28 May 2010

Kota Kinabalu Highlights - Museum

Sabah Museum is made up of the Main Building, Science and Technology Centre, Conservation Centre and the Heritage Village.

The main building is where all the historical artefact are on display, including natural history, ceramics, archaeology, history and Islamic civilization. The most striking item you notice when you first enter the building is the skeleton remains of a whale that beached near Kota Kinabalu, a couple of years ago. Wish I could post some photos of it but cameras are not allowed into the building.

As time was pressing I skipped the Sabah Art Gallery. It is said to house over 1,500 pieces of art work in it permanent collection.

Instead the rest of my time at the museum was spent at the Heritage Village. There is also a rope bridge that crosses over a small pond to where there are 11 replicas of the traditional houses of the various indigenous people of Sabah. There is even a Chinese farmhouse with earthen floor.

Though it was a hot day, there was a calm feel of the village and with a slight breeze blowing, it was cool in the traditional houses but I found it was a lot more cooler under the houses.

Of all the traditional houses, the Murut longhouse was most interesting. On one side of the long house are fair sized rooms for a number of families. Outside the rooms is the community area.

This longhouse differs from the others in the village in that it features a built in trampoline, a "lansaran" in the local dialect. I assume its where the children could play and where the adults could keep a watch over them and be kept entertained at the same time.

If you are into antique cars, there are some on display at the museum car park. Not a big collection but it shows some of the popular models of the time, from the 50' to the early 70'. It includes a Rolls Royce and the Mini.

23 May 2010

Become a Christian Nation - Why?

I came across this write-up from a weekly article by Rick Joyner, Senior Pastor, Founder and Executive Director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries. I like the quote and the reason behind that quote, by Jiang Zemin, the retired head of state in Communist China in 2002. Here is an extract of the article for your good reading.

In Marc Nuttle’s remarkable book, Moment of Truth, he writes about one of the most important insights possibly ever stated by a leader of China. Former Time correspondent, David Aikman, interviewed the retiring head of state in Communist China in 2002, Jiang Zemin, and asked what he wished for in regard to China’s future. His response shocked Aikman and much of the world when he replied:

"I would like for my country to become a Christian nation."

When asked “Why,” Zemin’s response was an amazing revelation. He explained how a panel of Chinese scholars had spent twenty years studying why China continually lagged behind the West in science, industry, and culture. After considering every possible explanation, they concluded that it was the religious heritage of the West that had allowed it to reach such heights. The statement of these Chinese scholars was:

One of the things we were asked to do was look into what accounted for the success; in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because of a more powerful military. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic systems. But in the past twenty years we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. This is why the West is powerful. The Christian moral foundation of the social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this. (Quoted from, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Changing the Global Balance of Power, by David Aikman.)
I have not personally read any of the books by Marc Nuttle or David Aikman. Just not in my reading list. However a quick search in Google found some interesting reviews on both books.

Here is one if you are so inclined, the story behind the book Jesus in Bejing.

17 May 2010

A Mansion and A Motorbike - Part 2 - Position

Romans 14:17-18 (NIV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Following from my previous posting, on "A Mansion and A Motorbike - Part-1 - Seek",
Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Should this be the response given to the man at the Cambodian village, I can imagine him scratching his head with a puzzling look on his face and then asking;
"What then is the Kingdom of God?"
Well, Romans 14:17 tells us that it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Since the Kingdom of God dwells within you (Luke 17:21), the Holy Spirit also dwells within you (1 Corinthians 3:16), then the Kingdom of God is His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), peace and joy in you.

Here are some of the synonyms for the word "righteous"; moral, good, upright, blameless, honourable. The world sees these as qualities that you work at to become. However, the Bible calls these working for righteousness as your own righteousness.


2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin (a sin offering) for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Notice however that "righteousness" from God's perspective, in 2 Corinthians 5:21 is not something that you do, but is what you have become in Christ ...His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), as the result of what He did at the cross. It is about your position, your placing, your being with God. It is God's gift by His grace ...so much so that you can come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There you will receive his mercy, and you will find grace to help you when you need it (Hebrew 4:16 NLT).

Have you ever wondered why 2 Corinthians 5:21 say "...we might become..." instead of just saying "...we become ...."? I believe it's because we find it difficult to accept, even doubt, that we do not have to work for it; that by His grace we become righteous. This unbelief, by our lack of understanding of what grace truly means, hinder us from receiving His abundant life (John 10:10), which includes His peace and joy.

Peace and joy are part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

John 14:27 (NIV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Psalms 92:4(NIV)
For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands.

Psalms 94:19 (NIV)
When anxiey was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
If you want these three qualities of Romans 14:17 to flow in your life, then seek to be conscious of your righteousness in Christ, not your own righteousness, but HIS righteousness. You become God's righteousness not by what you did or will ever do, but from the finish work of Jesus Christ at the cross.

Spend time in prayer with Him, listening for His voice (John 10:3) and listen also to his Word in scripture, which will build up your faith in Him. In doing these, you are actually pursuing God, you are seeking His kingdom and His righteousness ...then all the things that you need will be added to you, including the approval of men (Romans 14:18).

Can you see how these three qualities flowing in your life, causes all the things that you need to be added on to you?

16 May 2010

Kota Kinabalu Highlights - Sun, Sea and Sand

Fine sunny morning, no clouds and with no rain forecasted for the day. Today is the day we go to one of five idyllic islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park, just off Kota Kinabalu and all it takes is 15-20 minutes by fast boats. The five islands are; Sulug, Gaya, Manukan, Mamutik and Sapi. We opted for Manukan.

