Posts Tagged ‘kota kinabalu’

Market Mingling, Magic Massages and Milling Around Magellan

Sunday, September 18th, 2011
Whilst we didn’t have to rise to early this morning we were keen to take in the local Sunday markets in the city so we climbed out from under the sheets around 0700.
We took in another delightful breakfast downstairs in the Magellan Club’s dining room and enjoyed our morning interaction with the wonderful staff. The Bircher museli, fresh croissants and delightful salmon has been our “standard” fare since arriving at Sutera. Yum!
With our stomachs suitably sorted we returned to the room, collected our bags and cameras and headed over to the main lobby to book our seat on the shuttle bus to the city. We thought it was going to be a busy bus given that the markets are only on once a week however, when it pulled up, there were only two other people on the bus.
The driver of the shuttle bus is a real character and he provided us with some light entertainment during the short trip to town. When you drive the same short route everyday you would need to find a way of entertaining yourself!

A Basket Of Cuties

We disembarked at the Wisma Merdaka (the last stop in town for the shuttle) and found The Coffee Bean cafe. I needed a caffeine recharge before walking the short distance to the markets. The power went out in the hotel this morning so I didn’t get my morning coffee fix at breakfast. Fortunately I didn’t bite The Princess or snarl too much!
The temperature was creeping up toward 30 degrees and the humidity was hovering around 65% as we approached the street markets. We started to wonder why we were carrying a hot coffee!
The markets were quite busy and the crowds, confined spaces and tarpaulin covered stalls made for a steamy walk.
The markets were quite extensive and the local wares on offer were interesting. A mixture of locally grown produce, handicrafts and animals were available for purchase. Despite some serious review of the range of artifacts we actually didn’t purchase a thing! However, we did enjoy interacting with the locals, learning more about the culture and capturing some of the sights and sounds.
We departed the street market area around 1230 and made our way back to the Centerpoint mall. We had decided to treat ourselves to a full body massage and a foot massage at a place we found earlier in the week.
The short walk to the mall allowed us to experience some more of the interesting sidewalk (or lack of) designs that Malaysia seems to perfect. It would appear that the government is very happy for developers to build impressive buildings and to collect the taxes from the development works but not put any of it back into building safe sidewalks for the public. One has to be rather careful not to end up down a monsoon drain or twist an ankle while trying to cross the road.
We found the massage place that we had discovered during a previous visit to the mall and, fortunately for us, we didn’t have to wait. We started with a delightful foot massage each then “retired” to the separate curtained off areas for an hour long full body massage. Both of us agreed that the massages were excellent and we left the shop feeling very relaxed indeed.
Our stomachs were in a position to allow for some more food to be consumed so we returned to an Indian restaurant that we had found a few days earlier and settled in for another feed of roti, Muterbaak and some delightful Tandoori chicken. We washed it all down with two delightful fresh orange juices.
We had been doing a lot of lounging around this week so we decided to walk back to the resort – a short 30 minute stroll alongside the main road. We bought a couple of bottles of water before we left the mall (it was still quite warm outside) and headed off for some more footpath (or lack of) negotiating.

Market Attraction

We arrived back at the resort around 1530, changed into our swimming gear and headed for the pool for one more “dip”. We eventually found a place to lie down before enjoying a couple of hours of swimming in the pool and the small ocean cove. A perfect way to finish off the afternoon.
Happy hour here starts at 1730 so we returned to our room and changed into something slightly more respectable for “sundowners” on the patio of the Magellan Club. The happy hour drinks and food are included in our room rate – a nice touch indeed.
The sun dipped below the islands to the west of Kota Kinabalu as we enjoyed some crisp white wine and some local delights. Very decadent indeed.
As day turned into night we moved from the patio to the Club’s interior. With The Princess’ legs only just recovering from the piranha like feasting of the first night we decided that a repeat was unnecessary.
We enjoyed a night cap glass of port each while we cheeked email and played internet catch up then bid the evening shift staff goodnight.
With our departure from Kota Kinabalu scheduled for tomorrow morning we opted to return to the room early so that we could pack our bags, have a shower and turn in at a reasonable hour. We were both very relaxed after our day out and knew that it wouldn’t be long before we were united with the insides of our eyelids.
A nice warm shower finished us off and after taking up residence in the King size bed we both slipped off to sleep around 2300.
Selemut Malam!

