Regatta Lepa in Semporna, Sabah

Regatta LepaKUALA LUMPUR: Anyone planning to visit Sabah this weekend should consider coming to Semporna as this is where the sea faring Bajau community will be celebrating their legendary prowess at sea.

For three days beginning April 20, the sea gypsies of Sabah extend an invitation to the very cultural heart of the Bajau community and the Regatta Lepa XIV that showcases their unique wooden boats ‘Lepa’.

Read the story from New Sabah Times

In Sabah east coast Bajau community dialect, the word “lepa” means “boat”. Lepa is usually made of Ubar Suluk or Red Seraya wood, it is a cultural legacy inherited by the people since time immemorial. The existence of Lepa is believed to originate from the fishing community who live in the islands along the coast of the district of Semporna.

Read more story from Sabah Tourism Board

How to get to Semporna…

  1. Daily flight by MAS or Airasia from KK-Tawau will take about 45 minutes.
  2. From Tawau to Semporna either by taxi or Mini bus will take about 1 hour 45 minutes.
  3. From Kota Kinabalu to Semporna by air-conditioned Express bus will take about 9 hours.

10 reasons why you should Blog

Blog, also known as personal 21st century diary by some, is a personal website that you can write almost anything on it, without having the headache of being a webmaster thinking about a ‘website’. I hereby list 10 reasons why you should blog (although you can list more on why you should NOT blog):

  1. It is free. You can choose among hundreds of free blog provider – from Blogger to WordPress – or even this NEW blog services from my webhosting provider – iloveblog from Exabytes.
  2. You can write anything you want, when you want, how you want it to be presented and to whom do you want to blog.
  3. You don’t have to know new alien computer language. Most of the current blog providers provides a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) platform for you to write as if you are writing on MS Word (kind of idiot proof).
  4. You can make some money (if you try hard enough and know how to).
  5. Good way to ‘kill your time’ during your non-productive hours in the office.
  6. Impress your boss by mentioning about him in your blog among your collegue.
  7. Everybody is doing it right now. Why not you?
  8. Create your own community of bloggers among your friends.
  9. It’s cool. You can let the world hear your thought.
  10. You can write in your own language. Bahasa Melayu pun boleh ma… No need to worry too much on your grammar. You won’t be scolded by your English teacher for your bad English.
  11. Oh did I say 10? The last one would be: You can delete your blog anytime if you FEELS that you do not want it anymore.

Free blog is not without limitation. If you think that you want to do more on your blog (apart from your wild ramblings about your cats and dogs), I would suggest that you get yourself a dedicated webhosting services to host your blog. For me, Exabytes is currently doing the job well on hosting this blog.

Just drop me an email if you want to feature your blog in the “Blogroll” column!

The Last Train of Borneo to Padas River

If you are going for Padas White Water Rafting (Grade II-IV), you will be able to ride the ‘last train of Borneo’. It is called that way because, errr…. it IS the last train of Borneo. Your adventure begins from Beaufort train station and end up at Pangi, where your white water rafting will start. The train will bring you along the gorge which will give you a glimpse of the Padas river and the thrills to come. Your rafting then will end up at Rayoh, where you will have your barbecue lunch, before heading back to Kota Kinabalu.

Padas white water rafting map

Mount Trusmadi climbing tips

I received an email from my fellow doctor colleague, Ragu, last week about climbing the second highest mountain in Malaysia, Mount Trusmadi. Basically, he is a hardcore mountain climber and devoted his leisure time doing outdoor activities. He was asking whether we could plan our Mount Trusmadi climbing trip ourselves, rather than paying kind of “over priced” pre-prepared package by some of the tour operators around Sabah.

I said yes, but there are not much of valuable information around the internet as Trusmadi is not a tourist spot (not like Kinabalu). It is kind of Sabah’s best kept secret, and it is meant for hardcore mountain climbers. Ordinary tourist will find it very hard and boring. Anyway, if you are like Dr. Ragu (he is a plastic surgeon, like NIP/TUCK television series), here would be my personal tips on conquering Mount Trusmadi.

Few things that we need to remember:

  1. Mount Trusmadi is kind of ‘virgin’ mountain in Sabah. It is still under the Forestry Department, not under Sabah Parks like Kinabalu and Tambuyukon. So, the climbing permit must be acquired from the Forestry Department before you are allowed to climb. You need to request for the permit at least 2 weeks before you start the climb.
  2. It is even more challenging than Kinabalu, suitable for hard core mountain climbers. If you think that Kinabalu is tough, do not even think about this mountain.
  3. You can summit the peaks in 2d1 night, but you need to be really fit. Some climbers do it in 3d2n to spend more time with mother nature.
  4. You are going to travel through really rough terrain, mainly used for logging purposes, to get to the starting point in Kg. Kaingaran. You really need a sturdy 4wd to get there. Traveling from Tambunan (the small town which is near the mountain) will take about 1 hour.
  5. As it is a non-tourist mountain to climb, you have to bring along all your climbing gear – from your portable stove to leech socks to toilet paper.
  6. I must emphasize that Trusmadi is not for the faint hearted.

