Friday, 2 May 2014

Wings of Kuala Kubu Bharu 2014

I’ve never tried birdwatching before, so I jumped at the invitation by Santai magazine to join the media team for the ‘Wings of KKB 2014 – Selangor Bird Race’.  Held from 25-27th April, the event started at Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) town and ended at the Awana Hotel & Resorts, Genting Highlands. “This is going to be great. I’ve never done birdwatching before” I said to myself. I missed the same event last year so I’m not about to miss this one.  

 Wings of KKB has been one of the Hulu Selangor District Council’s annual event since 2012 and it has been gaining popularity amongst the bird enthusiasts from all over Malaysia. Azlina Mokhtar, a town planner for the local council, was responsible for mooting the novel idea. The Kuala Kubu Bharu town is one of the earliest township in Malaysia planned by a proper townplanner. In 1925, the then British administration built the new Kuala Kubu town and renamed it Kuala Kubu Bharu (Bharu means new in Bahasa Melayu). The old town was destroyed when a big dam broke in 1883. It was then known as Ampang Pechah or ‘Broken Dam’. Only two structures survived the aftermath – a chinese temple and a mosque. On 6th May 1931 the administrative centre was officially moved to the New Kuala Kubu or Kuala Kubu Bharu.

I couldn’t remember when was the last time I came to KKB. It was probably 5 or 6 years ago, when I was on my way to one of the 4x4 adventure trips. Apart from the new mosque near the town centre, everything else seemed to remain the same. It’s like they were frozen in time. The huge mahogany and tembusu trees on the undulating terrain of the town planted some 80 years ago formed lush greenery that served as sanctuary for the birds and other animals.

The car park of the Municipal Stadium was set up in a festival mood, as some twenty tents selling and displaying stuffs related to the event. Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Nature Society and Malaysia Waterfalls Society were among the booths promoting the nature tourism while the rest were selling items and paraphernalia related to birdwatching. Of course there were the foodstalls that sell a wide variety of foodstuffs and drinks. The stall selling roti goreng (fried bun) with spicy chicken filling were clearly the favourite. We got one for each one of us courtesy of the organiser. 

The media team was given a short briefing on the event by Azlina Mokhtar of MDHS at the municipal hall nearby. She said public response had been so encouraging that they have introduced two new categories for this year. “Previously, the competition was only open to primary and secondary school children. Now it is open to students of public and private universities. Another new category is the bird photography contest.” she said. In this activity, contestants have to go through 10 checkpoints starting from Kuala Kubu Bharu town to Awana Resorts World in Genting.

Soon after, we were given a guided tour of the 10 checkpoints, of which 5 were located within the town area, 3 were on the way leading to Awana Genting and the last two were at Awana Genting itself. There were a large number of different species of birds sighted along the way and some of them were quite exotic. We checked-in the Awana Tower Hotel once we were done with the tour. 

At 8.30pm, we were told to gather at the ballroom for the Gala Dinner and official launch of the ‘Wings of KKB 2014’ event. It started with welcoming speech by Tukiman Nail, The President of MDHS followed by Katherine Chew, Resorts World Genting Vice President-PR and Communications. This has been the second consecutive year that Genting Malaysia Berhad was sponsoring the event. “I hope this event will continue to draw visitors to Genting Highlands as it is also a bird habitat conservation area and has been recognized as The Important Bird Area MY10 by BirdLife International and Malaysia Nature Society” she said in her speech.

Datuk Musa Yusuf, Tourism Malaysia’s Director of Domestic Marketing was the last speaker of the night and he subsequently officiate the launch of ‘Wings of KKB 2014’ by rolling down the launch bunting accompanied by Tukiman Nail and Katherine Chew. This was followed awesome life performances of a few singers and local bands whilst we savour our slightly overdue but delicious dinner.


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