Reclining At The Magellan

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Train Spotting

Saturday, September 17th, 2011
Earlier this year (April) we made a flying visit to Australia to surprise my father for his 75th birthday. While we were in Melbourne we stayed in the Dandenong Ranges and I took The Princess on the iconic “Puffing Billy” train ride from Belgrave to Emerald. We enjoyed the trip on the Puffing Billy and we also had a lot of fun following it by car and taking photos and video of it making its way through the mountains east of Melbourne. At the time we commented that we were becoming “train spotters”.
Today, we slipped back into train spotter mode by taking another historic train ride but this time we are in Malaysia.
Malaysia was once a part of the British Empire (during the 18th and the 20th centuries) and during this time the British established a number of railways throughout peninsular Malay and Borneo. One of these railways was the North Borneo Railway. In recent times, this railway has been restored and it is now a tourist railway that runs between Kota Kinabalu and Papar.
We booked a seat on today’s train (it runs two days a week) and this meant a pick up from the hotel at 0900. We rose around 0730, had a shower then made our way down the dining room around 0815. We thought it would be prudent to have a bite to eat before we left the hotel.
The bus arrived at the Magellan entrance at the designated time and we along with the other pre-booked passengers boarded the bvs for the short trip to Tanjung Aru – the departure station for today’s trip.
We arrived at the station around 0910 and collected our tickets at the ticket offices before making our way to the platform. Seating was not pre allocated so this meant we were able to choose our carriage and seating.
All of the carriages (ironically built in Japan) were beautifully appointed and they are restored to the original decor. silver and Chinaware, and the linen and upholstery reflected the era in which the train was operating and we felt like we had been transported back to the early 1900′s.
Waiters and platform staff wore pith helmets and period relevant costumes and their Malaysian hospitality resulted in us settling into the whole experience very quickly.
The wood fired Vulcan steam train was shunted into position at the front of the train around 1000 and it wasn’t long before the station staff were hollering “all aboard” to the accompaniment of the steam engine’s high pitched whistle.
The train hissed and chugged out of the station at the laid down departure time and we were not too far down track when our light breakfast of croissants, pastries, juice and hot beverages was served.
We rolled along the northern coast of Borneo very comfortably and enjoyed the sights and sounds as we passed through small villages and alongside the shoreline of some beautiful beaches.
The track wound its way through mangrove swamps and rice paddies while we savored the light breakfast and got to know some of the other passengers that were taking today’s journey.
After 20kms of “dah dunk, dah dunk” (the sound the wheels make on the track) we arrived at the tiny town of Kinarut. The train stops at this traditional village for around 20 minutes and we opted to take a short walk to the nearby colorful Chinese temple. You would think we would have had enough of Chinese temples given that we live in Hong Kong!
We spent time taking some photo’s of the local children and the temple environs before returning to the station. The engine driver was signaling the impending departure with intermittent whistle blows so the remaining passengers (which included us) hastened our return along the well maintained tracks.
We departed Kinarut at the scheduled time and continued along the track south west to Papar. The 18km journey through low lying coastal scenery took around 45 mintues – time enough to enjoy a mid morning refreshment.
The pre-noon arrival at Papar meant that the sun was not quite at its apex however the temperatures were rising toward 30 degrees plus as we disembarked the relatively cool carriage.
The Princess and I opted for a walk around the nearby town markets during the relatively short stop in Papar – an experience worth the effort.
The wonderfully friendly locals were very happy (and proud) to show us their wares and we delighted in interacting with the children and their curious stares.
We returned to the station about 15 minutes before the timetabled departure and spent time in the hot midday sun taking some photos of the steam engine before returning to the fan cooled temperatures of the carriage.
Our booth style window seat tables were reset with lunchtime cutlery, napkins and face towels and our Tiffin style (or “dabba” as the Indian would know it) lunch was awaiting our pallets.
Most of the other passengers had finished their lunch sets before we re embarked the carriage however we enjoyed the sumptuous Malay offerings as we rolled back along the tracks on the return journey to Tanjung Aru.
Whilst we were seated on the same side of the carriage as before, the return journey took on a new perspective as we sat back and let the world roll by outside our windows.
The return journey meant that we had the benefit of knowing where the rail crossings and small towns (and therefore the excited children) were. We enjoyed waving at the proud and appreciative locals as the rolling stock rattled along the well maintained track.
The engine’s steam whistle sounded as we approached the many road crossings and the wood fired soot filled the carriages when the wind blew it through the open windows. The whole trip was very nostalgic.
We arrived back into Tanjung Aru on time at 1340 and it wasn’t long before we were disembarking the carriage, say our goodbyes to the attentive and friendly staff and making our way to the shuttle bus to the hotel.
We arrived back at the hotel around 1430 and decided to “retire” for the afternoon by taking an afternoon (holiday) nap.
As we drifted off to sleep we recalled the wonderful trip on the North Borneo Railway to Papar – a smooth and comfortable trip from Tanjun Aru to Papar complete with excellent service, period costumes, pleasing scenery and decadent food. What a wonderful trip indeed.
After rising from our mid-afternoon slumber we went downstairs to Muffinz Cafe and relaxed over a hot coffee and some of the tasty handmade cookies and updated our trip blogs.
“Sundowners” (happy hour) started at 1730 so we made our way to the terrace of the Magellan club and took up “residence” as the sun started its descent below the western horizon.
Several white wines, some delightful Malaysian treats and the superb service from the staff all resulted in us experiencing a beautiful end to the daylight of 16th September.
The Princess made the most of the stunning sunset lighting by taking quite a few photos of the sun setting over the islands to the west of Kota Kinabalu.
We are now ready to retire for the night so we will make our way back to our room on the 1st floor and prepare to sink into our bed.
Tomorrow we plan to take in the Sunday street markets that set up in the city. We will have some breakfast then make our way into town around mid-morning. We will finish off our day of rest with a foot massage before returning to the resort for a final night of relaxing.
Selamat Malum (“Good Evening” in Malay).
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Chilling In The Heat

