What to expect with Borneo boat trips  
The northern portion of the island of Borneo, sitting in the Pacific Ocean, is home to a large section of Malaysia. Naturally, surrounded by miles and miles of beautiful deep blue ocean, this part of the country is a magnet for those wishing to embark on boat trips.
So what should you expect from a boat trip around Malaysian Borneo? Firstly, there is so much more to do in the way of activities than simply sitting on the deck of a boat and watching the waves float by. You might have opportunities to do some game fishing. Or, if your idea of fishing doesn't quite stretch to battling a large Marlin, then you can just as easily choose to drop your line over the side and see what bites you attract, with a cocktail at your side while you wait.
Another popular activity is snorkeling. You don't have to go through the rigmarole of time-consuming training sessions to learn how to scuba-dive. All you need is a mask and snorkel and then you can plunge into the Pacific Ocean and enter an entirely new and exciting dimension.
Tour boats will also provide light meals. This is an excellent way to appreciate local cuisine, especially if you appreciate sea food – the platter you end up being served with will be so fresh, some of the main catch's relatives will still be gliding around the seas while you eat! Depending on which part of the world you have arrived in Malaysia from, there will undoubtedly be a variety of delicacies that are completely new to you.
Well some people prefer a boat trip to be a way of immersing themselves in calm, with the only sound the gently chugging engine and the lapping of waves, others prefer to bring a party with them. Therefore some vessels have extremely capable surround-sound music systems to create an up-tempo atmosphere as you head out from port, embarking on your Pacific adventure.
This part of the Pacific – the South China Sea – is a particularly fertile marine environment. You will be entering a habitat that is home to some of the world's most exotic and exciting creatures. During particular times of the year you might well be lucky enough to catch sight of the occasional group of whale sharks. The sight of one of these ocean-going Leviathans is often enough to cause some trepidation amongst tourists. They do have an intimidating look – they are dark in colour, peppered with white spots – and are exactly the same shape as tiger sharks or, worse still, great white sharks. As their dorsal fins scythe through the water, you could be forgiven for automatically thinking of the theme tune to ‘Jaws'.
However, rest assured, whale sharks are about as dangerous to human beings as sparrows. Perhaps less so! Their main sustenance is microscopic sea creatures known as plankton. So any animal whose staple diet consists of something that only shows up on a microscope will not have very dangerous jaws! On the contrary, these giant creatures glide through the oceans majestically. Over the years they have become acquainted with the human who like to swim alongside getting to know them.
Why Malaysia is the perfect winter holiday retreat  
For westerners considering a holiday to escape the winter cold, heading east is often a popular option. But many still consider those countries with the strongest European association – Singapore, Hong Kong, or onwards to Australia or New Zealand. They are missing out on are some of the Far East's most fabulous locations.
Whether they are looking to soak up the rays on a beach, or a family-friendly destination with scope to keep youngsters fully occupied, Malaysia offer more than most. This location is becoming increasingly popular towards the end of December as western tourists shake off the post-Christmas blues, not to mention their over-indulgence in turkey and all the trimmings.
Malaysia's island retreats
Of course, Malaysia is far from one country. Its two main portions are split by the South China Sea into Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, the latter sharing the island of Borneo with Brunei and parts of Indonesia. There are many island sanctuaries where travellers can bask in the idyllic palm-fringed surrounds. In fact, Travel and Leisure Magazine named Malaysia as the source of the world's most romantic island getaways for 2013.
The holiday accommodation ranges from fabulous five-star hotels, catering for everything you could possibly require during your Far Eastern break, to beautiful bungalows built on stilts, poised above the turquoise seas. Easing into sleep against a backdrop of gently lapping waves is considered the epitome of luxury by city dwellers more used to urban noise and traffic!
The Malaysian Experience
While snorkeling or while snorkeling or diving in crystal clear, or sunning on golden beaches, may be the holiday of choice for some, others may prefer a bit more activity. Malaysia is such a melting pot of people and cultures there is never a dull moment for those wishing to savour the atmosphere in its more built-up regions.
Its capital, Kuala Lumpur, is a cosmopolitan metropolis that can offer visitors diverse attractions. No matter what your tastes for cuisine are you will find a range of sumptuous restaurants and cafes, offering you an incredibly diverse taste of the Far-East. The bustling city might seem slightly intimidating for first-time tourists, but the locals will quickly make you feel at home. There is a good transport infrastructure for getting around the various attractions and places of interest, whether your preferred mode is rail, tram or taxi.
