Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tourism sector improves services to Korean tourists

Adele Kim, Director of PROMAC Partnership, briefing participants of the workshop.

A TRAINING programme is being held to help professionals in Brunei's tourism industry to to further improve services to Korean tourists visiting the country.

Jointly organised by the Asean-Korea Centre and the Brunei Tourism Board, the three-day "Asean Tourism Human Resource Development Programme" provides participants an insight into Korean tourism, culture and manners, and basic Korean language by four experts from South Korea.

Some 40 participants comprised tourism professionals from government and private sector such as hoteliers, travel agents and NTO official are attending the programme.

"The Asean-Korea Centre has been organising Asean Tourism HRD Programme to help build the capacity of tourism professionals of Asean countries in providing tailored service to Korean tourists," said Jae Hyun CHO, the Centre's Director of Development Planning and General Affairs Unit. He said that four such programmes have already been organised in the Mekong Sub-region including Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand. "In the fiscal year of 2010, the Centre will organise the same programmes in BIMP-Eaga countries and Singapore," he added.

"It is hoped that this programme will be of help to all participants in deepening understanding of the Korean tourists and their culture and also in learning Korean language so that tourism professionals could provide services closely attuned with the needs of Korean tourists, thereby further promoting Korean tourism to the Sultanate," said Jae Hyun CHO.

Present to officiate the launch of the workshop was Brunei Tourism CEO Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed.

Republic of Korea Ambassador to Brunei Kim Dae-Sik said that the programme would provide a useful opportunity for the stakeholders in the tourism sector to learn from Korean experience and expertise.

He said that Korea is an important market for Asean tourism, as statistics have shown that the number of Koreans travelling to Asean countries is increasing every year.

"Despite a temporary hike in 2008 with charter operations from Seoul to Bandar Seri Begawan by a Korean travel agency, it is still hard to say that we are seeing steady increase of Korean travellers in Brunei," said the ambassador

"The task ahead is how to turn the current trend of sporadic nature into a sustained one. I believe that Brunei has a lot to bring in more Korean people to the country on a sustainable basis, if it utilizes its tourism potentials to the fullest with effective strategies," he added.

"Six century-old monarchy, well-preserved pristine rainforest, noble Islamic architecture, the largest water village in the world, hospitable people are no doubt distinctive assets of the Sultanate. Furthermore, the ongoing project 'BSB Development Masterplan' which aims to transform the capital into one of the world's most livable and greener cities will be instrumental in attracting more tourists," he added.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Keeping alive customs of ethnic Dusuns

A dancer clad in traditional Dusun costume performing during the Adau Gayoh celebration.

THE ethnic Dusun community of Mukim Kiudang in Tutong yesterday gathered to celebrate Adau Gayoh, to mark the end of the padi harvesting season and celebrate the spirit of unity.

The festival at Wasai Batu Mapan Recreational Park in Kg Pad Nunok represents Dusuns' way of expressing gratitude for good harvest and brings together people from all walks of life.

Acting Tutong District Officer Hj Suffian Hj Bungsu said that such spirit of goodwill needs to be preserved and maintained to continue efforts in developing the country as the nation is facing global challenges.

"Our customs and traditions are our priceless heritage. No matter how developed and progressive our country is, the customs that we inherit must be practised and continued so that it will not vanish with time," he said.

"Besides an opportunity to uphold the ethnic group's traditions and cultural identity, this festival is also to celebrate the farmers' hard work and joy at the end of harvest, and more importantly to be thankful for the good harvest," he added.

He went on to say that padi planting activities are one of the many resources which could contribute towards the nation's economy and as an activity encouraged by His Majesty's Government in fulfilling national requirements as well as to reduce dependence of imported rice.

It was the first time such a festival was organised at the new recreational park which has been open to the public since 2008.

"Wasai Batu Mapan is a recreational park filled with rich flora and fauna and has recently become a new addition to the various landmarks which exist in the district," said Hj Suffian.