Friday, September 16th, 2011
Our body clocks are definitely on Malay time because they were quite happy to stay in bed despite the alarm going off around 0800. Maybe we should trade the alarm in for a Malaysian made one – it might just not go off at all!
We made our way down to the sumptuous breakfast around 0920 and we were greeted by the attentive and friendly staff that work the morning shift. Colin, the gentleman we met the first day we arrived, was working again this morning so we took some photos with him and enjoyed learning more about Sabah and things to do.
With no particular place to be and with no agenda to follow we sat and soaked up the atmosphere in Club Magellan and had a wonderful time recalling the incredible travels that we have experienced around the world. It always brings a smile to our faces when we recall the special places we have visited and the wonderful things we have experienced. We both agreed that the meeting locals and learning about the culture is always a highlight of our trips.

Surf's Up

After prying ourselves away from the window seat of the dining room we went back up to the room and changed into our poolside attire – swimmers, hat and rash vests. This didnt’ take too long so it was not long before we were pulling up a lounge chair beside the pool – today’s chair looked out over the small beach and west toward the offshore islands.
After lazing on the lounge chairs for a while we made our way to the small sandy beach (a stone’s throw away) and fed the beautiful tropical fish that call this small cove home. The pool attendants keep a basket of bread by the pool hut and you can take some small buns into the water and feed the fish.
Fish of all colours, sizes and species are happy to take the bread from your hands. They are very gentle and despite the numbers of fish they don’t get into a feeding frenzy. It is a very special experience.
A couple more pages of the books and magazines we brought with us were read before I made my way to the nearby resort coffee shop for some refreshements. I ordered The Princess and sweet and tasty white hot chocolate and some “home made” cookies – she was one happy girl when she sipped on the warm milk chocolate back at the pool.
It was just past 1500 when we returned to the room for a late afternoon shower and change. We had decided to head back into the city tonight for another feed of local food at the busy makan stalls that line the waterfront.
A rather large storm had been brewing during the course of the afternoon and it broke just as we left the room. We were thankful for the huge covered entrance to the Magellan Resort as we boarded the 1710 bus for the short trip into town.
The rain subsided a little during the drive into the city and it was only “spitting” when we got off the bus at the last stop.
There was a Coffee Bean coffee shop on the corner next to the bus stop so we sat inside the large dining area and treated ourselves to an early evening brew and nibbly.
Our plan had been to head to a new mall called One Borneo however, after talking with the helpful staff at the Coffee Bean we changed our plans. They told us that many of the shops in One Borneo were probably not open due to it being a public holiday and they redirected us to Suria Sabah (a short walk just minutes away).
We passed some time in the mall and bought a couple of things before going in search of a makan stall. We walked along the main road of the city but didn’t find anything appealing so we made our way down to the waterfront and found the makan stalls.
After looking at the variety of dishes on offer we settled on some Mee Hoon noodles, a plate of Nasi Goreng and two huge tiger prawns. The prawns were about the size of lobsters and the stall owner grilled them to perfection. We washed the delightful dishes down with a huge mug of dragon fruit juice. The atmosphere and the food were excellent and we really enjoyed sitting and taking it all in.
The last shuttle bus back to the hotel departed the nearby stop at 2130 so settled the bill, thanked our hosts and made our way across the road to the bus stop.

