Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Help me raise fund for MERCY Malaysia Sabah Chapter – medical and dental missions

I have started running since 2013, after sustaining knee injuries that prevented me from playing football in 2012. I have been running more than a thousand kilometers – on roads and trails – from the shortest distance with my kids of 3km to running a climbathon 23km up and down Mount Kinabalu with the elite runners since then. I love running very much. I run for my health from my heart. It sounds crazy sometimes for some, but I think I was bitten by the so called “runner’s bug” and I have to admit that “runner’s high” is real.

This year however, I would love to take my trail running/mountain climbing passion to a different level. I will now run to raise funds for the needful. I have selected three big running/mountain climbing events which will be held here in Sabah, mainly around Mount Kinabalu for this kind of charity and fundraising event. The three big events are:

1) Salt Trail: Trek & Raise Funds for MERCY Malaysia Sabah Chapter on 16-17 May 2015
2) MAKNA Mount Climb for Cancer on 1-4 June 2015
3) Coalition Duchenne Mount Kinabalu Challenges on 7-9 August 2015

For my first fundraising event, I am planning to run the Salt Trail: Trek & Raise Funds 2 to raise fund for MERCY Malaysia Sabah Chapter with my wife. MERCY Malaysia is a non-profit organization which aspires to excel in medical relief, providing humanitarian services with the highest level of compassion, professionalism and care. Their mission is to provide humanitarian services in crisis or non-crisis situation irrespective of race, religion and boundary.

Salt Trail Trek & Treat Mission

Salt Trail Trek & Treat Mission

Laluan Garam Jungle TrekkingVillageVillageVillageVillageVillageVillageVillageMedical TeamDental TeamMedical CampMERCY Malaysia Sabah Chapter has been organizing medical and dental missions all over interior of Sabah since 2003. Most of their missions are in collaboration with other organization. One of their mission is Salt Trail: Trek and Treat. Crocker Range which is organized together with Sabah Parks and Partners of Community Organization Trust (PACOS Trust). This year the three organizations will organize the 11th Salt Trail: Trek & Treat, Crocker Range Mission. MERCY Malaysia Sabah Chapter would like to commemorate this collaboration by organizing “Salt Trail: Trek & Raise Funds 2”.

Salt Trail Challenges 2015Their mission is really close to my heart as I love serving the interior community and people of Sabah. I actually had involve in few other groups of non-profits organization providing free medical services to the interior and remote community of Sabah since 2001. I even have contracted malaria when I was serving the people in Pulau Banggi. Serving others who are in need of basic medical service have made me very thankful to what I have right now.

Salt Trail Challenges 2014This time my role is slightly different. I am running the second MERCY Malaysia’s Salt Trail: Trek & Raise Funds trail running to raise fund for them. The fund will be spent on conducting health promotion and services for communities in Sabah and to continue the development and improvement of health education to the communities through research and other evidence based strategies.

The Salt Trail is a route traditionally followed by villagers when taking their produce to the tamu (markets) on the west coast of Sabah, and returning with salt and other goods. It is still the only access route to the remote villagers in one of this Sabah Park, especially in upper Papar river and Tambunan area. Although the trail does not includes climbing Mount Kinabalu, the mountain will always be inside the event as the background scene that will color up our photos.

My wife and meFor me and my wife to be entitled to join the grueling 25.5km Salt Trail: Trek & Raise Fund of Sabah, we have to raise a minimum of RM1200 for both of us. We need your help!

Please join me in making a donation to MERCY Malaysia Sabah Chapter to support us and this great cause. Your donation is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by Malaysian law.

With your help, I know we can make a difference for thousands of children, families and adults in our interior community of Sabah who will have their lives change by MERCY Malaysia medical and dental missions this year. Your donation, no matter how big or small is very valuable to them.

As a token of appreciation, I will list all the donor to this project in this blog’s Hall of Fame, for their contribution to the humanity. The top three donors will also receive a very special gift from us.

Thank you for your generosity. I hope I can count on you. This donation drive will end on 30th March 2015. Please click “Donate” button below, and Paypal (credit and debit card accepted) will handle the rest.




Thank you very much.

Help us save our 105 years old heritage!

Yes. You heard me right. The developer gave us “development for Kota Kinabalu” as excuses. Somehow or rather, they managed to get through local government authority to build a shopping mall cum hotel just nearby our one and only structure in Kota Kinabalu which survived World War II.

I am talking about Atkinson Clock Tower, standing quietly in the heart of Kota Kinabalu. I know not all of us know about the structure, but still, in needs our attention.

I would like to urge you to help us spread the word about this issue. The 105 years old structure will be obscured by the shopping mall and hotel that will be built. By having new shopping mall and hotel, we do no justice to the clock tower.

Don’t get me wrong. I love development. But to the extent that we still preserved our heritage for our future children to appreciate.

