A Travellerspoint blog

Sipadan-Semporna-Sandakan-Tawau

sunny

Our (me and 2 of my friends) journey begins when we landed at Tawau airport on 26 March 2009. We flew from KL to Tawau by AirAsia (2 hours and 45 minutes journey) and it only costs us RM198 per person for return fare as we booked during the low fare promotion of the airline. Billabong Scuba staff waited for us at the airport and we took about 1 and a half hour to reach Semporna town. On reaching there, we settled all the documents and fees with Billabong Scuba for a 2 days 1 night stay at Mabul and snorkelling at Sipadan. All the meals for the package was included and it only costs RM310 per person. Entry permit needed to be applied to Sipadan as they only allow 120 people to the island each day. So, it is better to book your package early with your travel agent to avoid any disappointment.

About half an hour later, we were ready to board the speed boat to our budget stay at Mabul island. The journey took us about 45 minutes.
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(Our journey to Mabul Island by boat)
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(The clear waters surrouding Mabul Island)

We checked in, had our lunch and walked around the island.
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(Children on the island having fun)
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(Locals selling seashells and other kinds of products from sea)
There are other more luxury stay on the island which is really nice and beautiful, but of course comes with a matching price. Snorkelling on Mabul Island is free. After dinner, we just lazed around the jetty looking up at the stars with a nice cup of Sabah tea. For info, there is a time schedule for our homestay meals, with breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12.30pm and dinner at 7pm. You will get to enjoy your meals with travellers from different countries staying in the same accommodation with you here. When i stayed during that time, there all many kinds of languages audible. As for our accommodation there, don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed. We had mattress on the floor with fan in our room. There is two common bathrooms outside the rooms. Electricity is by generator and is only operating at night. At least the area is clean and hey, there's even a notebookthere just in case you want to download all those nice underwater pictures you took during your dive.

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(Our budget accommodation at Mabul Island)
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(A crab climbing one of the stilts at our lodge)
The next day, after our breakfast, we were scheduled to depart to Sipadan Island at 9am. The journey from Mabul Island to Sipadan Island took us around 30 minutes.
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(Sipadan Island)
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We headed to the island for registration and then we were off to our first snorkelling trip at the 'Turtle Tomb'. IMG_1116.jpgIMG_1117.jpg
Then we had some snack back at Sipadan Island.
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Around 11am, we were off to 'West Ridge' for another snorkelling experience before we had lunch 2 hours later. The last trip is also at the 'Turtle Tomb'. We saw a lot of different kinds of fishes and turtles but we didn't manage to see any sharks during all of our snorkelling trips.
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However, we managed to see some dolphins on our way back to Mabul Island. IMG_1156.jpg
We checked out around 3pm and we depart back to Semporna town. IMG_1161.jpgIMG_1163.jpg
(Our room at Dragon Inn, Semporna)
We checked in to Dragon Inn and had dinner at the town. Most shops in the town area will be closed by 7pm or 8pm, so better had your dinner early and go to bed.

The next morning, my Tawau friend came to pick us up at 9am and we begin our journey to Sandakan which took us 4 hours car drive there. Long journey makes one sleepy especially if the scenery along the way is the never ending palm oil plantation... :p
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(Prawn balls and dumplings)
We reached Sandakan around 1.30pm and we had lunch at 'Sim Sim Seafood Restaurant' located at Buli Sim Sim Village (Chinese village built on stilts above the sea).
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English Tea House and Restaurant is next on our list of destinations. We ordered some drinks while relaxing and enjoying the view of the sea and Sandakan town.
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Next to the tea house is the 'Agnes Keith House' (former home of author Agnes Keith Newton, now restored as a musuem). The security there doesn't allow us to take photos inside the house (which i still don't understand why). It is very spacious inside the house with some original items and furnishing still intact. Entrance fees to this house is RM2 for Malaysians.
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(Pu Jih Shih Temple)
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Our next destination is the 'Pu Jih Shih Temple'. Located on top of a hill, this temple is said to protect and bring good health and wealth to Sandakan and its people.
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We also visited the Sandakan War Memorial Park which is located about half an hour car drive from the temple. The musuem in the center of the park contains history of the prisoners of war during World War II. It gives an insight into their daily life and sufferings at the Sandakan camp and during the Death March to Ranau.
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(Ikan Kerapu)
Later, we had dinner at 'Ocean King Seafood Restaurant' where we had fresh seafood. After a full stomach, we endured another 4 hours journey back to Tawau.

