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Travel Archives - New Malaysia News

6 places to enjoy night views in the world
The breathtaking night view of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, as seen from KLCC Park. Photo: Tourism Malaysia When the sun sets and darkness falls, the cityscapes are all lit up. And here are some of best night views you can check out. 1 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia At nightfall, the capital of Malaysia is transformed into a dazzling cityscape of lights. Particularly spectacular are the views of the majestic Petronas Twin Towers. You can also get a good view of the city from the KL Tower and several hotels in the city which have bars or restaurants on the rooftops or higher floors. Some places to get an overview of the night skyline include Marini’s on 57, SkyBar (Traders Hotel), and the no-frills Ampang Lookout Point (Bukit Ampang). 2 Bangkok, Thailand Sky Bar at The Dome, Lebua Hotel, Bangkok, is one of the highest roof top bars in the world. Photo: Lebua Hotel Bangkok Bangkok, often referred to as “City of Angels” because of its meaning in Thai (krung thep maha nakhon), is a city where you can enjoy the night view from one of its many rooftop bars. Besides its many skyscrapers, there are also several temples which are illuminated at night and beautiful to see. Two temples worth checking out are Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) along the Chao Phraya River, and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha) in the grounds of the Grand Palace. 3 Singapore, Singapore The spectacular night view at Marina Bay, Singapore. The Singapore metropolis, with its endless skyscrapers, is an amazing sight by night. Some night scenes worth checking out include the Marina Bay where you will observe a double delight of illuminated architecture reflected in the waters of the bay, and the Gardens by the Bay, which will make you think you’re in the movie Avatar when the place is all lit up. 4 Hong Kong, China The breathtaking Hong Kong city skyline by night, as seen from the harbour. Take the Hong Kong Star Ferry which crosses Victoria Harbour, between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, when night falls. You won’t be able to stop staring at the spectacular illumination of the cityscapes. This is one of the best ways to enjoy the city’s nightscapes. You can also view it from Victoria Peak. Get there by taking The Peak Tram which operates until midnight. 5 Shanghai, China Shanghai with its futuristic skyscrapers like the Shanghai Tower and Oriental Pearl TV Tower, offers a spectacular night view. As darkness falls, enjoy a relaxing stroll at the waterfront area of The Bund, with its famous historical buildings. You’ll be mesmerised by the dazzling display of lights reflected in the waters of Huangpu River. Alternatively, you can enjoy the night view from across the river at Lujiazui, the glitzy financial district of Shanghai. This area is known for its futuristic skyscrapers like the Shanghai Tower and Oriental Pearl TV Tower. It is also known for its nightlife, fine dining, stylish bars, and posh dance clubs, which have great views of the skyline. 6 Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai, with its skyscraper Burj Khalifa, has amazing night views. Where else but from the mega tall skyscraper Burj Khalifa can you enjoy one of the city’s most enchanting night views? Ride in what is said to be the fastest elevator in the world up to the 124th floor to witness this. The tower is open until 11pm, but you would need to book your tickets early to get a spot. Another must-see is the Dubai Fountains at Burj Khalifa Lake, with their symphony of classic to contemporary Arabic and world music, and laserlight show, accompanying the “dancing waters”. Best of all, it’s free! Besides this, you can also enjoy a lovely night view at Dubai Creek. As you cruise down the creek in a dhow (a sailing vessel), you will experience an amalgamation of lit-up modern skyscrapers and traditional architecture from a bygone era. [...]
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How I survived my first paragliding experience
First time I … tried paragliding! I am at the top of Bukit Jugra in Kuala Langat, Selangor staring at a long and sharp fall to the ground below. The hill is at a cold sweat-inducing height of 120m above sea level – and I’m about to leap off it. Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I have accepted an invitation by Tourism Selangor to try paragliding. At that time, I thought we would be descending a rock face by using a rope coiled around the body. That, ladies and gentlemen, is abseiling. Paragliding as I realise a little too late, requires one to jump off a cliff (or a hill) with nothing on your back but some lightweight fabric. The scenery beyond, from where I’m standing on a late Saturday morning, is of lush green trees and clear blue skies. Over the horizon, one could even see the Langat River flowing out to the Straits of Malacca. Behind me, a historic lighthouse stands majestically. On any other day, I would have enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. Today, though, the nerves about trying paragliding for the first time threaten to push bile up my throat. My paragliding