Satok Uptown Market, a walk to remember

Watch out Kuchingites! We have our own uptown market called Satok Uptown Market which opened on 27 February and was launched on 28 February 2015. Even though the name states that it is in Satok, the location of the uptown market is at Kuching Civic Centre (Dewan Suarah Kuching). The uptown is opened on Friday and Saturday only.

For those who does not know what uptown is, let me tell you, it has nothing to do with Westlife’s song Uptown Girl, though I was humming the song while writing this article. The usage of “uptown” in Malaysia is slang for “late-night market” because I’m pretty sure when you look up “uptown” in the dictionary, it does not translate as “market”. We usually called it as Uptown Kota Damansara, or Uptown Danau Kota. Uptowns usually opened between 9:00 pm to 3:00 am.

For the night owls, here is the perfect place for you to shop. In West Malaysia, they already have tons of uptowns and downtowns but here in Kuching, we are still new in experiencing this type of late-night market.

Thus, on last Friday night, I dragged my sister to accompany me to go to this uptown. We went there at 10:00pm, so after 20 minutes of driving, I was shocked to see cars already parked at the road side, starting from the entrance of the old Lim Kok Wing University all the way to the traffic light near Archdiocesan Curia and Cathedral Pastoral Centre. I had to make U-turn twice and had to parked by the road in front of The Sarawak Club because the guests cannot park at the parking lot at the Civic Centre.

After 5 minutes walking, we finally reached the stalls. After walking for a few minutes more, we noticed that they had food stalls section, and the other section is for stalls selling other stuff such as clothes, foot wear, crafts and others.

They have variety of food sold there, and you rarely see the same food at other stalls (except for the drinks). I bought a cheese cake, with sprinkled Nestum on top which cost me RM7. Even thought it was a bit pricey for street food, it was definitely spoon-licking good.

The T-shirts and other clothes there are quite cheap. I had my eyes locked on one T-shirt stall in particular, because I noticed the T-shirts sold there were the exact same T-shirt that I wished to buy from the online mall recently. Thinking that it might be cheaper here, I looked up at the price tag and saw it was RM45! Gosh, it would only cost me about RM15 if I buy it from the online mall.

After walking for 30 minutes around the uptown and met some familiar faces, we decided to head back home. Before that, we stopped by the first stall that we saw when we walked into the area and bought 2 glasses of Air Mata Kucing. There were some kids running around at the back of the stall, and they even put the blue canvas mat for them to sit and rest. But what really caught my eyes was the area just 5 metres from where they had laid the mat. There is a graveyard at the back there which I never noticed as we rarely went to Kuching Civic Centre before.

So, the question now is, why would they build uptown, which opens late at night, near a graveyard? Plus, the parking space is so limited that we need to park by the road side and all of them illegally thus causing trouble to other people using that road.

We just hope they will relocate the uptown but overall, thumbs up to the sellers who can keep their eyes open even at 3 in the morning.


Mukah, Sarawak

Mukah is one of the sleepy towns in Sarawak. As many Sarawakians had known, the town is mostly populated by Melanaus, at about 54% of the total population. One of the unique traits of the Melanaus is that some of them used ‘bin’ (for man) and ‘binti’ (for woman) in their name like Malays / Muslims used in their name. In the past, they have tall houses and these houses are still around, especially in rural areas.

One of the famous events in Mukah is Kaul Festival. It is usually in April every year. The festival is celebrated to thank the Ipok (spirits) for the successful harvest for the past year and a prayer for a good year ahead. The Melanaus belief that the world is protected by various spirits, guarding certain areas such as Ipok Sungai (river’s guardian), Ipok Pangai (wind), Ipok Talun (forest), Ipok Guun (jungle), and Ipok Daat (sea). To start the celebration, Bapa Kaul (The Father of the Kaul) will sing mantras to start the Kaul. The people celebrate it by bringing food and drink for the grand feast which is held by the river mouth and the beaches.

