Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 April: Kota Kinabalu: Last Day and More Shopping

Travel Date: April 23, 2010
Destination: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Friday, my last day in KK. I was able to attend a very small mass ceremony in Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu. They have an English mass every day at 6am. Go to the back door of the church as this is where the mass is held.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabaluhttp://sacredheartcathedral.net/component/option,com_contact/Itemid,28/
14b
Jalan Menteri, P. O. Box 10049
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, 88800


I had difficulty going back to the Hotel, but was able to resturn after getting lost for an hour.

After late breakfast, was able to roam around KK Plaza, Wisma Merdaka, Sinsuran Complex and Sabah Suria. Was able to send my postcards at their post office. Some of our Filipino words are related to their Malayan language, our “tulak” is their “tolak” and our “bukas” is their “buka”. I appreciate our door signs being on English language as open and closed.

While I was eating in a pasta restaurant, I saw this clip in a magazine.

While packing, here are my loots: Lexus biscuits which are my favorite, 3 pairs of Vinci shoes and Starbucks City Mug for my collection.

Upon check-in at the airport, all luggage should pass this x-ray machine. 8pm is my flight back to the Manila via 5J 734.

Thank you HK Lee for touring me around the city, the Filipino people at Next Café, the Cititel Manager who emailed me back on my suggestions. I appreciate the bus driver who made me lost on my last day, and to all the cab drivers who safely sent me to my destinations.

2010 April: Kota Kinabalu: Beach and Shopping

Travel Date: April 21-22, 2010
Destination: Manukan Island, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Wednesday, upon my arrival from Brunei, I get my taxi coupon and go to Cititel again. I got my luggage without any issues and without anything missing. After check-in procedure and settling my things at my new smaller room with a cheaper price, I immediately went out for window shopping. Why I’m here in Malaysia? To buy Vinci! Haha! I went to Centerpoint and Warisan Shopping Mall checking out the prices. I also tried the food at their food court.

Thursday, is my beach day. From Cititel to Jesselton Point, the cab fare is 20RM. I bought my own snorkeling gears and good thing there is a group who is also going to Manukan, so as suggested by the counter I just joined their boat. Return fare for Manukan Island is 23 RM. The separate entrance for non-Malaysian is 10RM. Life jacket can be rented for 5-10RM. I choose Manukan over Sapi or Mumutik Islands due to security; since I’m on a solo journey I’d rather be safe. Manukan Island has more people (but still serene), has restaurants and stores, and has very good shower rooms, and no lizard or crocodile in the sand area. Beach closer to the arrival area has much jellyfish than when you stay on the farther area of the beach. The sand is white and pure and the water is so clear, that even if you are not yet snorkeling you can already see school of fish.



Before 12nn, I went back to the hotel to freshen up, took my lunch and now ready to go to their new mall, 1Borneo.

There is a free shuttle ride from Warisan Square near the taxi stand. The coach leaves every half hour.

1Borneo MallWebsite: http://www.1borneo.com/
Direction:
http://sabahbah.com/kota-kinabalu-shopping-centres/1borneo/371/how-to-get-to-1-borneo
One Borneo Rainforest has its free entrance but you can skip this, there is nothing to see here. The Borneo SeaWorld is still closed (April 2010). I was able to buy my Starbucks City Mug collection here at 1 Borneo for 42RM.


Outside the mall, is the Tune Hotels which is also cheap and new. By 6pm, I took again the free return transfer from the shopping complex back to Warisan Square.

2010 April: Kota Kinabalu: City Tour

Travel Date: April 20, 2010 Tuesday
Destination: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

The next day, I booked for a City Tour at the travel agency at the Lobby of Cititel Express. You can contact them prior to your arrival at 1tourandadventure@gmail.com. I do recommend their tour but not the airport transfer.

The tour guide arrived at 8am at the Hotel Lobby. I really thought that I’ll be joining a group tour, but I was wrong. I was like in a huge van (like can accommodate 15 passengers), where I’m the only tourist to be guided for the half-day! However, I feel safe during the whole trip and thanks to HK Lee who has been very accommodating and act as a driver, tour guide, and photographer all in one.

Our first stop is the Atkinson Clock. It is the oldest standing structure in the whole of Sabah that survived the destruction of Jesselton town during World War II.


