A Year in Travels May 2013 | Kota Kinabalu and Camiguin Revisited

The plankwalk to Pulau Sapi
The plankwalk to Pulau Sapi

It seems I have revisited many places this year which I really don’t mind since it’s been years since I last visited them. I’m always interested to see what has developed and retracing back my routes sure brings back fond memories in different places. When I had the chance to go back to Kota Kinabalu, I knew I didn’t want to miss that opportunity as it was my first destination out of the country.

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Niah National Park | Venture to Nature’s Wonder in Miri

The West Mouth Cave
The West Mouth Cave overlooking the dense forest of Niah National Park

This plankwalk spanning 3.5km seems to have become part of the primary forest eco-system already having been built more than a decade ago. I can’t help but stop ever so often as we were headed to Niah Cave located inside the Niah National Park in Miri, to look closely at the many critters, like the millipedes, the bugs and slugs that have seem to have found this wooden walkway as their home. On what should have been less-than-an-hour hike, took longer as we marvel at the unsullied forest. What more of the cave that lay ahead?

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AirAsia Zest Links Manila to Miri Malaysia

Miri City at dusk viewed from Canada Hill
Miri City at dusk viewed from Canada Hill

“It’s all about connecting people.There’s a large concentration of Filipino workers in Miri and we want people to easily connect with their families.” Says Ms Joy Caneba, Executive Vice President and COO of AirAsia Zest during the inaugural ceremony in Miri Airport of AirAsia Zest’s flight from Manila to Miri. A first in the country, the Miri route is also a good alternative entry point to nearby Brunei which is only 30 minutes away from the city. Personally, I am interested to the Miri destination as it is the jump-off to one of UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage Site, the Gunung Mulu National Park.

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A Tribal Night at Mari Mari Cultural Village

A mother and child from the Bajau House
A mother and child from the Bajau House

“From southern Palawan, it only takes about two hours by speedboat to the Northern tip of Sabah” I remember one of our host tell us delightedly. The Philippines is so close to Sabah that there is so much similarity in terms of culture and tradition. A large part of the inhabitants were trickled down from the southern archipelago of Mindanao when land bridges still exist explaining the prevalent resemblance from the traditions, clothing and even the language. In fact, the word “Sabah” for Malaysians, also refers to the same type of banana we call in the Philippines. In our visit to the Mari Mari Cultural Village, a village in Kota Kinabalu showcasing 5 of the 32 ethnic groups populating Sabah, we got a good portrait of each tribes, showing the distinctness of their character.

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Borneo Reef World, Soak in the Fun at the Largest Reef Pontoon in Asia

Husband and wife, Jim and Lydia Paredes taking photos at the pontoon Underwater Observatory
Husband and wife, Jim and Lydia Paredes taking photos at the pontoon Underwater Observatory

“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.

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Return to Kota Kinabalu and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

The jetty foot bridge to Palau Sapi
The jetty foot bridge to Pulau Sapi

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.

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Cheng Ho Museum and the Seven Voyage to the Western Ocean

Diorama of Cheng Ho's great fleet of hundreds
Diorama of Cheng Ho’s great fleet of hundreds

When in Melaka, it’s not enough to admire the many shophouses lining up in Jonker Walk. There are several shophouses turned museums in Melaka that it’s worth walking inside one of them to get a deeper insight on Melaka’s history and culture. One that I would highly recommend visiting is the Cheng Ho Museum found near the tail end of Lorong Hang Jebat before the bridge. With a floor area spanning 55,000 square feet, occupying about 8 units of old shophouses dating back to 1786 and three floors of artefacts, it is considered as the largest museum in Melaka.

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