The day after, my friend brought us for breakfast in the town area. IMG_1248.jpg
(Dumpling stuff with century egg)
We had noodles and dumplings stuffed with century egg. This is their specialty and the taste is not bad. We then drove to 'Balung Eco Resort' for a walk. Then, drive around town, Shan Sui Golf Club and some shopping complexes. IMG_1265.jpgIMG_1264.jpg
We had Mongolian Chicken Rice for lunch which is located at Jalan Chester. It is a bit different than the usual chicken rice that I used to have in KL. It is rice with chicken, mushroom, mixture of different kinds of sausage and fish cake. Nice though and this outlet is always crowded as mentioned by my friend. We then had a rest at my friend's house before going out for dinner at 'Good View Seafood Restaurant'.
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It has a variety of fresh and delicious seafood and it's CHEAP...

The last day of our trip, after breakfast, we reached Tawau Hill Parks where we trekked 2.5km (one way) to the Gelas Hill Waterfall.
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(Gelas Hill Waterfall)
There are other trails as well that leads to the Sulphur Spring and some other Mountains but we decided to give the others a pass as the trail to the waterfall somehow took most of our energy. The track to the waterfall isn't exactly easy and it is quite muddy. After the trek, we wash ourselves up before heading to Teck Guan Regency which is famous in town for their cocoa products (cocoa drinks, cocoa spread, cocoa chocolate etc). There is also a cocoa musuem and cocoa plantations to visit but reservations needed to be made beforehand to be allowed to go in. We didn't visit these places as we need to rush to the airport to board our flight. IMG_1335.jpg
(Buah Talap)
We also manage to try a fruit called 'buah talap' which is more common in East Malaysia.

END OF OUR JOURNEY...

Posted by puileng 07:10 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Langkawi Trip 2009

sunny

My second trip to Langkawi within a year... :p

Also booked my tickets from Airasia for just RM95 for return fare from KL-Langkawi-KL. We reached there about noon. Rented a Perodua Viva and checked in at Aseania Hotel near Pantai Cenang. A convenient location as there is much to see and do at Pantai Cenang. A lot of restaurants, cafes, and shops selling dresses, bags, hats, books etc are located there. There are also a lot of travel agents there to help you arrange for a trip out to islands from Langkawi.

After we checked in to our hotel, we drove to the Eagle Square for a walk. Eagle Square is Langkawi's most prominent landmark. We relaxed around the town area, shopping and comparing prices of goods between the many duty free shops available there.
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The next morning, we head to the Langkawi cable car. On the way, we stopped by a yacht club.
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The weather is much better than the last time I arrived here in August 2008. The journey up to the top of Gunung Machinchang is truly an amazing experience and somehow a bit scary at times. It is sunny and we got a good view from the platform above.
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Down at the Oriental Village, we again did some shopping at the shops there. There is a small rabbit farm located in the village where you get to feed the rabbits. Once the rabbits sensed that there is food in your hand, it will all rush to your side. Not far from the cable car, is the Telaga Tujuh. We climbed up the stairs and manged to reached the Telaga Tujuh waterfall. We didn't continue to walk another 1km to see another waterfall 'Durian Perangin Waterfall' which we heard is truly a sight to behold.

When we were on our way looking for some place to eat, we stopped by the black sand beach. It is indeed much nicer than the time I came to the same place late last year. The sand is soft to the touch.
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We had our lunch at Barn Thai Restaurant which is located in a mangrove area. The food we ordered were tasty and the service offered was satisfactory. It provides a unique experience dining there. Before you can get to the restaurant, you need to walk for a few hundred metres along a platform in a mangrove area.
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After a full stomach, we paid a visit to the animals in Zoo Langkawi.

For dinner, we searched for a restaurant named 'Coco Beach Restaurant', which according to our map is said to be located at the end of Pantai Cenang Road and near the airport runway. After a few wrong turns and some directions from locals, we finally managed to find this restaurant. The entrance road to the restaurant is not lit and we had a hard time finding the entrance road in the dark. The signboard of the restaurant is also not located out on the main road but deep inside after we turned in to the road. No wonder there are not many people eating here... However, once we reached there, the environment is quite nice and cosy, next to the beach. The food were also recommendable. (Too bad we didn't take any photos of the food as the lighting there is a bit dim and we were too hungry to care about taking photos) We were enjoying our dinner while listening to the gentle waves of the ocean.

