Travel: Langkawi Island Pt. 2 (Oriental Village + Cable Car)

Here’s a quick post while I wait for my homemade cheesecake to chill. ;) Still from our anniversary weekend, I wanted to share with you a couple of photos from the Oriental Village and the Cable Car ride to the highest point in the island.

Short side story first: When I first told one of the people I knew back in college that my husband was going to be posted in Malaysia, her first reaction was “Aww. But there’s nothing to see there!” While I told her that my husband’s gonna be going out of the country for work and not just sightseeing (and Malaysia, a neighbour country, is a great assignment where my husband will be trained extensively by the amount and importance of work here and his extremely smart bosses), I could also have told her of all the islands we could visit here but I didn’t waste my time anymore because I knew was talking to a girl who wore heels for a sight seeing/shopping trip in Hong Kong and Taiwan so she was clearly an inexperienced traveller and not that well-read. ;)

So. One of the islands to visit in Malaysia is of course, Langkawi. To all my Filipino friends, it’s like their version of Coron+Boracay. Beaches, rivers, and a long list of attractions.

RELATED POST: Travel: Langkawi Island Pt. 1 (Getting to the Island + Sunset Dinner Cruise)

We did  this on our second day at the island. We grabbed a cab to get to the Oriental Village where the entrance to the cable car ride was. The Oriental Village is actually a collection of shops, restaurants, spas, and mini attractions.

The Oriental Village entrance consists of two hanging bridges. Don’t worry, though. The water underneath is only up to your ankles. ;)

Hullo! This cute rabbit was in a fenced area of a bunny petting zoo! They’re all so adorable, I would have loved to stay and play for a bit but it was kind of gloomy that day and we were on a race against the rain.

The village itself looks like a park with a manmade lake in the middle. The shops in the village sell mostly souvenirs. Most of the restaurants offer Asian cuisine (duh) but there’s an Arabic and Western restaurant too.

We proceeded to fall in line at the cable car ticketing counter. We paid RM54 (Php739.86, EUR12.92, USD16.50) per person. We got combo tickets for the cable car ride and a 6D movie later on. But if you don’t have kids with you, I suggest you skip the 6D movie. It’s not that great to be honest. Graphics were so-so, the ‘movie’ was blah, and the effects were mediocre.

The cable car ride, however, is super worth it.

Hello there from the nerds! <3

The cable car ride in Langkawi offers an exquisite view of the forest. Oh, and it’s really high, by the way. So you better have someone with you to hold your hand in case you’re afraid of heights.

From your car, you can even see the Seven Wells Falls.

Have you tried the cable car ride in Ngong Ping in Hong Kong? Well, this one is a lot higher and way more steeper. I was having mini heart attacks as our car rode up to the mountain. You hardly feel it on the way up, though. Going back down is a different story.

We got off at the middle station to check out the view.

It was a bit misty/foggy that day. I think the fog was even laced with haze since forests are being burned again in nearby Indonesia. :( It was a good thing we could still see the view. There was no smokey-smell you’d expect from haze. Didn’t break out into a rash either. The view shown here is that of the Oriental Village and a nearby beach. 

From the viewing deck, you can see the last station of the cable car which isn’t too far away. Don’t spend most of your time at the middle station as the view is better on the last platform.

My husband and I were so eager to try the SkyBridge! However, it was closed for improvements during our visit and will reopen on February next year.

It’s not that scary at this point. ;) It’s just the steep drop going to the middle station that made me so nervous!

At the last station, you’re gonna have to go up a couple more flights of stairs for the viewing deck.

There’s a small canteen prior to the top most part where families can enjoy snacks or ice cream if it’s not too cold.

While we were up at the top most viewing deck, it started to get dark. So we were really making haste in taking photos. Can you make out some of the small islands in the background? 

See the fog getting thicker? It was starting to drizzle then. Eeep!

We boarded a cab right away and I was already getting a bit queasy as we were about to go through the steep part of the cable car ride. Good thing cable cars all over the world are almost always a bit slow and controlled. Whew!