Oversized Crustaceans

Fortunately the rain held off for us while we waited for the bus to arrive so we boarded the bus dry when it pulled up.
The now familiar trip back to the hotel was without delay and we arrived back at Sutera Harbour around 2145.
Tomorrow we are going to be taking in a train trip on the North Borneo Railway so we prepared our camera gear for the day’s outing before slipping under the sheets and drifting off to sleep.
Another wonderfully relaxing day in Malaysia – a great way to celebrate Malaysia’s National Day. Happy Malaysia Day!.

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Soaking Up Sabah

Thursday, September 15th, 2011
We woke a little later this morning – holiday mode was starting to kick in.
We made our way down to breakfast and enjoyed a feed of Bircher museli, some delightful croissants and fresh smoked salmon and cheese. We washed it all down with cups of local tea and coffee and beautiful fresh juices prepared to our order. Delightful.
After breakfast we did a lap of the extensive grounds that surround the Magellan resort. We booked our trip on the North Borneo Railway (for Saturday) then returned to the room to collect our cameras – we decided we wanted to take some shots of the views and gardens we had just taken in.
We spent another hour or so walking the gardens and pathways and taking quite a few photos’ and some video. The day was starting to warm up as we neared the cover of the foyer and we both agreed that an afternoon by the resort’s pool would be a great way to cool off.

Basking Toes

Fortunately we were able to get two lounge chairs alongside the pool today so we took up residence under the huge umbrella and switched off with our books and magazines. Holiday mode indeed.
We swam a few times and ate a light lunch by the pool before returning to the room and preparing for another trip into the city.
Today we decided to take in some of the traditional markets that line the harbour front in the city. A number of the guests staying at the resort had mentioned the markets so we were keen to take in the sights and sounds.
We caught the shuttle bus to “Centrepoint” once more and grabbed a Starbuck’s takeaway before heading out to the streets and negotiating our way to the waterfront. Negotiating is the right word because the town planning in these parts is a little on the light side. The streets are definitely not pedestrian friendly and one has to be rather careful not to end up down a monsoon drain or in front of a “zinger” (small motorbike). Fortunately we didn’t end up as an ornament on the front of a local’s car before we found the outdoor marketplace.
The array of produce and cooked food on offer at the markets was astounding. Fresh vegetables and fruits, fish of every species that one could imagine and locally cooked delights on offer from dozens of small stalls. The stall owners and local shoppers made the place buzz and we had a wonderful time photographing and videoing the sights and sounds of this wonderful place.

