Tag Archives: sunset

Kota Kinabalu (Day 2: City Mosque, Shangri-La’s Sunset Bar, Sin Kee Bah Kut Teh)

The second day marks our last day in the city. Our first stop is the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque (Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu). This is actually my first time to enter a Muslim mosque. I’ve been to one before in Kuala Lumpur but I don’t recall going inside. You must follow a dress code before you enter.

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For lunch, our next stop was October Coffee located at Peak Vista. The place has a very quaint feel to it. You would not think that you are even in Kota Kinabalu. I am not fond of drinking coffee when I am hungry so I only took a sip from my brother’s cup. They offer a wide variety of coffee from you standard espresso to several single origins. We also tried some of their dishes which was just okay. They also have other branches so you may want to check those too.

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In the afternoon, we decided to do another run of Escape which I mentioned already in my Day 1 post. We headed to their newly opened shopping mall called IMAGO. While the others stayed in the mall to purchase some last minute hiking equipment, some of us headed early to Shangri-la Tanjung Aru for the sunset.

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Our friend, who organized this trip, booked us a reservation at the Sunset Bar which is the place to be for the killer sunset view. We were lucky to get a spot that had unobstructed views of the sea and the sun. It was very windy during this time and the humidity from the sea is quite high. My camera actually malfunctioned for a time due to this.

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Witness the sunset…

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However, my favorite part was when the sun cannot be seen anymore. I was able to take some night shots just before the sky turned completely dark.

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From Shangri-la, our last stop was Sin Kee Bah Kut Teh which was just across Fatty Kee’s. Contrary to your typical bat kut teh, the broth was less bitter than what you would normally expect. You will probably like this if you’re not accustomed to the taste of strong bitter herbs.

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After dinner, we headed back to our hotel early since we had an early call time the next day. Tomorrow is the day we have all been waiting for!

Summit to Mount Kinabalu (Day 1: Timpohon Gate to Base Camp)

– The Tourist Pao

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Kota Kinabalu (Day 1: Laksa Melaka, Clock Tower, Fatty Kee)

My first trip this year brings me to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. When you hear about Kota Kinabalu, there are two things that come to mind: sunsets and Mount Kinabalu. Truth be told, I had no idea what to expect during our city tour. I only had my mind fixated on reaching the summit of Mount Kinabalu – the highest mountain in Malaysia which I will be posting a separate blog about. Who would have thought that this trip would offer a few surprises on the culinary side of things and more.

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We booked a direct flight via Air Asia from Manila to Kota Kinabalu. Travel time from Manila takes just two hours before arriving in this region of Borneo.

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We checked-in at The Klagan Hotel. Rooms were spacious and standard in terms of what it offers. My only comment is that some rooms are quite far from the elevator.  It felt like a maze just to get to ours. I suggest that you request a room closer to the elevator. You will thank me later for that tip!

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For lunch, we headed to Palm Cafe located at the Centre Point Mall. Contrary to its name, Palm Cafe is more like a cafeteria. Don’t be fooled by how the place looks. A must try when you dine here is their Laksa Melaka. I was probably too hungry at this point that I completely forgot to take a photo of the food we ordered.

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We headed to the Atkinson Clock Tower after lunch then headed to Signal Hill Observatory. Both places can easily be ticked off your list. Their names already suggest the only thing you will need to see and do when you get there.

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Since we had some time to spare, we also tried their local breakout room called Escape. We played both The Circus located at Warisan Sqaure on Day 1 and The Maze located at 1Borneo Hypermall on Day 2. On a high note, we managed to complete both escape rooms on time. Good job to us!

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Before sundown, we headed to Tanjung Aru beach to catch our first glimpse of the famous sunset at Kota Kinabalu. Although I’ve had my fair share of stunning sunsets, the Kota sunset is a must-see if you get to visit this side of Malaysia.

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For dinner, we headed to Fatty Kee located at Ang’s Hotel. This place is flocked by locals which is a good sign! We had to wait a few minutes before we were able to get a table. As soon as one group leaves, there’s another group waiting outside to be seated.

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A must-try is their Oyster Chicken Wings. We also ordered other dishes such as Braised Pork and Assam Fish Curry which are quite good.

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We ended our first day with some drinks at El Centro. Time for a well-deserved rest after Day 1.

Kota Kinabalu (Day 2: City Mosque, Shangri-La’s Sunset Bar, Sin Kee Bah Kut Teh)

– The Tourist Pao

Labor Day at Velassaru (Maldives)

For this year’s Labor Day weekend, I joined a group of friends traveling to the Maldives. We’ve planned this trip for several months now so we’ve been waiting for quite some time before the actual trip happened.

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Our airline of choice was via Tiger Air. This meant a stopover at Singapore‘s Changi Airport. It was night time when we left from Manila and we arrived in Singapore around 1:45 AM. Our layover was almost 8 hours and our next flight was scheduled at 9:35 AM that same day. While most of us slept the whole time, I wandered for the most part around Terminal 2. Apart from the food court that’s open, there’s also several things to do like watching a film in their movie theatre or enjoying the open-air Sunflower Garden located nearby. As the sun was about to rise, you can see the airport slowly turning into a bustling hub.