instructor is Captain (Rtd) Ikhwan Azilah, an energetic man with no shortage of dry humour. He has been in several international paragliding excursions and happens to be the co-founder of the Malaysia Paragliding and Hang Gliding Association. “We will be doing tandem paragliding today. This means you will be flying as a passenger while the pilot steers the glider. In the hands of an experienced pilot, you are safe,” he explains with a reassuring smile. The butterflies in my stomach settle down a little. “Of course, anything that is labelled ‘extreme sports’ carry with it some degree of risk,” he says, before sternly adding, “Do only what you’re told and refrain from doing anything that I forbid.” I feel the butterflies returning in full force. The writer posing with his instructor and boarding pass prior to jumping off the hill. In order to paraglide, wind has to be at optimum conditions. Not too soft, not too strong – just right. “The wind has to travel within the speed of 20kmh for us to take flight today. If it goes beyond 25kmh, I have the right to call off our activity to ensure your safety,” Ikhwan explains. What happens when we reach terra firma? “Your pilot will steer well so that you get a smooth landing. Just be prepared to run upon reaching the ground. Now, step forward and let’s fly,” Ikhwan answers. Before long, I’m strapped onto a harness that’s tethered to a feather-light glider. Ikhwan passes me a GoPro camera and runs through some last minute instructions: “When I say retreat, you retreat. And when I ask you to run forward, you run. Got it?” Got it. Getting the wind to lift the glider up feels like an eternity. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Ikhwan suddenly barks: “Run, run, run!” I run with all my might and leap off the edge of the hill. But fudge, fudge, fudge – I’m falling into the trees below! Luckily, just as I thought I’m going to crash into some foliage, a sense of buoyancy takes over and I soar above the skies. The view from above is absolutely spectacular as we glide over the top of trees and across vast fields. It’s amazing how quiet and calm it is up there. Bukit Jugra in Selangor is a popular spot for paragliding activity. And for a while, that’s how I stay – quiet, as I take in the beautiful topography from above. Perhaps mistaking my muteness for boredom, Ikhwan suddenly makes a sharp swerve. “Oh my god, oh my god, please don’t…” I blurt out through a shriek, much to Ikhwan’s mischievous delight. “Wasn’t that fun?” he asks. I only manage a weak smile. We hover in the air for a while more until the landing field below grows nearer and nearer. “Alright, get ready to run,” Ikhwan instructs. But before I know it, we are already on the ground. With just the thin sole of my Converse between my feet and the ground, I immediately feel the brunt of the impact rising through my legs up to my back. Ouch. Ikhwan looks over and asks if I’m fine. I give him a thumbs up. “In life, if something is not dangerous – it’s no fun,” he says with a grin. [...]
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What annoys the hell out of Malaysian travellers?
Malaysians absolutely hate travellers who show no respect for local culture, according to a recent survey on irritating travel-related habits. In the Annoying Travel Habits study conducted by travel platform Agoda, insensitivity to cultural nuances rank high among Malaysians (60%). Noisy travellers come in at a close second with 56%. Meanwhile, millennial travellers better watch out – travellers who are glued to their devices are the third most annoying habit for Malaysian travellers (51%). Of all age groups, Malaysian travellers aged 55 and older are the least tolerant of noisy travellers (74%). And perhaps not surprising, 18 to 24-year-old folks spend the most time on their devices each day (243 minutes versus 218 minutes for all respondents). The study polled 10,384 people online, with Malaysians making up 1,002 of those respondents. On a global scale, the pet peeve rank changes, though not by much. Noisy travellers come in first (57%), followed by travellers glued to their devices (47%) and those insensitive to cultural beliefs (46%). Mass tour groups and selfie-takers, cited by 36% and 21% respectively, completed the top five irritants. Chinese travellers seemingly have the highest tolerance for selfie-takers, with only 12% of Chinese respondents irritated by selfie-takers compared to Australians who are on the other end of the tolerance spectrum with nearly a third (31%) citing holiday selfie-takers as annoying. Like Malaysians, cultural sensitivity is also important among Singaporeans (63%), Filipinos (61%), Chinese (21%) and Thai (27%) travellers. But when it comes to dependence on smartphones, almost half of the global respondents (47%) cited grievances. Compared to travellers from other countries, the Vietnamese find those glued to their devices the most annoying (59%). Thai travellers, on the other hand, have the most relaxed attitude (31%) towards constant device usage on holiday. The survey was conducted by independent market research firm YouGov among travellers from Britain, United States, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and China. Respondents are those who have been on holiday at least once in the past year. [...]
