Travels around Malaysia – Part 7: Sabah Tourism Awards 2013

This is the seventh in a series of blogs that describes our continued travels on the Malaysia Peninsular and the Malaysian portion of Borneo. 

And the Winner is …

When the first six articles about our travels in Malaysia were complete and published on, I was pleasantly surprised to be approached by the Sabah Tourism Board about submitting my scribblings into their 2013 awards. Debbie Marshall of Silver Travel Advisor and Nick Pulley of SelectiveAsia agreed to support me by providing the formal nomination for the Best Media & TV category and there it was, my hat was in the ring so to speak. 

Months later in mid-October an email arrived to say I’d made the shortlist (shock). On the 1st of November I opened an email to Debbie and Nick to inform them that their nominee had won and would be invited to Sabah to collect the award in person for Chapter 4 of my Blog. Third reading of the email and the penny dropped … that meant me  (speechless – and trust me that doesn’t happen very often). 

Introduced in 1997, the Sabah Tourism Awards (to quote from their web site) was “inaugurated to celebrate the industry’s achievements and to acknowledge the commitment to excellence.  This grand ceremony honours outstanding individuals and organisations whose contributions have attributed to the growth of the tourism industry in Sabah”. 

So there we were again in Sabah, just a short two weeks after getting the news, entering the Grand Ballroom at The Magellan Sutera Harbour, all spruced up in our black tie outfits and wondering what type of affair this would be. 

Steven Aldridge with his Silver Award and the Silver Travel bag It was clear from the start that this was a very grand occasion and around 1,000 people had turned out to attend this prestigious event.  The Guest of Honour was The Honourable Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi, Sabah’s Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment and his address emphasised the importance of tourism to Sabah’s economy and how they were on target to achieve some 3 million visitors by the end of 2013 (very impressive).  As well as celebrating the contributions and support from overseas, it was also an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their home grown talent. Thus all of the entertainment for the night was local performers and very fine and accomplished they were too. At one point a stirring performance of The Prayer (made famous in the UK after being performed by Lulu and Russell Watson) left goose bumps crawling up my arms. The performers were supplemented by an impressive array of lights that bounced, swayed and strafed the ceiling. 

A lavish five course meal was interspersed by the entertainment and the awards, and here it was, my 15 seconds of fame were upon me. Now I remember that we were told never to tell your child not to spill their milk, because they visualise spilling their milk and do just that. So as the words “and the winner is Steve Aldridge” were announced, I was trying hard not to visualise myself tripping up the steps to the stage and landing face first at the Minister’s feet.  As I walked down the red carpet I realised that they were playing music from the Star Wars movie, so I was a little disappointed when the Minister handed me a framed certificate and trophy rather than my very own Light-sabre and investiture as a Jedi Master (just joking). 

Flash, flash, flash, clap, clap, clap and it was all over, then I’m back at my table all a little awestruck (I don’t really enjoy all the attention … much). It was nice to be warmly congratulated by the Australians on my table and the next, who we’d only met that evening. We were delighted to return the compliment later in the evening when they (New Horizon Holidays) picked up their award.

The awards were many and moved on at quite a pace, such that acceptance speeches nor thank you messages were permitted (much to the enourmous relief of the audience).

So please indulge me as I do it now.  Thanks to Debbie and Nick for their original nominations and encouragement.  Thanks to my wife Linda for her undying support and being my editor in chief.  Thanks to Hana, Diane and all at Sabah Tourism for the award and getting us there.  Most of all thank you to the people of Sabah who, at a difficult time for them, never wavered in the warmth of their welcome and created memories that inspired me to write the articles in the first place.

This was also a great opportunity to continue our travels in Malaysia, so next stop is the North Borneo Railway.

For holidays to Asia, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Selective Asia.

Read Steve’s award-winning article

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Steve Aldridge

Award-winning travel writer

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