Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Sabah trip... 7 Oct to 11 Oct 2004

Here's my account of my trip to Sabah...

The trip originally consisted of myself, Devin, Bala, Kantha, and Jeya. But Kantha couldn't get his leave approved, so he couldn't go, even though he paid for the trip. Jeya couldn't go due to work, but he confirmed that he couldn't go much earlier. So it was only me, Devin, and Bala, and Bala's gf, Pu Ei, in Sabah.

7 oct:

Went to klcc to shop for stuff, like Speedos, latest Runner's World and JazzTimes mag. Met Devin for lunch, sent him home. Packed my stuff as expediently as possible. Plan was to take KTM to Bandar Tasik Selatan and take the ERL to KLIA. By the time I reached Devin's, it was too late to take trains. Luckily, Devin's dad managed to arrange for taxi. At the airport, after checking in and stuff, we went to the terminal to board the plane. To our dismay, the plane was delayed for over 2 hours. Instead of taking off at 5:15pm, the plane took off at 7:30pm. Finally we reached KK at about 10:30pm. Bala's gf picked us up from the airport and me and devin checked in to our apartment, Marina Court. After that we went for a late night snack (my dinner actually) at a nice restaurant, that also served some nice North Indian food. Had Aloo Mater (potatoes, peas, and carrots) and Palak Paneer (grinded spinach and cheese) and naan. Went back to our apartment and went back to bed. Oh yeah, my Discman crashed big time on me. Can't even play it no more! Crap..makes me want to consider them digital audio players like the IPod or something.

8 Oct:

Woke up early, 6am, to prep myself for a morning run. Left at 6:30, and ran around KK city. Ran for about 37 minutes. I wanted to buy some roti canai on the way back, but apparently I forgot to bring cash..crap. Ran back to the apartment without food. Then, I went for a swim at the apartment pool for about an hour. Haven't swam in a long time...about over a year I think. Feels good to swim again, although I had better start learning some proper techniques for swimming if I wanted to compete in tri events! Anyway, then me and devin had a mcdonald's breakfast. Walked around Api-api centre and bought some drinks and snacks from 7-Eleven. Later we took a walk around town, from the Filipino market to Centerpoint shopping complex.

The Filipno market had lots of stuff, but it's really divided into three sub-sections. The first section sells fruits (along with young coconuts to drink!), the second section offers handcrafts and souvenirs and the last section is the Ikan Masin section: dried seafood! Wah liao, the smell of dried fish, seacucumbers and various seafood was a little too much for me to handle!

Then we walked along other parts of the city. Most of the shops in KK town are made out of old buildings, and the businesses seemed as though they had been there for ages! We made our way to Centerpoint shopping complex, and met up with our friend Bala. We then went to Tanjung Aru beach. A short stretch of the beachside has a small park, and adjacent to the park is a row of nice eateries and food stalls, from Sugar Bun restaurant, cendol, coconuts, and a foodcourt. We checked out Bukit Padang, which has a nice park (where I would consider going to run), but it was quite a drive unless I had a car to drive at my disposal. Next we took a drive the town of Lintas. The shops there are younger in age compared to old KK. I also spotted two new vegetarian restaurants, in addition to the one I went to from the previous trip, two years ago. Later, we picked up Pu Ei from her workplace and headed back to the apartment. I rested awhile, while Devin took a dip in the pool. After getting ready into our party clothes, the four of us headed to Little Italy for dinner. Little Italy is a nice little restaurant that serves really good italian food, with prices lower than the average italian restaurant in KL! We made our way to a local club called Shenanigans, where most Sabahans and visitors go to, to let their hair down! At about slightly after midnight, we retired from the club. Me and Devin went to a local cybercafe behind the apartment to do some emails. The café still uses Windows 98, and old microprocessors! Intel Celeron, I think, at a slower speed than my previous Celeron computer! Man, it was just too slow for my liking already. After an hour or so, we headed back to the apartment and just hit the sack!

Footnote: missed Malaysian Idol finals...Jac against Dina.

9 Oct:

Woke pretty late today around 10am. Took a swim to get some exercise. We checked out from the apartment in the afternoon. Bala and Pu Ei picked us up and drove to Centerpoint to have lunch (they got a nice, small vegetarian food stall in the food court). I looked around for a Discman to replace my old, konked out one. Found an Aiwa, fairly simple functions, no remote, for rm240 (after some haggling from Pu Ei). Oh well, something to use before I get a digital audio player in the near future!

The four of us headed to the port and took a ferry to Gayana Island, our first island trip for this holiday. The half hour boat ride was a relaxed one. Slow enough to enjoy the sun and sights of the surrounding islands.

The resort at Gayana is a seaside water resort, consisting of 46 wooden chalets, is built on stilts on the outshore of the main island land. I found out that the island was to remain untouched, hence the surrounding sea area remained clear (you could see the waterlife swimming around the resort).