Oh, and I was further saved from having a heart attack as we went down cos of this view from the window. Yep, can’t see a freakin’ thing cos of the fog. And the rain was starting to get really strong! The rain clears up the fog, supposedly – but not until it makes it super thick first! It looked like Dementors were to appear anytime! :S

I’ve been bugging my husband for the longest time to try out the fish spas in KL. Funny thing is I finally got him to do it in Langkawi and he liked it!

Fish Spa therapy at Anjung Spa.

The fish spa therapy costs only RM15 (Php205.77, EUR3.58, USD4.60) for 15 minutes. It’s a pretty relaxing experience after all the walking we did around the village and the viewing deck. Oh, and the fish did a great job when it comes to exfoliating. ;) Even though it was a bit ticklish and weird at first, it becomes rather pleasant after a minute or two. :D

Will post more things to do in Langkawi in the coming days. But for now, I have to get ready since we’re having people over after dinner for some coffee and cake. ;)

More later!


Beauty + Review: MAC Cosmetics’ Nouvelle Vogue Lipstick

My latest squeeze. MAC’s Nouvelle Vogue lipstick from The Matte Lip collection. <3

I AM IN LOVE! And no, this isn’t the anniversary high talking (though admittedly, it’s still there). This is the lipstick-crazy, MAC fanatic me taking over my whole persona.

I know, I know. I’m known among my friends as the girl having way too many bold red lipsticks. However, contrary to popular belief, I also wear different shades and own a lot of them actually. From pale nudes to electric pinks down to shocking purples. Okay, I think I have way too many lipsticks already but it’s my only vice. So let me have this one, okay?

And I declare – on this day, 17th of October 2014 – that my favourite pink lipstick ever is MAC Cosmetics’ Nouvelle Vogue! As soon as I saw it on display, I knew – we were meant for each other.

Swatches under indoor lighting. I should practice on swatching. The colour-lines look weird. Haha!

Swatches under sunlight. And now this one’s blurry. Promise to practice swatching and taking swatch photos with one hand! :D

Nouvelle Vogue comes from MAC’s new collection The Matte Lip – a collection of carefully selected matte shades to cater to the high demand for matte lipsticks nowadays because obviously, the trend that is matte lips is here to stay. (Called it years ago, ladies. Told ‘ya.) And though I occasionally try out Satin and Lustre shades, I’m a matte girl through and through. ;)

It’s a great everyday colour to brighten up your look even when you’re wearing very minimal makeup! In this photo, I’m only wearing moisturising sunblock (no tint), MAC Cosmetics’ Studio Fix Powder in NC25 (a shade darker than my skin tone because I’m too white!) and some Benetint – oh, and I also used Sephora’s Dark Brown eyebrow pencil for my brows. ;)

I’m a fan of matte lips and retro makeup looks so this collection was a total excitement for me. And though I am also in love with the other shades in the collection like Fashion Revival and Pander Me, it’s Nouvelle Vogue that gets all much of my love.

Nouvelle Vogue is “Soft Blue Pink” shade that once applied has a bit of a satin sheen but after an hour, becomes completely matte on your lips. Personally, I think the subtle blue undertones of this pink shade is what makes it so gorgeous and after 6 hours of wearing it, it’s still as vibrant as the first time I swiped it. MAC, after all, is famous for having long-wear formula. ;)

A closer look. :)

It’s a very Barbie–meets–everyday-pink shade that you can wear with a casual day look – be it for the office or for coffee with your friends at a mall. I also love how creamy it is. It’s extremely easy to apply as it glides smoothly even without lip conditioner.

And like most MAC Lipsticks, Nouvelle Vogue is very pigmented. One swipe leaves you with enough colour but building it up makes the shade even more rich and beautiful.

My husband says that Nouvelle Vogue is very close to my natural lip colour – only matte – that’s why he likes it a lot as well. ;) It looks like I’m gonna be using this colour a lot so I hope the MAC gods turns this into a permanent shade. Please, please, pretty please?

MAC Lipsticks retail here in Kuala Lumpur for RM70 (Php961.60, EUR16.68, USD21.38). I’ve been a fan of MAC for as long as I can remember since I always get the value of what I’m paying for in their products. I don’t mind splurging on their stuff since I know I’ll be using them for quite a looong time. I hardly do touch-ups when I’m wearing MAC, to be honest. It lasts the whole day on me which – come to think of it – makes for savings in the long run.