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We departed Singapore around 9:35 AM and arrived at Male‘s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at 11:20 AM. There’s a time difference of around 3-hours so our flight was almost five hours. I was honestly surprised with how their airport looked. It was better than I expected. Then again, it really should be that way if Maldive’s main source of revenue is their tourism.

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From the airport, we immediately headed to the docks as were going to be picked up by our resort. The moment, I stepped foot out of the airport, you can already see the turquoise green waters. We haven’t even reached the islands. Imagine that!

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To get to the resorts, which are located in their own island, you must ride a speed boat. While traveling by water, one can witness the city of Male from afar. Too bad, I didn’t get the chance to go around the capital. We also passed by several island resorts which gave us a preview of what we are to expect.  After only 15-20 minutes, we finally reach our resort – Velassaru Maldives.

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Upon reaching shore, we were all welcomed by their wonderful staff. We were each given a welcome drink and cold towel while waiting for the check-in process. Our group booked a total of two rooms: Deluxe Bungalow and Beach Villa.

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I was with the group who booked the more budget friendly Deluxe Bungalow. I was honestly okay with the room we booked and it was already huge by normal standards. The room had a split-style to it so you feel like you even have more space. Our bathroom was spacious enough and it also featured a separate outdoor shower. There was a sitting area outside and access to the beach will take you around 20 steps at least. Not too bad for the most basic room type.

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We also checked out where the other half stayed. Their Beach Villa has a more intimate-style where the centerpiece is the main bed. This room boasts of a larger bathroom which also featured a bathtub. Their veranda was located behind the room which had direct access to their own private beach at the back.

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The staff was also friendly enough to give us a peek of their Water Villas. The rooms were located on the shallow waters. Should be a perfect spot for catching the sunset in your own room as it also featured a private terrace.

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For the most part, we stayed in the island the whole time. The resort features six different restaurants. We tried several of those such as Vela where we had our daily breakfast buffet. We also went there for dinner during our first night which also featured a buffet spread. The Japanese restaurant called Teppanyaki was a favorite by some of our friends while I personally preferred Sand which featured European dishes in an outdoor by the beach setting.

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If you’re looking for places to chill, you can head to Fen Bar which is also near the infinity pool. For unobstructed views of the sunset, you can head to Chill Bar located midway around the resort. My personal preference was to hangout at Chill Bar and wait for the sunset which we did on two occasions. You just can’t get enough of a good sunset!

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For the adventure seeker, the resort also offers activities such as diving and water sports. Since we weren’t adrenaline buffs, we only tried their snorkeling expedition. The boat brought us around 15-minutes away from the resort. I was able to see lots of corals and marine life underneath. However, I wasn’t able to see any rare marine creatures. Another friend stayed at a different resort during the same time and they were able to see some baby sharks. The waters were quite clear but I had a difficult time snorkeling underneath due to the strong waves at that time. Apart from our snorkeling excursion, we spent most of our time lounging and swimming at the resort’s beach. It’s either that or we grab some drinks and take a plunge at the pool.

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Velassaru also offered a free photo session from a photographer. This package can be availed per room booking. Since we were in a large group, we all decided to take group shots. The catch here is that you have to avail of certain packages if you would like the photos to be printed or have the copy of the files. I suggest that you grab the digital files since the final results were really nice. I’d like to give a shout out to our photographer whose name I forget.

(Tip: I strongly recommend that you request for our photographer. She’s probably the only Asian in-house photographer there)

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At night, the resort also hosts certain events for their guests. Our first night featured a live band playing famous songs at Fen Bar. During our second night, there was a movie night by the beach. Too bad we ended up finishing late for dinner and we were only able to catch the last 20 minutes of the movie.

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The last night was probably one of the highlights of the trip. We were lucky enough that they were hosting a Full Moon Party which only happens once a month. There was a live DJ playing by the beach, lots of guests dancing (us included) and even a dessert spread for guests who have just finished their dinner.

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Overall, my initial thoughts about Maldives proved to be true and then some. I cannot say much about the city’s capital since we headed straight to the resort. Though we had plenty of fun during our stay, the resorts largely cater to families and couples. Certain activities are free-of-charge such as equipment rental and all. However, you need to spend a hefty sum if you would like to do certain activities such as island hopping, diving or visiting the Baa Atoll which is a UNESCO site. As a tip, make sure you have your expenses covered if you’d like to maximize your experience here. Also, getting to certain resorts farther away from Male requires taking a charter plane so be mindful where you will be staying if you don’t want to be surprised with the charges. You will be spending most of your time at the resort of your choice so choose wisely!

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Since the country is Muslim dominant, bringing in alcohol is prohibited. The resorts are the only ones allowed to import these for tourists. I did hear that there was a black market for these things but don’t even bother trying.

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Despite the certain setbacks and things we weren’t able to see or do during our stay, I’d still recommend visiting the Maldives at least once during your lifetime. By far, one of the best beaches and beautiful waters I have seen. If you enjoy the beach, the sunset and the sea, then there is a place for you here.

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P.S. I’d like to give a shout of to the resort’s GM Marj who made sure we were taken care of during our stay. I hope to return to Velassaru someday! Thank you!

– The Tourist Pao