June 12, 2013

kota kinabalu trip

we were told we can go on "cowboy" mode at kota kinabalu. but after hearing tales of locals and even fellow filipinos taking advantage of tourists, we decided to contact an agency for our convenience. everything in this trip were arranged by har chow wong and jui chan leung, the mother-daughter owners of green world tt/w & w adventure.



we were lucky to get the 700.00 PHP sale in airasia. plus in-flight food, our flights costed 2799.00 PHP. our climb package costed 1500.00 MYR, which is approximately 22000.00 PHP last 2011. the package includes the following:
  • mt kinabalu hike (mesilau-timpohon traverse)
  • walk the torq by mountain torq
  • all hostel accommodation at asian adventure hostel
  • all transporation
  • pendant hut lodging (w/ free breakfast and lunch and drinks)
  • buffet dinner at laban rata
  • canopy walk
  • rafflesia garden
  • poring hot spring and nature reserve tour


[as of 06-12-2013] malaysia grants 30-day tourist visas to all filipinos visiting kota kinabalu upon entry. they'll stamp you one as soon as you're done with biometrics. just don't look suspicious for them to mistake you as a smuggler or whatever which would be an easy ticket to your deportation as they would interview you of your reason for travel. there's no need to pre-apply for one in the malaysian embassy in the philippines unless you intend to travel for work, business, or for more than the period stated. you may visit the malaysian embassy in the philippines' website for more information.


everything was arranged by har chow wong. we were transported by a van in our kota kinabalu trips and a private car by our guide on our way to mt kinabalu.


to avoid ballooning bills, i turned off my phone. hehehe. but if you wish to communicate with your friends and loved ones in the philippines, you can always call your telco for roaming services. 

June 05, 2013

kota kinabalu: my dreams of manila

after our lengthy road trip trip at ranau, we had kota kinabalu as our last trip. surprisingly, there was traffic at 18:00. madam wong was apologetic at the sight of such "disgrace" and told us it only happened at this time of the day when everyone goes home from work. well, we told her, manila main roads are free parking spaces during rush hour that edsa deserves a place in the guinness book of records.

as soon as we landed in kota kinabalu, she had us land first at the "signal hill observatory tower" for us to have a view of the city at night. kota kinabalu is a young progressive city and did not have much high rise buildings just like filinvest in muntinlupa. however, compared to manila urbanity, kota kinabalu is clean, both literally and figuratively. i'll tell you more about it later.

from tomas' cam
from tomas' cam
if there's one thing i love doing whenever i go to places, it's eating. when my colleagues in the office told me about "blue wave," i was more ecstatic. to most people, "blue wave" is known as the night wet market where everyone gets to buy fresh seafood. the place is quite similar to our very own dampa but with a twist of malaysia -- cultural diversity. around the market, you can choose which type of country-cooking you'd like to have for dinner: malaysian, indian, thai, chinese, or philippine. at that time, those were the major countries which were represented by the restaurants there (or we have not been looking around thoroughly). since some members of our team had trauma with some food they've eaten, tomas chose to eat at a chinese restaurant. why not at a philippine restaurant? we're filipinos and we want to taste something else! chinese was the safest since most is not comfortable with malaysian or indian food and haven't and won't dare thai cooking. most of my team mates don't like spicy food. i am actually ok with any food as long as i am not eating any bell peppers (which i am allergic to) or liver (because looking at a blob of liver is gross).

of course, nothing's better than free meals! it was the november boys' birthday climb and tomas volunteered to treat us! all in all, he spent 400 myr for the food (as far as i can remember). not that expensive considering we had 6 viands in large servings! madam wong gave us chicken satay as an additional viand to the birthday boys' dinner. and, as you can see below, i am the worst food photographer. 

"almost before"
"absolute after"
after 2 hours of lovely gluttony, we walked around the city. madam wong told us that there'll be a festival next week so some streets have been closed to set up mini market stalls. despite the divisoria like scenery, the government did a stellar job maintaining the place clean. in 2009, according to her, their baywalk was a whore strip. when the authorities found out the anomalies happening there, they wiped the place clean in less than a month's time. since then, kota kinabalu was prostitution free, at least at face value. i am imagining a lot of ways of how the government would punish the perpetrators according to the sharia law. i must say, the same thing should be exercised in our country less the unfair treatment on women. in most implemented moslem laws, women are victims of unfair treatment instead of being protected as stated in the q'uran... but that's already a different story. 

from tomas' cam

we were astounded by the city's cleanliness when we visited the place in the morning. i can't help but compare the place to our very own manila bay. instead of us seeing all kinds of cockroaches, garbage, and rats as huge as pregnant cats, there were cranes, crabs, and crystal blue waters at the kota kinabalu baywalk. yes, crabs (sorry we didn't take photos) and cranes. although the baywalk has too many crabs walking along the breakwater and fishes as seen through the crystal clean waters, only registered fishermen are allowed to capture them. you will never see a civilian or a foreigner attempting to capture a crab! 

ricky, madam wong, and myself doing our thang!
from tomas' cam
oh... a crane... hmmm...
from tomas' cam
with our non-stop comparisons of the city to manila, it gave me a love-hate stand on the sabah claim. love because by right and by law, the place is truly ours which some of our very own government officials did a perfect job of disowning it. the tausug has full rights to their land and should not have been pushed aside by the aliens "leasing the place". hate because, after all, malaysia has done a great job in maintaining the place. i could only imagine grotesque ways on how our corrupt government officials would take advantage of sabah's natural resources! mt kinabalu would definitely become a victim of illegal logging and mining. in fact, one of my travel buddies was told to raise a "sabah claim flag" at the summit of mt kinabalu during our climb. he didn't after seeing what sabah is. i pity my fellow citizens who have not been there but relentlessly fighting blindly for the claim through facebook and other social media sites *insert laugh here*

like a love story, it just breaks my heart to give up on something you love, which you know, someone else will love more. we left for manila that afternoon with a heart break.