Furthermore, its perfect location by the sea is the reason why their seafood are sold fresh and cheap. You can even find lobsters fresh out of the water for only RM25 per kilo during its peak season.

Mukah is also widely known for their famous sago. This is because sago trees can be found mostly in Mukah and Dalat. Sago has been the Melanaus staple food for generations, and the popularity of this food had increased over the years. While talking about sago, let’s not forget about sago worm. It is also called ulat mulong or ulat rumbia. The sago worms can be found in felled trunks of the Sago palm.

Even though the town is far from the bigger city, they have two institutes of higher education here which are Polytechnic Mukah and UiTM Mukah.

If you wanted to go to the town, Mukah is accessible via car, boat or airplane. You can take a 3-hour bus ride from Sibu, or book seats on board of MASwings flights from Kuching or Miri. For those who are not going to be seasick, you can try the 2-hours express boat ride from Sibu to Dalat (which is located 30 km from Mukah).


Chee Cheong Fun, a twist from the ordinary

I for one have never been fond of Chee Cheong Fun. Its soft rice rolls texture would not be filling besides the strong smell of prawn paste and sesame seed.

A new café opened up just right the block from our office and I decided to give it a try. I was told that the owner himself made the rice rolls from scratch. The café name is Min Zhe Café. The café besides selling several varieties of Chee Cheong Fun also sells congee eg. lean pork with lean pork with preserved egg congee, sliced fish with scallop congee, sliced beef with scallop congee, shredded chicken with scallop congee, meatballs with scallop congee.

Just to explain to you what Chee Cheong Fun is, well, it originated from Southern China and it is commonly served either as a snack, small meal or as a variety of Chinese dim sum. In Malaysia, it is popularly had as breakfasts. Chee Cheong means pig intestine, and fun means noodle; this is because the noodle rolled more tightly and resembles the small intestine of a pig.

There are several type of Chee Cheong Fun available there. You could order Char Siu ( BBQ pork meat) Chee Cheong Fun, beef Chee Cheong Fun, and several other varieties of meat. A plate costs RM4. I had to order 2 plates because 1 plate is not filling enough for me. J

I ordered Char Siu Chee Cheong Fun. When the food arrived, I was surprised to see that there was no prawn paste on it nor any sesame seeds on it. It comes with a little sambal, and the Chee Cheong Fun with Cha Siu filling inside. According to the owner, he did not want to prepare the usual Chee Cheong Fun like those in West Malaysia. He improvised it a little to suit the tastes of East Malaysians.

When I bit into it, I find the rice rolls chewy, this is what makes a Chee Cheong Fun stands out. The rice rolls must be chewy. Then I tasted the cha siu meat. Ooo La La! It was delicious. I really liked” it.

Chee Cheong Fun, that soft and slightly chewy rice rolls with its silky smooth texture, a more translucent appearance and can stay fresh without being refrigerated for up to 24 hours!

Come check out this new outlet: Minzhe Congee at Jln Stutong, Kuching just a few shops away from 388 Coffee Shop. ( 388 Coffee Shop is behind 1TJ Mall).


Review of Borneo Highland Resort, Kuching

Borneo Highland Resort which is located on top of the hills at 1,000 metres above sea level is a place where you can have the peace and quiet that you cannot have in the bustling city down below. You watch the beautiful sunrise and watch the cloud shrouding the hills in the morning. Breathe in the cool and crisp mountain air.

The resort has a golf course which you can try. For nature lovers, you can book a ride at the lobby to reach Kalimantan Border Lookout Point, Flower Gardens, Rabbit Park, Swan Lake and Horticulture Nursery. The resort also held a yearly Borneo Bird Race for bird watchers, where they can find various species of birds there. If you are up for some excursion, the tour desk can arrange horseback riding and bicycle rental for you.