Here I go again justifying my beauty purchases. Haha! So. I won’t make this too long anymore as we’re about to have dinner. But if you’re a lover of matte lipsticks and you want a really pretty, wearable pink in your collection – then Nouvelle Vogue is perfect for you too. ;)

More later!



Travel: Langkawi Island Pt. 1 (Getting to the Island + Sunset Dinner Cruise)

I’m still on an anniversary high despite the worst possible kind of flu I had to live with the past couple of days. I was at my worst last Tuesday but the good news is I’ve been feeling a lot better since yesterday due to my husband’s care. Still coughing and sneezing though.

So. Langkawi island. One of the top tourist spots here in Malaysia. My husband kept our anniversary weekend getaway a secret for weeks until the night we had to leave.

We had dinner at home, exchanged gifts, and left for the Puduraya Bus Station at 10:30pm. Our bus left at almost midnight (It was originally scheduled to leave at 11). My husband booked our tickets in advance through Easybook.

The journey via the Sri Maju bus was rather pleasant. It’s an executive coach that costs RM 90 (Php1235, EUR21.73, USD27.55) for two people to the Kuala Perlis Jetty. The seats were roomy and my legs did not feel tired at all because of the leg and foot rests the seats were equipped with. However, if you plan to take the same bus, do remember to bring a jacket as it can be very cold.

We arrived in Kuala Perlis a little past 7 in the morning and boarded a ferry to Langkawi at 8:15. The ferry ride took about hour and 15 minutes and we arrived in the Langkawi Jetty. It was pretty crowded despite October being part of their low-season.

The side entrance to Jetty is lined up with private cars and cabs that can be hired to take you to your hotel.

We got a cab to take us to our hotel. We were booked at Resorts World Langkawi which is quite far from the jetty as it’s situated in a bit of a private enclave (where it’s super less busy). Cabs in Langkawi don’t have meters but the good thing is that they all have fixed rates from point A to B all over the island (fare tables can be seen at the port and in hotels) so no haggling is needed. A cab from the jetty to Resorts World costs RM34 (Php466, EUR8.21, USD10.41).

Home for the next 3 days. <3

I love how the entrance to the hotel has two lengthy koi ponds on each side.

When booking a room at Resorts World Langkawi, it’s best to ask for a room with a beach view. The other side of the hotel is a forest so if you’re more into that, you can request that as well.

View from our balcony.

After checking in, my husband booked us for a sunset dinner cruise so we ordered lunch in our rooms, had a bit of rest from the long journey and freshened up for the late afternoon activity we’ve got scheduled.

We walked to the hotel’s Fun & Activity Centre where the group for the cruise is meeting up.

We were a bit early so we had a bit of time to kill.

We took photos along the hotel’s boardwalk. I love how they have their own lighthouse facing the bay. And yes, I am in an even shade of stark white all over – from head to toe – in case you haven’t noticed it before. Been trying to tan though. But it fizzles out as fast as I burn. Meh.

We also had time for ice cream. I love this photo of my husband, trying not to smile with ice cream in his mouth. Hee. Still cute, sweetie.

We were ask to take off our footwear and we boarded a small boat to take us to the bigger one anchored a little further down the bay.

On board the yacht, we were able to settle down and wait for the next batches of little boats to bring the other guests for the dinner cruise.

It was a bit humid but it got more comfy and a bit windy once the yacht started moving.

The view from the yacht was just ah-mazing.

The bay was so peaceful and the light was just right.

I like how the yacht company made sure it wouldn’t be too crowded in the boat. There were only around 15 guests so there was so much space for us to move around.

They served drinks as soon as we got on board. It was an open bar all night and I have to admit – I had one too many whiskey cokes.

Oh, and because some of my friends have been asking, the dress is from H&M. ;) My mom got it for me a couple of years back. Makeup used: MAC’s True Love’s Kiss lipstick (limited edition), Sephora Eye Brow Pencil in Brown, Benefit’s Benetint, MAC Studio Fix Pressed Powder in NC25. I’m an NC20 but I use powder that’s a shade darker because I’m super super white all over. Also, all those years of part-time modelling trained my face to go directly towards the light (If you did a bit of modelling or if you’re an ANTM fan, you’d know what I mean). And yep, no foundation for this one as Langkawi is so humid! I didn’t want anything that will weigh my face down. A clean look is achievable without foundation or concealer after all. ;)

It was a barbeque dinner and they started cooking at the back of the yacht a few minutes into the cruise. It smelled so good.

