Kota Kinabalu City Tour

What I really love about KK is the vicinity of places of attraction. They are rather nearby to each other. I remember my trip back then in 2006, it took me only four hours to walk about town. We went to the waterfront, colorful and vibrant Filipino market, the clock tower and Gaya Street. Quite an interesting walk about town if you ask me!

KK has plenty to offer – you can go to Jesselton Point (nearby Waterfront) to catch a boat to the Sapi, Manukan, Memutik and Gaya Islands. You can shop at the new shopping malls – Suria Sabah shopping mall, One Borneo, Centrepoint, etc. You can eat your heart out at Little Italy, Fatt Kee (Ang’s Hotel), Fook Yuen’s roti kahwin, etc

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Tanjung Aru Beach sunset

If you hire a car to drive on your own, you can go to Sutera Harbour and Tanjung Aru beach.

However, this time round, a visit to Tanjung Aru beach was such a let down. It was littered with garbage everywhere. People just leave their rubbish behind after a picnic – beer cans, plastic bags, BBQ left overs, mats, etc. It was such an eyesore! I am so surprised that Shangrila Hotel is just nearby and nobody seemed to be bothered with the rubbish. Saw some foreigners walking their dogs on the littered beach. I miss the beaches in Singapore, Bali, Redang, Sydney, Melbourne. I think I never seen such a dirty beach! I think even Port Dickson’s beach is cleaner than here!

I wanted to write a complaint to the Sabah Tourism board about this but I was told by my cousin that, they do organize gotong royong to clean up the beach. But, it would be filled with litter and garbage all over again very soon. I guess they have to enforce some laws concerning cleanliness and prepare enough garbage bins for visitors to throw their garbage. With my short observation there, I didn’t see many garbage bins around.

Also, we have to educate the people to pick up after themselves. Bring their own disposal bags and bring along their rubbish home! I think Singapore has done a great job by enforcing penalties on the litter bugs with community service by cleaning up public places to shame them! We should have a civic mind in order to live like civilized people. Cleanliness is .. I think a rather basic trait one should have.

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Sapi Island

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Walking near the jetty at Sapi Island

Sapi Island is kinda let down for me as well. I have visited both Manukan and Memutik back in 2006, and I think I would prefer Manukan better. But the sea in Manukan is filled with spiky sea urchins. You have to extra careful when you go for a swim. Memutik is more relaxing, with less visitors. But I remember there were many flies there! Hopefully things improved now.

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Jetty at Sapi Island

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It was a hot day!

IMG_20141115_104233The beach

Sapi Island is good if you are an adrenaline junkie! They have flying fox from island to island! I guess that would be a great fun! They also offer walking underwater and para sailing. I didn’t do all that. And I think the beach nearer to the shady trees is really dirty. I wish somebody would bother cleaning up the place! You can also learn how to dive here.

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Sutera Harbour

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Relaxing pool overlooking the beautiful sea

On a happier note, I love Sutera Harbour. I guess, in my next trip, I shall stay here as I love the quiet private beach and swimming pool. I am going to bask myself in the sun and wile the days away. Fingers crossed, I shall revisit KK soon!

Here are some photos I took of KK City tour. Enjoy!

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Wisma Tun Fuad Stephen

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View of the floating mosque from a hill

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Temple on the hill

Mabul, Sipadan & Kapalai

Couldn’t seem to find time to do a write up on these beautiful islands since I came home on Tuesday night! I was busy meeting up with friends from the islands trip and also meeting my Tawau host who happened to fly to KL on the same day as us.

Well, as you can see from my three posts on the islands and photos, there is no doubt that these islands are the most beautiful islands that I’ve ever been to! I’ve been to most islands in Malaysia, and Sabah truly has the most beautiful islands! It’s too bad that, we couldn’t hang out long enough in Sipadan Islands beach. I am not so much of a snorkeler, more of a beach bum.. so it’s a bummer that the Mabul does not provide a good beach to hang out or laze the day away.

I did post something on Conservation at Pulau Mabul earlier but decided to take it down because I saw the efforts that Sipadan Water Village (SWV) is doing in order to preserve the coral reefs along the shore and also around Pulau Mabul. That alone deserves recognition and respect. It’s most unfortunate that they couldn’t take hold of the entire island because there are other operators around the island and some of them are just plain irresponsible! Throwing rubbish everywhere! I hope that they will clear the unsightly rubbish on their part of the beach!