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Passing bugs around while on public transport
Humans aren’t the only commuters making use of the metro. A new study that examined the microbiome of the Hong Kong subway system found distinct bacterial “fingerprints” in each line during the morning – distinctions that blurred over the course of the afternoon. The findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, are part of a growing body of work that could have implications for a host of efforts, from managing the spread of disease to designing city infrastructure. The microbiomes within us and around us are critical to understanding human health. The microbes in our guts aid in digestion; those on our skin may help keep it healthy and balanced. We pick up microbes from our environment, and we leave many of our own behind, by touch or by breath. Because of this, the microbial communities that live in the spaces we build – homes, schools, trains – are a reflection of the people who pass through them. They’re also places where humans can spread or pick up pathogens, some more dangerous or resistant to treatment than others. The deadly 2003 SARS epidemic had a lasting effect on Hong Kong and the way people move through public spaces, said Gianni Panagiotou, a systems biologist at the University of Hong Kong and at the Hans Knoell Institute in Germany. People often wear masks when they have a cold, and the surfaces in subway cars are cleaned constantly. But such tactics go only so far when it comes to keeping down the microbe load, he added. “Despite all these measures, in the (subway) train compartments there is really little personal space, passengers are squashed there,” Panagiotou, who designed the Cell Reports study, said in an email. “We are talking about one of the busiest and most dense cities in the world.” Panagiotou was interested in the mixing of microbe populations as well as the spread of pathogens through such a system. But his colleague at the University of Hong Kong, architect Christopher Webster, was interested in how the design of the city might affect its microbial profile. In either case, Hong Kong’s subway system made an ideal testing ground – it is used by about five million people each day and it even has a cross-border rail line that brings in commuters from mainland China. Researchers have already been examining the microbiomes of different subway systems, including Boston and New York in the United States, as well as Hong Kong. “These are basically the first genetic maps of cities and high-density human environments,” said Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine, US, who was not involved in the study. With genetic maps from different cities, researchers can start to understand which antibiotic-resistant markers are common and largely harmless, and which ones are rarer and could potentially become a threat, said Mason, who previously studied the New York subway microbiome. Typically, however, previous studies have usually tested the surfaces of the train cars themselves, which isn’t quite the same thing as knowing which microbes successfully hop from person to another, said Regina Cordy, a microbiologist at Wake Forest University, US, who was not involved in the study. “What really hasn’t quite happened, to as broad of an extent, is looking at how these microbes might really be transmitted to humans,” said Cordy, who previously studied the Boston subway microbiome. The deadly 2003 SARS epidemic had a lasting effect on Hong Kong and the way people move through public spaces. — AFP For this paper, Panagiotou and his colleagues directly studied the microbes on the skin of passengers, because they wanted to track which microbes were actually picked up from subway surfaces over the course of the day. The scientists sent volunteers into the train cars of different subway lines for 30-minute intervals, cleaning and sampling their palms before they boarded and testing them again after they stepped off. The researchers found that the microbial communities were dominated by commensal bacteria – harmless microbes that live on or in the body. Each subway line seemed to have its own specific microbiome signature during the morning hours, as people left home for work. For example, the MOS line, which runs along Shing Mun channel, was full of aquatic bacteria – an abundance that wasn’t found in the more inland routes. The WR line, which passes through a mountainous region in the New Territories, had a relatively high abundance of those species that prefer to live around 1,000 metres (about 3,280 feet) in altitude. “Each line has its own topological characteristics: One is passing close to the sea, others close to the mountain(s); one is underground; others are above the ground,” Panagiotou said. “All these differences have an impact on the microbiome found in each line.” The microbiota of the particular people from particular neighbourhoods also contributed to each line’s individuality, he added. But throughout the day, as people moved around, those distinctions in populations began to fall away, he said. Microbes that might have been largely seen in one region could be found all across the network by the day’s end. “The morning signature is really reflecting the topology of the line,” he said. “But in the evening, after all the people have been moving around in the city, we can see that the microbiome is becoming more similar, due to the tidal effect.” This was especially clear in the am-to-pm spread of antibiotic resistance genes, he said. That finding alone should not alarm people, he said. The idea behind this work was not to scare people, but to reveal the extent to which humans are exposed to a diverse array of microbes each day – and to show that the way we design our cities “can have a significant impact on the type of bacteria that we will encounter”, he said. As far as they could tell, the metro lines with higher traffic rates did not seem to carry higher health risks, whether [...]
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What to do at FGS Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, Selangor
Every Chinese New Year, the sleepy town of Jenjarom in Selangor is lit up with magnificent lanterns at the Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Dong Zen Temple. The temple has been running an annual CNY Lantern And Flora Festival for more than a decade and it has become somewhat of a staple on Selangor’s events calendar, thanks to its display of giant light installments. The free-admission festival attracts nearly a million visitors yearly. But a visit to the venue shouldn’t be just a once-a-year affair, not when the temple itself is a nice year-long attraction in the quaint district of Kuala Langat. Why you should go One doesn’t necessarily have to subscribe to the teachings of the Buddha to appreciate the temple and its surrounding. Beautifully cultivated gardens and calming water features lend the space a sense of zen. The FGS Dong Zen Temple is also home to some sacred relics of the Buddha. Some believe that the relics will bless devotees with blessings and good fortune. Of course, the Chinese New Year season would be a great time to visit. The lanterns, which take a year to construct by a team of volunteers, would provide plenty of photo opportunity. Be enveloped by a sense of zen when you walk into the temple grounds amid beautiful sculptures and decorations. Photo: The Star/CHESTER CHIN What to do The grounds of the temple are home to many beautiful buildings and decorations. Take a stroll along Lumbini Garden to appreciate the abundance of colourful flowers. Over at 33 Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Street, take in sculptures that embody various good virtues. The art gallery, meanwhile, holds exhibitions that showcase local as well as regional artists. For those who enjoy vegetarian cuisine, dine at Waterdrop Teahouse for some delicious vegetarian fare. The temple also provides classes where participants can learn about wushu, Chinese medicine and arts, among others, for a small fee. Take a walk along beautiful blooms at the temples gorgeous gardens. Photo: The Star/CHESTER CHIN Who will like it For urban dwellers, the peaceful atmosphere here is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Devotees can also do some meditation at a designated hall or seek blessings at the main shrine. The former houses one of the largest Buddha statues in Selangor. Apart from that, the properly maintained gardens here will delight flower lovers. The beautiful blooms and unique decorations here would also make for great photography subjects. Getting there Tucked away in Jenjarom, the temple is best reached by car. The venue is accessible by the Kesas Highway, South Klang Valley Expressway and North-South Expressway. Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple Address: Jalan Sungai Buaya, Kampung Jenjarom 42600, Kuala Langat, Selangor Tel: 03-3191 1533 Website: fgs.org.my Opening hours: 10am to 6pm. Closed on Mondays. [...]
