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#JOM: Tulips turn Cameron Highlands into nature's kaleidoscope - March 5, 2024

In the picturesque landscapes of Cameron Highlands in Pahang, the national flower of Turkey and the Netherlands, tulips, have burst into a riot of colours, capturing the hearts of beholders. With over 2,500 tulips thriving in Malaysian soil, their full bloom is not just a spectacle but a vibrant display attributed to the country's prevailing higher temperatures.

An unexpected home

Lokmanulhakim Basiron, the general manager of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) station in Cameron Highlands, proudly shared that this marks their third consecutive year of cultivating tulips at the Agro Technology Park Mardi.  The tulips have found an unexpected home in the tropical Malaysian climate and become an annual attraction, drawing unexpected visitors who flock to witness the blooming beauties. Originating from Iran and Turkey, these tulips undergo seed-breeding technology led by the Netherlands (Holland), and these bulbs are imported from there. "The Cameron Highlands Agro Technology Park Mardi planted 300 tulips in February 2022 at the Cameron Mini Flower Garden in conjunction with the school holidays. "In February last year, we planted 1,500 bulbs, and last month — 2,500 bulbs," he said at the park recently.

Ideal condition for Tulips

Lokmanulhakim explained that tulip flowers bloom gradually, displaying colours within five to 10 days after being transplanted into warm soil. However, they continue to bloom for two to three weeks, depending on the weather conditions.  He elaborated that the ideal temperature for growing them is below 12° C and the flower has a temperature tolerance limit of up to 29° C. "Tulips need more direct sunlight either in the morning or evening. They do not do well in high heat. The soil must have good drainage, a neutral to slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7, and be fertile and dry or sandy. So mulch, such as sphagnum moss, is used to control soil temperature and sustain moisture," he added. Lokmanulhakim said after the end of the flowering period, the stems and leaves must wilt naturally and turn yellow or brown before they are removed from the soil.

If the leaves are removed while still green, there will be insufficient food in the bulbs to bloom the following year, he said. "Cleaned tulip bulbs are stored in mesh bags at below 5° C in a cold room for 12 weeks to six months during their dormancy/inactive phase. "Then they are transferred to Leca (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) balls, a type of medium for rooting, at room temperature for a fortnight. After that the bulbs are placed in a planting medium such as peatgrow for three to four weeks to encourage growth before being transferred to the display site," he said.

Flower varieties

He listed this year's varieties as Rood (red), Yellow Baby (yellow), Flair (orange mix), Roze (light purple), Paars (dark purple), and Flaming Baby.  Apart from the tulip festival, there are a variety of Mediterranean fruits such as apples, pears, grapes and strawberries as well as popular flowers such as impatiens, camellias, dahlias, petunias, lilies and roses. The park serves as a stopover for highland tourism in Cameron Highlands, strategically located near the town of Tanah Rata. Positioned at an elevation of 1,400 metres above sea level, the area maintains a comfortable temperature throughout the year. Cameron Highlands is also home to the oldest tea plantation and the first tea factory in Malaysia, as well as a research centre for green agriculture. Entrance fees are reasonably priced at RM5 for children and senior citizens, RM10 for adults, and free for the disabled. Source - NST

Pahang holds talks with Malaysia Airlines on introducing new routes - Februari 29, 2024

KUANTAN: The Pahang government is holding talks with Malaysia Airlines on introducing new flights in and out of the state capital. Malaysia Airlines operates the Kuala Lumpur-Kuantan route with two daily flights. State Unity, Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Leong Yu Man said the talks explored the possibility of introducing new flights from Sultan Ahmad Shah Airport to other destinations. "We are hoping for flights from other towns too, including reviving flights to Penang.

"There used to be flights connecting Kuantan and Penang." On the possibility of increasing Singapore's Scoot Air's flight frequency between Changi Airport and Kuantan, Leong said there had been talks but nothing was official. "Scoot operates the Singapore-Kuantan-Singapore route on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. "Passenger arrivals from Singapore have been encouraging, so we hope more flights will serve the route to boost tourist arrivals." Scoot resumed flights to Kuantan in May after suspending operations for about a month for aircraft maintenance. On the move by SKS Airways to suspend commercial flight operations between Subang and Tioman, Leong said the runway expansion work on the island was important to attract bigger aircraft to operate the route. Since SKS Airways ceased operations between Subang and Tioman in October, the airport in Kampung Tekek is used by chartered and private aircraft. Source - NST

 

Nik Nazmi: Three wetlands in Sabah, Sarawak being nominated as new Ramsar sites - February 19, 2024

BERA: The Klias Peninsula in Sabah, as well as Loagan Bunut and Sarikei in Sarawak, are being nominated to be recognised as the country's new Ramsar sites, Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad announced. He said the ministry was in the midst of preparing the necessary documents for the nomination as they also expected the recognition will be obtained within a year or two if everything goes according to plan. "At the same time, we also invite other states to propose their own wetlands for consideration as Ramsar sites, as they may have a better understanding of their respective areas.

"The ministry is ready to assist state governments, and can even share the technical criteria for a particular area to qualify as a Ramsar site." Nik Nazmi said this after launching the World Wetlands Day 2024 celebration at the Tasek Bera Ramsar Site, which was also attended by Pahang Unity, Tourism, and Culture Committee chairman Leong Yu Man. The last Ramsar Site registered in Malaysia was in 2017, namely the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands in Sabah, bringing the total to seven so far. The others are Tasek Bera in 1994; Tanjung Piai, Pulau Kukup, and Sungai Pulai in Johor (2003); Kuching Wetlands National Park in Sarawak (2005); and Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands in Sabah (2008). Nik Nazmi said Malaysia possesses a vast ecosystem of wetlands, covering over 5.19 million hectares, including geographical features such as peatlands, mangroves, rivers, and lakes that serve as habitats for various species of flora and fauna.