At one point the crew of the yacht dropped a huge net on the side of the yacht which people can use as a ‘jacuzzi’. People sat on it and drank beer/soda as the yacht made its way around the bay. My husband and I weren’t in the mood for salt water and wanted to save the swimming for Sunday morning so we didn’t give it a try.

However, Megumi, the Japanese girl in the photo told me that it was a really good experience. And just in case you’re not comfy drying up in the yacht and feeling icky afterwards cos of salt water, the yacht has a shower facility. So we’ll try it next time. ;)

Looks enjoyable. yes?

The buffet dinner was served at around 6:30 and the selection was anything but shabby. We were stuffed!


The satay and the peanut sauce it comes with were the bomb. Well, everything’s too good. Even the rendang!

And if you’re on a diet, there’s a good number of choices for you too. ;)

As the night progressed, the scenery became even more stunning.

A photo was in order. ;)

And another. And another. Forgive us. It was our anniversary weekend.

There was also a huge platter of fruits for desserts for everyone to enjoy but the drinks completely got my attention. ;)

It was starting to get dark around 8pm so the yacht made its way nearer to the port where the smaller boat will take us back to the docks.

By the time it was completely dark, we were back in the docks – stuffed and in my case, a bit buzzed (my husband is not a fan of alcohol but is fine with letting me get my drink on in the right occasions. ;) ).

I highly recommend taking the Sunset Dinner Cruise in Langkawi. We booked through a company called Crystal Yacht at the lobby of Resorts World Langkawi. The Sunset Dinner Cruise costs RM280 (Php3836.48, EUR66.79, USD85.48) per person.

And here’s some good news. Remember The Entertainer? If you have the app on your phone or the book of coupons with you, you can avail of the Buy-One-Take-One offer on the Sunset Dinner Cruise! Pretty sweet deal, right?

Have you tried a cruise in Langkawi before? Let me know how it went for you! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or send an email. ;)

More later,

Husband Appreciation Post: On Our First Anniversary

Oh you knew this was coming, didn’t you? How can I keep a blog and not even dedicate a single post to my wonderful husband on our anniversary?

A year and a day ago. ;)

Happy anniversary to my a-dork-able husband! Thank you for making everyday a surprise – there’s just no boring day with you. I guess it’s cos we’re so different? It’s like learning something new about a person everyday. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s something that will make you go ‘awww’, and sometimes it’s something that will drive you bonkers (You have to see first hand how O.C. Alvin is – I think this is worthy of a separate post). But at the end of the day, we’re just crazy about each other.

One year into the marriage and we both learned a lot. I can honestly say that we’re both getting really good at all of this. Both of us learned how to adjust, when to give way and when to push for what you want (nicely, of course), and to communicate properly. Yeah, communication. You can’t just expect your partner to read your mind and go with everything that you want. No two people’s minds are exactly the same after all. Looking back, whenever we had a rough patch, it was never because we were mean on purpose or we were acting out of hate. The root of all our past fights is actually misunderstanding. Everything can be solved by a good talk as long as you don’t let your temper in to the picture. A difference in opinion can be subject for healthy debate (our favourite topics include Israel-Palestine, religion, and sometimes politics) and you shouldn’t let your feelings (no matter how strongly you feel about your side) get in the way.

When I met Alvin, he was reserved (an understatement). In the words of author (and fellow diplomat’s wife) Cherry Denman, “he has the stiffest upper-lip spread wide across his body”. Mrs Denman used that phrase to describe her husband Charlie in her book Diplomatic Incidents. Is that a diplomat thing? Maybe. But I’ve met some whose lips are not the least bit stiff – I shouldn’t be talking about that… for now. Haha!

Anyhoo, while Alvin was quite reserved, I was the exact opposite. I used to party a lot in college (which stopped when I became a journalist) and my favourite phrase was “open bar” (the drinking is still there to this day but a bit… tamed?). I believe Alvin and I were brought together to introduce new things to each other. I brought fun into his life and he brought peace and order into my chaotic existence.