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This is the world’s most expensive hotel suite
One night in the world’s most expensive hotel suite will set you back an eye-popping, outrageous, some might say outlandish US$80,000 (RM325,000) a night. In Elite Traveler’s list of Top 100 Suites 2018, Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland takes the title of world’s most exorbitantly expensive suite for its Royal Penthouse Suite, a 12-bedroom apartment that takes up the entirety of the hotel’s eighth floor. At 1,680sq m, it’s also the largest hotel suite in Europe. The suite has hosted everyone from Michael Jackson, Richard Branson, Rihanna, Bill Gates, Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. So what do you get for RM325,000? It’s in the details. Elegant dining room in the Royal Penthouse Suite.   For the VIP guests, including heads of state, the suite has been designed to provide maximum security with bulletproof windows, a panic button, private elevator and reinforced safe. For musical guests, it comes with a Steinway grand piano, and for bookworms, a collection of antique books. All 12 bedrooms are also accompanied by their own marble bathrooms, which are kitted out with Hermes amenities. The suite itself also offers sweeping, panoramic views of its waterfront location, along with Mont-Blanc in the distance. It goes without saying that at RM325,000, the suite also comes with a personal chef, butler and security team. Meanwhile, the list of the world’s most expensive hotel suites is mostly represented by properties in the United States and Europe. Rounding out the podium is the five-bedroom Terrace Suite in New York’s The Mark hotel at US$75,000 (RM304,680), and the Penthouse Suite at the Grand Hyatt in Cannes, France, which costs US$53,200 (RM216,125). – AFP Relaxnews Here are the cities and countries that host some of the most extravagantly priced hotel suites in the world: 1. Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland – Royal Penthouse Suite, RM325,000 2. The Mark, New York, US Terrace Suite, RM304,680 3. Hotel Martinez by Hyatt, Cannes, France Penthouse Suite, RM216,125 4. Faena Hotel, Miami, US Penthouse, RM203,125 5. Laucala Island, Fiji Hilltop villa, RM182,812 6. Hotel Mansour, Marrakech Grand Riad, RM176,637 7. Hotel Cala Di Volpe, Sardinia, Italy Penthouse suite, RM167,281 8. The Plaza, New York, US Royal Suite, RM162,500 9. Hotel de Paris, Monaco Princess Grace Suite, RM150,312 10. Mandarin Oriental New York, New York Suite 5000, RM146,250 [...]
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What to do in the small town of Sekinchan, Selangor
Ever heard of a town called Sekinchan in Selangor? You can spend a day or even the entire weekend at this small town because there is so much to see and do. Known for its lush green (or gold, or brown … depending on when you visit during the year) padi fields, there are also other places of interest, as well as many options for food. Padi ready for the harvest. Depending on what season you visit, you will see fields of padi that are green, gold, or brown. Photo: The Star/Chan Tak Kong Why you should go This is a good town to go for a road trip where you can visit several places of interest at one go. Sekinchan is a coastal town, so you can enjoy fresh seafood here. Sekinchan is a fishing village and you can get fresh seafood here. Photo: Tourism Selangor What to do The Paddy Processing Factory & Gallery is where you can find out all about the process of padi planting, harvesting, and more. Photo: The Star There are padi fields in Sekinchan; you can learn about the process of padi planting by taking a tour at the Paddy Processing Factory & Gallery. There is a fee for the tour, but you can just roam around the general area and the retail store – where you can buy rice and rice products – for free. The Wishing Tree with ‘I love Sekinchan’ sign at Pantai Redang is a popular photo spot. Photo: The Star Pantai Redang, not to be confused with Redang Island in Terengganu, is a low-key beach known for its Wishing Tree and “I love Sekinchan” sign. If you’re hungry, there are stalls selling snacks by the seaside. On a windy day, you can fly kites on the beach. There are many restaurants, coffeeshops and stalls selling food at Sekinchan, but N.16 Bus Cafe offers a unique dining experience. The cafe is an actual bus! It sits atop a huge container, and you can get a good view of the padi fields from the restaurant. It serves Asian-fusion food and cakes. Look for them on Facebook (“GreenSixteen”) to check out when they are open. Nan Tian Temple is located in the middle of padi fields. There are two towers which offer a good view of the surroundings. The temple is a popular place of