activities are made available at Club Med Cherating. Furthermore, resort employees, also known as Gentil Organisers (G.Os) and Gentil Employees (G.Es), will be wearing masks throughout their shifts for an added level of protection. Closely following WHO guidelines and under the guidance of Ecolab, all resort staff are also thoroughly trained on precautionary and cleaning measures. Hand sanitizers will be made available throughout the resort and specially designed Club Med protective masks along with N95 masks are available for the guests to purchase at the boutique. Club Med SEA general manager, Vijay Sharma said that the partnership with Ecolab will equip all resorts to put in place a series of enhanced initiatives that will set the gold-standard for resort cleanliness.

"With this partnership, we hope to fortify an enhanced measure of hygiene processes to bring about a peace of mind for our guests returning to Club Med," he said. In addition to Club Med Cherating, the protocols under the Safe Together program will be implemented across all Club Med resorts in Asia as well while its resorts in China, after undergoing professional food safety, water checks and public hygiene audits are also certified by the China Certification and Inspection (CCIC). With 70 years of hospitality experience, Club Med is not only adapting to the new normal with agility and enhanced measures but has also honed their expertise in operating low-density resorts suited for safe distancing with self-sufficient resort facilities that allow guests to stay within the 'Club Med Cocoon', a safe haven for families looking to jump back to happiness. Surrounded by 85 hectares of lush tropical rainforest, and with the resort's built-up surface covering less than 10 per cent of the total site, Club Med's guests will be able to immerse themselves in endless possibilities and experiences while remaining safe whether they are adventuring into the wild, relaxing on secluded beaches, or even learning a new skill at sea, as there is plenty of spacious outdoor areas and activities to indulge in. In addition, restricted access to the public allows guests and staff to remain traceable and contactable should the need arise.

Taman Negara remains safe for travellers - July 16, 2020

JERANTUT: Taman Negara, one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, remains safe for travelers as the recent flash flood was an extremely rare phenomenon. Pahang Tourism and Culture Ministry director Datuk Idrus Yahya said the national park here was safe to visit so visitors should not be afraid to plan their trip to Taman Negara. "The flash floods on Monday only hit the drop-off zone near the Taman Negara jetty where six vehicles were parked and it was triggered by unusual rainfall upstream. There is already a designated parking area for visitors who wish to stay overnight. "The Village Security and Development Committee provides a brightly lit parking area along with security guards not far from the jetty and most people would choose to leave their vehicles there. The parking lot is located on a higher ground and visitors do not have to worry if it rains," he said when contacted.

In the 5.30 am incident on Monday, six vehicles, including five belonging to expatriates on holiday at Taman Negara, were submerged after Sungai Tahan burst its banks, causing flash floods. No injuries were reported in the incident. Since images of the incident including the submerged vehicles went viral, some netizens posted on social media that Taman Negara Kuala Tahan was no longer safe and visitors who were planning a trip there were advised to cancel their plans. However, tour and resort operators at the national park have rubbished the posting saying the floods had only submerged certain section of the drop-zone and the cars damaged were those parked near the river.

Meanwhile, Idrus said visitors to the national park especially those planning to stay at Mutiara Taman Negara Resort will be often reminded not to park their vehicles near the jetty especially at night. "If they insist, then they will have to provide details of their room number as the resort management would immediately alert them to remove the vehicle in case it rains... this can be at any time including early hours of the morning. "On Monday, the water rose rapidly and the occupants did not have enough time to remove their vehicles. It's best that those visiting Taman Negara to park their vehicles at the designated parking area to avoid any unforeseen incidents," he said, describing the flash flood here as a rare incident. Meanwhile, a resort owner, who declined to be named, said people should not spread fake news about the floods or circulate the pictures at the national park without knowing the real situation.

"The floods receded less than three hours after the incident and the situation here has returned to normal. The national park only reopened on June 15 after almost three months of being closed due to Covid-19 and currently, there are a lot of special tour packages for visitors," he said. Source - NST

Cameron Highlands 'heats up' - June 29, 2020

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: After almost three months of quiet, this highland tourist destination is "heating up" again with the arrival of people in droves, after domestic travel receives green light to resume in the current recovery phase of the Movement Control Order or RMCO. The cooler temperature here, sometimes as low as 14 degrees Celcius, is one of the attractions, especially for people who have never travelled overseas to colder countries. At the same time, there are many must-see places here including the Kea Farm market, the tea plantations and flower farms.

According to director of the Pahang Tourism Ministry, Arts and Culture Ministry Office, Datuk Idros Yahya, the number of tourists here increased after interstate travel was allowed, with most focusing on ecotourism and food centres. "Most people like to visit countries with cooler weather such as New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan, so when they were not allowed to travel overseas, they sought out hilly areas like Cameron Highlands," he told Bernama recently. Hours after Prime Minister announced on June 7 that interstate travel was allowed, 109 hotels in Cameron Highlands were inundated with calls for rooms. Idros also urged entrepreneurs here to be creative in coming up with tourism products to attract more tourists who will stay longer at lodgings here.

Meanwhile, general manager of Cameron Highlands Copthorne Hotel, Patrick Tee, said closing the hotel during the MCO gave it the chance to improve its business module and marketing strategy. He said besides general maintenance of the 107-room hotel which had been operating since 1996, new programmes were drawn up, including the "7 Wonders Copthorne Hotel" which introduced seven interesting must-see locations in the vicinity, including the Kea Farm market. "The standard operating procedure (SOP) is being observed, including screening everyone's body temperature, while visitors can register through the Sanarp application without having to go through the front desk," he said. A check at the Kea Farm market found visitors being required to write their names and telephone numbers in registration books, wear masks and have their body temperatures taken before they are allowed to enter the area where fresh vegetables and fruits are sold. Vegetable and fruits seller Chong Siew Yoong, 50, said when the MCO was imposed, it was the first time in her 20 years of doing business that she saw the market closed. She said the increased number of tourists here, especially during the weekends, has spurred the traders and farm operators to provide better services and more products. -- BERNAMA

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