Fresh From The Grill

We tried a few of the local foods that were on offer and we both agreed that we would have to return and spend more time taking in the sumptuous foods in this place. Tonight we shared a dessert that was full of coconut jam and a chicken breast skewer that was cooked to perfection. The proud locals were happy to let us try out the delights on offer but we had not long eaten a late lunch so neither of us was particularly hungry.
Whilst down at the waterfront we checked out the handicraft markets too. The locally produced goods on offer were very colourful and eye catching however we didn’t pick up any trinkets to take home. Maybe on the next visit.
We left the market place and made our way to Wisma Merdeka (a nearby shopping mall in the city) and took a look around there before the shuttle bus arrived. Most of the outlets were closing for the night so there was not too much to see.
When the bus arrived it was full so we had to catch a taxi back to the resort. A lovely Australian couple who had been waiting for the bus shared the taxi back to the Magellan. It was nice to chat to them during the short trip back.
It was another beautiful night in Borneo so we decided to take up residence in the foyer lounge and listen to the band that we enjoyed so much on the first night. We kicked back and enjoyed some lovely Australian Shiraz and a couple of plates of tapas while the trio sang some classic songs from the past. The attentive staff spent time talking to us about the local area and kept our glasses primed throughout the evening.
We finished the evening with a lovely port before retiring to the room and calling an end to the day.
Another wonderful day of relaxing in north Borneo and the environs of Kota Kinabalu.

Market Views

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Up Close With Nature

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
We both slept like logs last night. Have you ever wondered what logs sleep like? Soundly we imagine. 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep – perfect. There is something to be said for holidaying by the ocean!
We rose at 0700 and readied ourselves before heading down to the Magellan Club’s dining area for a delightful breakfast. We opted to sit inside just in case The Princess’ Canadian blood attracted more of the local insects. Her legs are looking like she has been through a sandblaster.

Club Dining

The day outside was very inviting – clear skies and temperatures hovering around 30 degrees however, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast (Malay time) and our interaction with the friendly staff.
After breakfast we asked the staff about trips to the local islands and they advised us that the boats left every hour starting at 0830. Eager to get out into the beautiful day, we headed back to the room and packed some gear for a day of snorkeling and relaxing on one of the nearby islands.
We enjoyed the short walk across to the Sutera Harbour dock area. The beautiful clear water is abundant with fish and other marine life and the beautifully landscaped gardens alongside the walkway are full of tropical flowering plants.
The company that looks after the trips out to the islands is called Sea Quest and the very attentive staff arranged our trip out to Mamutik Island and organized our hire equipment for the day. There are three islands to choose from and the staff mentioned that whilst Mamutik is small it is also less crowded. Perfect for a day of relaxing!
Fortunately we were able to get onto a boat that was departing earlier than our planned departure time so we boarded the small speed boat for the 15 minute trip out to the islands.
The boat dropped the other tourists off at the big island of Manukan then took us on to the small island of Mamutik.
We were met at the jetty by a very nice man called Justine and we felt very special having a personal escort to the almost private beach on the south eastern side of the island.

Paddling Princess

After settling ourselves under the shade of the huge trees that tower over the beach we took time to soak up the ideallyic setting of this beautiful little island.
The clear and inviting waters off Mamutik meant that we didn’t sit on the beach for too long. We kitted ourselves up with the snorkeling gear we had hired back at the harbour and made our way into the beautiful warm water just meters away.
My Canadian land locked Princess took a few minutes to adjust to the aquatic environment (complete with snorkeling gear) however, once she found her sea legs she was on her way – and nothing could stop her!
Our first snorkeling session lasted for well over an hour – the variety and colour of the fish and coral was a sight that we could not get enough of. The very friendly fish would have swam inside our masks if they could have – they were that close. Sponges, urchins and starfish lined the bottom of the reef while coral varieties, clown fish and hundreds of reef fish of the most stunning colours swam around us seemingly unaffected by our presence. It was a beautiful way to spend an hour or so.
We returned to the beach for a break and savoured some lovely local food for lunch. A small makan (food outlet) was located just at the back of the beach and the friendly ladies manning the stall prepared a feed of chicken sandwiches and some delightful Mee Hoon noodles. We sat on our beach mat on the beautiful white sand and ate the tasty food. We washed it down with two large fresh fruit drinks – paradise!
We had a nap on the beach after our lunch then took to the water once more. This time we ventured out to the outer reef and swam with some of the larger fish. We took in some much larger coral outcrops too. The reef drops off steeply quite close to the shore and swimming above the drop off was wonderful.
After close to another hour of snorkeling we headed back to the beach and prepared ourselves for the trip back to the resort. Justine informed us that we could leave on the 1500 boat so we had a shower and changed into some dry clothes. We collected the gear we had hired and made our way to the jetty. Justine decided that he had had enough for the day and he decided to accompany us back to the harbor.