"The collaboration of promoting cultural customs, local village products and this recreational park will hopefully promote the uniqueness of the village and boost ecotourism here," he added.

Organised by the Kg Pad Nunok Village Consultative Council, the festival saw various activities lined up for the young and old.

Throughout the morning, the audience was entertained by young dancers dressed in elegant traditional Dusun costumes, a symbolic gesture in keeping the traditional occasion alive.

Vibrant and colourful cultural performances and traditional songs were staged by performers from Kg Pad Nunok, Kg Batang Mitus and Kg Bukit Udal, as well as invited performers from Limbang, Malaysia.

Adau Gayoh is celebrated every May 1.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Father and Son

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comedy Night

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Maktab Duli Goes Green

Young members of Maktab Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah's Environmentally Friendly Club collecting waste recycled as part of their energy conservation project.

FROM recyclables to reusables.

This was the mission of 30 students from Maktab Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah (Maktab Duli) in Gadong as they collected recyclable materials and waste in their school compound over the past week to be recycled by a local company, Daijo recycling.

The 30 students are part of the 70 active members of the colleges' Environmentally Friendly Club (EFC).

The club supervisor, Dk Jaliha Pg Sahbudin, said the proceeds of the sale of the recycled waste would then be used to produce reusable bags bearing the college's logo as well as friendly message on encouraging shoppers to use reusable bags as their next project.

Use of reusable bags is being encouraged in the Sultanate after it marked its first No Plastic Day on May 3.

"These bags will be sold to the students and teachers in the college and they can use them to replace the plastic bags when they go shopping in supermarkets, thus helping the environment by reducing the number of plastic waste," said the club supervisor.

Dk Jaliha said the activities conducted yesterday were to encourage the young club members to inculcate a habit of conserving energy that they can practise in their daily lives, thus saving the environment from further destruction, and in the end, lead by example for the rest of the community in the country.

"Aside from doing our part in conserving the environment, we want to convey our beliefs and concerns to the public by starting with the students in the college, and then on to the students' parents and siblings who will later on pass the awareness to their friends, colleagues at work and neighbours, as a way to get our message across," she said.

"Through recycling, we are significantly cutting down the consumption of energy that would've been used to produce new materials, and at the same time slow down the process of depletion of resources," she added.

Aside from collecting recyclables, the students also did their part in conserving energy and protecting the environment by recycling wastes and planting crops organically in their campus.

Crops were planted near the school's old female hostel. The crops which consisted of various types of vegetables such as watercress and long beans were planted organically as Dk Jaliha said the benefits of organically-grown vegetables were far greater than the conventionally-grown due to the absence of various poisons such as pesticides.

"It's good to grow your own crops because you are assured that you've grown them organically and can always guarantee that your food is safer and healthier. Additionally, you can also control the amount of vegetables you use for your cooking, thus preventing food waste," said Dk Jaliha.

"Furthermore, you save energy (fuel) from travelling to buy vegetables from the market, and growing vegetables using organic fertilisers will not deteriorate the soil. Finally, gardening is good for your health, especially if you want to keep in shape," she added.

Dk Jaliha went on to say that planting fruits and vegetables organically at home may be slightly less cheaper than buying them from the supermarkets, but the environmental and health costs from the conventionally-grown crops far exceeds the organically-grown ones in the long term.

Asra Nursyakillah Rabaha, president of the club said that the project was a tremendous success for the club this year and is planning to make it an ongoing activity in the college.

"The response have been very positive. We've had non-member students contributing recyclable wastes to us as a sign of support for our drive towards helping the environment.We also have parents of students who came over today to deliver their recyclable wastes," she told The Brunei Times.

The 19-year-old said that that the experience gained from conducting the various projects and activities have been highly beneficial and educational for the group, while having tremendous fun engaging them.

Since its formation in 2008, the club has been involved in running several projects on environment conservation, including recycling campaigns, energy conservation and alternative packaging.