Alvin now smiles more often (his resting bitch face/poker face is almost gone) and even makes funny faces. I laugh out loud at his crazy antics when we’re alone and his jokes. Yes, colleagues of Alvin. He makes extra funny ones and when he makes a funny comment, you’re guaranteed to get a fall-off-your-chair kind of laugh. I guess someone just needed to get it out of him? He’s also more showy about his feelings, something he didn’t do before we got together. It makes my heart swell to see how proud he is of what we have.

When your husband who hardly posts on Facebook does this, it’s just too adorable. I was getting messages all day about how cute Alvin is.

These days my drinking is kept to a safe level and my life is a whole lot quieter. Well, sort of. We’re still busy with embassy activities and my path to being a domesticated diva (something I never thought I’d end up to be) but at the end of the day, when it’s just the two of us on our couch with him massaging my feet and giving me kisses while we watch The Amazing Race, we’re content and happy.

Before, I wasn’t thinking of getting married. I thought the quiet life was boring. But it turns out, all it takes is to have the right person with you and everyday is an adventure. Thank you for being you, Alvin. A husband who takes leaps and risks (both big and small) just to put a smile on my face. Thank you for taking care of me when I’m sick – like now. I’m down with a very bad flu while writing this and my husband’s been buying me meds and food during his lunch break (I usually cook for him at home or we meet for mini lunch dates) and he’s now out doing the groceries right after a long day at work to get me some yogurt and orange juice. To think that we didn’t get enough sleep after arriving from our weekend trip at 4am this morning. And yes, he still went to work at 8am. He’s just so good in making me feel like a princess without smothering me.

Smothering is a nightmare for women like me who never saw themselves as a damsel in distress. I am perfectly capable of killing my own dragons, but I wouldn’t mind having someone to do it with. ;)

Taken over the weekend during our sunset dinner cruise in Langkawi. <3

My husband is also extremely smart. Give him any country and he’ll tell you it’s capital and a bit about its history and culture. He practically has an encyclopaedia stored in his brain. He did admit that he used to read it for fun as a child. However, my husband is never proud. He is humble and he doesn’t put other people down. He is helpful, thinks about the welfare of other people, and he is very secure with himself and I love that about him. In fact, it makes me respect him even more.

I’m lucky to be in a marriage where both our opinions are of equal value (even though we come from a patriarchal society). From the colour of our throw pillows to his career.

I’ll keep this short as you people might go blahhh over the cheese. But I guess this is just my way of making the world jealous of how lucky and loved I am. ;) But seriously – sometimes, I look at this guy just to wonder what kind of good I did to end up with him. <3

Here’s to more crazy adventures and butterfly-filled tummies with you, baby.


Beauty + Review: GoodSkin Labs Circleplex-2 Dark Circle Specialists for Eyes

GoodSkin Labs’ Circleplex-2 Dark Circle Specialists for Eyes.

I don’t remember how many times I’ve said “The bags under my eyes are Givenchy (or insert other designer brand her)” in my lifetime, followed by either a sly smile or sarcastic laugh. Maybe around a thousand? The dark circles under my eyes and the puffiness that comes with them when I’m tired or lacking in sleep has been the bane of my existence. Pair that with my ultra-white skin (MAC NC15/NC20 – pale!) that only enhances the dark colour… Well, you get the sleepy/tired-looking picture.

While I don’t get much skin problems like blemishes or too much oil, my under eye circles have been enough of an annoyance. Though I can hide them with concealer everyday, I’ve often toyed with the idea of just making them go away and skipping a step in my morning makeup routine. So it’s one of my many missions in life to get rid of them – permanently.

I’ve tried a good number of eye creams due to various circumstances. Friends and brands (back when I was working in the media) giving skincare stuff to try, samples being included in makeup and skin care products I buy, and sometimes just out of curiosity and giving in to cute packaging or what new ingredient is written on the box.

Lately, I was given GoodSkin Labs‘ Circleplex-2 Dark Circle Specialists for Eyes to try out and since I was already about to finish my sample-sized Benefit It’s Potent Eye Cream which was also very helpful in reducing the dark circles, I was fairly open to trying out a new product before deciding on which one to purchase next.

