Sunday, 31 January 2016

Island Hopping - Mamutik, Manukan and Sapi Islands

We now get to the best part of our KK trip. To be honest, our island hopping session turned out to be far better than expected. 

We had no initial plans. Just a general idea that we'd like to go island hopping if we had the time, no pressure, a rough idea on mode of transportation to the islands (initial idea was to be thankful if we could even visit one of the islands) and seriously, with no advanced planning we didn't know whether the tour would be enjoyable in the least but worth the try I guessed.

I gave the office at the Jesselton Jetty a call that particular morning after breakfast to get the necessary info such as boat departure times and costs. They told us to come down to the jetty asap, which lucky for us was only within walking distance from the hotel. 

Here's Hubs looking flashy with my flowery Adidas bag. 

All the way to the Jetty he was complaining how ridiculous he looked carrying it. Only later that day he actually appreciated the fact how useful that flowery bag was with how much stuff could fit into it for our island hopping getaway.

On the way though, we got even luckier to have met Shah, the guy that we chartered a private speedboat for ourselves for the day. To boot, the price which was absolutely worth it, took us to to the main three islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park namely Mamutik, Manukan and Sapi.  From KK, it probably took us 15-20 minutes to get to the first island.

I would definitely recommend chartering a private speedboat to skip all the waiting time and queues. It saves time and you won't get stressed when you decide to go off to the next island. Queues tend to be very long and we could see the many dissatisfied faces as well as frustrated parents with their kids in tow when we went straight ahead to our chartered speedboat. Unlike us, they had to go through the hassle of waiting for their turn to get on their respective speedboats with hoards of people aboard. Even to push off, those boats which took in groups won't leave until all those in the group are aboard. So more waiting time i.e. wasted time when you could enjoy skipping off to the next island.

Island- HOOOOOOOO!!!

Here we are, at our first stop for the day, Mamutik Island.

The water was so clear you can see all the cute fishies. This was just at the jetty alone.

There's a guide to the type of fish tourists may encounter at the Marine Park. Oh, for adults, entrance fee is RM3 per person upon which you'd get access to all three islands.

Here's a map of the Marine Park.

My most decent picture in Mamutik without exposing too much to my readers. :p

A view from the jetty at our second island of the day, Manukan Island.

This was taken in Sapi Island. Our last stop for the day.

What I discovered, and this is my personal view, is that each island has a different shade of colour. This in reference to their waters. All are clear and clean mind you. However, the shade of colours are either mainly green, mainly blue or a mixture of blue and green. So pay a visit to the islands and discover it for yourselves. Definitely worth exploring our beautiful Malaysia.

Ohh, don't forget to bring your snorkelling gear. We went ahead without any but managed to rent two for ourselves for the trip.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Seafood at Sri Selera KK

In KK, choices for seafood are aplenty.

We were recommended a few including Welcome Seafood but we opted for the one where a local mentioned there would be more choices and that is Selera KK. Selera KK is just 10-15 minutes walk from the hotel. There you will a find a few restaurants all located under one roof i.e. a giant foodcourt where the locals refer to as Selera KK. 

For two nights straight we dined in Selera KK at the restaurant of our choosing and didn't even bother going elsewhere. Service was excellent and the food was great!

Seriously, I think this lobster was keen at continuing our staring contest!

There were plenty of sea creatures where most I've never seen or attempted to eat. However, at the risk of posting too many pictures for this post, I am only posting those that I ate as well as other interesting ones.

Above is a mantis shrimp. 

This differs from a boxing prawn. Though they look similar, boxing prawns are smaller, have a thinner shell and they have those blade-like hind legs. When we chose the boxing prawn, we saw that the boxing prawns were kept separately in individual plastic bottles to avoid them slicing each other or the hands of the restaurant workers.

The lobster we chose for dinner.

Mmmmm...what to do with this lobster?

Cook it in butter sauce of course.

To go with our lobster, we opted for kailan garlic to complement our dish.

And here's a picture of our fried butter garlic boxing prawn.

Comparatively, seafood is cheaper than Semenanjung. However, I've heard that if compared to Sarawak, it might be cheaper there. Not so sure about that. Nonetheless, a testament to us enjoying and being satisfied with the fare in Sabah by having dinner at the same place two nights a row speaks for itself.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Filipino and Handicraft Market- Kota Kinabalu

First stop, the Filipino Market.

