Recovering from the Mt Kinabalu Climb

That evening after the climb, we checked into Promenade Hotel in KK city for 2 nights.

Thanks to JT who suggested that we stay in KK city after the climb rather than bring our shopping to the mountain.
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First night we had dinner at Welcome Seafood restaurant. Our Taiwanese bunk mate recommended it and so did our travel agent. It was good and importantly very near the hotel. About 6 mins walk behind the hotel (there’s a lane on the left) where you pass a seedy building with reflexology and laundry shops. There’s a decent Muslim eatery where you can get fish and chips and tea on the ground floor once you walk straight through to reach two huge thoroughfare. Cross the 2 roads (no traffic lights) and you’ll see Welcome restaurant.

If your legs are not giving way, opposite the hotel is a huge department store Oceanus Waterfront mall with typical eateries that Singaporeans are familiar with: Nandos, Secret Recipe, Starbucks. Things are quiet. Not many shops are open. Sushi Tei’s shutters are down.

Hotel
On my previous trips I stayed in the Shangrila and Le Meridien Hotels.

The Shangrila is waterfront resort (there are 2) with the service and price point of such a hotel. Promenade is half price of one and one quarter price of the other. Le Meridien has excellent breakfast and excellent steak. It is like a business hotel of international standards. Whereas Promenade is about 60% the price point of Le Meridien, it’s rooms are clean and recently renovated and the shopping mall is close by.

If you came to enjoy the sea and sand, that’s not what you get in Promenade. Its very conveniently located if you just want to get a feel of the city.

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Things to do
Walk along the waterfront
Have a drink and enjoy the evening seabreeze at Shangrila Tanjung Aru beach
Visit the central market (opposite Le Meridien hotel)
Borneo Bookshop for books on natural flora and fauna (Wisma Merdeka)
Sign up for free guided tours at Padang Merdeka
Boat trips to Sapi island (be warned that tourists have been kidnapped by Philippines pirates for ransom)
English books: Times and Popular (Suria Sabah – next to Hyatt and Wisma Merdeka)
English movie on 8th floor of Suria Sabah (8.50RM note that the shows are not the latest.)

You’ll see this word “Kedai Kopi” in front of every eatery’s name. It means coffee shop. Casual dining of local food.

Tung Feng Seafood restaurant was our first stop after arriving at the airport. Perhaps it’s inconvenient if you’re situated elsewhere. Recommended by our guide. We were happy with the fish noodles and the ko lo noodles. (Best we had during our short stay.) Fish lips, fried prawn fritter. It was around 1130 but still got a table for 7 of us. Service was prompt probably because it was Sunday ? For 7 of us the meal came to 166 ringgit including drinks.

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Fish lips

Even though its a restaurant, it’s casual and there’s no airconditioning so come in short-sleeves.
Address:
Ground Floor Lot 1,
Inanam Square, 88450 Inanam. Kota Kinabalu. Sabah

Found a writeup on this website:

Braised Fish @ Tung Fong Seafood Restaurant

http://www.everydayfoodilove.co/2010/11/kedai-kopi-wah-juan-tanjung-aru.html?m=1

Things in KK is quite expensive especially compared to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I was told it’s because imports go through Klang and then to East Malaysia which adds on extra tax and transport cost.

Noodles and more fish noodles.
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Yummy gluten free fish noodles.

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Fish noodles

Unspoiled seafront.
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Monkeying around.
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Sabah – land below the wind

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Climbing up Low’s Peak, May 2016, Photo Credits: L

We spent a short holiday in Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, otherwise known as the Land beneath the Wind. This is our itinerary with Beyond Adventures.

DAY 1 – KOTA KINABALU / KINABALU PARK HQ / RESORT
Nepenthes Lodge

We took SilkAir and arrived just about lunch. It was a pleasant day, the guide told us that this is a dry season. Not a peak period for the climb. Usually months of Feb to April are more popular, with July-August the peak period, because of European tourists.

Got a WIFI sim card at RM27 for 7 days. Went to Tung Fung for lunch. Bill was $166RM noodles for about 7 pax and some fish. Very good ko lo noodles.

Saw Giant megastore. We were told by the guide to buy our drinks at Nabalun which was 2 hrs away. We bought our water for the climb here. But since it was a Sunday, most stalls were closed. I’m surprised that the local guide was not aware. (He usually leads dives at Sapi and not climbs.) Suggestion is to use the toilet at the airport and buy your snacks and medication in your home county or KK town and not here.