Mamutik Magic

The speed boat arrived just after 1500 and the three of us boarded the empty boat for the speedy trip back across the bay to Sutera Harbour. We enjoyed getting to know more about Justine and his desire to travel to different parts of the world. It is always such a privilege to meet local people in various parts of the world and we look forward to keeping in touch with him and helping him plan his adventures in the future.
After disembarking and returning our equipment we said goodbye to our host and headed off in search of a coffee at the Pacific Sutera. The Pacific Sutera is another hotel complex located across the harbor from the Magellan. We sat in the foyer lounge and enjoyed an afternoon coffee and tea and gave thanks for the abundance that we get to enjoy in this incredible life.
From the Pacific Sutera we walked back along the harborfront and took a look at some of the boats that were moored there. Two super yachts are presently calling Kota Kinabalu home and we enjoyed looking at these impressive vessels. Many seasonal boats from around the world were also moored in the well appointed marina – a lifestyle that one could become accustom to quite easily!
When we arrived back at the Magellan we asked the staff how we could get into the city and they mentioned that the shuttle bus was leaving in just over 30 minutes. We returned to our room and had a quick wash, packed our backpack and headed over to the main foyer to catch the bus.
We arrived with plenty of time to spare so we took in some of the beautiful architecture and gardens that surround the Magellan. The incredible open foyer was filled with the soft sounds of a local musician’s instrument. Beautiful.
The bus trip into town took around 15 minutes and we disembarked at “Centrepoint” shopping centre. The first stop inside the mall was Starbucks and another coffee. We then took a couple of hours of walking around and looking at the variety of outlets.
Our last stop before dinner was at a wonderful shop called Borneo Arts. We spent the best part of an hour in this shop talking with the owner, Lena, her 8 year old daughter Carmolita and her lovely shop assistant Rosemary. We learned a lot about the local tribes, the many dialects and languages of northern Borneo and the history of the area.
Speaking with local people wherever you go in the world is the best way of learning more about the places you visit and stay in. Lena, Carmalita and Rosemary were gracious hosts and we learned a great deal about Sabah and northern Borneo. Thank you to them all for making our evening so special.
After leaving Borneo Arts we walked down to the basement and found a wonderful Indian makan. We order some roti, a Muterbaak and some freshly squeezed orange juice. Mmmm… The food was excellent and the juice was perfect.  It had been quite a long time between roti’s (2008) and we both enjoyed the authentic feed for dinner. The total bill came to less than $3.00 Canadian (and that included the 25% tip).
We returned to the shuttle bus drop off point and met up with two lovely Japanese girls we had met on the way to the city. They had spent the evening looking around one of the local markets and taking in some shopping. The two girls are from Tokyo and they both spoke excellent English. One was educated in Australia and the other one in Canada! We enjoyed learning more about them on the trip back to the hotel.
After the short trip back to Sutera we returned to our room and ran a lovely hot bath. The Princess soaked her collection of mozzie bites and rested in the deep bath full of bubbles!
We sank into the huge bed around 2300.
The long day of activity took its toll on our consciousness so it wasn’t long before the day ended for the two of us!
What a day in Paradise.

[umap id="115620" tp="6" size="l" alignment="center"]