For some of our newly found divers friends, they find that Sipadan is kinda overrated. But for us, it was good! It’s famous for muck diving – where you could not see much reefs because of the murky sediments consist of dead corals but, more variety of species of fishes, turtles, sharks, cuttle fishes, squids, nudibranchs, starfishes, seahorses etc. If you want to see more reefs or macro fishes, it’s best to do shore dives. I saw pictures taken by my friends underwater and they are fabulous! My diver friend told me that, in Sipadan, if you get to see bumphead parrot fish, barracudas and jackfish, then your dive is complete! I think we got to see more!

As for me, the reluctant snorkeler (LOL!), I was equally excited to see the barracudas, jackfishes, bump heads parrots, sharks, turtles (mating some more!!), moray eels, colorful fishes (some even have pink colored tails, and they moved ever so gracefully , like ballerina in the water!), etc. We were caught in the middle of a school of jack fishes and barracudas that, for a brief 10 seconds in my life, I wanted to take up diving! Haha! But … no lah. The moment I jumped into the water, I was greeted by a dark blue bottomless sea! It was so scary that I have a picture of Great White Shark coming at me! Haha! I know there is no Great White Sharks in Malaysia! But then, we will never know! They now have piranhas in China rivers!

I have nothing much to say about the trip, apart from I tremendously enjoyed a totally relaxing holiday, staying in Sipadan Water Village, with top notch dive centers and ever engaging dive instructors, really good food and comfortable stay. We were very lucky to have gotten the place during their peak weekend because of the Conservation Marine Day, which is annually held in the middle of July. This is the time when the patron of this noble day, Dr Hayashi is here, with his entourage, to conduct underwater study on the reefs they planted since 15 years ago! Every year, this time, they would plant more coral and this time, we were lucky enough because, snorkelers get to participate too! It was such an honor to have your name put beside the coral you help to plant and you will get e-mails notifying the progress of your planted corals!

All in all, it was a great trip with even greater friends! Here are some of my favorite pictures from this trip, and more here.

Boy from the sea

Mr Crab fighting over territory

Double rainbows!

Sunrise at 5.30 am

Sunrise at 6.13 am

Little sea gypsy

Tips/Advice/Information

1. Air Asia offers flight to Tawau, 2x daily. Try to catch the morning flight as there will be no boat ride to SWV after 5 pm.

2. Flight would take 2 hours and 50 minutes. A bus tide to Semporna jetty takes about an hour and another 40 minutes boat ride to reach SWV!

3. Every Friday at SWV is BBQ night, so you get to sample arrays of good and fresh seafood!

4. A diving/snorkeling trip to Sipadan Island is very limited, subject to availability. Those staying more than 3 nights would be given priority. Entrance to Sipadan is not included in the scuba package. A levy of Rm40 will be charged.

5. As SWV is rather earth friendly, there is no air conditioner in some rooms. For me, it was okay because, afterall, we are at a beach! What air cond??? Haha! Also, there is no tv in rooms – so, you are rest assured with total relaxation. Also, water is provided in 2 jugs 2x daily, you should bring your own water bottles too if you like to drink more water.

6. Maxis seems to have a good internet and line coverage here.

7. Wifi is available too.

8. Some friends bought fresh fishes and lobsters from Tawau and get the chefs in SWV to cook, subject to a fee. Do try the steamed lobster with egg white. Super awesome! Otherwise just buy from the dining hall itself, the lobsters are awesomely fresh! Look for Ah Keong!

9. It’s good for seasoned divers – most newbies would find it rather daunting as the Barracuda Point current could be very strong. So, if you are still very new and fresh, you would worry more rather than enjoying yourself, looking at the many species of fish that Sipadan has to offer! So, dive more to practise before coming here!

10. My friend’s dive instructor recommended us to stay at SWV because the dive masters/instructors here are very experienced and they are very professional and willing to share knowledge with you on your dives and the sea. It is true!

11. Bring old clothes of children to be given to the children of the sea gypsies, rather than giving them money. I gave them some biscuits and sweets I prepared for them prior to the trip. This only applies if you stay in Pulau Mabul. Because there is no sea gypsy in Kapalai. Nobody is allowed to stay in Pulau Sipadan – it’s only for snorkeling and diving purposes.

12. Bring your sunscreen, swimsuit and just chill out! I spent most of my time, sitting on the sun deck, overlooking the very crystal clear blue sea – reading, drinking my coffee or milo.. and just sleep in!