The guests can walk across the pathway by the golf course to reach the forest. You can relish in the sight of the rainforest while inhaling fresh air. There is also a Jungle Spa at the ground floor of the hotel. The spa is usually not crowded, so you can enjoy the spa to your heart’s content. There is a huge man-made hot spring outside. You can also book some therapy and treatment sessions from the hotel.

The rooms at the resort can be categorized into Par Room, Birdie Room, Eagle Suite and Albatross Suite. Par Rooms are furnished with a Queen sized bed, while Birdie Rooms have a King sized bed in each room. The Eagle suite is a family room, and it has one King sized bed and two single beds. There are only 3 suites available at the resort. Albatross Suite is the honeymoon suite. It is a perfect room for honeymoon vacationers who want to have a peaceful and romantic honeymoon.

While the resort has rooms at the clubhouse, it also has 10 units of Jungle Cabin which are located about 2 km from the clubhouse. Each cabin rooms have two single beds and a balcony to view the magnificent hills.

Here are the reviews of the guests. It may sound perfect for some people who want to have a quiet weekend getaway, but some people also find it quite boring. Golfers may find this resort appealing, as the golf course is one of the main attractions there. Besides visiting the Kalimantan Viewpoint, jungle trekking, spa or visiting the park which is quite far from the resort, there is nothing much to do there.

There are also some comments from the guests which complain that the fee for pickup service from foothill to the resort is a bit expensive. The guests also complain that they had not been informed in advance about the fee. However, for in-house guests, they can drive up the hill without additional charges. For those who are not checking in, they have to pay RM8 for entrance fee per person.

Nevertheless, when you drive up the hill, you will notice a serene waterfall by the roadside, which is a bit deserted. You can stop by for a dip at the cool waterfall and have a picnic at the wooden hut by the waterfall. It is actually quite fun to enjoy the swim without strangers around you.

Even with some complaints, the resort is still a perfect weekend getaway. You can also enjoy the sight of different bungalows nearby the clubhouse, and each bungalow has different designs which made it more beautiful. Borneo Highland Resort can be your quiet weekend getaway if you are into peace, quiet and nature to relax your mind, body and soul.


The perfect Team building locations in Borneo

There are numerous locations where you can hold team building events in Sabah and Sarawak. These places had been widely known for its beauty of nature, island and some teambuilding equipment.

 1.    Manukan Island

Manukan Island is one of the most beautiful islands in Sabah. The location is perfect for team buildings as it is near to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state. You can just hop on a boat from Sutera Harbour Jetty to get here.

Besides an ideal holiday destination, the island’s wide sandy beach with shady trees on the seaside can be used for various activities such as beach volleyball, Frisbee, and many more.

2.    Mesilau Nature Resort

The resort is surrounded by mountain and green trees. They have meeting rooms, function rooms, and the lodge is cozy enough for you to feel like home. You can also have some mount climbing activities while you are there and explore the wonder of Mount Kinabalu.

3.    Mulu National Park

Widely known as a UNESCO Heritage Site in Sarawak, Mulu does not consist only of caves only. Of course, you can explore the gigantic cave chamber and see the uniquely formed rock formation there, or even watch the Bat Exodus, but it will only be a side activity. The main activity is, you can have you team building at the vast jungle. Enjoy treasure hunting, jungle escape, or jungle survival where you are left stranded with your teams with limited supply.

4.    Permai Rainforest Resort, Kuching

This resort in Kuching is perfect for people who want to enjoy the sea and have a jungle adventure. Permai Rainforest Resort, also known as Kem Permai (Permai Camp) by the locals, had been a team building destination for over a decade. The resort has treehouses, especially for twin sharing, and cabins that can accommodate up to 6 people at a time.

There are boats that can be rented, or you can try the training facilities in the jungle like flying fox, low rope, tyre jump and others.

Interested to book team building event at one of these places? You can see this link: Team Building in Borneo to check them out. We wish you to have a great time in Borneo!