The Filipino Market is situated right opposite Le Meridien. It's basically a long stretch of stalls by the riverfront, beginning with stalls selling snacks and fruits, then tents for the night market, with those selling handicrafts and souvenirs in the middle and dried seafood at the other end.

From T-shirts, beads, bangles, weaved baskets to keychains, you can find all sort of interesting things to bring back home either for yourself or your loved ones. 

Of course the most popular and sought after item would be pearls if you're travelling to KK. They look ok if you want to buy them here. Another option and one place I was recommended to buy pearls is this particular shop not far off from our hotel specialising in pearls call Jamilah, I think. I can't exactly recall the name of the shop. 

Above are some beaded bangles displayed for sale. Aren't they colourful?

These were bangles designed using the inner part of shells.

We bought some of those colourful bangles from this Mak Cik. One important thing here is to bargain, bargain and bargain.

Look at dem' pearls.

Again, housewares using the seashells as part of their design. Not sure what they're called.

Saw these before in Sarawak. They sold them here in Sabah as well. A species only available in East Malaysia I guess. Kayu Tas is supposedly used to ward off wild animals. Those whom are more familiar with them use it to domesticate their pets but I wouldn't dare try using it on any of mine. If you hit your animal wrongly with it, it will die or get seriously sick before eventually dying.

Here we surveyed for dried seafood to bring back home. It was still our first day in KK and it was a good time as any to do some surveying before deciding to bring some back home. 

Look at all those ikan bilis! Already fried some of those Grade A ikan bilis we brought home and the Hubs couldn't stop munching on them. I, on the other hand, couldn't get enough of it to go with my warm porridge and jeruk for breakie or emergency lunch.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Le Meridien- Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

We now move on to our KK trip. 

As our end year trip focused on just travelling locally, we decided to go gung-ho for the week and cover both the Peninsular and East Malaysia within one week. Not all the states mind you. Just Malacca and Sabah. In total, we spent only half a day in KL for that week.

It's my first time to Kota Kinabalu (KK). Hubs had been here twice before but for work. We decided to take it slow this time around and focused on simple itineraries, of which one had to be abandoned at the last minute due to repair works needed for the train.

Hubs was totally in charge of accommodation and I was particularly happy he chose Le Meridien, KK. Its strategic locale gave us the advantage of not having to rush about around town as much as everything is just right in front of our hotel.  

Look how spacious the room is...

The bathroom is just as big.

One pet peeve I had was the loud creaking whenever you open the glass door to the shower. Other than that, everything was just perfect. We couldn't wait to start our KK trip.

And this is the breathtaking view from our room. 

You see those tin rooftops and white tents? That is where the Filipino Market is situated and traders are setting up the night market for the evening.

This is me looking to the right.

And this is to my left. 

You can see the islands from here!

Before we get started, tea time! Their private lounge on the 12th Floor serves finger food and drinks and was very much welcomed as we wanted to save room for dinner. Enough to sate our palette whilst we explore the markets before dinner.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Spa Village Majestic Malacca

Wow, just a few days since we greeted 2016 and Alhamdulillah, the year has started off great for me. Insya Allah, things will be more awesome.

To continue where we left off from my short getaway to Melaka, as we had ample time sans the usual touristy spots, we both opted to enjoy our time in the hotel. Husbie opted to chill and finish one of his books whilst I chose to explore the hotel's spa.

How cute is the door stopper to the Spa?

Spa Village Malacca is definitely one of the must tries in Melaka. It's the only place that I know of that offers Peranakan inspired therapies. Those interested are advised to call for reservations especially if you want to try one of their Peranakan Signature treatments.

In my case, I opted for the Suam-Suam Panas Experience. 

Through these turquoise lined doors and ornately designed entrance, we started off my experience with a complimentary hair massage supposedly Nyonya brides would receive the night before their ceremony. The complimentary hair massage lasts about 20 minutes or so. The TV mounted on the ceiling will entertain you with old P.Ramlee movies whilst you're getting your scalp blissfully massaged.

We then moved on to my body massage.

The package I elected for mainly focused on products with Bird's Nest as their main ingredient. The whole session lasted up to three hours. Their body massages were excellent and their Pandan-Coconut hair mask was so effective that my usually dry hair was so sleek and shiny throughout our stay in Melaka as well as the better part of our trip to KK. 

The spa session was definitely a memorable experience. It's definitely nice to be pampered once in a while and a nice way to disconnect and just relax.