worship for both townsfolk and tourists. Its grand facade alone makes a good background for taking pictures. Besides these places, if you explore Sekinchan, you’ll realise that it is a fishing village, and there are many seafood restaurants where you can enjoy a good meal. You can buy fresh and dried seafood, as well as other snacks, in this coastal town too. In case you decide to stay overnight, there are several accommodation options, including small resorts. The place does get a little crowded on weekends and public holidays, so you may want to make your reservations early. Nan Tian temple in Sekinchan. Photo: The Star Who will like it This place is a crowd pleaser because there is something for everyone. Whether you enjoy nature, the beach, seafood, unique stuff, or even something educational, you’ll find it in Sekinchan. It’s a family-friendly place, too. Many couples like to take their pre-wedding shots here as well. Getting there The best way to get to Sekinchan is by driving – it is about a one-and-a-half hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. There are buses from the Klang Valley that can get you to the town itself, but once you’re there, the places of interest are quite far apart. Aside from driving, cycling from one place to another is also an option. It is possible to take a Grab there, but you might find it expensive. GPS coordinates for Sekinchan town: 3.503917, 101.101083 Paddy Processing Factory & Gallery Lot No. 9990, Jalan Tali Air 5, Ban 2, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor Tel: 03-3243 6558 Pantai Redang 25, Jalan Jpt, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor N.16 Bus Cafe Kampung Parit Empat, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor Tel: 010-254 6268 Nan Tian Temple Lorong 3, Site A Kampung Kian Sit, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor [...]
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Buses, trains & cabs: 5 ways to get around KL
When it comes to getting around the city of Kuala Lumpur, travellers have several options of getting around. Whether it’s by train or taxi, transportation around the city is relatively hassle-free. Here are some transport suggestions for getting around KL. Train With the recent completion of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), more parts of KL are now connected by rail. Apart from the MRT, other rail service include the Light Rail Transit (LRT), monorail and KTM Komuter. The trains in the city pass through iconic attractions such as KLCC, Central Market and Muzium Negara. If you’re on a long visit, consider purchasing the Touch ‘N’ Go card or weekly passes for cheaper fares. The card can be used on all trains, as well as RapidKL buses. Bus Travelling by bus in the city is a generally comfortable experience these days. Most of them are fully air conditioned and they get you to popular tourist attractions as well as quaint neighbourhoods. Look out for the free purple Go KL buses within the central business district that run along popular sites and famous shopping districts. You can also travel further on the RapidKL buses. Go KL City Bus is a free bus service that serving the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Taxi Taxi is probably one of the most convenient ways to travel from one place to another in KL. Always insist on using the metre – do not be duped into haggling for a price. According to the Land Public Transport Commission, regular budget taxis (usually painted in red and white, or red and blue) charge RM3 for the first three minutes. Subsequent distance or time are charged at RM0.25 every 200m or 36 seconds. Blue cabs (Teksi Eksekutif) and gold cabs (Teks1M) are better for large groups, but they do charge a higher fee. Taxis queue along KL Sentral in the city. Photo: The Star Self drive KL is a big city and having a car would allow travellers to get to surrounding townships such as Petaling Jaya or Shah Alam in Selangor easily. There are plenty of car rental options available online or at the airport. Driving in the city is generally safe. You might want to avoid peak hours though when traffic congestion can set you back an hour on average. Driving around KL is relatively breezy, just be sure to avoid rush hours! Photo: The Star Ride hailing Malaysia actually has a few ride-hailing options, with Grab being one of the more popular options among locals. Utilising the service is as easy as downloading an app. The downside is you would need mobile data or WiFi to operate the service. But that shouldn’t be an issue as more people are connected on their travels these days. You can also book taxis on some of these apps. Ride hailing apps can come in handy during your travels in KL. Photo: The Star [...]