Team Building for Charity

Besides having fun and get to know your colleagues better, you can also do it for a charitable purpose. Several activities had been introduced by the experts, and here is the list:

1.       Charity Shopping Spree

Shopping! It is the keyword in this activity. While shopping sounds appealing to most people, there need to be a cause for it. In this case, you will be given a tablet computer, a limited budget, a shopping list and maybe a calculator. Teams will be set loose in a local mall, and the team that managed to purchase as many items and spend as little as possible wins. The purchased products will be given to the families in need.

2.       Cooking for a Cause

Teams will be required to prepare all sort of food based on simple and limited ingredients. It can be a cooking competition or preparing dishes that does not require to be cooked on fire. The simplest form of cooking contest is making the most delicious sandwich and yet requires least cost to make. You can invite the targeted group of people which you intend to cook for, or maybe after the contest, you can visit a homeless shelter, orphanage, or even nursing homes to share the food. This way, you can also socialize and communicate with them.

3.       Paws for a Cause

One of the ways to help animal shelter is by collecting donation to buy the animals’ necessities or build a home for them. Through pet-themed games, the team will earn money based on their points that will be used to buy animal supplies. Winning team is decided by the points they get during the games.

Another activity is building kennels to help needy dogs or cats. The teams will build kennel(s) to help animal shelter so that they can take care of more animals or replacing the old one.

4.       Green Thumbs

This is where the team needs to roll up their sleeves, as they need to deal with pots, soil, plants and water. First thing first, the team will need to decorate their own planters using their own creativity. Better yet, they can build a wooden planter on their own. Then, proceed with planting flowers. These flowers will be used as a decoration at nursing homes or other targeted places.

5.       Care for Kids

There are still many underprivileged schools and school children nowadays. They might not have the financial ability to buy school supplies or the classroom has more broken chairs than the usable ones. Teams can build the chairs from scratch, or use the broken chairs and rebuild it with decorations or paintings on the chair. That will be fun to watch and do as the members reveal their creativity to their members.

Team building is not only fun to do, but now people around you will also get the benefit of the team building activities. You can do it anywhere in Sabah, Sarawak or West Malaysia. Check out our team building packages here :


The 2 Airports in Kota Kinabalu

If you are visiting Kota Kinabalu for the first time, do be informed that there are 2 airports in Kota Kinabalu.

Terminal 1, the main terminal, is located at Kepayan area. The terminal’s new wing was opened on August 2008, and it covers an area of 940,000 sq ft. It services flights under Royal Brunei Airlines, DragonAir, Asiana Airlines, KoreanAir, MASwings and Malaysia Airlines. There are several facilities at the airport such as left luggage facility, Forex, ATMs, medical facility, car hire and taxis.

Duty free shop is available inside the terminal, but only accessible by passengers arriving on international flights. There are several restaurants at the terminal eg. McDonalds, Asian Delights, KFC, Old Town White Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts and the latest O’Brien Sandwiches Café. Public transports are available at the airport. The standard taxis fare from airport to town is RM35 per cab, and to board a bus, you can flag any bus along the main road which is located roughly 500m from the terminal.

Terminal 2 is also known as Low Cost Carrier Terminal, build specially to facilitate AirAsia. It used to be the original terminal building when it was first built, then it had undergo renovation and had re-open on 1 January 2007.

This terminal can be accessed via Jalan Mat Salleh.  The facilities are almost the same with Terminal 1, which consist of Forex and ATMs, left luggage facility, duty free shop and restaurants. Taxis and bus are available. There is a public bus that will stop by at the terminal every hour but there is no specific schedule on the timing.

There is a small duty free shop at departure and arrival lounge for international flights passengers, though the latter closes quite early. In this terminal there are only 2 restaurants, which are KFC and Asian Delights.