After checking into our really nice chalet, we headed out to an adjacent beachside (a 5 minute boat ride) just across our resort. We fed the fishes with bread; you could see a school of fishes literally rushing all at once to grab a small piece of the bread we were throwing in the water. We rented some snorkels and snorkelled around the surrounding seabed. Due to less than good weather the last couple of weeks, the visibility of the deeper side of the seabed wasn't as good as we would've wanted. We also fed them fishes while snorkelling. I stood in one spot on the seabed and held a piece of bread and just waited for the fishes to grab the bread off my hand! Within minutes you could see a colorful spectrum of fishes of different shapes and size flocking around me and grabbing the bread piece by piece. It was really beautiful. After that I headed to the shore, and me and Devin took a run along the beach area. Unfortunately, the beach area thinned out very quickly and we had to double back and go the other end. At the other end, we turned back and ran again to the opposite end! I think we took only 10 minutes to run. Short, but it kickstarts the juices! After some photo shots, we packed our stuff and headed back to the resort. We met for dinner at the resort's Island Seafood Restaurant. I found out that the restaurant also catered for vegetarians! The waiter gave me several choices: vegetarian salmon, char siu, and chicken! Wow! That's definitely the first for me. I ordered the vege salmon and braised mushroom with brocolli dish (they even used vegetarian oyster sauce to cook!). Amazing. We reconvened at the chalet I was staying in, had some drinks, talked and joked around, etc, and then retired for the day.


10 Oct:

Woke up super early today.. like 6:30am! When I woke up it was so bright already. I couldn't resist it. I took my new Discman, and sat on the balcony overlooking the resort, and listened to Oliver Nelson, while writing this on my PDA.

About 8:30am, we all went for breakfast at the Island Seafood Restaurant for our free breakfast buffet. Not a lot of choice, though... just baked potatoes, baked beans, cereals, bread, and eggs for me. Oh well, got food better than no food. After that, we decided to kayak back to the same beachside where we went snorkelling the night before. Me and Devin on one kayak, Bala and Pu Ei on the other! Not easy trying to kayak with another person. A lot of coordination is needed, trying to paddle the kayak straight also quite a challenge! Did about an hour and a half of snorkelling again.. then we kayaked back to the resort. We checked out, and boat-rode back to KK port.

At the port, we were supposed to take another boat to Manukan Island. But the boatmen needed at least 8 people for us to pay a rm14 per head fo the boatride. Otherwise, it's rm112 for the whole boat. We decided to wait for more people to show up and go in the same boat. So, instead of waiting in the port, we decided to go to the nearest shopping complex for lunch. We got the port people to call us if there are more people who are going to Manukan, so that they can put them in the same boat. We walked to Wisma Merdeka (about 5 - 10 minutes walk) for a late lunch, then headed back to the port to wait. By the time we got there, there was one guy who came on board as well. Instead of waiting some more, we decided to take the boat, with just the five of us... a little more expensive per head, but too lazy to wait. The port was going to close too. Anyway, we took a speedboat to Manukan Island.

Finally reached Manukan Island... the place looked stunning. The chalets also looked very interesting. Some of them are built on the hills, with wooden walkways to connect to each chalet. They put us in one of the hill-built chalets, but the place looked rather old and run-downed. The air-con in our room was rather weak.. it was still hot even though the temp was at 18 degrees Celcius. I think the air-con was spoiled. Anyway, me and Devin decided to take a run along the so-called 1500 metres jogging track. To my surprise, the track, or the trail, rather, is a series of slopes and hills. Me and Devin ran (Devin obviously running way faster than me), while I threaded the hills rather apprehensively, as I didn't know the route. Finally when I reached the end of the 1500 metres, it turned out to be a dead end, on a cliff overlooking the sea.. and the sunset. It was aptly named Sunset Point! After resting a couple of minutes, and talking to the Austrian couple who was there checking out the sunset, we resumed our run back. By that time, it got darker and darker, as there were no lights around that small, narrow, track. I proceeded with caution. At the end of the 1500 metres at the starting line, the sky was virtually dark. When we went back to our chalet, Bala managed to get us moved to another chalet, where the air-con and the rooms are in much better condition. We found out that we moved to a renovated chalet, whereas the previous chalet was set for renovation a little later in the year. After taking a nice shower (the heater didn't work.. but I was hot from the run, so I cold bath was good), we headed to the open air restaurant, and ate an expensive dinner, much to our chagrin. I paid rm7 for a small glass of lime juice... wah liao.. daylight robbery, man. Finally, we all headed back to our chalet, and retired for the night.

11 Oct:

Woke up late this time.. really tired. The chalet was so comfortable that I almost didn't want to wake up. Skipped breakfast (had chips though), and we walked around the beach area. By that time, around 9 something, the place was flooded with tourists! A lot of Taiwanese tourists, and also Westerners. Later we snorkelled around the beachside area... to our disappointment, the waterlife was rather... sparse. The corals were mostly scattered and broken... there wasn't much fish as compared to Gayana Island. Manukan Island didn't turn out as nice as we thought it would be. We weren't that happy with so many people at the island...too crowded. I think Manukan is a more popular place to go to than Gayana due to advertising. But I personally prefer Gayana Island. There wasn't THAT much visitors at one time (there are only 46 chalets there). Anyway, after chilling and getting a bit of a tan, we checked out from our chalet, and took the boat ride to the port. We walked around KK a bit more, and come evening, we went back to Tanjung Aru for dinner.

Finally, we took the flight back home to KLIA, and a taxi back to Kajang.

That's the end of our trip... thanks...

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