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Pahang Ocean Paddle International Challenge set for September debut - July 18, 2022

KUANTAN: The inaugural Pahang Ocean Paddle International Challenge Malaysia 2022 offering a cash prize of RM300,000 has attracted 500 canoe race enthusiasts including 100 foreigners. The 64km ocean canoe race between Sept 7 and 11 will see participants from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Portugal battling in five stages to be crowned champions. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said the multi-day canoe race will involve 500 participants including 100 foreigners.

"The foreigners have confirmed their participation in the race which is hosted for the first time in Southeast Asia. The race will be shown live on social media daily and people around the world can follow the event.  "The event which complies with international standards offers a cash prize of RM300,000 and six categories will be contested. The race will involve three districts namely Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin," he told reporters after the pre-launch of the Pahang Ocean Paddle International Challenge Malaysia 2022 here yesterday. The first stage will begin at Pantai Hiburan (Rompin) followed by Pantai Lagenda (Pekan) and Pantai Balok, Pantai Cherating and the final stage at Pantai Teluk Cempedak, all in Kuantan.

Meanwhile, Sharkar said the return of international events into the Pahang tourism calendar, will help to revive the tourism industry which was badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. "The Pahang government will continue to find ways to organise more sports tourism activities to restore Pahang's reputation as a favourite tourist destination for both local and international visitors," he said.

Source - NST

#JOM! GO: Thrilling rides above the clouds - July 28, 2022

Genting Skyworlds Theme Park brings to life all your favourite animations for a fun-filled family day, writes Hanna Hussein. SINCE its opening last February, I have been wanting to visit Genting Skyworlds Theme Park, the outdoor theme park of Resorts World Genting in Pahang, and see what the hype is all about.

The highland resort has been receiving a lot of visitors with its hotels fully booked on weekends and public holidays.  So, my husband and I decide to go on a weekday instead, and it turns out to be the best move. The entrance to Genting Skyworlds isn't that crowded, and since we already purchased our tickets through the Genting Skyworlds Mobile App, we begin our day quite smoothly. After scanning the QR code on our phones at the entrance, we proceed to our day of adventure starting at the Studio Plaza. 

HELLO, RIO!

A bright and vibrant zone, the Studio Plaza is a place to celebrate all things cinema. It is also where the main retail stores and exciting restaurants (especially the candy store!) are located. There are not many rides here, so we head to the "Rio" section on the right side of the park, where a summer party is held all day, every day, with loud, funky Brazilian samba music that gives the place an atmosphere of the carnival. Rio is one of my favourite animated movies produced by Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox Animation. The movie is about a domesticated macaw named Blu going on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with a fiercely independent hen named Jewel.

We get to waltz through the bustling neighbourhood of Santa Teresa and marvel at the colourful facades. There are three rides in the zone and we head to the first one, the thrilling Samba Gliders, which is said to be one of the best in the park.

Two riders are strapped side by side facing front and back on a "hang glider chair" that can accommodate four people. The chair is connected to a rail above as it circles the park section like a roller coaster at a height of almost 20m, providing an adrenaline-charged bird's-eye view of the whole area. My husband and I choose the front-facing seats so we can enjoy the ride going forward. Not really a fan of thrilling rides, my sister opts for the Rio Carnaval Chaos, a chaotic spinning ride in a colourful teacup — something that lets her keep her feet on the ground. Joining her later, I thought I might get dizzy from all the spins, but it is actually quite fun and enjoyable. Another ride in Rio is the Blue Sky Carousel, a double-decker carousel with stunning details and artistic elements. Unfortunately, the ride is undergoing maintenance. 

EPIC WORLD

Next we head to the "Epic" section. At the entrance, visitors will walk through a "machine" that shrinks them into "tiny humans", just like in the 2013 animated movie, and be"teleported" to a woodland kingdom inhabited by talking slugs, flower people and tiny soldiers called Leafmen. Flowers and bugs are now giants and we, the tiny humans, get a chance to marvel at the secret kingdom up close. Not only that, there are also two rides — Voyage to Moonhaven and Hummingbird Flyers — to better enjoy the "kingdom". Since Voyage to Moonhaven is a water ride that doesn't promise to keep you dry, it is highly recommended to take it last before you head home.

