Monday, 27 April 2015


For centuries, the Japanese had been fascinated by the symbolism of the Cherry Blossom or Sakura. They are mystified by the fact that the tree flowers bloom with extreme beauty and then, death so quickly. That is why they associate the Sakura to mortality. Many songs, both traditional and pop had been dedicated to the Cherry Blossom.

In the tropic, the closest resemblance to the Cherry Blossom is the Tabebuya. It originated from Brazil but now it is common in Southeast Asia. Since the western part of Borneo experience dry season from March to April, Tabebuya tends to bloom during this period. It tends to produce so much flowers during the end of the drought, and stop during the approaching wet season. When Tabebuya blooms, its such an inspiring sight and many people will stop by to take picture of the flower's brief life; just like the Cherry Blossom. 

For flowering plants, please contact Likas Flora at 088-424532 or e-mail at

Friday, 3 April 2015

LIGC: Playing in the Jungle

For my readers who wish to contact or share any experiences and articles with me, please do write to me at or to my Facebook Donald Peter or Donald Rosli. 

In my article about Sabah Golf and Country Club (SGCC), I mentioned how hard the course is. BUT wait till you play at Labuan International Golf Club or LIGC! Without many ponds to boast, yet this course is one of the toughest I had encountered. On a hill overlooking the South China Sea, it is both challenging and beautiful located in the middle of the secondary jungle. LIGC covers about 200 acres and she has a motto, "Tee-Off with Mother Nature"! It is located 15 minutes drive from Labuan town, Victoria. I had the greatest opportunity to talk to one of their architect while the course was still under construction. I was appalled by the way the developer bulldozed the pristine midget forest and asked him how he feels. He sigh and said, "we have to develop in order to protect"!  He told me that the remaining real jungle is better than concrete jungle. It is unfortunate, but I have to agree with him.

The club is owned by the Labuan Corporation and it is the only 18 hole golf course in Labuan. What makes this course tough is the jungle and ravine covering the left and right side of the fairways, ready to consume your balls. If you are a player using new Pro-V balls, I advise you: keep it for other courses. Otherwise you will have heartache losing 10 balls or more in this lovely place. This is a ball picker's paradise because lost balls are so common.

The course is actually not that difficult. The problem is players tend to be carried away with the apparent easiness. That is the deception created by the course. Actually, many of the fairways are relatively short. With a good drive, even a high handicappers could reach the green in two. But players tend to have problem if the green is too close, but not close enough to chip. Here  is where we test our pitching skill, unsure with which iron to use. That is where the frustration burst when we fail to land it in two after a beautiful drive! And to make matter worst, the chances of landing in a nearby ravine close to the green is always there. But indeed I cannot deny, LIGC, which commenced in 2013 is one of the best course in Borneo.

The above picture is the clubhouse overlooking the South China Sea. The view is awesome. 

The above picture is the pond close to the first hole. Two oriental darter birds basking in the sun. 

All the pictures above showing the fairways in the midget secondary forest of Labuan. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

VICTORIA: The Capital of Labuan

Victoria, or Alexandrina Victoria who was born in 1819, was the Queen of the British Empire from 1837 to 1876 ascending the throne at the age of 18. She is also known as the Empress of India, a title she fondly used. Even though United Kingdom was already a Constitutional Monarchy long before her reign, she did wield some influenced over British Government policies. She ruled the Empire for more than 63 years and it was known as the Victorian Era. The Empire was at its height and experienced a tremendous development in science, art, culture, economy and politics. In 1846, Captain Rodney Mundy witness the ceding of Labuan by the Sultan of Brunei to the British Crown renaming the island Victoria.

Now, the name Victoria is also known as the capital of Labuan. Sadly, it is renamed Bandar Labuan. In the early days of Victoria (Bandar Labuan), right until the late 1980's, Labuan was the hub of Barter Trading. Filipino boat traders used to bring copra and other agricultural products to Victoria, and they brought back electronic goods, canned foods and even bakeries such as breads. However, as trading became more complex and traders more informed, Barter Trading became obsolete.

Nowadays Victoria experienced a boom in 3 and 4 stars hotels not only to cater for the tourists from the mainland Borneo (including Brunei) but also the growing oil boom. When the oil price was hovering around USD 100 or more, there was still tremendous shortages of hotels. I like these small and medium size hotels because most of them offer reasonable price. Besides it is extremely clean and the air-con and hot water are reliable. I hate hotels which always experience a breakdown while putting on smelly towels and bed sheets. However, since last year, there have been a drop in occupancy for hotel rooms due to the falling oil price.

I consider Victoria to be a food paradise because of the influenced of Chinese, West Malaysian Malays and Brunei. Each of them had a unique style of cooking, and Labuan is the best place to experience them. Tourist should try out the "Ambuyat", the traditional Borneo delicacy made from sago but what is worrying the culture of eating Ambuyat is dying, especially among the younger generations who are more incline to eat fast foods. To me, it is tasty, and it is disappointing to see it disappear one day.

Victoria is also the center for free duty shops offering free duty products such as liquors, cigarettes and chocolates and this is another attraction for tourists and offshore expatriates and workers. In the mainland, taxes for these products are extremely high and even ban in Brunei (except chocolates). I once saw a British tourist marveled at how ridiculously low the price of  beer cost in Labuan in 1998, when Malaysia at that time faced the currency depreciation due to the Asian Financial Crisis. Nevertheless it is still comparatively cheap now. Another unique feature of Labuan is its colorful night clubs and pubs.

The above pictures shows the 5 stars Labuan Mariner Hotel (top), and one of the smaller 3 stars.

The above pictures shows the duty free shops (top) and the night life (bottom) in Labuan.