Buy your 2 litres of water per pax in the city and have your lunch in the city.

We headed straight to the Kinabalu Park and spend a night at the foothills. Shopping can come later. Its a 2 hours drive from airport to Kinabalu Park HQ, winding road of the valleys of the Crocker Range.

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We make a brief stop at Nabalu. Good pit stop for toilets. 30ct per pax. Nabalu is a place where the local natives gather to sell local produce, fruits, home grown vegetables and handicraft souvenirs. As its a Sunday, most of the stalls are closed as the Kadazan Dusu natives are mostly Catholics and they’re in church.

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Different types of rice.

Check into Kinabalu Park – Nepenthes Lodge. The mountain air is cool and pleasant. There’s heated water in the toilet.

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When we arrived at the Base camp, the air was so refreshing. Our guide registered us and sent us to Nepenthes lodge (8 units ) where we stayed for the night.

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Flowers in front of our unit.

Cozy lodge with big rooms. Each unit has 1 master bedroom with queen size bed and a room with 2 single beds.There were five of us so we had 2 interconnecting units. There’s heated water for bathing and a lounge area with TV, hot water. We watched CNN and ate our own snacks.

Then it rained heavily at 530pm.

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Dinner at Balsam restaurant and we went to bed at 9pm. A light sweater with a beanie was sufficient. The bed comfortable.

DAY 2 – PARK HQ / TIMPOHON GATE / ASCEND MOUNT KINABALU / LABAN RATA

Laban Rata Rest House (Non-Heated Dormitory)
Breakfast at Balsam Park Restaurant. I did my carbo loading. Collect packed lunch, I left the apple and oily chicken wings and box behind. Kept the sandwich, hard boiled egg and oat biscuits.

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Proceed to the Park HQ to register for the climb.
Our mountain guides were changed 3 times, from Frederick, to Willie to Bill. We later learned that the mountain guide is not assigned by your tour agency but by the Park administration. Of course, if you are aligned with a major tour agency, you get the first pick of the mountain guides.

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We waited from 8am to 9am for our guide to show up. In the meantime, we had our bags weighed as we’d asked for 2 porters in addition to our guide. All’s well that ends well. Bill is a very pleasant young man.

Remember to wear your ID TAG at all times.
Our minivan transferred us downhill to the starting point – Timpohon Gate – where our journey and quest to the summit of Borneo’s highest mountain begins! I took 6 hrs to climb uphill, 2hrs longer than the estimated time by the tour agency.

We were told that the trek will pass by different vegetation zones from Oak and Chestnut to mossy and eventually to alpine type of vegetations.

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Arrived at 3pm and checked into Laban Rata Rest House @ 3272m
for a buffet Dinner at Laban Rata restaurant and overnight.

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Our tiny room had 6 bunk beds, but because there were 5 of us, we had another person join us. He’s a young Taiwanese doctor who joined Amazing Borneo and signed upon his own. He joined us for dinner and we had a smashing time.
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In the ladies toilet, I had a hot shower. Towel and toilet paper was provided but not slippers. Whether you get hot water is dependent on the number of guests and on the sun since heating is by solar panel. So don’t wash your long hair, leave some hot water for others. (I didnt tell the guys so as not to gloat over their icy cold shower.)

I slept in the clothes meant for tomorrow’s climb. We slept at 7pm, some with the help of sleeping pills. We were blessed with a quiet crowd, no wild parties, no one talking beyond bed-time, just some snoring and some tossing.

DAY 3 – LOW’S PEAK / DESCEND MOUNT KINABALU / KOTA KINABALU

(02:00hrs) Wake up for early supper and depart for continuation of journey towards the summit of Mount Kinabalu.

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We were told that the journey up to the Low’s peak @4,095m will test your fitness and determination. Weather was perfect for us. But only 2 of the team made the climb. I was part of the cheerleading team and went back to sleep soundly.

More photos of Low’s Peak on my next post.

Our two team mates who made it for the climb plus the Taiwanese doctor made their descent back to Laban Rata for late breakfast and check out. My achievement was to eat 2 breakfasts in one day.

Trek down to Timpohon Gate for transfer back to the Kinabalu Park Headquarter (est. arrival 13:00hrs to 15:00hrs). I made it at 4pm. During the climb down, I wondered why I decided to leave the comfort of my home and torture my knees. A young JB boy commented to himself, no one tricked you to the climb. You tricked yourself by not doing sufficient research. Misery makes philosophers of us.