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Where to go caving or cave diving in Malaysia
If the thrill of caving or spelunking – or cave diving – appeals to you, here are some places that you can check out in Malaysia. 1 Batu Maloi, Negri Sembilan This wet cave is located in the Tampin Forest Reserve in Negri Sembilan. You’ll need to trek through the forest reserve to get to the cave, which comprises a mass of huge rocks about 1km long, with a stream running through it. Sunlight flows in through gaps between the rocks at certain parts, but there are also areas which are in darkness. Trek, climb, and crawl through tight spaces between rock crevices. A thrilling part of this adventure is you get to back crawl through a 300cm or so gap under the cave wall that is partially submerged in shallow water. Another exciting part is freediving (by holding the breath without any equipment) underwater from one cavern into the next. The experience takes less than a minute but can be both exhilarating yet frightening because it is dark and you can’t see where you’re headed. Water levels vary depending on the season and weather. An experienced guide is required for this adventure. From the outside, Batu Maloi in Tampin, Negri Sembilan, looks like a gigantic rock formation. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ma Hzi Wong Website: endemicguides.com 2 Gua Tempurung, Perak At about 3km in length, Gua Tempurung in Gopeng, Perak is one of the longest caves in Peninsular Malaysia. It is popular among caving enthusiasts, and is a good introductory caving experience for those who haven’t tried spelunking before. A shaft of light seen through on opening at the top of the main chamber of Gua Kandu. Photo: Malaysian Karst Society The cave complex is located under the limestone hills, with many tunnels running from east to west. Visitors can access the showcave part which is lit with walkways. A river runs through the cave complex and there are amazing rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. You can also go adventure caving here, of varying levels depending on difficulty. A guide is required for this. Special equipment like headlamps are also needed as the cave is dark. You will need to crawl through narrow passages and shallow water. And you might get the chance to see cave creatures like albino millipedes, crickets, spiders, bats, and more. Website: riverbug.asia 3 Gua Kandu, Perak Gua Kandu is also in Gopeng and is good for adventure caving. You will get to climb (using ropes provided in the cave), crawl, and even abseil. This dry cave is very dusty though, so wear a mask; your clothes will also get dirty. There are bats – and guano – inside this cave, which was a former hideout for Communists. You can see Chinese inscriptions on the cave walls, believed to be made by them. A guide is necessary for this caving adventure, which is very dark inside. Website: nomadadventure.com 4 Mulu Caves, Sarawak Clearwater Cave is located at Mulu National Park. Photo: Adventoro The Mulu Caves is part of the Mulu National Park in Miri, Sarawak. It comprises a series of both showcaves and adventure caves. You can see some spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, flow rocks, and rock corals in the caves. Clearwater Cave is believed to be the largest interconnected cave system in the world in terms of volume, and eighth longest at 222km. The cave chamber is so big that it is said to be able to hold 40 Boeing 747 airplanes! Deer Cave is a showcave at Mulu National Park. Photo: Adventoro It is also home to an underwater river passage. To get to Clearwater Cave, you can trek 4km through the rainforest, or take a boat along Melinau River. Wind Cave is 15 minutes by boat from Clearwater Cave. You can also go there on foot. It is named after the cool breeze that blows through it. Deer Cave is a huge showcave, over 2km long and about 90m in height and width. Its name is said to be because of the deer that go there for shelter, and to lick the salt-bearing rocks. Lang Cave, one of the smallest caves at Mulu National Park, was named after a guide who led a research expedition to the Mulu Caves in the late 1970s. You might see cave creatures such as bats, swiftlets, spiders, and even small cave snakes. Website: adventoro.com 5 Niah Caves, Sarawak Located in the Niah National Park in Miri, the Niah Caves are also an archaeological site. Comprising one large cave and several smaller ones, the limestone caves here are said to be tens of thousands years old, and the birthplace of South-East Asian civilisation; ancient human skulls have been discovered here! The Niah Caves have been known for its birds’ nest business due to the swiftlets that it houses. There are also bats in the caves. Niah Great Cave, the main cave, has large chambers with high ceilings, and is about 1km long and 0.5km wide. The Niah Caves are caves that the general public can explore. Walking and some climbing of steps is required. Photo: Tourism Malaysia Website: sarawaktourism.com/attraction/niah-national-park-miri/ 6 Bewah and Taat Caves, Terengganu The Bewah and Taat Caves are at Kenyir Lake in Terengganu. You can get there by speedboat from Pengkalan Gawi Jetty. Bewah, the largest cave in the area, has a 40m entrance. It is an archaeological site, with skeletons and artefacts like prehistoric tools and kitchen utensils proving that ancient civilisations (Neolithic man) once lived here. The cave is also home to various nocturnal animals, including bats, and insects. There are intricate stalactite and stalagmite formations. Taat Cave is unique in that “sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t”. The cave entrance is completely submerged when the water levels of the lake are high. It is the top cave in a series, and the ones below it were already submerged when the lake was formed. Website: kenyirlake.com 7 Turtle Cavern and Turtle Tomb, Sabah A popular cave diving site is in Sipadan, Sabah. Photo: Adventoro Located near Sipadan Island in Semporna, Sabah, these two underwater caves are only for seasoned scuba divers with proper cavern diving [...]
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Want to buy a superyacht? Here’s how!
