So yeah it was just the six of us who finally were able to go on with the trip. Out first day/night was like a series of unfortunate events. First, Janice and Al weren’t able to come because Janice was sick. Then Allan was held back in line on the check-in counter because of his passport. After Immigrations and the final x-ray thing, Penny and I had to go back to the check-in counter to check-in our umbrellas because we had them in our carry-on bags (umbrellas were not allowed because of the long metals). Pao and Joema were joking that they were the only ones left and be together the whole trip haha! But things did not end here in the Philippines. At the airport at Kota Kinabalu, after I got my passport stamped and was already waiting for our luggages, Joema called me back and said the Immigration officer was asking for me. I was like “Huh? WTF?!?!?” It turned out he stamped 90 days in my passport and had it revised to 30 days. Then when I left the counter for the second time, he called me back again because he did not give me back the portion of the disembarkation card that I had to keep for my departure. I was telling them later on that the officer was so entranced by my beauty (or the lack of it) that he gave me 90 days to stay on the island. =P After we all got our luggages, we searched for our sundo but as luck would have it, the hostel forgot to arrange our airport pick-up. Ugh! Good thing there were Filipinas there who were picking up other people, they help us talk to the guy manning the Tourist Information desk. He called the hostel and we asked them to pick us up. We had to wait for 30 minutes before we were picked up. After that, everything went smoothly na. I think the taxi drivers of our cabs (as in 3 cabs because there were nine of us originally, kaya ayun isang cab isang couple ang nakasakay), were expecting us to give them tips. Oh so sorry because we still didn’t have ringgits then. We planned to have our money exchanged when we reach the city. So that’s the first things we did after checking in our things at the hostel. We went to Centerpoint Mall, it’s like Tutuban Mall (but I think that was only one part of the mall, the other part was more sosy), to have our pesos exchanged to ringgits.
We had dinner the nearby Sedco Complex. And when I say nearby, it was just next door. The complex was sort of our dampa here in Metro Manila. Pili ka ng fish, prawns, crabs or any other seafood then they will cook it for you. There was another Filipina there, the waitress who took our beverage orders. I tell you there were a lot of Pinoys in Kota Kinabalu which was really good because it made things easier for us. We ordered seafood fried rice, prawns and fish. Ang sarap!
After dinner we went to the night market. But only a few stalls were open because it was raining. Parati na lang ata umuulan pag bumabiyahe kami kaya natuto na kami lahat..lahat kami may dala ng umbrella. We went back to the hostel feeling a bit tired and disappointed because we didn’t get to do much on our first night.
Since we didn’t have our tour guides (Janice and Al) we had a sort of hard time deciding what to do on our first whole day in Kota Kinabalu. Whole day island hopping in Tunku Adbul Rahman Park? City tour? Will we be able to squeeze in Klias Wetlands? Where do we arrange the package tour? How do we got to the jetty – taxi or arrange with the hostel? After talking to the reception lady at the hostel (she can’t understand or speak that much English) and talking to someone over the cellphone (I think it was their manager) we decided to just arrange the pick-up and ferry to Manukan island (part of TAR park) at the hostel. We shelled out RM40 per pax for that. We didn’t have time to eat breakfast because after a few minutes the van was already there. They took us to the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort where the Beach Bums Jetty was located. And the travel gods was looking down on us that day because from the resort we made arrangements for the Klias Wetlands later that after plus they gave us 10% off from the original price of RM190 because we were a big group. Yey! They told us to leave Manukan island at 130pm and the van will pick us up at 2pm at the resort lobby. Weeeee!!!!
The beach sand in Manukan island is not powdery. Actually it's not recommended for swimming dahil puro bato talaga yung beach. There were a lot of fish to feed though. As in super dami.
We had lunch at the island where we met another Pinoy, Mang Justine, who gave us free chicken bbq. =) Actually, Pao made a mistake of ordeing the bbq instead of the chicken satay. Nung cinorrect namin binigay pa rin nya sa min yung bbq compliments of him. Trivia pala, yung ibang Pinoy don actually dun na pinanganak so they understant Tagalog pero they don't speak. Katuwa nga e kasi when you ask them if they're Pinoy they will say yes pero technically hindi na because they were born and raised in Sabah, like Mang Justine.