The tattered packaging. Took this photo after two weeks of use. ;)

I’ve read about GoodSkin Labs’ eye cream before in Cleo Magazine‘s August 2014 issue (Miranda Kerr on the cover) where they published their Beauty Hall of Fame for this year. This product was named as the ‘best anti-darkness eye treatment’. I made a mental note for it last August so imagine how happy I was when I was given my own to try.

Ok, so I’ve be ranting and yapping for way too long now. Here’s the review you clicked here for:

After two weeks of use, I can say that I am fairly impressed with GoodSkin Labs Circleplex-2 Dark Circle Specialists for Eyes. I brought it with me to Sabah for our two week trip and I came back to KL with my under eye circles two shades lighter.

Day and night.

What I really like about this product is that it’s a dual-system eye treatment with two creams catering to your needs that definitely vary in the morning and evening.

The day cream comes in a neutral-nude shade while the night cream is translucent white.

Let’s break it down starting with the night cream first, shall we?

Night cream.

GoodSkin Labs promises that the night cream will “dramatically reduce pronounced dark circles”. What I noticed when using it is that it has an instant, lightening effect on my dark circles. It’s also very soothing and hydrating to the skin around my eyes.

One swipe. The colour is barely noticeable.

Don’t worry about the cream being white. You wouldn’t have to walk around your home with stark-white patches under your eyes and end up scaring your husband or family. The cream is extremely light and spreadable.

The day cream.

As I said earlier, the day cream comes in a neutral-nude shade that helps conceal your dark circles so it’s got a bit of colour-correcting power right there. However, if your under eye circles are really dark, it won’t be able to conceal them completely. Like the night cream, it’s also light weight and applying it on your skin is a breeze.

Neutral. Goes well with light to medium skin tones.

It contains LumaBright, the company’s trademarked ingredient that helps to instantly brighten the eye area. Other brightening ingredients include Vitamin C and Yeast AE – both present in most effective eye creams in the market.

Both creams are also said to have what they call a Fresh Brightening Complex that can help in repairing the fragile make-up of the skin around our eyes which are often damaged by scratching and rubbing our eyes when we’re feeling tired.

Aside from instant relief from dark circles, the Circleplex-2 Dark Circle Specialists for Eyes also promises long term effects with Prunus Mume Fruit extract that can help in increasing circulation around the eyes, an anti-oxidant called Polygonum Cuspidatum that stops dark pigmentation, and Glucosamine that keeps your skin from drying up and will help prevent you from  having those dreaded eye-wrinkles. Personally, I’m basically terrified of crow’s feet so I tend to lather up eye creams not just on the dark circles of my eyes but all over the whole eye area.

So. As a summary:

What I love about it:

  1. The instant effects. After applying the cream, dark circles are obviously lighter and you actually feel it working as your skin feels extra-hydrated.
  2. Long term effects. Ok, so this isn’t totally long term yet. But after using it for two weeks, I can go out without makeup and not feel like I just came straight out of Tim Burton movie. The dark circles are definitely lighter.
  3. You get to use it for months.Two weeks into using it, I barely made a dent on the creams – and to think that I’m not one to scrimp on lathering up eye creams and moisturisers.
  4. Day and night. It’s a dual repair system so your eyes are being repaired 24/7, not just at night.

Slight cons:

  1. It’s a bit pricey. At RM175 (Php2404, US53.71, EUR42.53), it’s not what I’d actually call steal. Though it’s not as expensive as La Prairie (another brand I loved) and La Mer (broke my bank but it was also a great product). However, despite the price, you can actually use it for a good couple of months so you’re basically getting your money’s worth. Cost per use ratio.
  2. No SPF? I read all the ingredients and flipped the box in all directions but I can’t seem to find out whether the day cream actually has Sun Protection Factor. Which is something I am very particular with as you get wrinkles faster by not being protected from the sun! So just to be sure, I let the day cream dry up before applying facial sunblock over it and applying makeup.

I give it an 8.5 over 10.

More later.