You may want to read about the history and the issue here: http://heritagesabah.blogspot.com/

If you have Facebook, get in touch with them here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heritage-Sabah/129477990433190

I have signed the petition. You should do it too. Otherwise when you come to Kota Kinabalu in the future, you will not see the structure as beautiful as now!!!

Casino on Mount Kinabalu?

What say you?

It has been quite an issue during the past few weeks. Politicians and businessman talking about it. Somebody will get rich and a lot of people will get poor if they build casino on Mount Kinabalu.

I know, it’s not an issue for most of Kinabalu climbers, but the impact of the gambling industry to the World’s Heritage Site need to be considered.

I personally don’t agree with the idea. Let Kinabalu be as it is. It’s not Genting Highlands.

But don’t be surprised when one day you will hear that they are going to a casino at Gunting Lagadan Hut…

Read about the issue from local newspaper:

http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/21bet/Article/

http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=73230

Vote Sipadan as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

Yeah… I read it from the newspaper few days ago. Our Sabah’s Minister of Tourism, Datuk Masidi Manjun urged us to vote Sipadan Island as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Although we have not heard any good news on him getting the price of Kinabalu climbing down, I think we should support him and our government vote for Sipadan.

Head to New7Wonders website, fill up some form and cast your vote for Sipadan. You have one voice and seven votes, in which you cannot vote for the same place for all your votes. It has to be different places. Otherwise they will ask you to cast your vote again.

Pulau SipadanI have done my part on voting. Personally, I voted the places that are nearer to our country and neighboring countries, so that I could easily visit the places if they ever be selected.

As a support, I am also putting a voting widget in my sidebar until the voting process ended. The voting will continue through 2010 and 2011. However, to get Sipadan to qualify for the next stage of voting, it needs to be at least 11th place in Group B (Islands) by July 7, 2009. At the moment of writing, Sipadan is at 17th place. So please cast your vote now!

While writing this post, I found a nice writing on Sipadan diving experience here. A nice read for scuba junkies.

P/S: Good news for Facebook junkies. You can become a fan of New7Wonders inside!

Sabah Parks said, “Take it or leave it”

Yes, that was what they said on the complaints about Sutera’s monopoly of Mount Kinabalu. If you can’t afford it, don’t climb the mountain.

Go climb other mountain in Java, Indonesia or Vietnam. Theirs are cheaper and don’t have much problem with the government. Or even spend your hard earn money in Phuket. You will thank me later.

I am glad that I was featured in their articles. The Star Newspaper (Malaysian based) write a story about the issue and compiled it with other complainants, including tour and travel operator. You can read it in 31st January 2009’s Weekender Section of the newspaper.

For those who like to read virtually, please read this 3 articles:

1. Take it or leave it
2. SSL says
3. Highly unreachable

So, what will Sabah State Government do?

p/s: It’s about time for me to climb Mount Kerintji and dive in Lembeh Straits in Indonesia. I am getting sick with the bodies who handles Sabah’s natural paradise. After all, my late great-grandfather is from Java…

Sea Squirt, Lembeh Straits, Indonesia Framed Art Poster Print by Mark Webster, 31×39

The story behind SSL & Sabah State Government on Mount Kinabalu management

I received an official call from Mr. Guna, the investigating officer for our complaints against Sutera Sanctuary Lodges on the ridiculous pricing of climbing Mount Kinabalu starting from 2008. For the other 15 complaints that had been submitted (thanks for those who submitted the complaints), you will get a similar call from him soon.

Basically, this was his explanation:

1. Prior to 2003, the accommodation in Laban Rata was managed by Sabah Parks, i.e under direct supervision of Sabah State Government.

2. Starting from 2003, Sabah State Government privatized the management of the accommodation for climbers at Laban Rata, in which, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges have to pay the Sabah State Government RM1.5 million a year. The contract is that Sutera will have to run the place for 30 years.

3. In return, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges will have to manage, maintain, upgrade and do anything that is necessary to make sure the accommodation on the mountain is managed properly.

4. Sutera claimed that for 5 years (from 2003-2007), they never increased the rate. So, in 2008, without any good justification, they decided to increase the price to more than 300% as they wish. They claimed that the cost of running the place is increasing.

5. That is why they published ridiculous pricing structure starting from January 2008, without prior notice to the climbers.

So, are you happy with his explanation?

Further discussion with Mr. Guna revealed that KPDNHEP cannot do much to help us on this increase in the cost of accommodation at Laban Rata by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.

What we can do now is complaint to the Sabah State Government, as they are the one who knows better about the situation…

Any feedback? Just drop in the comment box…

Shooting sharks at Tamu Kota Marudu

We went back to Kudat last weekend for holiday. I had the opportunity to go to Kota Marudu Tamu (Sundays open market here in Sabah) for a test of my new Nikon D40 that I bought from lelong.com.my last month.

It’s actually my Sunday mornings ritual every time I went back to Kudat – a visit to Sikuati Tamu for fresh fish and vegetables, but this time around, my wife suggested that we go to Kota Marudu instead. My brother in law also said that Kota Marudu’s Tamu is bigger, and I could find more local people to shoot.