The Signal Hill is the highest point in the city. You can see the main road, building strip, and the water front from this location.

Next stop is the Floating Mosque also known as City Mosque at Likas Bay (with Blue Dome). The floating Mosque opens every day for Muslim prayer. You are not allowed to go in unless you are Muslim and do your prayer.

Then, since we arrived ahead of time, we were able to pass this long stretch of walkway going to the sea. Then at 9:30am we entered UMS Marine Aquarium Museum. I’m not happy with their procedure of having a separate entrance for the camera. Like you are non-Malaysian, you will pay 10RM for the entrance and you will need to pay a separate 10RM for every camera you have. It is a museum of the bones and shells of the species they found in the Sabah waters. They do have few aquariums inside. You can skip this if you have been to Sentosa Underwater Aquarium or Manila Oceanarium.



Next, we went to Yayasan Sabah also known as Menara Tun Mustpha or the Sabah Foundation Building. It is a circular tower with 30 floors. It houses auditoriums, theaters, offices and a revolving restaurant. We were able to visit the restaurant but it is still closed during that time. It is very elegant, nice paintings, soft sofas and chairs, and of course nice view to watch the KK city. You can even see the peak of Mount Kinabalu.


We had a quick stop in Filipino Market. They have different dried seafood and seaweeds, also offers traditional bags, clothes and textiles. This place is also the featured in Amazing Race Asia Season 4 Episode 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOPuqV6jHMc).

We ended the trip by returning to the Hotel. I had a quick lunch, then, check-out at the hotel. Lock and left my luggage at their Safe Room and go the airport for my flight going to Brunei.

2010 April: Kota Kinabalu: The Arrival and Hotel

Travel Date: April 19, 2010 Monday
Destination: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

I took flight 5J 733 via Cebu Pacific from Manila to Kota Kinabalu. I arrived at Tanjung Aru Terminal 2 at around 8pm. It took me around an hour to pass the Immigration due to long queue of tourists and slow action of the Officers. I was about to be pick-up by the cab driver who I booked at the hotel, but he was no longer there. Since the Foreign Money Exchange is already closed at that time, I used the ATM to withdraw some money. It will automatically convert your entire peso to ringgit. Then, I looked for the coupon-sales and taxi-booking counter. I told them which Hotel I’ll be going, paid 20RM and finally got the coupon. Then, I gave it to the cab driver who is on queue.

Tip: try to study the map, so at least you will have confidence on which road you are in, aware if you are going to the right direction and conscious that you are finally reaching your hotel. After traveling for 15 minutes, I reached Cititel Hotel. In less than 10 minutes, I was able to complete the check-in procedures. The restaurant at the lobby still offers food and it tasted so good.

Restaurant at the Cititel Hotel Lobby: Next CaféBuffet Breakfast: 10RM (150php)
Dinner/Lunch: 9RM (Main Course + Soup) (135php)


I booked for a Standard Room (12 sqm) with Double Bed with windows at a very low price since it is just new during that time so they still have opening/early-bird discounts. I must say, that this is a good choice of Hotel. Very clean, very new (at April 2010), and also has modern facilities. Air-conditioner is working fine. Bed and pillows are soft. LCD TV works as both cable TV and radio in one. They also offer free toiletries, mugs, and hair dryer. Other services in the floor are free hot and cold drinking water, microwave oven, iron, and iron board. It's location is very near Centerpoint Mall.

CITITEL EXPRESS, KOTA KINABALU
No. 1, Jalan Singgah Mata 1, Asia City 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Borneo)
Tel: 6088 521 188 (Hotel)

http://www.cititelexpress.com/KK/index.html

2009 Oct: Taiwan: Day 7: Goodbye Taipei!

Travel Date: October 25, 2009

I tried to wake up early to finished packing my stuff. After a quick breakfast, I decided to checkout and left my baggage at the hotel. I’m doing this so fast cause I need to rush to the same church I visited on my first day for the Sunday mass.

After the mass, I don’t know where to go. Simply because, I did not prepare for this day. I should be going home by lunch time per the previous flight schedule. So I just grabbed the map and search for places where I can go to.

