International Event Coverage


by Fred Leong


FRED- 9.9.2009.



KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB), which has all along been the key supporter towards the annual International Borneo Safari 4x4 Challenge, hopes the event could be elevated into greater heights with bigger foreign participants.


THIS WHERE THE DERAMAKOT FOREST RESERVE IS…Tengku Datuk Adlin( in stripe shirt) trying to figure out where is Deramakot on the Sabah map with KFWDC committee members.


Though logistically expensive and difficult to ship foreign vehicles to Sabah, compared to the more prestigious Rainforest Challenge in  Peninsular Malaysia, it is possible if properly planned and marketed well in advance, say a year before it kicks off.


However, through STB’s support and putting the hardcore adventure event in its Calendar of Events and sponsoring foreign media (print and electronic) from the Asian region, it has somehow beginning to pick-up.


The head of the International Press Reports Group (IPR) in Thailand Collin Webb and its Manila-based director Robin Dale Menodza, who were among those sponsored journalists by STB, were very much impressed with the event organisers despite being first timers covering the event last year.


Both are veteran writers of the Rainforest Challenge and their reports have been well circulated both in the news papers, magazines and television worldwide.


It was through these journalists including Malaysian journalists brought in by Event Media partner, the Isuzu Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the Borneo Safari has indeed been well publicized all over the country and countries under the IPR, including China under KL-based Adventure Club Kuala Lumpur (ACKL/Overlander), written by its Chief Editor Peter Chuah.


Collin Webb do not want to miss the action after having enjoyed last year.


All of them as first timers have described the event as little known on the International 4x4 calendar being held in Borneo (Sabah).


Their reports gave Kinabalu Four Wheel Drive Club (KFWDC) a well deserves praises as its members worked hard as merely volunteers unlike the commercially run Rainforest Challenge.


In one of their reports, in that of Collin’s, under its current president, James Wong, the club continues to thrive with the Borneo Safari being its key event.


It is a 7-day extreme hardcore off-road challenge, a combination of pristine jungle and crystal clear rivers makes Sabah the ideal playground for 4x4 enthusiasts.


This year, they again expected some truly man and machine testing ground inside the well managed Deramakot Forest Reserve, and they look forward to yet a “punishing” adventure.


Robin Dale Mendoza wants to be part of the media group again this year.


Collin also reported that Sabah has one of the best 4x4 competitors in the region if not in the world, because basing from their commendable feats in the past Rainforest Challenges, they have proved to be champions.


However, he commended KFWDC to allow drop axles (Volvo axles, banned in Borneo Safari before) that are popularly being used in Peninsular Malaysia in this year’s challenge, that could add more spice for competitors to out do each other.


Yesterday, KFWDC organising Committee, led by its Deputy president Liew Vui Khiong, paid a courtesy call on STB Chairman Tengku Datuk Zainal Abidin.


Tengku, who was the man behind in bringing in the once renowned Camel Trophy challenge in Sabah, has tentatively told the committee that he to is interested to join in as a participant this year.


During the meeting, he has suggested KFWDC members that it would be meaningful for the participants to contribute a worthwhile contribution towards eco-tourism or towards wildlife conservation.


Among his suggestions was for Borneo Safari participants to contribute towards the orang utan sanctuary and the Rainforest Centre in Sepilok, while in Sandakan.


He said, STB will give all its support and assistance for KFWDC members to make arrangements with the Forestry Department or the State Wildlife Department towards this end.


The 130 vehicle-convoy will be in Sandakan for three days after their expected awesome experiences inside the Deramakot for 4 days (5km loop of real hardcore).


Competitors will have to battle each other in several men-designed Special Stages (SS) as the convoy moves along a difficult transportation route, as with any event, the degree of difficulty is governed by the prevailing weather conditions.


It is not uncommon to encounter massive landslides, deep pot holes, need to repair or build bridges, cross rivers and various forms of obstacles along the way.


Expect the unexpected, but when it comes to obstacles, they are usually overcome by the team efforts of all participants, shown in all Borneo Safaris – the enthusiasm shown engenders camaraderie and team spirit, that is Borneo Safari as a whole.