Last year, the club made headlines by contributing $890 to Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) in support of the tree planting project to restore the trees in Badas Forest Reserve which were lost to forest fires.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Dashboard Moment

This month marks my one year with The Brunei Times, and even today I still can't believe it has really been that long. It was only 12 months ago that I started my career as a probie reporter without any knowledge or experience in journalism. I still remember how it was like, all the struggle in learning the ropes of being a roving reporter and photojournalist. It took a lot of time and patience (and several nightmares), but it went pretty well after a few months.

Nevertheless, I'm still a learner today. In fact, I'm still brushing on my writing, communication and photography skills, acquiring new tips and tricks as I go through the days. There's so much more to experience and discover in this line of work. But indeed, it has been a pleasure working with the company, albeit only a five year old establishment, I see a potentially bright future of our publication. We reporters just need to work extra hard.

It's an exhausting job, getting dead ends meet every single day, chasing after stories before the sun sets, all the commuting, and so on. But I kinda got the hang of it, and the knowledge and experiences have been pretty worthwhile. So much so that it has taught me a great deal on life and how crazy the world can be out there.

It's a shame that sacrifices had to be made in order for me to fully adapt to this new life. I no longer had the luxury of joining the outings with the Brunei Forever photogs, weekends are considered working days for the media people, and I had to quit from the wedding photography business. Heck, there have been times when I just got too busy I neglected my blog for far too long. Yet I enjoyed this job, and I made my own outings every single day through my assignments. That has been my training ground over the months. And the people I meet everyday, young and old, they're like family to me now. There's always the thrill and excitement going down to events to make coverages shoulder to shoulder with rest of the journalists.

I believe this is only the beginning. New challenges are definitely ahead, yet the past will always be taken as lessons for the future. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying this dashboard moment as I make my way back to my workplace after a long day at one of my assignments. This is journalism.

My name is Al-Haadi Abu Bakar, and I am not a terrorist.

My humble throne

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Orient Express Invades MSPSBS

STUDENTS of Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College (MSPSBS) were given the rare opportunity last wednesday to learn music from members of the Orient Express, the US Navy's band of USS Tortuga, who are in the country as part of the CARAT Exercise.

The eight-piece group of professional navy musicians' visit to the college was to expose and educate students involve in the college band to various music genres, styles and rythm, which they have not heard before, and apply them in their music education.

"As music will be a huge part of the co-curriculum of SPN21, the workshop enables the students to have first hand exposure in a subject which they will soon have the option of taking up, especially for Year Seven and Year Eight students," said the College Band Coordinator Mohd Raymie Hj Othman, who is also a chemistry teacher at MSPSBS.

He said that the workshop and the special appearance by the US Navy band members also hoped to encourage more students to join the college band and promote the college's non-academic endeavours.

During the workshop, the Orient Express band members also took the opportunity to work one-on-one with each of the student with their different instruments to allow them to appreciate music more. "This workshop is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our music and culture to the Bruneian people, and to share our knowledge with the Bruneian students on our profession as Navy Musicians, in a way teaching them various integral points in order to transform from basic high school musicians into professional musicians like us," said Musician First Class Bradley Blanchard, the band's frontman.

The students were also treated to a live joint concert by the Orient Express and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) band. The Orient Express brings with them a diverse range of American music from pop to R&B, much to the delight of the audience.

Also present to witness the live mini-concert were Acting Principal Dk Sarimah Pg Hj Ahmad, Lt Col (Navy) Hj Osman Hj Suhaili and US Navy Rear Admiral Nora W Tyson.

As the highlight of their visit in the country, the band together with the RBAF band will collaborate to perform at the Jerudong Park Playground's Mini Amphitheatre on the evening May 8 as part of the park's Family Entertainment Night.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

MS Costa Romantica

An exchange of plaque between the Acting Director of the Ports Department Hj Bujang Hj Tinkong and Captain Pietro Sinisi.

The Other Side

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