To go to the airport, there are shuttle services available daily from bus station at Padang Merdeka to both terminals and vice versa. There is also shuttle service going from one terminal to the other. It takes about 25 to 40 minutes for the bus to arrive at the airport, depending on the traffic condition. There is a ticket booth for Airport Bus inside both terminals, so you can get to the city by bus which is more convenient and cheaper. For those who wanted to go to Horizon Hotel, Deleeton Hotel and Hotel Dreamtel, the bus can drop passengers near there too.

Kota Kinabalu International Airport is the second busiest airport in Malaysia. Although the airport was built for military airfield by the Japanese occupying forces during World-War II, it had undergone several maintenance and renovation throughout the year to become the magnificent airport as it is now. When you get a chance to visit Kota Kinabalu, take a good look at the Departure Hall column head design. It was inspired by the ‘Wakid’ basket design, designed to show the world that Sabah still take pride in their culture despite the rapid modernization in the state.

Planning a trip to Kota Kinabalu soon? Check out SarawakBorneoTour.com for popular and hot tours.


3 Very Popular & Easy Ice Breaker Ideas for Team Building

As in any teambuilding programme, to start off the day’s event, we would usually start it off with some ice breaker activities. If an organization has company employees of more than 20 for example, you would expect the employees tend to click together with those from the same department. We need to break down that barrier.

To start off a teambuilding activity for company employees, we first need to get the staff members to mingle among themselves. We can easily do this by dividing the meeting participants into groups of 4-5 persons. We just number them off eg. First person is 1, second person is 2, third person is 1, fourth person is 2 and it goes on.

7 Things in Common

So we tell the newly formed group that in each group, they need to find 7 things that they have in common. Nothing to do with the things that they wear or what that they do at work etc. This will help the group members to discover their shared interests more broadly. One person in the group must take notes and to read out the list to the whole group when they are done.

Another member in the group will read out their whole list of things that they have in common first. Then each group will share their whole list with the whole group. Usually as the person is reading it out, you will hear of laughter from the group, and discussion among the members. This ice breaker takes only 1-15 minutes to do, of course depending on the group size. To keep the activity short, you could only allow about 7 minutes for brainstorming or discussion and the rest to read it out.

Speed Dating? Speed Meeting?

Here is another idea. Ever heard of Speed Dating? You can use the same concept for your team groups but here we call it Speed meeting. Divide them into 2 by 2. Then give them each about 5 minutes to mention their names and perhaps what they are going to do once the teambuilding outing ends or perhaps their 5 favourite food and why and once the bell rings, they have to move on to the next person. This speed meeting will make them move around the room, and generate laughter from the crowd as they move on from 1 participant to another.

Year of the Coin

Each person tosses a coin and then tell the members what they were doing in that year. It can be something memorable or something insignificant. This ice breaker encourages people to open up and talk, hence get to know one another better.

Above are 3 very easy to do team building ideas for you to implement into your Teambuilding programme.

Come talk to us if you would like us to arrange for your team building trip to Sabah or Sarawak. Check out our packages here: Team Building Packages in Sabah and Sarawak.


Is Extreme Teambuilding for everyone?

There are many extreme sports activities out there. If your management team is one of those who love extreme sports, then they would think that organising extreme teambuilding activities is the way to go for the company employees. Is this right for everyone?

Let us first examine what is extreme building. It is defined as activities that people do as a group or competing against another group from the company. These activities usually require a high level of inherent danger and it often involves  speed, height, a high level of physical exertion, and highly specialized gear. Extreme sports activities are not for the faint hearted and definitely not suitable for everyone.

Mount Kinabalu team climbing

Mount Kinabalu team climbing

Some examples of extreme teambuilding activities are team skydiving, white water rafting at Sg. Padas Sabah, Mt Kinabalu climbing or rock climbing and even bungee jumping. Some companies believe that doing these activities would boost employee morale, make them think out of a box, boost their morale, foster a spirit of cooperation and creativity amongst team members.