I’ve seen Yamingshan National Park on television. After taking bus R5 at Jiantan Station, for few minutes you’ll feel getting colder as the bus is going up to the mountains. Quiet like a Baguio trip in less than 30 minutes. I walked for a few meters, then decided to go back to the bus station. Why? It would be a very long if I proceed further. So I advise that if you really want to see the bunch of trees and flowers blooming at Yamingshan, just join the group tour.


Next stop, Yuanshan Station for the museums. I decided to go inside Taipei Fine Arts Museum. But what the! People are in queue, it was a very long line - for the Pixar exhibit.


Instead of that, I headed to Taipei Story House, even though just a very small place, I enjoyed it a lot.

From here, I transferred to blue lane for Ximending Station. I visited street market and the Red Playhouse. It is a museum, coffee shop and souvenir shop at the same time.



Then, I went back to the Main Station. Inside the K-Mall, I visited Taiwan Storyland. It shows how the old Taiwan village looks like. It has the old bicycles, old phones, a sample store of old cameras. It looks like seeing Taiwan in the past.

After dinner, I went back to the hotel to get my stuff.

I boarded the bus going to the Airport. Terminal 1 is simply boring. Good thing that Gate B9 is just close to Terminal 2. Below is a telephone booth and coffee shop at 12 midnight.



After having a hot chocolate, I slept and still waited for my 1:25am flight back to Manila.



Thank you to my "calling" alarm clock for keeping me awake during the last minutes of my stay on your place.
I trully appreciate my family for allowing me to visit this country - alone! Thank you again to the drivers, guides, individuals who helped me during my stay, finding the right directions and giving me tips.


Summary of 7 days 6 nights Itinerary on 2009 Taiwan Trip

Day
Places to see
Food and Restaurants
Where to Sleep
Day 1
St. John Bosco Church
Miramar (Ferris Wheel)

Day 2
National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
NTUniversity
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101
 Lunch @ Mr. J Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 3
Dinner @ Modern Toilet
City Inn Hotel
Day 4

City Inn Hotel
Day 5
Walking on Tianmu Area
Fisherman’s Walking Area
P.S. Bu Bu Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 6
National Palace Museum
Taipei Story Land
Hello Kitty Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 7
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taiwan Storyland

City Inn Hotel

2009 Oct: Taiwan: Day 6: Meeting Hello Kitty and Rainy Visit at Museum

Travel Date: October 24, 2009
I woke up late due to the weather, cloudy skies and scattered rain showers. After a light breakfast in bed, I went straight to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. I have visited some malls in the area before going to Hello Kitty Restaurant.

Hello Kitty Restaurant
Location: No. 90, Da An Road, Sec. 1 (near intersection of Da An Road and Zhong Xiao E Road, Sec 4) Zhong Xiao/FuXing MRT
Hours: Sun- Thurs 11:30 AM - 10 PM; Fri- Sat 11:30 AM - 11 PM

As expected, everything is marked with Hello Kitty. The chairs and tables are pink, the walls are painted with Kitty faces. I ordered here tuna and tomato with kiwi shake.


At the lobby, cakes were sold from 120NT to more than a thousand NT.
After my lunch there, I went back to the hotel to meet my friend. In the afternoon, we visited the National Palace Museum, it’s the biggest museum I’ve visited so far. Almost 3 floors of artifacts, old vases, paintings, and mini sculptures. My favorites are the intricate design of a cabbage and small vessels. Picture taking is prohibited inside the museum.

NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM 国立故宫博物院
Entrance: 160NT
Transportation: Take the MRT Danshui Line to the Shilin Station and take bus R30 (Red 30) or 255 to the National Palace Museum.

We almost spent 2 hours in the Museum. After dinner, we walked to Shilin Market. That place is just a crazy world, it is like in every square meter there is 10-20 people at least. Yes, it was a Saturday night and you should be avoiding this place. If you can visit it on some other time, try to do so. Being there on a weekend night is a big no no.

After a long day and since this is my last night at the hotel, I was thinking of tasting either Heineken (KZ Xiao Tian‘s endorsement) or Taiwan Beer. And this action is not advisable: either you will wake up late the next morning, you’ll missed packing your things, or simply will have a not so good mood at the airport.




