It was my first international flight on budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia. For someone who is no frills, I don't mind it at all, in fact, it doesn't spell much difference in terms of service. Travel Factor is likewise a budget tour organizer so we were checked-in Summer Lodge - a backpacking hostel along Jalan Gaya. Our room was a corner room on the 5th floor sans any elevator. It was quite noisy when the band at the bar outside was playing. The split type aircondition was cool but temperature controller is not provided. Blanket is only provided upon request so on the first night, we woke up laughing that our roommate used his bedsheets to protect himself from the cold. Although a private room and bath is preferred, their common toilet and bath was bearable. At least for me, but not for my first timer friend who's used to traveling in luxury. The Rainforest Lodge on the lower level looks much cleaner though.
Borneo Ultimate or Busat at around 8am. On board a tourist bus, we were joined by three other group from mainland Malaysia, Hong Kong and locals from KK.
From KK city center, the bus ride to Beaufort town was about 2 hours where we took an old train to Pangi for an hour. The train ride was a little rough with a scenic view of the river. The river is brown due to soil errosion, which prompted me to change clothing, to something I don't mind disposing thereafter.
- Rafting fee: 200RM pp
- Price Includes: Transportation(train ticket and vehicle hire), rafting equipment, refreshments, lunch, river guide and certificate (oh! we didn't have one).
Island Hopping Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman: Manukan Island, Sapi Island, Mamutik Island
The next day, we were off island hopping. Jesselton Point is the jump off point for island hopping in KK. Among the three, Manukan Island has the longest stretch of shore. The waters looked inviting but I was so unprepared to get stung. It must be the time of the year, no wonder the lifeguard has several bottles of vinegar on hand to treat sea stings. However, it was very deceiving, it doesn't itch until the next day. Sapi and Mamutik Island were better for snorkeling with lots of corals even in shallow waters. The lunch buffet included in the package at Sapi Island was delicious with generous selection of seafood. For someone coming from the Philippines, nothing compares with our beaches but in terms of facilities, KK is better equipped. Each island has a common shower room and toilet for use with a good water supply, a good docking area and picnic tables.
Tourist fees for non-Malaysian:
- Chartered boat: RM200 / scheduled trips: RM17 per person for each island
- Terminal fee: RM6
- Conservation fee 10 RM for foreign adults and 6 RM to 18 and below
- Diving fee: RM50
One thing I enjoyed most about KK was the experience to eat where the locals go and to chat with them as well. It was a welcome challenge to converse in the common language we know, that is, to speak Mandarin Chinese and Fookien.
Along Gaya Street (Jalan Gaya) within the vicinity of Summer Lodge where we stayed, we tried out the laksa, and tea tarik in Fong IP Cafe. We had a lenghty chat in Mandarin (nosebleed!) with the owner, he seemed amused with our company, it earned us a free strawberry pudding. We were prepared to say it was good even before we could taste it since he was looking on, but true enough, it tastes good.
From our room window, we could see the Five Star Hainanese Chicken and BBQ Pork, many locals come to eat, it's always safe to assume that good food is served when there are a lot of locals in a restaurant. We gave it a try and it speaks for itself.
Next door is Kedai Kopi Yee Fung. It's only open for breakfast and lunch. We had brunch with chicken claypot, beef noodles and ice lemon juice with Hamkit (whatever that means, it tasted like dried plum) were something different. Our last meal before we head to the airport.
KK has good infrustructure yet it remained simple and laid back. My trip didn't appeal to my peers. Frankly, I've been to nicer places but each place can't always be better than the other. Through the years, I've learned that travelling is not only to see the place but more importantly to explore and experience it and that's exactly what we did. Woah, I'm surprised with such maturity... I'm turning into a seasoned traveller and not just an ordinary tourist. :)