“There is sea walking? I haven’t tried that yet!” I excitedly told my companions when I saw it in our itinerary. We were off to the Borneo Reef World, a pontoon just off the Pulau Sapi and Pulau Gaya, within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park area. What’s a pontoon? It’s a floating barge, used as docking support for boats and even sea planes. The Borneo Reef World Pontoon however is a new reef activity pontoon (months only since opening 3rd quarter of 2012) that aims to offer visitors a slew of water activities that showcases the richness of Kota Kinabalu’s marine life.
I remember how excited I was almost 8 years ago when I was finally going out of the country to travel for the first time. Kota Kinabalu was the first stamp on my newly acquired passport and I finally got to experience riding an airplane via AirAsia. It was so memorable as we climbed Mount Kinabalu then,enjoyed some islands and nature parks. A similar kind of excitement was brewing when I joined Zest Air’s inaugural flight to Kota Kinabalu last weekend. There was no climbing this time but I still recall the cold air and the somewhat hangover-state-of-mind while climbing the summit of Mt Kinabalu when I saw the mountain through my plane window. The rain-cloud draped city looks back like a familiar friend but noticeable is the aging state and a few constructions to perk up the city skyline. Off coast, the islands of Tunku Abdhul Rahman Park still looks pristine. I immediately recognized Manukan Island there and remembered our fun beach bumming and snorkeling excusion. Ah yes, its nice to see you again Kota Kinabalu.
I’ve always been used to airports as a place I just usually drive in and fly out. It’s not a place I would stay too long unless I end up with a long layover in between flights. Singapore Changi Airport is a lot different though. While I have been to this airport several times already throughout the years it was on my recent visit that I got to know it more. I got an invitation from Samantha Lee, Corporate Communications Manager of Changi Airport, last year about a tour of Changi when I’m in the Singapore. Fortunately, the invite was still open so I took it up on my recent visit there. She and her associate made us discover that there’s a lot more to see in Changi Airport enough for me to say that it’s definitely a destination in itself.
I always have a soft spot for small charming towns. Sibaltan is one of those peaceful coastal towns I could get lost to if I just want to have an escape. I did enjoy the visit to the Balay Cuyonon Museum, the mangroves by the beach and especially paddling to Bubog Island just off the shore of Sibaltan. I can’t say that those attractions could rival the attractions at Bacuit Bay and lure people into visiting Sibaltan, but I do know that the town has one thing El Nido Town doesn’t have, it’s the unobstructed view of sunrise over Sulu Sea. For me who’s a sucker for chasing sunrises and sunsets, it was enough reason to venture to the eastern coast of El Nido and stay at Sibaltan.
We traveled about 37km by bus from El Nido town proper to Sibaltan with our kayak in tow. My friend wanted to see the potential of the place for a kayaking destination. No doubt there are good ones like the mangroves by the Sibaltan Beach and river but the one we’re targeting was that cute little island just in front of the Marine Santuary Guard House called Bubog Island. Despite the looming rain clouds and strong wind on the horizon that morning the sun shone itself in the morning and we were just excited to test the waters.
There’s a curious little icon on the map of an old fort. It meant that there’s a historical site, sitting on the north eastern side of El Nido, just right smack in the town of Sibaltan. I would ask some people in El Nido town but not many people know about the significance except my landlord where I’m staying. “There’s a Balay Cuyonon Museum there you should see. It tells all about the history of the place”. When we got settled in Sibaltan’s Guard House, our caretaker, Bulanday led us to the grounds of the museum situated by the beach.
We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls
Like George Mallory was saying, “Because it’s there!”, is there any other good reason to explore? A lot of people mainly see the EL Nido town and the islands of Bacuit Bay, but that’s only a small part of the El Nido Municipality. Slowly the northern regions of El Nido are getting some good exposure but I’ve always wondered what the eastern part of El Nido looks like. Does it have some magnificent islands and beaches as the eastern side? Curiosity got me going, coming a long with a friend, we were off to Sibaltan on the eastern side of El Nido.