Thursday, February 28, 2013

KK Trip Part 2: Kota Kinabalu

Last night we were the only few ppl left in the resort. We only saw one other group having breakfast this morning. after breakfast we start packing and head out to our next destination - KK. The journey down from Kundasang was much faster, it took around 1h 45mins to reach KK. We stopped at the 1Borneo shopping mall for lunch. We purposely went there today as we heard its jam packed during weekend. Parking was abundant and there were not so many ppl around. Managed to do 1 round of shopping before heading out to our hotel in KK city.

After some desktop research, we chose the Klagan Hotel for our accommodation. Check in was fast and smooth. We booked The Atrium Room - it has no view but it was compensated with the large room and huge bed. The room design is modern and it looked like it was recenlty renovated. However, we were disappointed with the housekeeping service. They only made our bed and empty the dustbins but nothing else. The carpet was not vacuumed, mugs were not washed, shower area was wet and slippery among other things. We really liked the room and the location and would love to come back sometime.there is a 24 hrs convenient shop just next to the hotel entrance, and shopping area is within walking distance (warisan square, the filipino market). After getting some rest, we went out again to explore the market and have seafood for dinner. 

1 Borneo

 it was a right decision to go there at night - we did not really feel the distance as it was cool and windy. KK as one of the city with  the highest irradiation in Malaysia can be really hot and humid during the day. we did not expect that the filipino market was still open at 9.00++ pm. however only half of the shops were still open by then, which is not an issue to me as did not plan to buy except for the pearls.. im more interested to buy seafood produce as its very fresh and much cheaper than in the peninsular. the seafood produce market opens until late .then we had dinner at the port view seafood as we do it was the nearest seafood place. the price is on the high side, however the food was good. we went there on a
weekday so it was not that crowded.

jam packed area.

seafood produce

pearls galore

Port View Seafood Village

The next day, our destination was to Pulau Manukan. Pulau Manukan is situated in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park National Park. There are a few other island in the area with Pulau Sapi being the best in terms of the beach and less crowded - according to my desktop research. However, we chose to go to Pulau Manukan as it was the most developed and has complete infrastructure as i was travelling with toddler. To get there, you have to go to Jesselton Point to catch a 15-20 minutes boat ride to the islands. Again, we were there on a weekday, so it was not crowded at all. Take note that it can get really crowded on weekends.
There are a number of operators, just pick one of them. However, be prepared for one hell of a ride. Most of the skippers here drives the boat like crazy. I was quite concerned as i was travelling with my 2 yo daughter. It was a really bumpy ride and it really felt like the boat can capsize just anytime. I did gave the skipper a concerned look but he chose just to ignore me and continued to drive like mad. hmm.. Well, i used to be adventurous, but i think i have mellowed since im now travelling with my daughter. :P

When u book ur tickets, u have to let them know in advance the time u intend to return to the jetty. However, in actual fact, the timing is not really being observed by the operators. it can be quite confusing as u wouldnt know ull be going back by which boat. u just have to be at the jetty and ask each boat operators if thats ur ride. 

All in all, Pulau Manukan was a disappointment to me. Visibility of the water is very poor. u can barely see anything. and the beach is very shallow, which is not really good to swim in (for me) - i like deeper waters. Maybe it was not the right season, i don't really know. It really can't compare to the Terengganu islands. Oh, how i miss the crystal clear waters and powdery sand beaches....... :( i havent been to any island for 3 years now. Before that it used to be a yearly ritual for me. We just spent a couple of hours on the beach and head back to the main island. U can also opt to island hop if u have the time and u want to do so. By this time (1 pm) the weather was really hot and humid - on the island as well as the mainland. We really just wanted to be indoors. Had lunch at the Nasi Padang Ibu (air conditioned :)) which was located in the Jesselton Point are - price was on the high side but the ambiance is nice as its located by the jetty and u can get a view of the jetty and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze if u choose to dine at the outdoor area. The rest of the day was spent in the city and our flight back to KL was early in the morning the next day.

Manukan Island Jetty

Nasi Padang Ibu, Jesselton Point

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sembunyi SPA, Cyberview Lodge

I've been frequenting the Sembunyi Spa way back since 2009 but i havent published any review on them before. What i like about the Sembunyi Spa is that their masseuse are professionals and very good at massaging. I've never tried any other massages than the Balinese Massage, but all my massages were carried out by Indonesian masseuse who are known to be good in massaging. 

It has been quite a while since my last visit to the spa and today i decided to give them a visit since ive been having back aches for a couple of weeks now. They had previously undergone renovations before, but i have not noticed anything else changing except that the gym has now been moved to another building. the place where the gym used to be is now converted into a lounge. I think the massage rooms could use a facelift - the massage bed definitely needs to be replaced.