Buffet Lunch served at the Balsam restaurant in Kinabalu Park. But since I arrived at 4.10pm, no lunch for me. Thanks to quick witted friends, I got a delicious curry fish packed lunch.

Transfer back to Kota Kinabalu City to check into Promenade Hotel.

Climbing Mt Kinabalu

Photo credits: L

Said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

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It’s 4 days after our Mount Kinabalu climb and my knees are regaining their flexibility. I appreciate the complexity of bending my legs and standing up or climbing stairs.

I’ve mixed feelings about the climb and himself is thinking of another climb regardless of how he felt during the descent. Another friend KW remarked that a sightseeing holiday without incorporating an element of overcoming personal limitations seem so meaningless. The endorphin high, a sense of achievement, an appreciation of being alone with nature.

This is what Mount Kinabalu does to you. You have not overcome the mountain. The mountain is still there but you are changed in the process.

History and legend:
http://www.mountkinabalu.com/mount-kinabalu

The climb up was enjoyable and you see different vegetation. The UNESCO world heritage site boasts an impressive 5,000 to 6,000 plant species (excluding mosses and liverworts but including ferns)

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The weather cool and the walk serene and pleasant – the mountain majestic, magical and otherworldly with hanging lichens, swirling mists and puffy clouds. No insects bother you because the ecosystem is quite well balanced.

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Gold nepenthes cup

And safe. With mountain guides ensuring you don’t veer off the track. And men in orange fatigue patrolling the area. Blending with the climbers.

Dos
Stay close to the white rope and you’re unlikely to get lost even if it gets misty.
Respect the mountain. The Kadazan Dusu people consider the place sacred.
Respect the guides. We are guests in their land.
Do bring your own drinking water (2litres). No more refillable water at the rest huts.
Bring energy bars or snacks, a light raincoat for the occasional shower.

Don’t
Don’t leave anything behind especially rubbish. At each pit-stop, there’s a rubbish bin.
Don’t take any plant specimen. You’re a guest.
Don’t talk loudly.
Don’t stop too long at the rest huts or you won’t feel like moving. Just take one step at a time.

Why climb?
1. Test of physical endurance – fastest time
2. Enjoy the flora and fauna of Borneo
3. Build comraderie with your friends especially when they offer to carry your bag

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The climb
138 permits are issued a day. You may want to book early to get a bunk and a permit. We booked about 4 months ahead and the 1 May holidays were already fully booked, so were the weekends. We climbed on a Monday.

I took 6 hrs to climb the 6km up to Laban Rata where we spent the night. Enjoyed the scenery and slow climb. I didn’t feel tired at all. Others zip through. There are a few pit stops along the way.  The climb up from Laban Rata to Low’s Peak on the 2nd day is steeper and much tougher. Add to that, another 6km downhill. But the view is quite surreal.

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Some TripAdvisor reviewers brought young children for the climb. I’m not sure how they do it as the steps at 4km onwards are huge. My legs are aching after 4 days because of the descent. Others skip through the descent, sure footed as a deer. But not me. I went down 2hrs slower than my friends and during practice I was faster than them when the ground was even. I reached the Timpohon gate at 410pm. I’m comforted that there were others who reached at 7pm. That’s 6hrs for 6km for descent. Not much cardio exertion at all. More on quad muscles and because I didn’t know where to place my steps on the rocks.

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Mountain guides
The mountain guides and porters are deft footed and though small in size can carry up heavy loads.

 

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We saw many porters carry gypsum boards (31kg), gas cylinders and even huge blue containers. Looks like they’re constructing a new hostel.

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This is when you know why the mountain guides are called unsung heroes. My porter guided me and held my hand and told me where to step. She’s qualified as a guide. A 50 year old carrying 20kg of our bags. It’s important to engage your guides and respect them.

How does one qualify as a mountain
Mountain guides have to make at least 100 climbs before they qualify. They are employed by the Parks and assigned to the various tour groups.

Most are aware of the flora and fauna. If I were to return, I’ll read up prior and ask them questions. Our friends who raced ahead didn’t see the nepenthes hiding just behind a big leaf.

We met some climbers from Amazing Borneo who too never saw their guides. (Although this company usually gets the pick. ) Like most Gen Z, a number of guides are on their handphone.
If you signed up late, you may get an inexperienced guide. (All guides grew up in the mountain and know their terrain but may be inexperienced on how to engage tourists.)