Travel: Sunday walking tour in Kota Kinabalu

Hello from KL! We are finally back from our two-week stay in Sabah for the consular mission that my husband led. The past two weeks were so hectic and enlightening. Aside from the consular mission, we were also able to get to know undocumented Filipino kids who only have access to education through alternative learning centres. But I’ll write about those things next time. For now, I wanted to share with you photos of our walking tour of Kota Kinabalu’s (KK) main district which we did on a Sunday – our only break during the mission. We couldn’t go far even though I was dying to see the fireflies at the Kinabalu National Park because the following day was expected to be hectic. No time for the beach either (insert sad-faced emoji here) so we decided to just explore the city and not go too far – make do with what little time we have there.

KK’s main district is filled with budget hotels/hostels and restaurants that offer great food at very low prices. My husband and I actually gained weight there from all the eating we did. It’s great for those who wish to go backpacking.

When visiting KK, I suggest you make sure your visit falls on a weekend. That is, if you want to see and experience how Southeast Asian locals get their shopping on.

Gaya street on its busiest day – Sunday.

During my husband’s courtesy call on the mayor (where again, I was made to come with), he and his press officer told us to drop by the Gaya Sunday Market as most tourists end up with great experiences and finds there. So on Sunday morning, my husband and I walked to Gaya Street to find it closed to traffic as stalls selling almost anything you could imagine, lined up one of the city’s busiest streets.

When we were told that you can find almost any knick-knack you can imagine there, we thought the mayor’s press officer was just exaggerating. She wasn’t.

Flashlights in varying colours and sizes.

Local snacks.

Plants – some were decorative, while others were a bit more helpful with a couple of species promising to repel mosquitoes.

Indonesian and Malaysian batik.

But the ‘find’ that we wanted so bad was something we couldn’t have. We were ready to shell out for her, granted that she was going to to be filed under “impulse purchases” and she wasn’t cheap. However, customs restrictions in bringing her to KL and our condo not allowing pets, decided for us. We couldn’t make it happen. It was rather heartbreaking but we had to walk away.

We wanted to name her Sabah! She’s so adorable and sweet.

Sabah and her brother. They were such a hit to shoppers that day. But they’re kind of pricey at RM1,400 (almost 20,000 pesos!) each.

Reflexology slippers.

So nice to see a Filipino Kulintang (those 9 little gongs arranged next to each other) there! The Kulintang produces a beautiful, melodic sound. It comes from predominantly Muslim Mindanao, in the Philippines.

Beads and stones turned into exquisite necklaces.

Small figurines of Hindu gods. Spot my fave! Ganesha. :)

There’s a small roundabout in the middle of Gaya street with an old yet charming fountain.

Nearby is the Sabah Tourism Board’s office where we stopped for a bit to check out where and how we can get to the Sabah Museum.

It’s a great resource centre with lots of informative leaflets on different places in Sabah.

We were told that the museum is open everyday from 9am-5pm and we can either walk to the place which may take over an hour or take a taxi for around 10-15 minutes. So we decided to drop by the harbour and the Filipino market first (which were nearer) before taking a taxi to the museum.

A view of the South China Sea. ;)

The Boardwalk is a good place to take photos.

Just remember to wear sunglasses when you’re going between 10-1pm. The sun can be very bright and it can be quite humid.

It was almost noon then and pigeons were already having lunch.

We entered the Filipino market where you can find almost anything you can see at an SM grocery store in the Philippines. Making Pinoy sweet style spaghetti is never a problem in Sabah, apparently. ;)

These Baroque South Sea Pearls are exquisite! A steal at RM 1000 (Php13,782, EUR245.22, USD306.89)! But you can still ask for a discount. ;)

The Filipino market is also known for its street tailors.

And handicraft – both Filipino and Sabahan inspired.

It was past noon but we weren’t hungry yet. Eating a lot during breakfast buffets at hotels does have its perks. You can last longer when taking long walks. ;) However, we were so sweaty and thirsty!

This chocolate shake with pearls was a great way to beat the heat.

I practically drooled all over this gold-tinged South Sea pearl necklace! Of course, I couldn’t afford it without resorting to selling one of my organs in the black market. It’s at RM19,000 (Php261,865, EUR4659, USD5830).