Galleries as well as museums that trace the evolution of the region's many cultures. Wherever you are in Malaysia, whether it's a large city or a smaller town, you are never too far from lush countryside. After a day spent transferring from various trains or taxis to places on your Kuala Lumpur ‘to do' list, a great idea is to take some time out exploring the hinterland. There are forest trails that can be booked, where experienced guides will introduce you to the wilder side of the nation. Climbing through the rugged landscapes, surrounded by tall trees, beautifully-coloured tropical plants, against the backdrop of chattering monkeys and exotic birds, will be an unforgettable experience. You might even be lucky enough to spot one of Malaysia's most famous residents, its furtive orangutans.
Memorable quotes about Malaysia  
Given its extraordinary beauty, romantic location, incredible history and unique cultural mix, it should come as no surprise that Malaysia has inspired plenty of memorable quotes from famous thinkers, speakers and artists over the centuries. Here are a collection of our favourites.
Malaysia is a country unlike any other: Full of promise and fragility. Its history, cultural and religious diversity make it a rich, compelling and surprising land. Tariq Ramadan
In Malaysia, where Western culture was extremely influential, I'd grown up listening to Elvis and the Beatles and watching American movies. People wanted to be like Americans. In contrast, when I got here, I saw prosperous middle-class American college students wanting to somehow join the Third World. Feisal Adbul Rauf
As an adolescent I wrote comic books, because I read lots of them, and fantasy novels set in Malaysia and Central Africa. Umberto Ecco
Kuala Lumpur had a certain something… There was a sense of freedom perhaps, of anarchy even, that Singapore so sorely lacked. Perhaps it was the lack of deference to authority, the physical space, the ability to take a step back and enjoy a moment of quite that lent Kuala Lumpur its atmosphere. Singaporeans were always adding to the list of reasons each one kept to hand, in case they met a Malaysian, of why it was so much better on the island than the peninsula. They ranged from law and order to cleanliness, from clean government to good schools, and always ended on the strength of the Singaporean economy. But in the end, the Malaysian would nod as if to agree to the points made – and then shrug to indicate that they probably wouldn't trade passports, not really. And if pressed for a reason they would fall back on that old chestnut which somehow seemed to capture everything that was wrong about Singapore – but your government bans chewing gum. The nanny state and the police state all rolled into one. Shamini Flint
I'm going to Malaysia to try and win a million dollars... how exciting is that? Colleen Haskell
Famous Malaysians  
Malaysia has produced plenty of famous and influential people over the years. The list is pretty much endless, but here are a few of the most well-known faces.
Dato' Michelle Yeoh
You probably know Dato' Michell Yeoh from her appearances in such famous hit movies as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Mummy 3 and Memoirs of a Geisha. She began her storied career back in 1992 when she starred opposite Jackie Chan in his Hong Kong kung-fu comedy Police Story 3. Well known for being able to play action, comedy, drama and romantic roles, she is a true mould-breaker of both Asian and international cinema.
Amber Chia
Amber Chia is one of Asia's most famous supermodels of all time. Since she first made her mark at the age of 17 by winning the Guess Watches Timeless Beauty Contest in 2004, she has gone from strength to strength. She was the Malaysian model of the year in both 2004 and 2005, plus became the L'Oreal and Sony ambassador.
Dato' Jimmy Choo
Few names ring quite so sweetly across the world of fashion as that of Jimmy Choo. His high quality, ultra sophisticated footwear is worn by celebrities, socialites and beautiful people in every corner of the globe. Since the age of 11 he has been making his own shoes and he opened his first shoe shop in London back in 1986. He quickly gained widespread media attention for the quality and style of his shoes, particularly after Vogue devoted a record eight pages to his collection. Amongst his most famous clients are Jay Z and the late Princess Diana.
Nicol David
Squash is a very popular sport in Malaysia, so it is no surprise that one of the most recognised squash players in the world is Malaysian. Nicol David is ranked no. 1 in the world, having bagged a record six World Championships between 2005 and 2011. What's more, she was the first Asian woman to take the title. At the 2004 Olympics she carried the Malaysian torch to Athens. There are few women in Asia that have the extraordinary dominance in their own sporting field as David.
Malaysian dishes you have to try  
As with most Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia has an extraordinary food culture. Hungry tourists can genuinely eat their way around this majestic country, sampling dish after extraordinary dish. What makes this country so grand for the gastronome is the intense passion behind the cookery and the uniquely multicultural clash of the flavours.