Breakfast Bar is where we had our breakfast the next morning. It is located along Cenang Beach and many tourists and locals eat their meals here.
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After breakfast, we went to Mahsuri Tomb. This tomb is built in honour of a fair maiden named Mahsuri whom is unfairly accused of adultery. The legend told was of her bleeding white blood during her execution as a sign of her innocence. Before her last breath, she laid a curse on the island that it would remain barren for 7 generations. 7 generations had passed...for more of this legend, do visit Makam Mahsuri.
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(staff at Makam Mahsuri playing music instruments to welcome us)
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For lunch, we went to 'Sun Cafe' at Sun Mall, located at Pantai Tengah.
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The food was also delicious and what was worth the visit to this mall was the washroom there. Different from the usual washroom, this washroom has an open space concept while also maintaining abit of privacy. Have a look of the photos that I took there. Taking photos in that washroom must be a common sight for the staff there as they happily offered to help us take photos :p ...pai seh pai seh
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Before our flight back to KL, we had another round of shopping in Kuah town...haihh shopping again...haha...

Posted by puileng 23:03 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Trip to Perak (Lumut-Pulau Pangkor-Teluk Intan-Sungkai)

sunny

On our way to Pulau Pangkor, we stopped by Bidor to have breakfast at 'Pun Chun Chicken Biscuits & Restaurants' to have its famous duck leg noodles (RM6 per bowl). This shop is famous with tourists from other states while locals will introduce the same food in another shop in the same area. This shop is easily noticeable from the main street in Bidor town. Besides selling noodles and other foods, the shop also sells chicken biscuits, the famous Ipoh white coffee, hiong peah, tau sah pneah, and many other food famous in that state. Also, try the 'wu kok' (a kind of pastry where the crust is made from yam and inside is filled with char siu meat and mushrooms), which is quite nice. It's the most fast selling pastries there...Eat it while it's hot...
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(Duck leg noodles)
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(Paddy fields)
Later, we continue up north, passing by paddy fields and plantations before reaching Lumut Jetty.
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(Lumut Jetty)
We boarded a ferry (RM10 per person) to Pulau Pangkor. Upon reaching the island, many taxi vans (vehicles in pink colour) drivers approached us for a tour of the island (RM70 per van with 7 seaters and tour). Our tour included going to the Dutch Ford which was built in 1670, Fu Lin Kong Chinese Temple, Pasir Giam Beach, Pangkor Town, a factory selling the island's local products and some sightseeing of some of the luxury stay in Pulau Pangkor.
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(view from Dutch Ford)
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(Mini great wall at Fu Lin Kong Temple)
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(Ice Cream Bomb?? actually it's fried ice cream...^_^)
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(Factory shop selling local products)
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(Local products on the island...)
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(Pasir Giam Beach)
After the tour, we boarded a ferry out of Pulau Pangkor and stayed at Teluk Batik.

The next day, we head to Teluk Intan town for breakfast. We also visited the Teluk Intan Leaning Tower around the town area. Admission is free of charge. There are also some stalls around the leaning tower selling clothes and other local delicacies.
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(Teluk Intan Leaning Tower)

Later, we went to the Sungai Klah Hot Spring in Sungkai, Perak. The place is big and there are places to stay there. Hot and cold spring are available inside the park. Try to avoid going on Malaysia's public holiday as it can get quite crowded. Going on weekdays is the best choice.
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(Sungai Klah Hot Spring)

Posted by puileng 01:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Kuching/Bako National Park

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Bako National Park was about 45 minutes from Kuching town. We took a taxi to the registration counter and took a boat to reach Bako National Park.
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There were many trails available there leading to different areas on the island.
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We chose to take the trail to Teluk Pandan Kecil which leads to a secluded beach on the island. It was indeed secluded as there was no one there after we trekked for 1 hour and a half to that beach.
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The beach view from the cliff top was awesome. We rested there on the cliff top for awhile before making our way down the cliff to the beach.
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We had our lunch there before continued to trek back to the Park Headquarters on the island. Along the way, there were a lot of different plant species and also some wild boars, macaques and proboscis monkey. Oh...for your info, along the trek to Teluk Pandan Kecil, you won't be shaded by any trees for most of the trek...out in the open with the sun above your head...so it's better to bring along a cap and putting on sunblock if you decided to choose this trail.
After the trekking adventure, we visited a temple which was located in Bau not too far from the Bako National Park registration counter.
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We managed to visit some other places during our trip to Kuching. Among them are the Tasik Biru in Bau, near the Wind Cave.
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(Tasik Biru)
Fairy Cave, which we need to climb a lot of wet, slippery steps to the top.
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(Fairy Cave)
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(Kuching Waterfront)
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(Kuching Post Office)
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(Sarawak Musuem)