"These wetlands are crucial and hold high conservation value, whether in terms of economic value through timber, fisheries, and tourism or the benefits of ecosystem services, such as protection from strong winds and huge waves, water retention areas, flood control, and carbon storage. "The recognition as a Ramsar Site can also raise the profile of these areas," he said. Nik Nazmi said Tasek Bera, for example, is the country's largest natural lake, spanning over 30,000ha, serves as a natural freshwater ecosystem with diverse aquatic biology and is home to approximately 2,000 Orang Asli from the Semelai tribe. Meanwhile, Leong said the state government, through Tourism Pahang, was actively revitalising tourism at Tasek Bera with a new resort operator for the previously closed resort at the site is expected to be appointed soon. "Tasek Bera will once again become a key tourism product for the Bera district, and we are also planning other products to be promoted alongside Tasek Bera, including through collaboration with the local Orang Asli community," she said. At the event, Nik Nazmi also launched the "Fishes of Tasek Bera" book, which documented profiles of 36 families and 158 species of freshwater fish, including four newly recorded species, with one species each having endemic and extinct status internationally. — Bernama

Pahang lists 41 tourism events, eyes 13.5 million tourists - February 27, 2024

KUANTAN: The Pahang government is strategizing initiatives to attract domestic and international tourists, eyeing 13.5 million arrivals this year. Pahang's tourist arrivals totaled 13.2 million up to Dec 31 last year, up from 10.18 million in 2022 and two million in 2021, when the country's borders were closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. State Unity, Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Leong Yu Man said the state's tourism strategy included holding familiarisation trips for international and domestic travel agents to popular attractions in all 11 districts in Pahang. She said Tourism Pahang would participate in roadshows around the country and hold the inaugural Malaysia International Tourism (MIT) Expo Pahang this year.  "The MIT will be held in Kuantan between Oct 8 and 10. The tourism fair will feature booths that allow people to obtain firsthand information on unique destinations and products in Pahang.

"Tourism Pahang has listed 41 events on the Pahang tourism calendar this year, including Southeast Asia's longest-running international bird race event, the Fraser's Hill International Bird Race, as well as the Royal Pahang Billfish International Challenge. "Plans are underway to introduce several international tourism events this year," she said at a press conference here today. Leong said besides focusing on tourist arrivals and promotion campaigns, the state government would also hold specially tailored programs for stakeholders.

"Tour guides will be allowed to join training and refresher courses to update their knowledge and skills. "Short courses on digital marketing and customer service will be provided to tourism industry players. "Besides promoting Pahang as a favorite holiday destination, we want to ensure all stakeholders are equipped with skills, competencies, and digital knowledge to offer top-class services," Leong said last year, tourists spent about RM11.89 billion in Pahang, up from RM9.1 billion in 2022 and RM1.9 billion in 2021. She said Genting Highlands remained the most visited destination in Pahang, recording 8.1 million visitors last year, with state capital Kuantan in second place at 2.18 million visitors and Cameron Highlands in the third spot at 1.36 million visitors. Source - NST

Taman Negara is a timeless rainforest offering exciting adventures - February 5, 2024

TAMAN Negara stands as a bastion of ancient wilderness. Spanning over 4,343 square kilometres, this sanctuary is not just a park but a journey back in time to when nature reigned supreme. It is believed to be among the oldest rainforests on Earth, a living museum showcasing a biological diversity that is both rare and awe-inspiring.

Declared a conservation site in 1938, Taman Negara's history is as deep and complex as its dense canopies. Originally named the Gunung Tahan Game Reserve, it was an area dedicated to the protection and preservation of indigenous flora and fauna.

Its transition to Taman Negara, which translates to 'National Park', was more than a rebranding; it was a commitment to safeguarding natural heritage perpetually.

WHERE THREE STATES MEET

Straddling the borders of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang, Taman Negara is a cross-state park that offers a plethora of experiences for the eager explorer. The park is a treasure trove of primaeval jungle, home to towering trees, cascading waterfalls, and secretive wildlife that have thrived for over 150 million years.

ACCESSING THE UNTOUCHED

Embarking on the journey into Taman Negara is an adventure in its own right. Whether opting for the rustic charm of a riverboat ride down the Kuala Tembeling River or taking the more direct route by road, each path leads to an extraordinary encounter with nature's majesty.

A PLACE TO REST

Accommodation in Taman Negara blends comfort with nature. Establishments like Mutiara Taman Negara provide a serene setting to unwind after a day of adventure. For those seeking a more intimate connection with nature, guest houses and lodges like Tebing Guest House and Taman Negara Riverview Lodge offer a more rustic experience.

ENDLESS ADVENTURES AWAIT

The Canopy Walk invites you to view the world from above, while the forest trails beckon the bold to discover hidden enclaves within the jungle's embrace. For a cultural immersion, visits to Orang Asli villages reveal the wisdom of the forest people and their harmonious way of life.

AQUATIC THRILLS AND SERENE SPILLS

The river's rapids offer adrenaline-pumping rides, contrasting the peaceful boat trips to Lata Berkoh's tranquil waters. The Kelah sanctuary invites you to commune with aquatic life, while the forest's night symphony sets the stage for nocturnal wildlife observations.

A BIRDER'S PARADISE

With over 380 bird species, Taman Negara is a haven for birdwatchers. The lush biodiversity here provides endless opportunities for sighting rare and exotic birds in their natural habitat.

REACHING TAMAN NEGARA

The gateway to this ancient rainforest is the town of Jerantut, a mere 16 kilometres from the Kuala Tembeling Jetty, where the journey to Taman Negara begins. Regular taxis and buses ply this route, making the rainforest accessible to all who seek its wonders.

Source - NST

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