Summary of 7 days 6 nights Itinerary on 2009 Taiwan Trip

Day
Places to see
Food and Restaurants
Where to Sleep
Day 1
St. John Bosco Church
Miramar (Ferris Wheel)

Day 2
National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
NTUniversity
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101
 Lunch @ Mr. J Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 3
Dinner @ Modern Toilet
City Inn Hotel
Day 4

City Inn Hotel
Day 5
Walking on Tianmu Area
Fisherman’s Walking Area
P.S. Bu Bu Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 6
National Palace Museum
Taipei Story Land
Hello Kitty Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 7
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taiwan Storyland

City Inn Hotel

2009 Oct: Taiwan: Day 5: Tracing the Footsteps of DaoMS

Travel Date: October 23, 2009

Woke-up early because I wanted to have bagel again for breakfast, but Dante’s Coffee already moved out. Good thing, it was also served in Burger King. I’m the only customer on that morning.

Immediately after breakfast, I took a train going to Danshui Station (last station of Danshui Lane: Red). Take Exit 1, if you want to roam around the area. Visit the market street or the 4 floor Starbucks building.

Go to Exit 2, if you need to find the bus terminal.
Take Bus R26, which will send you to Danshui Fisherman’s Wharf. This is the same bus that will return to Danshui Station.


From Danshui, I drop off at Shipai Station to reach Tianmu area. This is one of the reasons I visited Taiwan - I need to see P.S. Bu bu. From the Exit gate, the bus stop is located just across the street. Wait for Bus R19, this will pass by the restaurant.

From trip advisor: Take that bus R19 to the end of Zhongshan N Rd Sec 7, to the last stop and walk down the road on the left side of the street, PS Bubu about 2 mins away.
This is the famous car restaurant used in Meteor Garden. I did not bother to use the pink mini cooper, I’m fine with the white one to give me a very nice view of the pink car. The 1991 newspaper is still posted on their wall. Most of the car plates in the restaurant are from United States. True, that the food is pricey, but I enjoyed eating there.
From here, I went to Wufenpu Shopping District, night market for clothes.

How: The best way to get to Wufenpu is by MRT. Take the Bannan (Blue) line to Houshanpi station and go out Exit 4. The market is a five-minute walk from the station along YongJi Road.
Then I took a cab to reach NeiHu RT Mart (Esprit Outlet) and Outlet Leeco mall (Adidas, Converse, Nautica, Columbia Outlets). You can skip this two outlet malls, they only offer few and old stocks. There are better finds in Mongkok and HK outlets.


Summary of 7 days 6 nights Itinerary on 2009 Taiwan Trip

Day
Places to see
Food and Restaurants
Where to Sleep
Day 1
St. John Bosco Church
Miramar (Ferris Wheel)

Day 2
National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
NTUniversity
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101
 Lunch @ Mr. J Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 3
Dinner @ Modern Toilet
City Inn Hotel
Day 4

City Inn Hotel
Day 5
Walking on Tianmu Area
Fisherman’s Walking Area
P.S. Bu Bu Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 6
National Palace Museum
Taipei Story Land
Hello Kitty Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 7
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taiwan Storyland

City Inn Hotel

2009 Oct: Taiwan: Day 4: Visiting Lavender Farm

Travel Date: October 22, 2009

Woke-up early and had breakfast from Dante’s Coffee, I loved bagel and cream cheese.

This day is my Taoyuan challenge. I’ve been wanting to see the farm used in Leo and Yshin’s series, Lavender. After doing the research, I found that it was Tomita Farm located in Taoyuan. But, when I reached the place and due to unexpected drizzle, I decided to visit only Tashee Blooming Oasis (few more minutes and you will also see Tomita Farm).

From Taipei, I dropped off at Ximen MRT Station. From my research, travelers were advise that from Taipei’s Gueiyang Street (貴陽街) in front of the Soochow University annex (located between Ximending and Presidential Office, east of Zhonghua Rd), board a Taipei Bus (台北客運) or Taoyuan Bus (桃園客運) bus to Dasi. I waited for Bus 9103 on the school side. Below is a sample bus ticket that you will received from the driver, and which should be returned upon drop off.