The best place to inquire about the trip up the mountain is from Tambunan Village Resort Center (TVRC), which is in err… Tambunan. They are now known as The Borneo Heritage Village. They are the best place for you to seek additional information for the climb, but unfortunately they do not have a good official website on that matter. Contact them at +6087-774076, or email at Otherwise, you can seek the available tour company who can provide you with the information package on the internet by just typing ‘mount trusmadi’ on Google Search. You can get the itinerary for 3d2n trip Mount Trusmadi on this and this page.

TVRC is can be appointed as the ‘basecamp’ of Mount Trusmadi. It has accommodations for climber to stay overnight before proceeding to the climb on the next day. They also can provide you with porters, guides, permits and foods up the mountain. The last time I called, you can also rent some of your climbing gear from them.

Basically, the things that you can ask TVRC for help are:

  1. Return transfer from KK International Airport to Tambunan (TVRC).
  2. Transport from TVRC to the starting point in Kg. Kaingaran using 4WD.
  3. Porters and Guides.
  4. Climbing permit from Forestry Department.
  5. Accommodation.

I think that by directly contacting them, you can save around 10-30% of the cost compared to having a tour operator to host your trip.

How to put your WordPress RSS feed to a HTML website

I have a HTML website about climbing Mount Kinabalu. I also have a WordPress blog, (I use it as an update and news pages) which I blog almost every other day to update the reader on Kinabalu.

My intention now is trying to highlight my recent 5 entries in the blog into my website,, so that there will be some “freshness” of the content on the website (means that parsing the WordPress RSS feed to fit in my HTML homepage). It will also show my visitor the latest update in the blog. Google knows the website more than the blog because I have optimized my website to be rank high in Google SERP. In other way, it is also a good way to promote the blog. For the past few weeks, I have been Googling around for the perfect script to do the job: parsing the latest 5 entries of my blog on the homepage of my website using the RSS feed that WordPress have.

RSS feed parser (PHP script) in actionThere are a lot of RSS to HTML parser around, but I could not find the perfect one to do the job, until I found Suttree, which has a small PHP script that was easily manage and can do the job quite well.

However, I found out that there is some issues with the PHP script parsing my Kinabalu Blog feed. As I have installed a Feedburner plugin for my WordPress blog, it seems that the HTML page that it creates produced a lot of gibberish characters and “artifact”. It was not parsing properly.

Until I found out that there was an update on the script that could tidy up the HTML presentation of the RSS feed on your website. t3h GeeK ZonE hacked the script politely and strip it nicely, so that it has become really puny and do the job better than the previous one. Although there is still some funny characters that you can see, but it is way better than the first one. Oh, it also could not produce the date of the post. I don’t mind that.

If you would like to see the how does the script work, please feel free to go to my homepage. The PHP script parse my WordPress RSS feed and add a nice latest 5 entries of my blog in the right sidebar. Check it out!

The installation of the script was also easy. Unzip the downloaded file, edit the rss.php file, and upload the file into your root directory of your server. Call the PHP script from your HTML page by inserting [include(“rss.php”);] in the table where you like to put the fresh new content from the blog.

Good luck!

Locals triumph in 8th Sabah Adventure Challange

8th Sabah Adventure Challange winnerKOTA KINABALU: The local team of Guianus Salagan and Mohd Yusuf proved their mettle in the just concluded 8th Sabah Adventure Challenge against all odds – the scorching heat and challenging terrain – to come out top.

Of the 72 participants comprising 34 teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland, six teams eventually had to withdraw from the race halfway due to heat exhaustion and symptoms of sun-stroke.

Read more…

Mount Kinabalu Panoramic view by Roselle

I received an email – with a story and some photos of magnificent Mount Kinabalu from Roselle, (one of our friends) last week. She came to Sabah last March and spend 9 days of her great time here. I am still editing her story and a dedicated HTML pages, but to give you the idea of what Mount Kinabalu in wider angle view is, I would like to share with you one of the photo that she emailed me.

Panoramic view of Mount Kinabalu

Wait for the full story!

P/S: Anybody can tell me the name of the 3 peaks shown on the photo?

Transportation issues to Mount Kinabalu

Last Thursday, I received an email from one of our reader, Alice, asking me about transportation issues to Mount Kinabalu. I know, after a good planning and booking of the place to stay in Laban Rata to climb, transportation is the next main issue to handle. It is even more important if you decided to travel as a backpackers – with a knapsack on your back and a travel guidebook cum map on your hand. This was the email sounds like:

The information on your webiste was very helpful. I have a couple of question which I’m hoping you might be able to address that I wasn’t able to find one your website and it’s not in any guide books either. Here is my questions..
I booked my reservations at MT kinabalu – 1st night the Park HQ, 2nd night on Laban Rata. I have the following questions regarding Transportation..

