Sunday, May 31, 2015

Snorkeling at Manukan Island (Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park) @ Kota Kinabalu [Borneo]

Yes, yet again another snorkeling; do bear with me as it would be the last one i had for Kota Kinabalu! This follows, by the way, the snorkeling i had at Sapi Island.

The vast underwater scene was relatively sparse which wasn't a bad thing as it meant better clarity whenever activities were detected. 

Like the congregation of fishes that came together to make themselves bigger, likely as a mode of defense towards their predators. 

Guess it didn't work as can be seen from the photo above although their strategy could be to deter their predators from far as they would have appeared much bigger from a distance.

Sea grass - this reminded me of a Mantanani Island in Kota Kinabalu that was renowned for its numerous sightings of dugongs! Sea grass, as some of you might be aware, is a common staple for the marine mammal.

What Manukan Island lacks in terms of underwater scenery was made up by the huge amount of fishes in the water.

Looked kind of delicious as it seemed familiar to the type that mum has cooked for me before; think it is called red monkey in Hokkien (ang gao) and said to be quite expensive! 

Pomfret! Steamed pomfret in Teochew style was the most delicious; oh boy, i must be very hungry right now as i have not had lunch yet!

Thousands and maybe millions of ikan bilis in the water too!

Boring seabed - i am so accustomed to seeing beautiful corals set with vibrantly coloured fishes that this didn't meet my expectation. Thankfully, i was already pre-informed that Sapi Island was a superior spot for snorkeling in the marine park. 

Giant clam!

Leading into the sea, this could be the remnants of an old jetty. The wooden beams had been intentionally sawn off, possibly to prevent injuries from poor swimmers who would have cut themselves if they unwittingly swim towards them.

Corals were slowly taking ownership of the cut beams! 

Something was hiding in the rock! The thing wasn't as common in the marine park although back in Krabi, they were seriously in abundance! 

Ya lah, sea urchins!

Anyway, more of the unexciting underwater pictures i took at Manukan Island. Hopefully, the next trip to Perhentian Islands would result in way more spectacular photographs! 

Taking a breather before i continued my boring exploration. The place right ahead was Kota Kinabalu by the way. As you can see, water was crystal clear! 

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Location
Manukan Island, Kota Kinabalu, 
Sabah State, East Malaysia 


For my 7-day Kota Kinabalu itinerary, click here.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coffee : Nowhere - A Nice Place to Chill Out Near NUS @ West Coast Plaza [Singapore]

Nowhere - the pronunciation has always been a confusion; should you pronounce it as no-where or now-here? Mystery solved; it should be no-where.

However, according to google, nowhere is defined as not in any place or not anywhere which is an oxymoron when used in conjunction as brand name for a shop that sells coffee!

Personally, i prefer Coffee Nowhere over the hundreds of cafes that have been sprouting like mushrooms in Singapore! It has character yet not overly focused on interior design. 

On one hand, it seemed to target the office crowd but on the other, you could still find some comfortable spot where you can spend your afternoon sipping on your beverage while reading a novel. 

Unlike some coffee cafes, there was a food menu (including full day breakfast options) with set lunch / dinner on weekdays! Pity the selection was pretty limited and i was the only one who opted for the set. 

Mushroom Soup (Set Lunch)
Visually, the texture told me this would likely be the thick, clumpy type of mushroom broth that i have always enjoyed over the watery version.

Realistically, it had that earthly flavour signature of edible fungi but failed in having a seasoning that could have enhanced the taste. To put it simply, the taste was bland and flat. 

Prawn Oglio-Olio Spaghetti (Set Lunch)
Nicely adorned; the aroma that accompanied the hot pasta when it was served to my table surprisingly did not manage to agitate my appetite as i would have expected. 

With six prawns (yes, i counted them), i thought the spaghetti was quite a good deal for a set lunch!

The first thing that hit my taste buds was its spiciness! Other than that, there was hardly any seasoning or flavour that stood out and like the mushroom soup, it was relatively bland once you remove the "spicy".

Whatever the case, i paid for the meal out of my pocket and i am not going to lay it to waste. 

Drink (Set Lunch)
The above was supposed to be my drink; if i remember correctly, you only have a few choices and none of it appealed to me; hence, i passed this to my friend. She had no complaint so i guess it should taste alright. 

Creme Brulee Cappuccino 
What i had was this! For members, there was 1 for 1 beverage on Mondays and i sure didn't regret ordering the creme brulee cappuccino; the top layer cracked just like its dessert cousin and the coffee was creamy, flavourful with a touch of the creme brulee that many loved to have. 

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Location
154, West Coast Road, 
#B1-06/07, West Coast Plaza

Map 
As above.

Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays - 10am to 10pm
Saturdays, Sundays, PH - 8.30am to 10pm

Food Menu
As above

Drink Menu

As above

Pricing

Prawn Oglio-Olio Spaghetti Set Lunch - S$12.80
Creme Brulee Cappuccino - S$7.80

Additional Information
Free wifi (password would be on your receipt) and plain water can be taken from the counter on the second floor! Maybe i should have gotten some salt and pepper for my soup and main. 

A friend had the Burger Nowhere - i stole a bite and thought it was absolutely to my liking! Maybe i should give the food another chance; next time, i shall have the chilli crab baked rice! 

By the way, sign up for the prepaid member card for a better deal! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sapi Island - The Most Popular One @ Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park [Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia]

Long before i even booked my accommodation, i was most keen on Pulau Gaya, the biggest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park but upon arrival at KK, it seemed that size doesn't really quite matter when it comes to popularity. 

Listed as the second smallest among the five islands in the marine park, we selected a day package that sent us on a speedboat journey to Sapi Island on a lazy Monday morning.