Our guide Bill carried with him some medication which came in useful when our friend had cramps. He stuck himself close to the weakest link which we appreciated much.

Your mountain guide can help carry your bag for a small fee. $10RM per kg – there’s a standard fee which you can check with the Park. Rest of your luggage can be stored at the Base camp for $16RM per day per bag.

Our itinerary for the climb:
URL: http://wp.me/p1FT3u-1kl

Preparing to Climb Kinabalu

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4 months before I signed up, I was told his friends had said “it was easy – you don’t need to train for it” to “I only brought a towel. And wear shorts for the climb”.

The reason I blog is out of gratitude to bloggers before me who post much helpful advice for my trips. This climb is no exception.

You must train for this climb if you have been sedentary. Your muscle and will must be conditioned to endure 8hrs of walking.
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But you don’t need technique or cardio. I think that’s what they mean by “even children can do it”. Children who cannot stand the idea of walking 1hr, this is not the holiday for them.

Sure, you’ll see the mountain guides do this effortlessly in one day so it depends on body type.

On our descent we saw a mountain porter piggy-back a young, tired Asian climber down the slope. I lost my senses and mistook this amazing husband demonstrating his love. On closer look – it was a mountain guide. It costs $350RM per km said my guide. We just passed the 1km descent and 5km more to go. I wished for both of them, it will not rain as none of us could afford to slip on the steep and uneven rocky steps.

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On the walls of the dormitory, I saw someone strapped on a stretcher and carried by 4 porters. Our guide explained that only when the climber was injured will you use a stretcher.

What to bring for the climb (compiled from other bloggers and my experience):
– 2 litres of water in a water camel (no more free refills)
– Raincoat or waterproof jacket
– A small / lightweight towel
– Comfortable covered hiking shoes
– Energy snacks e.g. chocolate, nuts, biscuits, sweets, energy bars
– Sun protection – Sunglass, sun screen lotion, SPF lip balm (beware of the strong UV rays)
– Hiking sticks
– A small backpack to hold your things
– A rain cover for your backpack
– Shower cap for my long hair
– pills for headache (didn’t need it)

Gave to porter:
– Personal toiletries
– Head torch
– Warm clothing like fleece jacket, hiking pants
– Change of socks, clothes and underwear
– Cap / beanie / head scarf (helps prevent heat loss, especially at night and in the early morning)
– Gloves
– Slippers for bathroom

Important
Cut your nails – you’ll feel it at the descent when your toes push against the shoes.

Altitude sickness
No mountain sickness for our whole group; we took altitude sickness pill starting one day before the climb. Half tablet in morning and half in evening, 2.5 tablets in total.

In Singapore, you need a doctor’s prescription to buy the pills. You can try Guardian pharmacy (Vivocity) if your doctor doesn’t stock.

I scared everyone in my group to taking the medication because of the blogs I read. None of us had headache. But our team think its their bod and not the drug. I’m not about to prove anything. In Tibet, I saw a young lady suffer from altitude sickness so bad.

2 friends took sleeping pills to get some sleep before the descent. I did not. Pills are light, bring them just in case.

A young JB marathon runner who climbed up and down effortlessly told me he had a bad headache. It didn’t seem to affect his performance. But at the descent he seemed to age by 10 years.
http://www.climbingmtkinabalu.com/2012/06/altitude-sickness-health.html?m=1

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How to exercise before the climb
(Thanks to DB who advised me – don’t rush)
Endurance training of 4hrs
Squats
Climb stairs up and down at least 25 storeys
Shoulder muscles
Calves

Why train for downhill?
Running downhill requires the muscles to lengthen, or make eccentric muscle contractions, which can cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and generate more force than when you’re running uphill or on flat ground. To make matters worse: It’s easy to hit top speed on a steep descent—and the faster you move, the harder each foot strikes the ground, and the more pounding the muscles endure.
http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/6-tips-to-improve-your-downhill-runs

My favourite blogs on Mt Kinabalu
http://www.climbingmtkinabalu.com/p/preparation.html?m=1
(He has climbed this so many times, he gives a snap shot of the terrain)

Good post on climbing Low’s peak:
http://theplanetd.com/mount-kinabalu-2-tough-days-in-borneo/

http://nomadisbeautiful.com/travel-blogs/mount-kinabalu-borneo-climb-or-not-to-climb/

http://www.climbingmtkinabalu.com/2010/09/timpohon-trail-35km-to-40km.html?m=1

http://chrispytinetoo.blogspot.my/2012/09/guide-to-climbing-mt-kinabalu.html?m=1

Cycling through Georgetown Penang

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Georgetown Penang, UNESCO site wall murals by Armenian Street

http://www.onlypenang.com/where-to-go/penang-street-art-wall-painting-at-penang/

Check out above link on Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic who painted the mural above. I’m surprised he’s such a young guy which accounts for the witty nature of the paintings. But then, by now he must be famous. Let’s go for talent, and not famous names.