So you to buy a superyacht… A quick online search will give you numerous websites that seem to sell yachts and superyachts. However, click on some of these sites and you will realise that many of them simply list down yachts that are currently on sale. These sites are actually useful for those who are just browsing as you can see each yacht’s build specifications, capabilities and price (either estimated or real cost). We took a look at Burgess (burgessyachts.com), which has a good list of yachts and even berths that are on sale. The company also has a short list of yachts that are currently under construction. One such yacht is ICE 68m, which will be ready for delivery in 2019. As the name suggests, it is 68m in length; Its current asking price is €50mil or RM236.8mil from builder AES Yachts. The interior of ICE 68m, a superyacht that is set for delivery in 2019. Another interesting website to check out is Superyachts.com. Here, you can filter your search for your dream superyacht by price, builder or size, and whether or not you are looking for something new or used. German ship builder Nobiskrug has a 68m vessel called Sycara V (2010) that’s on “sale”; It is now €59.5mil (RM281.8mil), down from €71.26mil (RM337.5mil), in case you’re interested. Don’t forget that you would also need to buy or rent a berth for your superyacht as you can’t just leave it in the middle of the ocean! The docks at your local yacht club may not be able to accommodate your super-sized boat, so you may need to keep her at a port that specialises in superyachts. Sometimes, you may even have to get a berth overseas. You can search for berths on sale or for rent from websites like Burgess and Superyachts.com. If you want to commission a company to build you a yacht, the top 10 builders in the world are: Lurssen, Yachts, Blohm + Voss, Amels, Nobiskrug, Christensen Shipyards, Feadship, Fincantieri, Perini Navi, Oceanco and Sunseeker. Just look for their official websites to check out what models they have and then contact them for enquiries like delivery time (on average, two years) – these companies almost never publish their price and would only release them to serious buyers. You can also get a completely new design for your yacht, if the ones listed in their catalogues are not fancy enough for you. Dilbar has an indoor swimming pool. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Why buy when you can rent? Most privately-owned superyachts are not available for commercial charter but you might still be able to rent them – especially if you know the owner. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich rents out his Eclipse to friends, for almost a million ringgit. If you don’t have friends who own a superyacht, you can just check out websites like Yacht Charter Fleet and charter a boat anywhere in the world. We discovered that a week in Thailand on the 39.4m yacht Lady Azul would cost RM400,000 (plus other expenses) in the fourth quarter of the year. The yacht has five cabins and can take 10 guests, as well as seven crew members. There is no pool on deck, or a cinema, though. [...]
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10 superyachts that caught our eye
For folks with some serious money to “throw around”, buying a luxury yacht is what sets them apart from all the other rich people in the world. Luxury yachts, also known as superyachts or megayachts, are usually owned by an individual although there are a handful out there that belong to certain governments and used as official carriers of the country’s rulers and ministers. A superyacht must be longer than 24m, although these days it is more common to find boats that exceed 100m in length. To date, the largest superyacht – Azzam – stretches at a lengthy 180m; it is said to be owned by the president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa Zayed Al Nahyan. Reportedly, the ship cost US$600mil (RM2.44bil). Here are 10 superyachts that caught our eye. Eclipse Owner: Roman Abramovich Launched: 2010 Estimated price: US$590mil (cost), US$1.5bil/RM6.1bil (value) Length: 162.5m Builder: Blohm + Voss Thanks to its (reportedly) lavish furnishing, the Eclipse (main pic) now holds the record as the world’s most expensive yacht. It can fit up to three helicopters (one on each of the helipads and another stored below deck), more than 20 guest cabins, two swimming pools – one of which can transform into a dance floor, hot tubs and a missile detection system. The Eclipse is not available for commercial charter but it is reported that Abramovich sometimes rents it out to friends for about RM900,000 a day. Azzam is the largest superyacht in the world. Photo: AlbaCiC Azzam Owner: Khalifa Zayed Al Nahyan (reports) Launched: 2013 Estimated price: US$600mil Length: 180.6m Builder: Lurssen Yachts The Azzam may be the largest private superyacht in the world, but since it was built “in secret”, not much is known about it. German builder Lurssen Yachts released very little information about the project apart from the ship’s specifications, and that the interior was furnished in a French Empire style by designer Christophe Leoni. Rumour has it that it was commissioned by a royal member of Abu Dhabi, presumably Khalifa Zayed, the Emir of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE. The Dubai superyacht costs RM1.6bil. Photo: Nakheel Dubai Owner: Sheik Mohammed Rashid al-Maktoum Launched: 2006 Estimate price: US$400mil/RM1.63bil Length: 162m Builder: Blohm + Voss/Lurssen Yachts (2003)/Platinum Yachts (2006) This yacht was originally made by Blohm + Voss and Lurssen Yachts for Brunei’s Prince Jefri Bolkiah in 1996 but the project was suspended in 1998. It was later sold to the Dubai government some time in 2001, and completed by Platinum Yachts in 2006. The new owner, Sheik Mohammed, is the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE. The ship has five VIP suites and six guest suites, apart from the owner’s suite. Altogether, it can accommodate up to 24 guests. There’s also a swimming pool, a BBQ area, a cinema, dance hall, gym, a garage to fit a submarine, and a helipad for the owner’s Blackhawk helicopter. Dilbar has an indoor swimming pool. Dilbar Owner: Alisher Usmanov Launched: 2015 Estimated price: US$256mil/RM1.4bil