During the first time I set foot in Malaysia back in 2010, we only had one day and between Melaka, Genting Highlands and the Batu Caves, we decided to play with the clouds. It was only during the month-long Southeast Asia backpacking trip that I made it to Melaka and to the Batu Caves, both thanks to my fried Rajie who took time off her busy schedule to tour me, Lalai and Tetet! 🙂 Anyway, Batu Caves, as the name suggests (in Tagalog, batu, well bato, means stone), is a series of caves and cave temples inside a limestone hill. Batu Caves is a popular tourist spot and Hindu temple site around 13kms north of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. The area is surrounded by birds feeding on corn kernels the visitors throw around and by a small pond of ducks and koi fish. You’d need to climb up about 8-10 floors worth of stairs, alongside monkeys that can be pretty violent when they see food, to get inside the caves and the temples. Rajie, at the time at least, was not a devout Hindu so we were not sure whether the stories of Kartikeya (the massive golden statue at the foot of the caves to which the cave temples are dedicated to), and his family (daddy = Shiva, mommy = Parvati, brother = Ganapathi) and the peacock he’s riding, were as accurate as the scripts or just made up bedtime stories! It was quite entertaining though. 🙂 After visiting the caves, you might want to relax your legs and knees a bit and stay a while by the small pond, watching the ducks and koi fish glide and swim. Or, you can also pay a visit to Lord Hanuman, the monkey god, farther on the left.
Melaka or Malacca in mainland Malaysia is a fusion of Malay, Chinese, Portuguese and Anglo architecture, tradition and cultures. I remember when I was in grade school and high school, Malacca is always mentioned as part of Filipino and Asian history, but mostly underscoring it’s importance as a spice capital and trading post. When I found myself actually in Melaka, there was barely any evidence left of it being the choice port of call among galleon traders. What remains, however, is a beautiful and rich mixture of multi-cultural influence from its former leaders and/or colonizers — Malay food, Chinese temples, Portuguese and Dutch churches, imposing forts, and cobbled stone streets. Not to mention the arts (several art shops and paint-on-the-spot street artists), crafts and cuisine that can be seen and had while going through street after street of historical buildings and establishments. A mere 2 hours south on a private car (thanks to Rajie for bringing me and my two friends traveling at the time), perhaps 2.5 hours when riding tour buses) from Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Melaka can be a quick and easy side trip to include in your vacay travel itinerary.;
Day 3: Kota Kinabalu-Labuan-Brunei via Ferry (the route most traveled)
After a great day and evening spent with Zuldee and Sally, I spent some more time chatting with the other guests at Sensi Backpackers. The Shanghai family is scheduled to leave the day after, just like me. We spent some more hours just chatting and me trying to convince them to come here in the Philippines. After that, my eyes and body finally gave in to the strong pull of the comfortable bed.
I woke up at about 6am and readied my stuff. I grabbed some breakfast too, and got myself some baon fruits (an apple and an orange), free! :p Before I left, I bade Sally goodbye (she told me to wake her) and promised that I’d see if I can come back to Kota Kinabalu before she returns to London (December 18). Unfortunately, I did not hold future at my hands and as much as I wanted to return and visit the Kota Kinabalu National Park, I no longer can. (If you are reading this Sally, I’m sorry! Come visit me instead! Hehe)
Anyway, if my camera time tag is correct, I am still having my bread toasted at 6:45am. The ferry that would take me from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei, passing through Labuan Federal Territory of Malaysia, is set to leave at 8am. Meaning, I should have been on my way at that time already instead of having two toasted bread with butter (more of margarine actually), strawberry jam and orange marmalade. So, I had to rely on my long legs and even longer strides to get me there before the departure time. I even made some stops actually, taking snaps here and there (I think I ended up erasing those here and there snaps when I ran out of memory somewhere in Vietnam).
I think it took me about 20 minutes walking from Sensi to Jesselton. It probably helped that I have been to Jesselton the day before for my Sapi Island Hopping Half-day Tour. I bought my ticket (sorry, I’ll try to juggle my memory to remember from which counter it was purchased) and paid the terminal fee. I asked for the cheapest ticket available (economy ticket), priced at RM53 + RM 3.6 for the terminal fee at Jesselton.
I figured, we’d all get there anyway. Besides, it’s an air-conditioned cabin whether you choose first-class or economy. Perhaps they got a better view though. Or they would be served a meal or something. I really didn’t know and I didn’t care so much. What mattered to me at that time was that I can save some bucks. :p Continue reading Backpacking South East Asia: Onward from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei
On the way back from Sapi Island, Zuldee has already called me to say that his meeting is finished and that he’ll wait for me by the entrance of Jesselton Point. He has generously offered to take me around Kota Kinabalu City to see the sights that I wanted to see.
Day 2: Walkabout the City Center-Jesselton Point-Sapi Island, TAR Marine Park
If there was one thing I really hated about the cancellation of my flight to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, it would be the full day I was supposed to spend at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
You see, I’m not much of a shopper so not being able to go to the Sunday Market at Gaya Street did not really get me too frustrated about it. But, I am a beach person–not necessarily a swimming one but more of a stare-at-the-horizon-while-doing-nothing kind. Plus I like to go underwater too–if only to snorkel and see the little fishies I only see in aquariums or TV shows. So, when I was planning the trip, it was the only must-do in the list. Continue reading Backpacking South East Asia: Kota Kinabalu – Sand, Sea and Sky