The boat ride takes us on a whimsical tour around Moonhaven while exploring deep into the macro-world. However, it's not just a leisure cruise, as the ride has its own surprises. Do look out for the scary, unexpected drops that will send you hurtling down the waterfalls! The Hummingbird Flyers, on the other hand, is a scarier ride that goes round and round, taking you high and low on the back of a "flying hummingbird". 

COOL ICE

If you are into roller coasters, you must try the Acorn Adventure at the Ice Age zone. This amazing ride will take you on a "nutty" journey in search of a mystical acorn with Scrat, the lovable pre-historic squirrel in the famous Ice Age movies. The ride will take you as high as 20m before making a rush down the spiral tracks around the icy fall.  The zone also features three other attractions: the Ice Age: Expedition Thin Ice, which is still under construction; Sid's Rock N Slide, which is a super-thrilling motion-filled ride; and the Mammoth Fun Zone, which is a frosty playground for little explorers.

Of course, we also make sure we don't miss out on catching the Ice Age: Time Warp shows at Sid's Playhouse, where we get to meet all the Ice Age characters and watch them perform live on stage with a fun dance that you can join in. Showtimes are available on the Genting Skyworlds app and it is mandatory to book a VQ reservation to get a seat!

FUTURISTIC RIDES

At the Andromeda Base, we're transported to a thrilling galactic escapade, but oh... be warned recruits, danger lurks in every shape and form in the deep unknown. More like a robotic world with futuristic attractions, this zone offers three rides and all of them require a VQ reservation through the app. There's the Alpha Fighter Pilots ride, where we are strapped up for a thrilling space battle simulation.  And just like pilots in training, this ride serves as a physical and mental test for our mission ahead. Beware, the thrill level is high as it will make you turn and swirl!

Another scary ride is the Terraform Tower Challenge that shoots riders up to the sky on a vertically thrilling ride. If you're brave enough to open your eyes, you will be gifted with a breathtaking view at its best vantage point, all before the extraterrestrial beings strike! For a more adventurous and energy-consuming experience, you can go on the Boot Camp Training. Here you can put your strength and resilience to the test on an obstacle course that is designed to challenge even the most agile of recruits. Next to the Andromeda Base is the smallest zone in the park, the Robots Rivet Town that houses two fun rides for young visitors. There are the Bigweld's Zeppelins that will take them on board the family-friendly Bigweld's fleet and the Rivet Town Roller, a scary ride that goes on a topsy-turvy route! 

INTO THE MUSEUM

One of my favourite rides in the park is definitely in the Night at The Museum, which is located at the Central Park zone. I really love the heart-warming movie of the same name, starring Ben Stiller as the downtrodden protagonist who takes the job of a night watchman at the New York American Museum of Natural History and finds the artefacts coming to life as the clock strikes midnight. However, the Night at the Museum: Midnight Mayhem ride isn't as I expected.

The tour at the Natural History Museum is an action-packed 3D interactive ride, which tasks you with managing the unruly exhibits and stopping them from wreaking havoc by shooting them with well, candy! Oh, and don't miss out the Independence Day: Defiance ride — one of the best attractions in the park by far! The ride takes you on a journey to the future from Genting Highlands to Kuala Lumpur while defending earth from an alien invasion! As one of the Earth Space Defence recruits, we're all geared up to be part of an exhilarating space endeavour.

PRE-ARRIVAL TIPS

Now, here's how to make your Genting Skyworld journey fun and easy. Download the Genting Skyworlds Mobile App. The app contains all the information you need about the park. You can see the park operating hours, schedules, accessibility information and descriptions for attractions, dining and more. You can also check out upcoming events as well as offers, promotions and purchase selected tickets effortlessly. With the app, you can also see wait times for must-see shows, rides and attractions wherever you are — at home, on the go, or in the park.