Narrow waterway separating Sapi Island and Gaya Island. If you look closely enough, you might be able to see a few lines connecting the two islands; they were not power lines! Check out the Coral Flyer to find out more. 

Arriving at Pulau Sapi jetty. 

Crystal clear water, teeming with fishes. I was actually looking forward to snorkeling although the memorable trip to Maldives wasn't too long ago. 

Wide shades of blue that turned into a short spectrum of green; this would mean only a short distance to the big drop into the ocean, area that should be avoid by amateur snorkelers!

Beachfront - not too bad and wasn't too crowded; not yet. 

See those floating coloured balls? They demarcated the zones of which you can access. Given the high sea traffic, i can understand the safety reason for doing so even though this severely restricted the enjoyment of snorkeling. 

Entering the island proper. 

Jetty building - aside from housing an information counter, there was also a shop where you can buy beachwear, kitschy souvenirs, just to name a yet.

Do's and Dont's - at part b, it was mentioned that "no person shall cut, damage, remove, injure, destroy or bomb any coral (whether living on deep)"; who the hell would bring a bomb anywhere unless they mean a fart bomb! 

Another building right ahead of you once you step out of the jetty building. This time, it housed a convenience shop and a small counter where you can rent life jacket, snorkeling mask, fin and even beach mats!

Prices as above; excusez moi for the blurry picture. The deposit would be the killer so make sure you bring enough cash! Those who sign up for the island package (like us) would be provided with the snorkeling mask and life jacket for free. 

Bought fried caramelized banana chips! 

Next to the jetty building - the tents and the nicely covered tables and chairs; honestly, i was under the impression that there was going to be an event later; maybe a beach wedding or something.

Turned out the area was for those who have signed up for the day packages! Together with your tour mates (who were still strangers with you then), a table would be assigned and the guide would help to guard over your prized possessions. 

Lifeguard station - do note that despite their presence, you swim at your own risk! 

Signs at the beach for your reference. 

I should be eager to start my snorkeling but i was keener on Coral Flyer which i have chanced upon while doing my research in Singapore. So, hold on while i registered for the world's longest island to island zipline.

Once you have settled in at your table, a person would drop by and start to promote packages of sea sport activities available on Sapi Island; the common banana boat, parasailing, waking on seabed etc. You could buy a few to get a better deal and if you don't bring enough cash, you could always pay back when you are back in KK.

For us, we wanted to take things slowly and opted to put on hold the signing up of any sea activities until we have completed Coral Flyer.

The trip over to the nearby Gaya Island took less than three minutes! 

Once again, the waterway between the two islands. Our guide told us just two weeks before, two whale sharks were spotted in the same shallow waterway! Lucky to those who were taking the zipline then! You may read more on my review of the Coral Flyer here.

Tons of fishes lurking beneath Gaya's jetty!

The road up to Coral Flyer at Gaya Island was pretty good, with sturdy concrete steps. However, the pathway down from Coral Flyer at Sapi Island was a different story!

A dirt path would be my best description of it and please look out for uneven steps, fallen trees that block your way and tree roots protruding out from the ground. 

Chalets? I understand there is no accommodation in Sapi Island for tourists even though you may choose to camp overnight.

We registered for parasailing! Read more here

Divers wannabes taking their class; i am supposed to take up diving although that interest has waned somewhat. One fellow colleague's comment has a profound effect; diving is an expensive hobby! 

A ribbonfish in the clear water! 

Other side of the jetty which didn't seem to attract much attention from the beachgoers; likely due to the lack of a white, sandy beach. 


Venturing to the other side of the beach; you don't have to climb up. Just stick to the ground and walk over; as far as scenery is concerned, the other side was more spectacular and given its secularist location, less populated too. 

Rocky outcrops; this area would have been better for snorkeling but it was out of bounds. Attempts to jump in would result in loud, continuous whistle shrills from the alert lifeguards!


Quite slippery so do walk carefully.


The other side - personally, i thought this was it and i could not venture any further. According to this informative blog post here, i should have been more adventurous! Snorkeling was said to be epic at this southern part of Sapi! 

Many tourists were, like me, unaware and thought of this area as just a fantastic spot to take cheesy photographs, above water.

Humongous rock that sat in between the populated beach and hidden section.

Popular beach section - i chose a Monday to visit as i presumed that weekends would be very crowded! The only disadvantage is that with lesser people, you feel less willing to explore. Sometimes, monkeys see, monkey do could open up to a new frontier you never thought possible.

Sapi Island is known for its huge monitor lizards which i never had a chance to spot! 

Next to the enclosure was in fact another pathway that shall bring us to a hidden cliff!!! I didn't know about it until i was researching about Sapi island while doing up this post. Darn, people do research before the trip while weirdo me does it after the trip!

Buffet lunch, provided as part of our day package, was provided! 

Drinks would include free flow of fruit punch, plain water and even pepsi! Unlike the buffet lunch which would only begin at about 12 noon, drinks via the self-serviced dispensers were available right upon your arrival.

Lunch was actually quite scrumptious as fair as visual was concerned with crabs and prawns. My personal favourite was the well marinated chicken wings! 

Unfortunately, the dining experience was marred by the roasted sweet potatoes. Notice the worm!?!? Thank god my travel companion from China had a closer look!

Hungry and didn't sign up for the tour package? No problem as there was a small cafe that has quite an extensive menu. Prices were higher of course.

Menu as appended above for your reference!

With all the news about kidnapping at Sabah (although they were concentrated on the northern part where Sipadan island is), it was indeed assuring to have the police around! 

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Location
Sapi Island, Kota Kinabalau,
Sabah State, East Malaysia

Admission Fees
Applicable only to those on free and easy. 

Island Map
As above.


For the summarised itinerary of the 7 days, 6 nights Kota Kinabalu (Borneo Island) trip, please click here

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