So the question now is, “Is Extreme Teambuilding Highly Recommended for companies to organise for their employees? “

Skydiving for extreme sports lover

Skydiving for extreme sports lover

Image credit to PlanetDen.com

Most team building activities focus on developing critical skills, like solving problems, make real time decision, delegate tasks and communications skills. Some focuses on your mental ability to decipher a problem. The outdoor activities or outdoor survival skills would send participants through mountains, or forests with very minimal supplies, eg. No sleeping bags, no stoves, tents and you are required to survive on these very basic skills in the jungle, forests or mountains. You will then have to think on your feet on survival skills, how to work together with your team mates to delegate the tasks of looking for woods to make fire, who is to go catch the fishes or find water and etc. Some outdoor adventure programme requires you to engage in high speed boat ride, zip lining, hiking and so much more.

Team members may be required to organise a high tech treasure hunt called Geoquest where team members work together to find hidden targets. A team of 4-5 people will be given a handheld GPS units and by using this gadget, they are required to find hidden treasures. The GPS units would guide them within that specific area but it wont pinpoint the exact location. Then you are required to use clues given to you to find the hidden answer. So here, you would have to use your wits to find the answer. Teambuilding work is important here to quickly solve the clue and be the winner.

Preparing for white water rafting

Preparing for white water rafting

For the more adventurous, extreme team building exercises are designed to build team spirit or put decision-making skills into practice by placing participants into physically demanding situations. While treasure hunts, hiking, and sailing are relatively safe, team parasailing seems to move closer to the danger zone.

Sound like fun teambuilding exercises? Not to everyone though we wish to add here that if your company services or products are sports related, then maybe you may consider extreme teambuilding activities though if your company employees are elderly folks, then it is definitely not recommended for them.


5 Tips to having a Budget Team Building

Some team buildings are expensive to come by. People like to combine fun and leisure in their team building, so the perfect location is needed.
There are some ways for you to hold a team building event without spending too much money. All you need to have is a space for mingling and play games.

1. Cut off frivolous activities
Activities that have little to do with team building should be removed from the list. Even though they are fun to do, the activities might not be important enough to strengthen your work relationship among employees. Paintball is one of them. There are other cheaper and more efficient activities that you can do instead of renting a paintball park.

Scavenger Hunt across the city

Scavenger Hunt across the city in teams

2. Do some activities near to your hotel
There are various activities that you can do near to your hotel. If the hotel that you are staying is in the city, then it is a good idea to have scavenger hunt. For example, provide each team with some money in case there is something that needed to be purchased in the list. Even better, ask them to find something that does not require money, instead maybe a square shaped rock, or even certain type of leaf that you find on the pavement.

3. Explore more cost effective venues
It is a good idea to rent community centres, universities or campsite for your team building. It is cheaper that way. Campsite sounds more interesting, and it will be fun staying there and have your team building activities in the midst of nature.

The perfect camping site for team building

The perfect camping site for team building

4. Combine team building event with another activity
Team building is another excuse for you to go exploring other state and country. For example, by having a team building in Mulu National Park, you can explore the most amazing caves in Malaysia. Furthermore, by planning an overnight trip to Miri, you can tour the oil resort city and shop for souvenirs there.

Shop for souvenir at Batu Bungan Penan Settlement in Mulu

Shop for souvenir at Batu Bungan Penan Settlement in Mulu, Sarawak

5. Book hotel sooner
Some hotels are cheaper when booked earlier. Keep in mind that you should also avoid peak season while planning the team building event.

Are you looking forward to have a team building event in the near future? How about staying in a nice cottage at Permai Rainforest Resort surrounded by trees, and the beach is only a stone’s throw away? Would you rather have a relaxing team building at Mesilau Nature Resort, Sabah? Click here for Team Building Packages in Sabah and Sarawak.

For more information, email us at Ask[a]SarawakBorneoTour.com.

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