Chances are, once you've chowed down in a few Malaysian eateries you will quickly be making your own list of dishes that everybody must try. For the record, however, here are our top three must-eats.
Nasi Dagang
The king of the Malaysian convenience food is Nasi Dagang. This wonderfully, deeply tasty dish comprises rice steamed in coconut milk, rich fish curry and hard boiled eggs, often served with pickled vegetables and fried coconut.
In some parts of the country it will be served for breakfast, in others only at lunch. Either way, it is a truly magnificent meal that you will find nowhere else.
Bakuteh is a delicious broth that translates literally as ‘meat bone tea' and consists of pork ribs simmered with cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, garlic, star anise and dong guai. Depending on the place you are eating, you might also find it served with offal, mushroom or tofu.
It can be found country-wide but the best place we ever tasted Bakuteh was in Restaurant Yik See Ho in the Pudu Wet Market in Kuala Lumpur. Loved by locals and tourists alike, it's a lively little spot and they specialise in this delicious dish.
Charsiew Rice
This Malaysian version of barbequed pork brings a uniquely south east Asian flavour to the dish beloved across the world. Boneless pork comes skewered with long forks, richly seasoned and grilled over a fire. It's incredibly tasty, often infused with honey, five-spice powder, tofu, soy sauce and hoison sauce.
The meat comes out dark red due to the mixture of sugar and seasoning on the skin, while the inside is beautifully, juicily, richly soft and textured. Expect to be seduced by the gorgeous waft of sweet pork before you bite into the succulent, soft inside.


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Recommended restaurants in Kuching  
Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak state on Malaysian Borneo, is a vibrant metropolitan centre of some 330,000 people. There is an incredible ethnic diversity about this part of Borneo Island, and for this reason visitors really are spoiled for choice when it comes to sampling the best of the cuisine on offer.
Bla Bla Bla
Into this restaurant you are immediately struck by its unique style and innovative atmosphere. Everything from its décor and koi ponds to a Balinese Buddha pays homage to its distinctly Chinese-inspired dishes. The chef specialities in Bla Bla Bla include midin salad (a prime constituent of which is succulent jungle ferns), mouth-watering cashew nut prawns, and ostrich steaks stuffed with mozzarella. You can indulge yourself in home-made cheesecake. The portions served in Bla Bla Bla are always generous, because the tasty dishes are designed to be shared amongst friends.
Little Lebanon
Only Arab restaurant that you'll find on the entire island of Borneo is here in Kuching. As belly-dancing music drifts through the air, customers are served fragrant and deliciously muddy Turkish coffee. Pita pillows are passed around to be dipped into mashed hummus, providing a tempting aperitif prior to the main courses. As the sun melts into the South China Sea, sheesha pipes are provided for a truly authentic taste of North Africa and the Middle East.
21 Bistro
This Sarawak restaurant is actually more of a sophisticated eating place-cum-bar. Since opening in 2012 it has proved to be very popular with young professionals, mainly due to its eclectic offering of Asian and Western dishes. Fusion dishes, including pasta, are especially popular, with particular approval for the grilled meats and fish (of which snapper is a speciality at 21 Bistro). As diners enthusiastically tuck into their dishes, the PA system provides an effortlessly cool soundtrack of chic jazz, making way for serious chill-out sounds as the evening progresses.
Lok Lok
Popular with courting couples and business associates alike, Lok Lok is known as a nocturnal eating place. The subdued, candlelit atmosphere makes for the perfect backdrop for the variety of speciality dishes. Amongst the most requested are skewers with prawn, cuttlefish or bean curd). These can be deep-fried or boiled, before being served with sweet and sour or satay sauces. Lok Lok also provides its hungry customers with rojak and curried chicken – traditional fare that is always given a unique twist.
Benson Seafood
If urban vicinities tend to evolve over the years, the somewhat downcast riverfront overlooked by Benson Seafood shows every sign of becoming one of Kuching's trendy areas. Laid out as an open-air pavilion, this restaurant boasts large round tables that are adorned with red tablecloths, and surrounded by matching plastic chairs. Naturally, being so close to the sea it serves fresh fish, cooked Chinese-style. Also on offer are local Sarawak classics, such as stir-fried midin, served with belacan (a kind of shrimp paste with a delicate but unmistakeable flavor).