When I arrived there, I found a lot of people and things that were very familiar to me. But then, one trader pulled my attention to what she sells – salted and dried baby sharks.

The endangered species awareness

I was did not aware that these sharks are endangered species according to IUCN 2008 Red List, until I went for my open water scuba diving license. I even promoted sharks fin in my website before but I removed the entry when somebody pointed out the issue. I will not be helping those sharks if I continued to promote sharks fin soup (which are available here in Kota Kinabalu) in my website.

If I am correct, the sharks that are featured in this blog post is Carcharhinus borneensis, or common name is Borneo shark. Any icththyologist here? Correct me if I am wrong…

The photos

It was not that difficult to find traders who sells sharks here at the Tamu. I found at least 3 traders selling sharks, a trader sells salted sharks and the other two sells fresh caught sharks. I was shocked when the salted sharks trader offers me only RM2 (~USD0.55) for a pile of 3 of juvenile (babies) sharks.

I did not intend to buy those fish at the beginning, but I did not feel comfortable shooting those sharks while the trader looking at me with a peculiar stare. After snapping few shots, I pulled out my wallet and gave her 2 RM1 notes. She packed the left pile of sharks and handed to me. After exchanging smiles, I thanked her and left.

In case you are wondering what I did with those sharks that I bought; I buried it after finished shooting the above photos. I did not have the heart to eat it. My wife thought I was weird…

With the salted sharks in hand, I then walked to the fresh fish market, hoping to find more sharks to shoot. Fortunately, I found another 2 traders selling fresh caught sharks.

The first one that I saw sells at least 3 7-kilogram sharks. Two of the sharks were sliced nicely but the one that you see in the photo is without its fins. I am not sure how much they sell the sharks per kilogram, as I did not dare to ask…

Seeing me shooting his sharks, the guy who trade the sharks mumbled with a grin, “wah… ini masuk national geographic ke animal planet?” (Will this be in national geographic or animal planet?). I smiled at him, stopped snapping and left.

The last fish monger had only one fish. Looks juvenile, around 80 cm with fins intact. Most probably they were all the same species.

The references

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39367

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borneo_shark

http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=863&genusname=Carcharhinus&speciesname=borneensis

I wish to see alive and swimming sharks while diving here in TARP. I noticed they spotted whale sharks at Gaya Island waters in March 2008…

After Kinabalu, Mabul will soon be lost…

I was shock when I found out that they are planning to manipulate Mabul, the same (or maybe worse) as Kinabalu. One of my friends in Facebook invited me to join another cause that could hopefully spread the awareness on how human greed can destroy the future of Sabah. Although I am not Sabahan myself, my kids are…

After Kinabalu and Kudat Riviera (have anybody heard about that?), Mabul Island will soon be transformed.

She was asked to comment on plans to build the Mabul oceanarium, comprising among others, 214 seaview bungalows and semi-detached villas…

I quoted the above sentence from our Ministry of Tourism website. Here is the original link:
http://www.menteripelancongan.com/?p=785

Hmm… Another one project that will benefit few people, but harm the ocean and the poor native Sabahan people. And this issue has also tarnish the good image of Mabul among the diving communities. Try reading some scuba diving forums online. Criticism are everywhere against the plan.

Join the cause with me. Save the environment for the future. Let our kids see what they deserve to see…
http://apps.facebook.com/causes/152265?m=885b3665&recruiter_id=13322243

Weather issue: When is the best time to go to Mount Kinabalu?

I received at least 3 emails asking about the weather on Kinabalu each week. I think I better write this post and lead the inquirer about the issue here. It will save me a lot of time, answering the same emails over and over again.

After doing some research, I managed to find a good climate details of Kota Kinabalu:

To make your life easy, the higher the precipitation, the higher the amount of rainfall. If you look closely at the table (climate for Kota Kinabalu is for the year 2007), January to April are the driest months where the precipitation are the lowest (i.e. below 150mm per month). This is the best time to come here and climb Mount Kinabalu. However, seasonal variations can occur in any year.

Rain can occur at any time of the year. In Sabah the main rainy seasons are from October to January when the rains come with the north east monsoon, and from May to July, with the south west monsoon.

Mornings are usually clear at any season. Sabah lies below the typhoon (hurricane) belt, though the tail-ends can cause strong winds and rain during the typhoon season.

At Kinabalu Park Headquarters (1,560m a.s.l) the mean monthly temperature is approximately 20 ºC, with a daily fluctuations of 7 – 9 ºC. Mean annual rainfall at this location is 2,380mm.

A common climatic feature to the park are bright early mornings, followed quickly by clouding mid-morning, which obscures the mountains by mid-day. Showers usually occur on the upper slopes in the afternoon.

Although they say ‘the driest time’, a good raincoat is a must. Otherwise, you may get wet when it rains while on the way up to Laban Rata, at the slopes of Kinabalu.

Got raincoat?

Raincoat Adult – 1