Length: 156m Builder: Lurssen Yachts Although it is shorter than Azzam, the Dilbar is actually the world’s largest yacht by gross tonnage (15,9217gt). Owner Usmanov, a Russian business tycoon, bought the Dilbar to replace his previous yacht of the same name. The ship has an indoor swimming pool as well as two helipads. Al Said Owner: Sultan Qaboos Said al-Said Launched: 2008 Estimated price: US$300mil/RM1.22bil Length: 155m Builder: Lurssen Yachts Owned by the ruler of Oman, Al Said was first built under the codename Sunflower, by Lurssen. It is able to accommodate a 50-piece orchestra in its concert theatre, and has several other entertainment halls. Up to 65 guests can stay on the Al Said at any one time, and it reportedly has a crew of 150 people. The yacht also has a helipad, a cinema and six decks. Prince Abdulaziz Owner: King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud Launched: 1985 Estimated price: US$184/RM749.6mil (in 1984) Length: 147m Builder: Helsingor Vaerft This superyacht was built in 1984 for the then ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd. It is now owned by the kingdom’s current ruler, King Abdullah, and serves as the official yacht for the royal family. The vessel has a large lobby on the main deck and is said to be inspired by the design of the Titanic. Prince Abdulaziz homeports in Jeddah, next to the royal palace. It has a hospital onboard, a mosque and a cinema. El Mahroussa Owner: Egypt Launched: 1865 Length: 145.7m Builder: Samuda Brothers The biggest classic yacht in the world was said to be built for Khedive Ismail, the Ottoman governor of Egypt, in 1865. She was built at 128.4m originally, but lengthened by 12.1m in 1872 and again in 1905 by 5.2m. In 1976 she sailed to the New York harbour for an exhibition; she was later used as a museum ship after she was found to be unfit for travel. Fortunately, in 1992 the El Mahroussa underwent some major repair works to make her seaworthy again. The ship is now the Presidential Yacht for Egypt and ports at Alexandria. Savarona Owner: Turkey Launched: 1931 Length: 124.28m Builders: Blohm + Voss (1931)/Kahraman Sadikoglu (1992) While many of the superyachts in the world were either built for or bought by men, the Savarona is one made for Emily Roebling Cadwalader. The American heiress’ family business built both the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges in the United States. In 1937, the vessel was bought by Turkey as the official yacht of Mustafa Kemal Atarturk, the country’s first president. After his passing in late 1938, the Savarona was used by the Turkish Navy. In 1989, Turkish businessman Kahraman Sadikoglu bought a 50-year lease on the ship and spent an estimated US$35mil (RM143.5mil) on her refurbishment. The Turkish government subsequently regained ownership of the Savarona and now serves as the state yacht, carrying the president on official trips. It is said that the ship is fitted with a Turkish bath made of marb [...]
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How high-tech do travellers expect their hotels to be?
In recent years, the hotel industry has seen a significant movement towards digitalisation. There seems to be an increasing demand for innovative technology not just in the public access areas of the hotel but in guest rooms too. Many hotels have also been investing in electronic gadgets to keep customers happy. Here are examples of some hotels around the world that have embraced the latest trends in digital hospitality: Complimentary usage of mobile phones Complimentary usage of mobile phones at Hotel Opera Zurich, in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: WorldHotels Collection One of the first hotels in Switzerland to offer complimentary usage of smartphones in all its rooms is Hotel Opera Zurich. The phones can be taken out of the rooms and used outside the hotel. They offer free Internet access, national and international calls, which is particularly useful for international guests and business travellers. The phones also double up as a digital butler to provide information on hotel services. It won’t be long before guests can use their smartphone as room keys. Other hotels that provide the same sort of service include Kube Hotel Paris, 1K Paris and Villa Pantheon in France, Hongqiao Jin Jiang Hotel Shanghai, The Royal Garden and Lan Kwai Fong Hotel (Hong Kong) in China, Dorsett Grand Subang in Malaysia, and Carlton Hotel, Carlton City Hotel and Goodwood Park Hotel in Singapore. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bai Hotel Cebu has started using the JustIN mobile application as a digital solution for their room keys. Robots A robot at Dorsett Shanghai, China. Photo: WorldHotels Collection Dorsett Shanghai in China has two high-tech additions that are fun, informative and interactive – robots. Equipped with voice and touchscreen functions, the robots can provide information on hotel facilities and the neighbourhood. They also entertain guests during events with musical and dance performances. High-tech personal assistants High-tech personal assistants at ACME Hotel, Chicago, USA. Photo: WorldHotels Collection Do you fancy a personal assistant waiting in your room? The ACME Hotel in Chicago, Illinois in the United States, fulfils that dream for tech-savvy guests. Upon check-in, guests will find the voice-controlled Amazon Echo waiting in their room. The Amazon Echo provides intelligent personal assistance so it can entertain room service and maintenance requests. Other perks for the tech-inclined at the hotel include Hot-Spots To-Go, keyless room entry, Snapchat Spectacles and Apple watches that guests can borrow for free. In-room tablets In-room tablets at Hotel Damier, Kortrijk, in Belgium. Photo: WorldHotels Collection Hotel Damier in Belgium offers tablets in every room for their guests. They can be used to call for room service, play games, and access the weather channel, among other things. Hotel staff can also directly send messages and exclusive offers to their guests via the tablets. Many other hotels around the world also offer this service like Dana Hotel and Spa in Chicago, Amilla Fushi in the Maldives and The Peninsula Beijing in China. [...]
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