Bus route map from Taipei to Dasi: http://www.tpebus.com.tw/image/1011.gif

From the bus station on Daxi town, I took a cab and it is almost a 15 minute travel for less than 160NT.
I paid 80NT on the Tashee Blooming Oasis admission fee, I got a 20NT discount from the Youth Travel Card.
Since I decided to go to the other farm instead of the one used in Lavender, I’m surprised that they still have Lavender plants.
I’m also amazed that the Love at the Corner series also shoot in the area.
Other series that I’m not familiar with the title but with the actors are Rainie Yang, 5566, etc.
They also offer the Lavender bottle and different teas.

I had vegetable pasta for lunch, more expensive that the usual.

At around 1pm, I left the area. It took me around 30 minutes waiting for a cab to return to Daxi bus station. The bus to Taipei arrived at around 2pm, if I missed it I need to wait for the 4pm bus.
I arrived at almost 4pm in Ximen, I looked for Far Eastern Department store to find the supermarket. I think it is cheaper to buy chocolate and tea pasalubong from supermarket rather than keychain or shirt from night market.


Summary of 7 days 6 nights Itinerary on 2009 Taiwan Trip

Day
Places to see
Food and Restaurants
Where to Sleep
Day 1
St. John Bosco Church
Miramar (Ferris Wheel)

Day 2
National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
NTUniversity
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101
 Lunch @ Mr. J Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 3
Dinner @ Modern Toilet
City Inn Hotel
Day 4

City Inn Hotel
Day 5
Walking on Tianmu Area
Fisherman’s Walking Area
P.S. Bu Bu Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 6
National Palace Museum
Taipei Story Land
Hello Kitty Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 7
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taiwan Storyland

City Inn Hotel

2009 Oct: Taiwan: Day 3: Day Tour at Taroko Gorge, Hualien

Travel Date: October 21, 2009

My 3rd day is a guided tour in Hualien. This is the cheapest tour I found from Taipei, because they offer it via train. Most of the Hualien tours are using airplane.Try to understand your train ticket. Get into the station as early as you can, so will have enough time looking for your waiting area.

Merry Travel Service (Taipei)
Phone:886(2)25652780
Address:8-2F, No. 54, Songjiang Rd., Taipei, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Web: www.hunters-tour.com.tw

Ticket below shows the time of departure and arrival. Take note of the coach number (2) and seat number (25). Along the way, a ticket inspector will check if you have the correct ticket.


Upon arrival (10:41am) at the Hualien Station, find your way to the Visitor’s Information counter. Get some maps that will still help you on the tour.

When the bus arrived, I got frustrated that I booked for the Mandarin tour. I checked it online that it was an English tour. Good thing that my co-tourists were accommodating and generous to translate to me important information along the way.

The tour includes pass at Cihmu Bridge, stroll on Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail, look at Changchun Shrine and stop over at Cisingtan Beach.


The tour guide also sent us to a Jade shop and souvenir stores. I love the chocolate mochi I got from Hualien.

I arrived at the Hualien train station few minutes before the departure time, but I felt like I really need to run to find the train. I’m not able to take a photo of the bullet train from outside because I’m afraid that I might be left behind. So I just stay inside the train and wait until it depart from Hualien.


When I get back to Taipei proper, I immediately go to Ximending to find Modern Toilet (this will be my third, I had my first and second at Mongkok, Hong Kong). I ordered for the seafood pasta meal, thus, I was able to taste the ice cream that looks like a poop.
Restaurant: Modern Toilet, Ximending Store, Taipei (http://www.moderntoilet.com.tw/en/store.asp )
Address: 2F., No.7, Lane 50, Sining S. Rd., Wanhua District, Taipei City
Weekdays: AM11:30 ~ PM10:00 (Last order by 9:00PM)

Near Ximending MRT, Exit 6, I was lucky enough to watch a mini concert which also features English songs.


Summary of 7 days 6 nights Itinerary on 2009 Taiwan Trip

Day
Places to see
Food and Restaurants
Where to Sleep
Day 1
St. John Bosco Church
Miramar (Ferris Wheel)

Day 2
National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
NTUniversity
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Taipei 101
 Lunch @ Mr. J Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 3
Dinner @ Modern Toilet
City Inn Hotel
Day 4

City Inn Hotel
Day 5
Walking on Tianmu Area
Fisherman’s Walking Area
P.S. Bu Bu Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 6
National Palace Museum
Taipei Story Land
Hello Kitty Restaurant
City Inn Hotel
Day 7
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taiwan Storyland

City Inn Hotel