The indigenous Dyak cuisine of Borneo has often been unfairly overlooked by local restaurants. However this situation has been remedied by the opening of its first dedicated Dyak restaurant. Consistently highly-regarded by critics and customers alike, this is the first in Kuching to treat the Dyak menu as the true home cooking.
The Petronas Towers  

Surely one of the architectural wonders of the modern world, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers have been attracting droves of visitors to Malaysia since opening on August 28 1999.
Owned by Kuala Lumpur City Centre Holdings, Sendirian Berhad, the twin towers rise to a heady height of 452 metres above the capital city's bustling streets far below (that's the equivalent of 1,480 feet).
For a while the Petronas Towers were regarded as the world's tallest structure, surpassing Chicago's Sears Tower. Apparently it was never the original attention of the national oil company Petronas to set out to build something that would surpass the tall American building. When the original plans were blueprinted, the executives, architects and private investors where certainly in agreement over one aspect; they wished this new architectural feat to be more of a monument to the Malaysian capital's status. The Petronas Towers were intended to announce to the world that Kuala Lumpur had become one of Asia, and indeed, the globe's, most vibrant commercial and cultural metropolises.
When they were embarking on this ambitious project, one of the designs they considered was by the American architect and designer Cesar Pelli. His revolutionary method of creating a vast structure that would rise countless stories, while remaining firmly anchored, was audacious, yet simple. His ideas was to construct not one but two towers. The ratio of height to width (sometimes referred to as the slenderness ratio) would be 9.4.
The original remit of the building was that it should deliberately express, not only the degree of ambition in Malaysia, but also its proud history and cultural heritage. So when the architect set about planning his twin towers, from the outset he had a specific vision. The construction should be far much more than towers of metal and glass, similar to those that rise above city centres right across the world. He wanted to incorporate the arabesques and repetitive geometrical patterns that are so prevalent in Muslim architecture.
One of his most obvious reference points alluding to Malaysia's Islamic background was to create an eight-point star, formed by intersecting squares. In designing the towers themselves he envisaged a series of pointed and curved bays that would form a traditional ‘scalloped' outer surface. The intention here was to recreate the appearance of an Islamic temple. (Perhaps an alternative colloquial term for his architectural masterpiece should really have been the ‘twin minarets'!)
While the overall structure consists of two separate towers, the singular most important aspect of the building is the fact that they are twin sections of a single entity. That two towers were constructed was perhaps more of a practical design consideration. Nevertheless, the towers are also physically linked – by a bridge running across the 41st floor. What this does is create a magical gateway effect, giving the impression that the Petronas Tower is truly opening up Kuala Lumpur to its visitors.
One question asked by nervous visitors gazing down over Kuala Lumpur from the dizzying heights is exactly how safe is such a tall structure in the face of the elements? They can rest assured that the building is constructed from a particularly high-strength concrete, in order to reduce the effects of ‘sway'. There are massive concrete cores built into the towers – measuring 75 feet x 75 feet. Despite the slender appearance of the twins, their sophisticated design allows for upwards of 22,000 square feet of office space per floor (with no internal columns either).
The building even boasts glass and stainless steel sun shades. A building with its own sun-screening – how cool is that?
As well as offices, the building accommodates a shopping centre, a concert venue, plazas and a public park. The twin towers don't just sell the city of Kuala Lumpur to the rest of the world, they are virtually a city in their own right!

An introduction to Malaysia’s wildlife holidays  
Malaysia is a country of contrasts. Divided by the South China Sea, it consists of peninsular Malaysia - home to its capital Kuala Lumpur - and Malaysian Borneo. Both of these locations offer an incredibly diverse range of habitats for flora and fauna.
The peninsula
Peninsular Malaysia boasts three main wildlife habitats that form the basis of popular natural history vacations. This facility contains central highlands which are relatively cool, lowland forests teeming with furtive and not-so-secretive inhabitants, and coastlines that are dotted with mangrove swamps.
The Malaysian sector on the island of Borneo contains some of the world's tropical regions' most spectacular rainforest trees, rising from the forest floor to jaw-dropping heights. As you gaze up to the canopy far above you might be fortunate to see monkeys as they stealthily leap from tree to tree. You will certainly be able to hear them! These rainforests are also amongst the world's oldest.
The province of Sabah is home to a diverse range of animals and plants, including one particular species that has almost become synonymous with Malaysia's rich wildlife: the orang-utan.