Posted by puileng 22:27 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Langkawi Trip 2008

We managed to get low fares from AirAsia and off we went to our trip to Langkawi, a beautiful island with the famous legend of Mahsuri.
Once we reached the Langkawi airport, we rented a car from the airport counters available there. A Nissan March rental for 2 days sets us back by RM190. The car petrol tank was near empty and before we planned to go anywhere else, we looked for a petrol station to fill our tank. We filled in RM50 of petrol to last us for 2 days (at that time the petrol price is higher).
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Our first destination was to the cable car which was located within the Oriental Village. The weather when we reached there was sunny but when we reached up to the highest platform of the Machinchang mountain, it was cloudy and windy...so the scenery of our photos were not clear...adult rates for foreigners is RM25, for malaysian is RM15. A round trip of the cable car was only about 30 minutes but the queuing time took much longer due to the crowd.

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Next, we went to the Black Sand Beach...a beach that was not so easy to find as there wasn't any sign that states 'BLACK SAND BEACH' on the beach itself. Instead nearby there was a sign stating 'Taman Teluk Yu' (which was also not a translation of black sand beach in malay). We got down to have a look at the beach and indeed it was a bit blacker than other beaches than we've seen before. (Checked out my other blog on Langkawi 2009 which I've also visited the same beach but the scenery is much nicer...maybe due to weather was more sunnier.. :p)

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Later we went to the Eagle Square near the jetty of Kuah town. There was a night market indicated in our map, located around the town area every Wednesday and Saturday night. This market was mainly operated by malays and we found some delicious food, 'Tokiaw', which is Langkawi local food and is made from flour and had a choice of coconut or 'kaya' stuffing. For RM1, you'll get 5 small pieces. Do look out for this when you get to visit a night market in Langkawi.
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(Tokiaw with kaya stuffing)

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The next morning, we joined an island hopping package (which we got from an agent when we were walking along Cenang Beach yesterday). The package was RM40 per person and it included return transfer to Lake of Pregnant Maiden, Beras Basah Island and Singa Besar Island (Eagle Feeding area).
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(Lake of Pregnant Maiden - notice the shape of the mountain is like a pregnant women laying down on her back)
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There were stops of about 1 hour each at the Lake of Pregnant Maiden and Beras Basah Island. At the lake, there were fishes that nibbled at your feet when you sat and put your feet in the lake water....kind of like a fish spa in a natural environment.
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At Beras Basah Island, you get to swim or snorkel in the clear water there. However, one reminder to tourists that there will be a lot of monkeys watching your every move. Once you put food or bags out of your reach and go in the water, they will come out in groups to rummage through your belongings for food. Some monkeys were even daring to snatch any plastic bags containing any items that you have at hand. So...do not let them see you carrying any plastic bags especially those containing food and always keep a watch of your belongings even when you are next to them sitting on the beach. scary huh...
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As for Singa Besar Island, we did not stop at the island itself but near the area where the boat operators fed the many eagles flying in the area. We got to see many eagles circling the area and swooping down to eat their meals. Nothing really exciting though and it got a bit boring for us after a while. The whole tour took about 4 hours.
After we freshen up in our hotel (Best Star Resort), we went out for a seafood steamboat dinner opposite Aseania hotel.

Our last day, we drove to the Underwater World. Entrance tickets were priced at RM28 for MYKAD holders and RM38 for foreigners.
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Lots of birds, fishes and penguins and lots more large fishes...there was also a 3D show in there.
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We had lunch at Lan Kwai Fong opposite the Underwater World. Later we headed to the town again for more duty free shopping. Chocolates, cigarettes, and perfumes were really cheap. There were a lot of duty free shops in Kuah town...so don't buy anything until you've compared the prices in other shops. Some items were cheap in certain shop while some items were not. There were some shops that have promotional price for chocolates they sold. But also beware of the expiry date of the chocolates that you buy...the more cheaper the chocolates, usually it is much nearer to the expiry dates. Overall the trip was quite relaxing and cheap shopping for all those chocolate lovers...
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(Makam Mahsuri)

Posted by puileng 06:20 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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