There are several departure points to get to the islands; Jesselton Point located downtown with boat transfers to the island and then there is the Sutera Harbour Resort ...with a marina. There were a number of boats and yachts mooring there and there was this one really cool looking "James Bond" like boat. We were told its a research boat from Russia. I wonder what nasty schemes are being hatched onboard that boat.

There are daily boat transfers to and from any of the islands between 7:30 am to 5 pm.

And if you are prone to sea-sickness, not a problem. The boat are so fast and so much fun that, sea sickness ...What sea sickness?

While waiting of our boat transfer to the island, it did not take us long to notice the many marine life under the pier or where the boats are "parked". Just a glimpse of what we can expect to see at the island. We were to expect much more.

Each of the five islands have their own unique attractions for families, for the more adventurous and those who are more into scuba-diving. The beaches are uncrowded and with clear waters all around, it's the perfect getaway for the day, especially for those who love to swim, snorkel or just laze around with a good book all day long.

Of course for the more adventurous, there is the usual jet-skiing, scuba-diving, parasailling and other fun water activities and sports available.

Manuka Island

Manuka is the second largest island among the five. It is very much a family oriented island, with a resort for those who very much like to stay for more than a day or two.

The pier is about 100 - 200 meters from the shore and just underneath it, you can already see into the clear waters, the many fishes and the variety of them. There was even a sting-ray and a couple of jelly fish of significant size. Got to watch out for them.
The beach are sandy and beautiful. Its nothing like feeling the warm or hot sand of the beach, depending on the time of day, at the sole of you feet and in between your toes.

Well, it has been quite a while since I last walked along a hot sandy beach.

There are also tables and chairs laid out under the shade of the many coconut trees along the beach and with the salty breeze blowing, it really is quite cool.

There is also the view of the sea, the neighbouring islands and the people in the water or at the beach. It is always interesting to see the local people staying in the shades, while the Westerners love the sun.

However, one tip from me for those who love the beach. Keep away from the afternoon sun. The morning sun is okay, but come noon onwards, you'll be more incline to become a lobster.

And if you did not bring your very own picnic baskets, you need not fear about going hungry. There are food stores with chefs' that serves a variety of cold or hot meals, especially the hot spicy ones ...including sea-food, piled up on the plate.

Did I also mention that among the activities at the beach, there is also the sea-scooters rides. There are these new colourful contraptions where you put on over your head that pumps air into, which you ride on like a "scooter", just so you can see the marine life underwater without getting your hair wet. Wow!

Hmmmmm ...I settled for the old-fashion way, with a goggle and a snorkel between my teeth. It wasn't too hard actually and the water was not cold. I just had to sit at the bottom of the "sea-bed" just meters from the shore and see the many colourful or silvery fishes, big and small pass me by.

If you do happen to have some bread with you to feed them ....you'll enjoy the the excitment of seeing the fishes eating from your hand. Then there is the occasional Ouch! when they miss the bread.

My only regret is not having an underwater camera to capture the moments and the variety of fishes just meters from the beach.

15 May 2010

Kota Kinabalu Highlights - Flora

After all the phtos of animals in my previous posting, I felt the need to include some of the most interesting, bright, colourful, .....in short, beautiful flowers I've seen. Some of these are found within the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park while the others are at homes of friends.

The first flower is a lighter version of the red hibiscus flower, the national flower of Malaysia.

It would interesting to know the names of the others. Seeing them almost inspires me to want to grow them in my small back garden, but alas, I'm more of a brown-thumb than a green-thumb gardener.

Still one should still dream of having such a garden with plants that bring forth such beautiful flowers. Who knows, dreams have a way of coming true.

12 May 2010

Kota Kinabalu Highlights - Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Wildlife and nature at your door step. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is the latest wildlife park that opened in February 2007. The park is about 15 - 25kms, about 30 minutes drive from the city centre. It provides visitors the opportunitites to see some of the animals commonly found in the regions. There is an admission fee but be prepared to pay more if you are an international visitor.

One of the most well known and endangered species to the region, that is also a crowd attraction to the park is the Tiger, "Harimau" in the local language, Malay. Tigers sleeps most of the day, but watch out for them in the night, should you find yourself wandering in the jungle. They are known as the "Lord of the Jungle" for a reason.

Another favourite is the Orang Utan. They are highly intelligent apes and can be found wild on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The name "Orang Utan" means "Man of the forest" in Malay. They are said to have three times the strength of a man. You can see one in action at the Amphitheatre along with other trained birds, animals and snakes doing their part in a show.

The Proboscis Monkey is a new one for me. I have never known that such monkeys ever existed with so large a nose. The Proboscis Monkey gets it name from its large pendulous nose. The females have smaller upturned noses but the noses of the males are so large that they hang down over their mouths.

Another favourite are the elephants. The Bornean elephant is slightly smaller and have smaller ears than its African cousin. Best time to see them is at the allotted feeding time. They are most active then. Also you get to feed them sweet potatoes or rather throw at them. There is a gap between the elephants and the wall separating them from the tourists, you.

My favourite however, are the Otters. They are active, lively social creatures. It was great fun to see them swim and play.

There is a huge aviary but it can be hard sometimes to spot the birds, large or small. There are also black squirrels in it too.

Besides the Sun Bear, Gibbon monkey and the few birds from the aviary posted above, there are many others not included, such as the Civet, Clouded Leopard, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Javan Dear, Barking Dear, Miniature horses and yes, even reptiles. Some are difficult to take a photo of due to poor lightings in their habitat, distance from me or just my lack of photographic skills.
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