After lunch we rode the ferry back to Shangri-la. Ganda don! Wish we could have stayed there. Mga kurips kasi sa board and lodging haha. This was were we were picked up the van that will take us to Klias Wetlands for a river cruise. We rode for two hours before arriving at Gamana River. Ready na for the cruise!
There we saw different kinds of monkeys - proboscis monkey, long tail macaques and silver langurs. Then after dinner we were able to see thousands of fireflies glow like Christmas lights. Sayang lang dahil we only saw that for a few minutes. Then it was time to head back to Kota Kinabalu.
We intended to go to Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Springs. We originally decided to take the public bus going to Kinabalu Park but after eating breakfast and walking to the bus stop, as you may have noticed our original plans don’t really happen, a Pinoy sweet talked us into hiring their van going to Kinabalu Park. We paid them RM120 for the whole van which is okay because the bus fare to the park would cost us around RM15-20 per person. They just told us to take the bus going back to the city proper and make sure that we don’t go home later than 5pm because that’s the last ride back to the city. As you would have guessed that didn’t push through as well. We rented out a van going to Poring Hot Spring and commissioned the driver to bring us back to Kota Kinabalu. I think he asked for RM220 for it. But I’m getting ahead of the story.
We're no mountain climbers so we followed a few trails at the Kinabalu Park. Sayang it was cloudy so we did not see the peak of Mt. Kinabalu. Anyways, we first followed the Bukit Tupai Trail where we went to see their botanical garden. Then we went to Padanus Trail hoping to get a peek of the mountain. Argh! Akyat ng akyat na wala naman palang patutunguhan. Sabi ni Joema "We're beach loving people, bat ba tayo napunta dito?".
After the 500m mark we went down the Kiau View trail. Super pagod after that. We had lunch at the cafe at the foot of the mountain.
Poring Hot Spring naman after that. We were a bit disappointed with the place. We didn't get to soak in the hot spring dahil hindi namin ma-take ang itsura. The hot spring in Camiguin was much better (or was that because it was already dark when we got there?) Anyways, we just soaked our feet in the tub for feet only haha! Then we waited for our van na. We asked him to pick us up at 5pm but since wala nga kaming ginawa sa hot spring we were already at the rendezvous before 5pm. We were so bored waiting...
In fairness naman he arrived exactly on time. Super speed driver namin before 7pm we were at the waterfront of Kota Kinabalu na. Natuwa kami sa nakita naming malll at dun na kami nag-dinner. Sarap dinner namin and super mura. By the time we were full, we're ready to explore the city again. We went back to the night market and were able to buy a few more things. Including some glow-in-the-dark shirt na hindi naman nagglow. Hayop! Penny and Joema bought the same shirt...different times lang dahil we separated while browsing through the market..pero they got it different prices. Mas mura ng RM5 yung kay Penny...tapos yung kay Joema kulang pa ng logo sa likod ng shirt. Laugh trip talaga!
Since it was a Sunday, our schedule well me and Joema squeezed in our schedule to hear mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Karamunsing. While the others went to the Handicraft store at the waterfront and bought pasalubong. Anyways, after the mass Joema and I had a hard time finding a taxi that will take us to Warisan Mall. We were two lost tourists walking around. We had to go back to the church and ride a bus. There was a friendly passenger who told us that we had to get off the bus at the same stop he got off and that we had to walk going to the mall. Argh! Walk again?!?!?! But since this story has an ending, we were finally able to reach the mall and meet up with the others. We were so hungry! Buti na lang the store where they bought the pasalubong was just a block away. I asked Joema to buy our pasalubong first before we eat para makapahinga kami ng dire-diretso. After eating (whil the others went around the mall), we all headed back towards the hostel for check-out. Then it was bye-bye time.
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