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The 2016 Biennial to Sarawak-Singapore included two optional tours - a 12-day pre-tour and a six-day post-tour. The pre-tour was provided by a Kuching-based tour operator Borneo Adventure. The post tour was provided by an ATT Kings, a Darwin-based tour operator.


The 2016 IPS Biennial Meeting visited to two vastly different destinations in South East Asia. The biennial started in the river city of Kuching, capital of the east Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, where the emphasis was on “Palms in Habitat”.

The group stayed adjacent to the Sarawak River overlooking the Rajah Brooke’s era Istana and forts and close to the old town with its busy shop houses, craft shops and markets. Over four nights three days visits were made to the natural forest areas including Kubah National Park (the name apparently means home of palms and frogs!!), Bako National Park (accessed only by boat), Semenggoh Nature Reserve sanctuary to see the Orangutans and of course palms, and also the Semenggoh Forestry Palmetum not normally open to the public, with its outstanding and extensive collection of mature understorey Sarawak palm species.

Participants enjoy the unique culture, cuisine and history of this beautiful city.

Members attending the biennial had the opportunity see about 40 palm species in habitat and those who attended both the pre tour and biennial were exposed to more than 80 Sarawak palm species in habitat and even more in cultivation. Unlike many palm habitats, most Sarawak palms are understory and many are diminutive, so unless you know exactly where to find them you can be within a few metres and will miss them. IPS member volunteer guides, with good knowledge of the palms and trails visited, accompanied each group.

From Kuching we took a short flight to the garden city of Singapore for three days and nights where the focus was on “Palms in Cultivation”. We stayed at the iconic Marina Bay Sands where the Singapore River, Chinatown, Waterfront and Marina Bay areas were accessible for participants to enjoy the sights, sounds, colour and cuisine of this multicultural city. The very young but well established Gardens by the Bay acted as hosts and we toured the Mediterranean, dry, and cloud forest climatic zones of the spectacular climate controlled domes, the vertical gardens of the Supertrees, and the extensive palm dominated gardens.

A short, easy walk to the habitat excursion to McRitchie Reservoir reserve to see some of Singapore’s palms in habitat. At the Gardens by the Bay and Reservoir forest we were guided by volunteers from the gardens.We also visited the historic, and recently World Heritage listed, Singapore Botanic Gardens and its famous Palm Valley, Orchid House, and ginger collection, Cyrtostachys avenue and mature plantings of Johanesteijmania species. As Singapore has an excellent public transport system optional visits to places of interest such as Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and to the Nypa swamps on Pilau Ubin were also available for those who choice to go out on their own.

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