Friday, January 27, 2017

A short trip to Kota Kinabula, Sabah

Part one of our little two week vacation -

Yes, we just arrived in Hong Kong, but our arrival was less than 12 hours before we really began our trip. Onto KK!

We made the long journey through another myriad of airport terminals and security check points before arriving at Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysia. The second we stepped out of the airport, the warm wave of sweltering heat body slammed into ...my body. Whew, humidity.

Our first full day in KK was really just sitting in a tour bus for forever long (roughly 2 hours) to get to their famous "Wildlife River Cruise" in Beaufort. I have many opinions about this but here's what you get: upon arrival you are greeted by locals relaxing in groups and selling fruits by the roadside, kids playing volleyball on pavement, and a gorgeous river quietly moving along in the horizon.

The homes and businesses are all standing along the Klias River, the tours are brought onto little boats to travel from one structure to the other. Just a quick 5-7 minute boat ride brings you to the main building where you will receive little snacks and drinks.




After your snack, you are brought back onto the boat and the tour begins to navigate around the river in search for the native proboscis monkeys lounging around the trees. Along the way you can enjoy the ever shifting skyline as the sun's rays dance along the softly flowing river. It's serene and soothing for the most part, minus the loud boat motors.




As the dusk approaches, you are greeted with a beautiful sunset to finish off the day and head back to the same structure to have a little buffet dinner.

Malaysia, being by the sea, offers a large array of seafood varieties. Everything is fresh and delicious...and affordable for us Americans. Seafood, eat food. That's my seafood joke...dumb...

After dinner you head back to the boat and start the firefly tour. I have no photos since there really isn't a way to capture the beauty of dainty fireflies circling your boat in the dark, but here's the visual: 

As you quietly drift towards the edges of the boundary of trees, the guide softly drums a dimly lit green flashlight to attract the fireflies. After a few moments, the fireflies begin to react  with little flickers of light and gently dance around the boats. Leaning forward, you will find nature's version of flickering Christmas lights dancing against a sea of dazzling stars that fill the nights sky. The combination of flickering lights and falling stars are amplified as their reflections perform the same dance from the river's gentle flow. 

As my sister, Olivia said, "It looks like the stars have fallen to the trees."

My other sister, Odona's assessment was: "The fireflies aren't coming to find a mate, they are just finding a dance partner."

Both amazing.


First tour day in Malaysia done and in the books. My overall assessment was that the unique moments were certainly winners. I'm not sure if I have a river cruise and firefly tour in my area, so those were memorable.

The actual tour group we joined sucked, the tour guides sucked, the people we were on the tour with sucked. I'm a Debby Downer sometimes. Here's my lesson learned (and this will repeat with my other Malaysia blogs) when you are finding a tour to join please research what types of reviews they receive. Consider what type of people you'll be touring with. I can't get any more specific without being mean so I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hong Kong Travels - Day 1

It's been over 12 years since I've last traveled to Asia so it felt like a good time to fix that by taking a few weeks off and jumping on the next available flight to Hong Kong. An incredibly long 14 hour flight...I did see a few movies to help with the time pass quickly.

Prior to coming here I searched through numerous blogs to find the best places to visit and any good tips for traveling through Hong Kong. Everyone has great tips and photos but hey, what's wrong with adding some more things to the blogosphere? I'm going to avoid putting obvious tips that much better bloggers have already offered, ie. getting an Octopus card for ease of payment or the vast 7-Elevens/Circle K's to look out for. Instead, I'll try to share a few things I hadn't thought about prior to arrival.

Tip one: Bring your own packets of tissues or buy some upon arrival. Restaurants and public toilets do not provide napkins or toilet paper.

I'm not really what most consider a "foodie" though I do enjoy good meals and unique foreign delectables. Though I am on vacation so I am conveniently trying good meals and unique foreign delectables so I decided to take advantage of my downtime and share some yummy meals.

As soon as we landed and dropped off our luggage, we headed towards a little dim sum place called Gut Gut Dim Sum in Kwun Tong. It's a little restaurant in one of those steep side streets where the dim sum is ordered on a sheet and delivered fairly quickly - hot and fresh too!

Tip two: Upon receiving the table settings of plates, bowls, cups, spoons, and chopsticks restaurants provide a little bowl and a teapot of hot water for you to use to clean your utensils. People will pour the tea into the teacup and rise the rest of the tableware into the separate bowl.

Tip three: Coming from USA makes eating in foreign countries quite challenging as we are so accustomed to large portions. This restaurant had portions of two per plate so if you're ordering for the first time make sure you double check!

Restaurant review time - we ordered the usuals: phong jau, shu mai, chasu baos, and rice cake. All were tasty and had a slightly different flair from our usual Los Angeles dim sums. The shu mai was actually much bigger than expected and had a chewier texture. The phong jau (probably spelled that terribly...I'm trying to say chicken feet :D) had a nice flavor and very soft yet chewy texture. My overall assessment was that the meal was great and my parents are ready to come back for round two.

Ok, that's it from me for now...more later!



Later now -
After going through a very long bus ride to the airport, checking in at Terminal 2 and then having to transfer on two subway cars back to Terminal 1 we made it to the gate for the next part of our trip. With the clock ticking towards the boarding time, we rushed to the nearby fast food restaurant to get a bite to eat.

I won't go into great detail about the meal because we all finished it in great haste within 15-20 minutes. But I will say that Hong Kong is fairly well known for their fish balls and fish ball-related foods. The texture of the fish balls are firm and chewy but soft and juicy as well... I know there are a lot of innuendos here and my childish husband would be giggling but oh well... If you are looking for a good and quick meal, I would suggest finding a restaurant that serves soupy noodles with fish balls because they are little bursts of flavor for your palette.

We've now arrived at Sabah, Malaysia to really start the vacation so I will try to provide more updates soon! :)