The most important part is that you can plan your itinerary with the VQ reservations — a very important thing to get a chance to ride on the popular attractions where pre-booking is necessary. You can pre-book preferred time slots, create and edit boarding groups for multiple-ticket holders and start a recommended itinerary curated from personal preferences to customise your park experience.

On top of that, the Photo+ Experience is super reliable. But, you have to register your selfie to receive and preview all your watermarked images or videos taken by the ride-capture or slow-motion cameras, which are available at selected attractions through the mobile app. You can download the pictures for free and if you purchase a Photo+ Pass, you are able to download high-resolution digital contents, print them onto any gift products, or share them with your family and friends instantly!

Source - NST

JOM! GO: Sungai Lembing, a place where time takes a slower pace - July 14, 2022

One of the last-standing miners, who worked in the world's largest and deepest tin mines in its time, recalls his time as a shaft driver in the tunnels of Sungai Lembing. "IF you fool around, you'd lose your limbs. You have to stand straight up like you're standing for the national anthem. If you put your hand out, you'd lose your hand. Your leg out, you'd lose one leg, and your head out, you'd die," says Pak Tam without blinking.

There is no sign of amusement in his seasoned deadpan face, but the audience to whom he's speaking tonight at the compound of Muzium Sungai Lembing, some 42km from Kuantan, giggle and chuckle.

"But seriously, going into the lift in the tight mining shaft was not a joyride. I couldn't see the goings-on in the shaft as I sat at the top and controlled the lift according to the signals given," says Pak Tam.

The 73-year-old was one of 40 shaft drivers, as the British company Pahang Consolidated Company Limited called it, who were employed to serve over 2,500 miners in what was said to be the world's largest and deepest tin mines in its time. "All I needed to do was to listen carefully to the bell signals made underground. Different signals had different meanings. Three pulls meant miners were in the bucket, another two pulls meant they were going down and if it was followed by another 10 pulls, that meant they're going 1,000 feet down," he says, adding that each 1,000 feet (304m) stops at a floor of tunnels. At this point, the audience is dead silent, probably trying to imagine the exact length of 1,000 feet. All I can hear is the soft sound of raindrops on the canvas of the marquee tent. Once in a while, I hear the croaks of frogs.

Despite the wet and cold weather, Muzium Sungai Lembing goes ahead with the barbeque dinner that is set at a small open area next to its main building. The dinner, and the talk by Pak Tam, is one of the highlights organised for a group of media and travel companies from Kuala Lumpur that is on a familiarisation trip. The rain has somewhat dampened my appetite for the grilled meats, but my heart is all set to meet Pak Tam and listen to his stories, especially when museum manager Peterson Augustine Jadan hinted that he is one of the last-standing miners who is still residing in Sungai Lembing.

THE HEYDAY

"So, can you imagine how deep 1,000 feet is? And that is not even the deepest shaft I had driven at," continues Pak Tam, breaking the silence. Though his personal record stands at 426m (1,400 feet), the Sungai Lembing mine had tunnels located between 610m and 700m underground.The tunnels, he says, if combined, would reach 200 miles (322km). That is the driving distance from Kuala Lumpur to Bukit Mertajam in Penang on the North-South Expressway! "Down there, the tunnels and the shafts looked like a cross section of an ant nest. If your job didn't require you to be down there, no one wanted to be there on purpose. It was a different world down there," says Pak Tam.

In this labyrinth of tunnels, there were three underground mines named Myah, Taibeto and Gagak. At a depth of 700m, Myah was the deepest, beating the height of the world's second tallest skyscraper, Merdeka 118, that stands at 678m in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. All these numbers give the collective mines of Sungai Lembing the title of the largest and deepest tin mine, and the second richest tin deposit in the world, with a record of about 13 million metric tonnes of tin ore over its 100 years of operation.

Tin was not the only mineral Sungai Lembing had. There were others too, which included gold. Thanks to its wealth of natural resources, the town was nicknamed the El Dorado of the East. "That made Sungai Lembing the richest town in Pahang. We had our own cinema, a duty-free shop, a petrol station and even a hospital," says Pak Tam.