  • If I decide to hire a car to Koto Kinabalu to/from Mt. Kinabalu Park HQ? Anyone you recommend? Any restrictions on hiring a car?
  • If I decide to head for the hot springs after my descent from the Mt on Friday then spend the night at the Hot Springs.. The bus leaves at noon from the Mt. Kinabalu to the Hot Springs. Is it unrealistic to try to catch this bus? If I miss this bus how hard will it be to catch/hire a car to the Hot Springs? How hard will it be to catch/hire a bus to the airport on Saturday from the Hot Springs? How long is the journey so I know what time to book my flight? Any restrictions on hiring a car?
  • IF I decide NOT go to the hot springs on Friday, then try to take a 7pm Flight Friday back to Kuala Lumpur? Another words do you think I will make this or am I being crazy? What is the best method to hiring a car back to the airport?

Thanks In Advanced – Alice

And this would be my answers:

Buses in Kota Kinabalu. Not for a 6-footer.Thank you for your email. Transportation is one of the issues that usually make the climber way up the mountain a bit difficult. I know how you feel, and will try to answer your questions as accurate as possible. I must tell you that taking the transport to Kinabalu in groups of 4 (at least fir 1 taxi) can a be a bit cheaper compared to traveling alone.

1. If I decide to hire a car to Koto Kinabalu to/from Mt. Kinabalu Park HQ? Anyone you recommend? Any restrictions on hiring a car?
No restriction on hiring a car, and I would recommend the well known
car hire company here in KK:

1. KMT Global Rent A Car : 088-223022, 228963, 251105

2. Mayflower Car Rental: 088-221244, 254331, 254332

3. Adaras Rent A Car: 088-216671, 222137, 152280

2. If I decide to head for the hot springs after my descent from the Mt on Friday then spend the night at the Hot Springs.. The bus leaves at noon from the Mt. Kinabalu to the Hot Springs. Is it unrealistic to try to catch this bus? If I miss this bus how hard will it be to catch/hire a car to the Hot Springs? How hard will it be to catch/hire a bus to the airport on Saturday from the Hot Springs? How long is the journey so I know what time to book my flight? Any restrictions on hiring a car?


It is realistic to catch the bus to Hot Springs after the climb. But you must take notice that the bus maybe feed you up to Kundasang or Ranau, and you may have to take another bus to feed you to the Hot Springs. It will be a bit hard to get a bus from Hot Spring directly to the airport, as there is usually none. You might have to hop buses from Hot Spring>Ranau>Kota Kinabalu>Airport. If you drive directly, it can take you about 2 and half to 3 hours (From Hot Springs to the airport). No restriction on hiring a car.

3. IF I decide NOT go to the hot springs on Friday, then try to take a 7pm Flight Friday back to Kuala Lumpur? Another words do you think I will make this or am I being crazy? What is the best method to hiring a car back to the airport?

7pm flight may be a bit early, but it is possible if you arrive down to Kinabalu Park HQ (the latest about 3pm) early. It is not crazy, but I would say a bit risky. I would suggest you take the 9pm flight, as it can give you some time to have a rest and get yourself some food.

The best method? Chartered a taxi, which can give you some security on your journey.

Mountain Kinabalu climbing tips for children

I frequently received emails asking me whether they could climb Mount Kinabalu with their children, mainly aged between 5-10 years of age. I have to tell you that there are problems pertaining high altitude climbing involving children, which are:

  1. They can be too small to describe their problems clearly in words, especially the signs and symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
  2. It is harder to recognized the symptoms in children, as the symptoms of acute mountain sickness can be attributed to the changes in routine or diet associated with remote travel.
  3. With low body surface area, children are more prone to fall sick from exposure to the mountain extreme environmental hazard such as hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and hypothermia (cold).

So what you can do?

  1. Take notice on the character of acute mountain sickness, which is characterized by: headache, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, dizziness, sleep disturbances, which are particularly common above 2,500 meters. (For your information, Mount Kinabalu is 4092.5m meters and Laban Rata is about 3,000 meters above sea level)
  2. Ascent the mountain slowly, and keeping the pace same as the child.
  3. Dehydration is unhealthy to children and predispose them to AMS. So, plenty of fluid is important during the ascent.

In conclusion, I would advice that you follow the suggestions below, which I refer to British Medical Journal (bmj):

  1. Infants and children below the age of 2 who are on treks should not sleep above 2000 m.
  2. Children below 5 years old should not trek and sleep higher than 3000m (that is where Laban Rata is).
  3. Children between 5-7 years old whom can describe their condition/illness properly during the climb and can follow safety instruction, can be allowed to climb, provided they are escorted by an adult that is well verse with signs and symptoms of AMS.
  4. Children between 7-10 years old is considered fit to climb Mount Kinabalu at the height of 4095.2m.
  5. The guardian who escorted the child must make sure that the children drink plenty of fluids while climbing.

My two cents: It’s your call. You as the father/mother/guardian of your child held full responsibility of your child’s safety and health during the climb up to Kinabalu.