Before the massage starts, you will be given a questionnaire to fill in to determine the purpose of ur visit and they will inform the appointed masseuse prior to the massage. As for me, im looking to relieve the muscle tension that i had. Before the massage starts, a cup of ginger tea will be served and the masseuse will introduce themselves - which i think is very professional. They will also from time to time during the massage will ask whether the pressure is ok or whether are you comfortable enuff. 

What i like most about balinese massage are the long strokes and direct contact with relief points with justttt the right pressure... :) after the massage, you'll be given a heat compress on ur back. and again ginger tea and a cup of pudding to savor at the garden bench facing the pool.... heaven.. :)

Apart from that, a massage will entitle you to use all the available facilities i.e. gym, jacuzzi, sauna, lap pool, etc. I always go to the spa on work days as its really difficult to find a 'me' time on weekends. Therefore, i always find that im the only patron at the spa during lunch time, which enables me a private time at all the facilities :) im not sure how it is on weekends, but i heard its can be quite busy. pls take note that there is no separate changing room for men.

today, at the end of the massage, the masseuse told me that my shoulders were really stiff and she had a hard time trying to untangle the knot. She also told me not to think too much or otherwise the stress can get to my head and i may suffer from headaches or catch a fever. hmmm.... it must've been because of the looming deadline that i have next monday. hopefully, after that the stress will go away as well as the back ache..

Lap Pool
Locker Room
Shower Room

Thursday, February 14, 2013

KK Trip Part 1: Kundasang

Our first trip of the year was to KK, Sabah. the trip started with the journey to Kundasang. Upon arrival at the airport 9.30 am in the morning (we took the first flight out from KL) we found out at the car rental counter that most sedan cars has been rented out. luckily theres one company had one saga left. however, rental rates at the airport can be quite steep. we got ours (proton saga) for RM168 per day. we found out that car rentals outside the airport (pre booked) only costs RM120/day. there was a minor prob with the car and after it was settled we head out to Kundasang at about 1.00 pm.

ive been to Kundasang once before for our honeymoon and i still remember being amazed by the journey to get there. it was something new that ull never get to experience here in the Peninsular. it was drizzling and supercool that day. remember to bring thick clothes and socks if u intend to spend the night in the highlands especially for ur kids. it can get really cold at night and i dont think there are any accomodations with heaters up there, and the blankets are not that thick either. last time we were here we stayed at the Kinabalu Pine Resort which was one of the most popular resorts in Kundasang. but this time we decided to try somewhere else for a change.

so after careful research, we chose the  Celyn Resort. i was quite nervous as the last leg of the drive to get there involves a gravel road for about 3 km. i was relieved to find out that it was not that bad and well worth it. upon arrival we were upgraded to a bigger room which i was not quite happy about as we had to sacrifice the mount kinabalu view. but nothing can be done as the Kinabalu Wing Rooms are full despite i had made the reservations earlier. the room that we were upgraded to is huge and looked like it was recently renovated, so i was pacified a bit :P..but, if i had my way, id still want the kinabalu wing room.

gravel road leading to the resort

we did not get out from the resort that night as the gravel road leading out to the main road does not have lighting and it can be very dark out there. however, we were just as happy to just chill at the resort at night. id say this place is suitable for nature lovers, as there is practically nothing else to do there except for just hanging out and enjoying mother nature. but i think barbecue can be arranged with the hotel. we had dinner at the resort restaurant and it was quite good - the veges are very fresh and i finished a whole plate of Kailan Ikan Masin on my own :P..

we were lucky to be there during a full moon and the view during our first night there was breathtaking and SURREAL. it feels like we just wanted to be outside the whole night and just soak up the moonlight but it was very cold that night. it was nothing like ive ever experienced before.

hotel lobby

Majestic Mountain
woke up a bit early to get this shot of Mount Kinabalu-the best time to get  a clear view of Mt Kinabalu. its not easy to get a clear view like this as mist /clouds are practically there all day. im not sure if it depends on what season ur there. after bfast, we went to visit the Desa Dairy Farm at Mesilou which is a cattle farm with a concept somewhat like can be found in NZ :) love the view up there and also we get to buy fresh milk from the cafe. check out their location and daily schedule at their FB page


after lunch @ KFC, we head to the Sabah Tea Plantation, which is actually quite a distance from Kundasang Town. odw there youll pass the Ranau Town and the Poring Hot Springs. Other attractions in Kundasang includes the Kudasang War Memorial.

we spent another night at the resort and checked out the next morning to KK.... to be continued.. :)