Nature treks and tours
The indigenous creatures are naturally apprehensive when they see any Homo Sapiens entering their realm – and that's hardly surprising given the damage that has been done through logging and poaching. So the best way to get a good enough view of any wildlife is to embark on official nature treks. Here experienced guides will take you into the forest, negotiating the occasionally treacherous pathways through the dense vegetation. Many animals are territorial, and your guides will appreciate the likely places to catch a glimpse of any of the forest dwellers.
The air above your head will be full of excitable chatter from monkeys and birds, as well as delicately fluttering butterflies. The incredibly rich colour scheme of the latter is enough to take the breath away. Your guide will be able to identify the different types of flying creatures, be they birds, bats or insects.
Mangrove swamps have their own unique biodiversity. Of course, navigating into unknown waters is not to be recommended. However, you can book a canoe trip that will enable you to glide around the partially-submerged vegetation, keeping an eye out for Mangrove Whistlers and Flyeaters.
In Taman National Park there are boat trips that will take you on unforgettable cruises through the area's fabulous locations. There are at least 10 woodpecker species living in the park, making for some fairly noisy background percussion at times! The local hornbills are another popular sight.
Amongst the larger species which Malaysian tours can acquaint you with are Asian elephants, leopards, Malaysian tapirs, tigers and a wide range of monkeys and other primates.
To explore Malaysian Borneo, a three-week tour will allow you to immerse yourself in the local flora and fauna. You can explore the lower slopes of Mount Kinabulu (the 20th highest in the world), as well as the rainforests in Sabah. These treks are run in conjunction with the charity Environmental Investigation Agency, and one of the highlights of any venture into this part of Borneo is the likelihood of spotting orangutans.
Top 3 boat trips around Malaysia  
Malaysia is a wonderful holiday location, offering a diverse range of tourist attractions on both sides of the South China Sea. If you want to take full advantage of its proximity to the beautiful Pacific Ocean, here are some excellent boat trips you can choose to embark on.
Dinner Cruises
While some travellers are drawn to cruises because they wish to watch the world flow by, others are content to just use a boat trip as an excuse to put their feet up and indulge in some serious relaxation. Some people prefer to take on-board both options with equal fervor.
When visiting Langkawi, why not book yourself onto an afternoon and sunset dinner cruise? Because Langwaki consists of no fewer than 99 gorgeous tropical islands, it makes for the ideal backdrop to your island-hopping cruise. As your background of endless white beaches, towering limestone cliffs and turquoise seas drift by, relax and enjoy the delicacies on offer from the varied menu. As well as taking a sightseeing cruise around the region's southern islands and inviting bays, you can chill-out while you are served dinner prepared on board. An added bonus is that there is an open bar on the vessel, with a free flow of drinks. File that is swimming kayaking snorkeling on offer, it is best to get those activities out the way before getting too acquainted with the open bar! Thereafter why not sink a few choice aperitifs while watching the majesty of the sun setting into the western mountains.
Serious angling
Fishing in the Pacific is another immensely popular pastime for visitors to Malaysia. Excellent sports fishing opportunities are available when you head out from Langwaki. The motor yacht that will transport you to the fishing grounds is fast, comfortable and professionally-equipped. You can head for the islands in the Butang group or Pulau Peras, both of which offer excellent fishing, as well as snorkeling or diving.
Amongst the species you may hook are sea bass, grouper, tuna, marlin, marlin or barracuda (in the case of the latter, be vary wary of their snapping jaws after you've wheeled one aboard!) Departure times can be individually arranged, and you have the option of a half-day's trip lasting four hours or full day's fishing lasting eight. An experienced local fisherman will accompany you to ensure you make the most out of your angling opportunity.
Flying fox spotting
One particular aquatic pursuit that will be something to write home about is the flying Fox and wetlands cruise. Departing from Langwaki at sunset and lasting for three hours, this will take you along Kilim's beautiful forest-lined mangrove swamps en route to Pulau Dangli. As well as feeding tropical fish, you'll be able to witness the amazing spectacle of one of Malaysia's most fantastic and unique natural sights. At sunset the flying foxes – the world's largest species of fruit bats – emerge from their daily roosting positions, to begin encircling the island as they start their evening feed. These magnificent creatures sped the night feasting, before heading back to the island by sunrise. After you've captured some memorable snaps of the feeding frenzy, your private boat tour and experienced nature guide will return you to the island, then your hotel.
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