Record has it that the cinema in Sungai Lembing was the first in Asia, and the hospital and duty-free shop were the first in Pahang. As the saying goes "even great successes come to a natural end", the mines of Sungai Lembing pulled the brakes on its operations in 1986 when global demand and prices of tin dropped.

 

NEW DAWN

"Tomorrow, make sure they take you guys to one of the tunnels upstream," says Pak Tam as he bids us farewell when we board our bus back to our resort, located less than 10 minutes from the museum. Earlier, I was told the unique Tunnel Tour that takes visitors into the tunnel on a real mining locomotive has been taken out of the itinerary due to bad weather. "The one Pak Tam mentioned is a collection of three tunnels at a slope that are set a few metres apart from each other, which are visible even from the road," Jadan says.

"But, nevertheless, you'll get the feel of what Pak Tam told us tonight from those tunnels," he concludes. Interestingly, Pak Tam has been quite a star of Sungai Lembing, giving talks to visitors of Muzium Sungai Lembing, especially those taking up the museum's organised tours. The museum, opened in 2001 when the state government decided to revitalise the town as its heritage tourism attraction, is like a beacon of light for the folk of Sungai Lembing, especially after the bustling place turned into a ghost town following the downfall of the tin mining industry. Converted from the mine manager's residence, the museum houses a massive collection of artefacts, from mining equipment to uniform, right down to colonial furniture and tableware. There are dioramas that give a better understanding of how Sungai Lembing mines operated back then. Black-and-white pictures of the town's glory days help too. They "give" faces to the stories Pak Tam told. As the champion to the town's title of "Heritage tourism attraction", the museum has developed an interactive tour at a surprisingly minimal fee for group visits.

This fun treasure hunt-like game gets group members scouring each room and section in the museum to look for answers. "This way, visitors get to learn more about the mines in a fun and exciting way," Jadan says.

TUNNELS AND BEYOND

The rain continues to shower Sungai Lembing throughout the night till dawn. The first item on our itinerary on the second day is catching the sunrise at Sunrise Hill. Judging by the looks of it, we may have to give the sunrise a miss. However, our organiser is quick to act. Instead of a picnic breakfast with a sunrise view, we get to enjoy our packed nasi lemak and hot black coffee at the veranda outside our rooms as we wait for the rain to subside.

Thankfully, it's not a long wait. Still hopeful for a good view, our group hops into three modified four-wheel-drive vehicles amid light drizzle. With makeshift benches on their cargo beds, these pickup trucks look like they have been extensively carrying passengers instead of goods. The rugged transfer puzzles me as the hill with a dazzling sunrise view that I know, and had been to, is located behind the town police station, which can be reached even on foot or with a two-wheeler. "No, this is a different hill located slightly out of the town's limit and there's a bit of off-road adventure to get there," says one of the drivers.

As our convoy crosses Sungai Kenau, the river that runs through Sungai Lembing, passing through a massive Chinese graveyard, it all comes back to me. I've taken this route before — to Rainbow Waterfall, which requires an hour's ride on a 4x4 and a 45-minute moderate hike a long, long time ago. A lot has changed since then. There is a nice number of impressive-looking lodgings dotting along the narrow road, but these lines of resorts and chalets stop the moment the road enters the forested area. Here's a fun fact: there is no river named Sungai Lembing in the area. There are two local legends from which the town got its name. One is based on a ruler who saw a vision of a spear (or lembing) in the river and another is based on an incident of a deer escaping a spear thrown by an Orang Asli by jumping over the river. Okay, back to Sunrise Hill. After a slow but bumpy 15-minute 4x4 ride, we reach its peak. It's a flattened top with a viewing deck at its edge facing rolling hills that go as far as the eye can see. There is also a "Sunrise Hill" sign, mimicking the famous Hollywood sign, and a couple of toilets. Thanks to the cold start, the morning view has a carpet of clouds rolling slowly over the hilltops, exposing a landscape of thick, untouched forest.