BEACHY WEEKEND

The white sandy beach – ah bliss!

Last weekend getaway was good. I was at Redang Island with 100++ fellow colleagues, Ms Lactose and her children.

Surprisingly, the sea was not as rough as I thought it would be, given that it was already near the end of the year. Thank goodness it didn’t rain the 3 days while we were there.

I thought I wouldn’t survive the 10 hours journey by bus, due to getting old, worrying I might end up having a bad back after the whole journey. Surprisingly, I was okay. The way to Redang was filled with nostalgic memories. As I was trying to get a few winks of sleep on the bumpy ride, my mind didn’t stop wandering for once, reminiscing at the same route I took two years ago to Perhentian Island. The winding road on Karak, the awesome scenery of the oil processing centre in Paka, Dungun, the small deserted trunk roads littered with small petrol kiosk operating 24 hours, etc.

We stayed at Redang Reef Resort, located at the end corner of the stretch of beach. It is a drag that we had to walk a bit to get to the main beach, where Laguna sits perfectly, overlooking the calm turquoise blue sea. I like the open air patio overlooking the sea though, served as a romantic dinner place. Everything is within reach in the resort. They have Astro – where I could watch the Next Top Model bitching it out, and CSI; small souvenir cum convenient shop where I bought nothing except for a few ice creams, hammocks, lazy chairs and benches at the back of the resort, facing a rocky yet scenic sea. Meals were not that bad – they always have meat, fish, vegetables and fruits; albeit being rationed like prisoners’ food – I guess this is the best way to prevent wastage.

What to do in Redang? Well, the main thing one could possibly do is to snorkel, snorkel and snorkel (or dive for fellow divers). For those who doesn’t like to get wet that much, well, you can sleep the day away – in the room, in the hammock, or doing somersault on the white sandy beach, feasting your eyes on bikini clad ladies, play beach volley ball, catch up with some reading, or just sit on the soft sandy white beach, watching the day goes by.

I expected to be seeing legs instead of fishes while snorkeling but was glad that not everyone turned out for the snorkeling trip. Imagine if the 100 of us went on the same snorkeling trip. We would outnumber the fishes!

Sadly, most of the corals were dead; unlike a few years ago while I was there. They had banned the use of flippers to avoid amateur snorkellers from stepping on the delicate corals which would take years to grow.

It was a relaxing trip, despite some bitchy issues cropped up and had somewhat caused some unpleasant moments, but I was glad it eventually turned out to be alright.

One thing I couldn’t stand was the way some of my colleagues were taking pictures. I just couldn’t understand the logic of taking pictures just about anything – every corner of the bus, every single step they take, everything that they do, one pic after another and another. I thought I abused my camera bad enough, till I met them. The worst part was – sometimes, I had to be their photographer – and not only with one camera, but a few cameras of the SAME DAMN SPOT. The pictures would eventually be shared out in the company’s server – so I don’t think it is very bright of them to be taking the SAME PIC on the SAME SPOT by SO MANY different cameras, ain’t it?

I was a bit alarmed that my sister belongs to the same category – berposing posing habis. Geez! What a nerd!

Ah well. I should stop bitching now. The trip was great nevertheless – coz it’s free. Heh!

Sunrise

Oh yeah. One tip though for those who travel by bus to and fro from Redang Islands. Get some Hindi movie – it sure had you glued to the tv for the past 10 hours. We watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (and Herbie – the car movie?) on the way home, which I never get to watch at home because I could never remember the tv slot, or it was too long winded to be watching the movie alone. Oh boy. I cried buckets.

10 good moments while in Redang Island

1. Ms Lactose’s children calling me – Aunty Gina che che.

2. The son doing somersault in the sand and I ended up having sand in my face.

3. The daughter danced instead of singing during karaoke session.

4. Ms Lactose dancing sexily on a pole.

5. Some contractors ( I work with fellow Phua Chu Kangs, remember?) trying to imitate the same (no. 4)

6. The look on the Admin Manager’s face while being seasick.

7. The bikini clad Hawaian looking babe (named Miko – so I heard) bending to pick up the volley ball.

8. Having dinner at the patio overlooking the sea

9. Managed to spot clown fish without aid

10. The most gorgeous guy in the group bought me drinks (ok lah – he bought one for Ms Lactose too!)