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Borneo Bound

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Our excited yet reluctant bodies rose at 0400 to ready ourselves for the 0545 pick up by one of the internal taxi vans in Discovery Bay. We had packed most of our things over the weekend so we only needed to shower and have a light breakfast – mainly to wake ourselves up at this unusual hour.
The Van arrived close to the time we had booked and the trip down to the plaza didn’t take too long at this hour of the morning. Fortunately the Uncle Russ coffee shop was open so I was able to get my first “brew” for the day. There is something about a fresh, hot coffee first thing in the morning – particularly when one is normally still in bed at the hour I was ordering this one.
The airport bus from Discovery Bay leaves every half hour and the trip down to Chep Lap Kok airport takes around 20 minutes. Despite today being a public holiday the bus was quite full and this meant a slower trip out of DB (Discovery Bay) because we needed to pick up at each internal stop.
We arrived at airport at 0630 and made our way to the Dragonair check-in area. The airport was very busy so we had to negotiate our way through the crowds before we arrived at the Dragonair counter.
Dragonair (Cathay’s sister airline) flies directly to Kota Kinabalu every day and our staff travel benefits allow us to fly business class with KA (the code for Dragonair). The KA check-in staff were very helpful and had us on our way to the gate in no time. The flight was “wide open” (plenty of seats) so getting a seat in business was not a problem.
There was no one to say goodbye to us at the airport so we made our way through screening and immigration and found some water and the nearest Travelex money exchange – it’s always handy to have a few ringgits in hand when arriving in Malaysia.
We passed some time by browsing the few shops that were open then made our way down to the departure gate area. The gate (524) was located in the “bowels” of the airport and this meant that the aircraft was parked on a stand (not at a gate). We followed the rest of the “sheep” onto the bus and crammed in like happy little sardines. The Princess enjoyed being down on the tarmac area and liked being able to look up at the variety of aircraft makes and models from below – always unique for passengers that are used to loading via a ramp.
The bus had quite bad brakes and despite the driver taking it nice a slowly the standing passengers became aquainted a few times when the brakes almost locked on and we all went “A over T” a couple of times.
When we arrived at the aircraft we met the crew -friends of mine that I had trained when I was a part of Dragonair. We took our seats in business and settled into “holiday” mode shortly thereafter. We departed on time from Hong Kong and before long we were “tucking in” to a sumptuous breakfast as we winged our way south toward Borneo.
Despite the trip being only 2.5 hours I managed to get a sleep in after breakfast – waking shortly before top of descent.

Arriving In KK

Brian, the captain of the A321, made a smooth approach and landing into Kota Kinabalu and taxied the short distance to the modern terminal. Unfortunately there was a mix up with our parking position so we ended up waiting for close to 15 minutes while the ground staff arranged a new gate for us. The delay allowed us to finish reading some interesting articles in the Dragonair magazine – always a reason for these sorts of things. Besides, it allowed us to slip into “malay” time!
Customs clearance and baggage delivery was quite efficient and we exited into the arrival area and were greeted by the driver we had arranged for the trip to the Sutera Harbour Resort.
Sutera Harbour is located close to the airport and the city so it took less than 10 minutes to get to the hotel.
Check in was very efficient however we didn’t realise that we were staying at the VIP section of the Magellan Resort complex so it meant a short walk around to the reception area for the Magellan Club.
The first room we were checked into was not suitable because the blinds did not close properly but it wasn’t a problem getting the room changed. The second room, over looking the pool complex, was perfect in every sense and we settled in quickly.
The Princess had a short sleep in the huge King size bed while I unpacked and prepared for an afternoon by the pool. When The Princess woke up she donned her bikini, lathered herself in sunblock and found her book.
Despite our best efforts to find a poolside lounge chair we discovered that they were all taken so we made the most of some shade under a group of palm trees. We spent the afernoon around the pool – reading, relaxing, swimming and talking to some of the staff and other guests. A perfect start to the 6 day break in Borneo.
We had a late lunch by the pool then headed back to the room for an LLD (little lie down) before freshening up for happy hour. When we checked in we were told that the Magellan Club was inclusive of free happy hour drinks and delightful plates of local food – a nice touch indeed.
We took up residence outside on the balcony of the club and watched the beautiful sunset and the changing colours of the sky – perfect. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of white wine and spent time talking with Colin (one of the staff) – a lovely man that shared his knowledge of the local area and some of the sights that we might like to see.

Sundowners With A Sun Down

The only downside to sitting outside were the Mozzies – they were ferocious and The Princess was obviously a tasty meal for them because they devoured her. Her legs ended up looking like a war zone after the first night of sitting outside. Mental note – use the insect spray we carted all the way from Hong Kong!
After happy hour and our long chat with Colin we took a walk around the Magellan resort area before stopping off at the lobby lounge for an iced tea. The evening’s entertainment (a trio of local performers) provided some wonderful background music as we lay on the day bed together and settled into Malay time. The ambience was superb. What a wonderful way of finishing off the day.
Both of us were quite tired after our 0400 start this morning so we returned to the room, readied for bed then sank into the luxurious King size bed. It was an unusually early night for us (2200) however we felt as though we had been on holidays for about a week.
If this is what the first day of our holidays is like we are going to have an awesome break in Borneo!

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