The Filipino market in Kota Kinabalu comes alive at night – around 6 or 7 pm. When we dropped by at day time, there were a good number of shops that were closed so it’s best to go in the evening.

We then took a cab to the Sabah Museum. We paid RM15 for the 10 minute ride. Note that taxis in Kota Kinabalu do not use their metres. Even if the cab’s sign says ‘Bermerter’ (metered taxi). The minimum charge within the city is RM12 and it increases as you go further. It’s useless to ask the cabbies to use the metre instead as it’s common practice in KK to use fixed rates for cab rides.

The entrance to the Sabah museum.

The entrance fee costs RM15 (Php206.74, USD4.60, EUR3.68) and will get you inside the Sabah Museum, the Heritage Village, and the Islamic Museum.

The museum’s architecture shows traditional, Southeast-Asian elements.

A Lepa Pasil sits outside the museum. It’s a traditional sailing boat that looks rather small but can sail to islands around southeast asia that are quite far. It’s also quite fast and known for its floral carvings.

Photos are not allowed inside the Sabah and Islamic Museum. But they’re both worth a visit as they discuss history and culture not just in Sabah itself but in neighbouring Asian countries as well and how people from different islands (now separated by modern borders) interacted with each other and lived harmoniously hundreds of years ago.

The museum also discusses the not-so-distant history with old models of cellphones and computers used by Sabahans on display. Remember the Nokia 3310? Yeah, it’s a museum piece now. ;)

Vintage cars used in Sabah during the 50s.

My husband and I love trains. He likes all of them while I have a penchant for the vintage ones. Reminds me of how people used to dress up for long train journeys and when they used to have drinks in a special train car while wearing pretty white gloves and fancy hats.

The Islamic Museum. No photos allowed inside where you can take a peek into daily Muslim life and beliefs. Intricately designed pieces such as Koran stands and betel nut sets were also on display.

At the Heritage Village, you get to walk around a traditional Sabahan village complete with rice paddies and irrigation.

Sabahans and Filipinos built their houses similarly. No surprise there. The house appears to be on stilts that are not there to protect them from flooding (ok, maybe that’s a secondary reason). Beneath the house is where they keep their pet chickens to protect them from the weather.

Are you sure I’m not in Pangasinan (A province North of Manila)?

After the museum complex, we took a cab back into KK’s main district so we can get a massage and have dinner after. Our feet were sore and a short session of foot reflexology and a back massage was just what we needed.

Posting more later.



Still Alive!

Proof of life. Haha! Our sweaty/tired faces say hello after a long walk under the midmorning-afternoon sun last Sunday – the only day we actually got to ourselves for sight seeing. ;)

Proof of life. Haha! Our sweaty/tired faces say hello during a short water break. This was right after a long walk under the midmorning-noon sun last Sunday – the only day we actually got to ourselves for sight seeing. ;) My husband could hardly smile after all that heat. Haha! But we’re extreme sight seers so the KK heat was something we were willing to endure! ;)

But the slow internet here in Kota Kinabalu is practically killing me – both the 3g and the wifi at the hotel we are staying in. So here’s just a quickie update on how we’ve been doing:

Days here in KK have been very busy. I thought I will get bored so I packed a ton of movies to watch plus loaded my Kobo with e-books, and even brought some material for a piece I was supposed to write ages ago. But alas, I ended up being so busy, helping out in the consular mission by assisting some of the applicants in filling up their forms and preparing travel documents for deportees. There are a couple of hundred thousands of Filipinos in Sabah who are undocumented and the Embassy has been doing its best to help them out.

The consular mission ran from Monday till Saturday (we’re still there at the venue until Oct 3rd) and we only had Sunday as our ‘break’. So we spent it walking  around the city, checking out the Sunday market, and visiting the Sabah & Islamic Museum as well as the Heritage Village before finally feasting on some Filipino food which we totally missed.

I’ll post something more useful (a.k.a a proper travel entry) soon enough. As soon as I get some decent internet – a connection that doesn’t use up a whole hour just to upload one photo. I’m practically crawling my way into posting this. But we’ll be back in KL by the end of this week so I promise to make up for lost time. Geez, I have so much stuff to review.

More later and hugs from KK!