Done with the supposed sunrise view, the convoy takes a longer route back to town with quick stops at two popular picnic spots: the shaded bank of cascading Sungai Jin and the Pasir Puteri sand bank beside Sungai Kenau. The last item on our itinerary is Kolong Pahat, the three tunnels dotting the hillside almost at the tail-end of the town's main road. Since we have to pass through the town, the convoy stops right next to the town's one and only petrol station for photos. And the town doesn't disappoint. Its rustic setting and the laidback pace, at any angle and corner, are Instagram-worthy.

Finally, our tour ends at its climax. Not only do we get to see what Pak Tam told us last night, but we also get to step inside the tunnel, though just a metre away from the entrance. "Now, imagine how those miners chiselled these tunnels. It's hard work but we had a good life then," says Pak Tam, who joins us at Kolong Pahat, as he runs his hand across the rugged tunnel wall.

Source: NST

Taman Negara - July 15, 2022

LETTERS: I just returned from a nice four-day trip to Taman Negara in Kuala Tahan, Pahang. Kudos to Mutiara Resort, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and Tourism Malaysia, which are responsible for overseeing the resort, park maintenance and international promotions. Being a regular visitor (more than 30 visits) since 1989, I was happy to see many new visitors from Italy, Denmark and Arabic nations in addition to the regular Germans, Australians and Dutch.

This shows that we have interesting sights in Taman Negara to attract new entrants. What was disappointing, though, was the lack of maintenance of facilities. The boardwalks to the Canopy Walk are in bad shape and need immediate repairs. Safety should not be compromised.

The 20-minute trek to Lubok Simpon, my favourite swimming and picnic spot, involved a messy and disjointed boardwalk which no one wanted to use. The monkeys are also a menace at the Park HQ. Perhilitan personnel need to address this issue swiftly. The hides to view animals at night are also not well maintained. The usual excuse is lack of funds. Perhaps the relevant agencies need to study how our northern and southern neighbours maintain their famous parks diligently.

I am sure with better leadership and regular maintenance, more funding will pour in. Agencies, including Perhilitan, need to be more aggressive in maintaining safety and promoting tourism. The resort's services have improved and Tourism Malaysia has attracted diverse international tourists, so Perhilitan also needs to play a more assertive and holistic role to bring in more tourists.

On the budget hotels in Kuala Tahan, the local district council must ensure that the minimum standards are met with standard operating procedures put in place. Unsightly and abandoned units in or near the town centre must be removed.

We should be aware that first impressions last!

Source: NST

Consent of late Sudirman's family vital to rebuild house, says state tourism exco - June 20, 2022

TEMERLOH: Plans to restore the neglected house where legendary entertainer, the late Datuk Sudirman Arshad, grew up at Kampung Tok Embun near Mentakab here can only materialise if his family gives the "green light". State Tourism, Culture and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said the family will have to step forward and give their consent before the authorities can initiate any plans to rebuild the structure.

"It is a private property, so only if his (Sudirman) family gives their consent can the state government or Pahang Museum make plans to turn it into a gallery or museum. "We cannot act on our own as it involves a set of procedures. "If the family comes forward and agrees (to hand over the house), then maybe the Museum department can look at how we can preserve it and turn it into an attraction. This is concerning land ownership and legality," he said. Various quarters have urged the federal and Pahang governments to repair and preserve the house as an appreciation to Sudirman who brought fame to the country and state as a performer.

The house is now only left with its concrete staircase with the wooden floor, walls and roof missing. The structure is located about 100m from Jalan Temerloh-Mentakab and surrounded by overgrown bushes and trees. Meanwhile, Sharkar said work had begun to set up a museum in Temerloh to highlight the life and contributions of several prominent individuals who were born here including the late Sudirman. "An old government building will be refurbished and named as Museum Temerloh. Several individuals, including former writer and nationalist Pak Sako (Ishak Muhammad), former menteri besar Tan Sri Yahya (Mohd Seth) and Sudirman, will be featured at the museum.

"The museum will provide visitors with information about the history of Temerloh town, past prominent leaders, famous individuals and other relevant information," he said.

Source: NST

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