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. –Ernest Hemingway

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Vibrant Cafe culture influenced by cycling or vice versa

Top 10 things to do in Penang- Betel nut city

My top 10 list of things to do in

Its name means island of betel nut in mandarin. “Ping-lang yu” – possibly named by the famous China admiral Zheng He. Taiwanese – or some love betel nut.  When I first lived in Taipei, there were betel nut stalls everywhere, especially on routes taken by truck drivers. It makes your teeth red. I think the older generation, like it because its like a substitute for cigarettes and alcohol, to keep you awake while driving across boring long routes.

1. Visit Batu Ferringhi

I used to visit penang every year, and stay at Batu Ferringhi , the sandy beaches are amazing. Hill on one side and sea on the other. For the Chinese, this is very good fengshui.  There’s a night market close by and taxis prowl the area sending you there and back.  One problem of staying in Batu Ferringhi we experienced was during CNY one year, where we couldnt catch a taxi.  Another year, we simply rented a tiny car- Proton Saga but one side got hit by a mad man (hit and run), and the door was smashed.

2. Stay at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel

We got an amazing deal on tripadvisor and stayed at the E and O hotel. I can’t recommend it more.  The old timers who have stayed here prior to the renovation, scared me with stories of how there’s no air-condition and its haunted.  We stayed at the new wing, where the rooms are brightly lit, with an L-shaped sliding window into the balcony overlooking the sea. The bathrooms are spacious and clean. The breakfast is out of this world, especially if you’re looking to try local food.

Fantastic breakfast spread

Fantastic breakfast spread

E&O is very convenient, especially if you’re trying to get to Georgetown. Its situated near the UNESCO heritage site with a convenient CAT free bus shuttle near by as well as a taxi-stand if you don’t want to pay for taxi by hotel standards. There’s 24 hypermart selling drinks, although the room mini-bar provides free soft drinks. In addition, the cocktail hour from 6pm-7pm provides free drinks (alcohol) and snacks.

In front of E and O Hotel

Behind the E and O hotel

3. Have a coffee around Love Lane

We were told to stay at 23 Lovelane, a lovely heritage house with unique rooms. Personally I prefer the E and O hotel although initially I couldnt get two nites at Lovelane hotel. It has a lovely garden setting and a homely feel. Very good steak and frites. Plus situated along an exciting lane of coffee houses.

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4. Walk along Chulia Street

Cafe culture is vibrant

Cafe culture is vibrant

5. Try Street food

Fried penang noodles or Char Kway Teow is fabulous. Try the penang laksa – voted top 7th best dish in the world by CNN voters in 2011. We went to the Teochew Chendol franchise on basement of Komtar – cheap and very good. Its made of fish broth unlike the Singapore laksa which is curry base. Try the chendol too.

Otherwise my favourite is Kheng Pin cafe, 80 penang road. They close at 3pm. We were told that this is the best place for lor bak. And we agree,  returning twice in 3 days. The first day we arrived at 4pm and it was closed.

The prawn noodles is very good too, although I’ve read in other reviews that its not the best. Its good enough for me, better than any I’ve eaten in Singapore. We didnt have to queue or wait too long. The Hainanese white chicken is good too.The convenience of the location. Less than 8 mins walk from the E and O hotel makes it very appealing.

Kheng Pin Cafe - best Lor Bak

Kheng Pin Cafe – best Lor Bak

6. Hunt for wall murals

Grab a free map at the penang airport and hunt for the wall murals. Featured here is the Kungfu girl seemingly doing acrobats on the telephone wires.

Wall murals all around Georgetown

Wall murals all around Georgetown

7. Admire the heritage houses in Georgetown

Lovely Chinese houses with traditional doors and tiles

Lovely Chinese houses with traditional doors and tiles

Chinese temple with dragons, tigers and even carp on its way to transforming into a dragon

Chinese temple with dragons, tigers and even carp on its way to transforming into a dragon

8. Trek through Botanic Gardens to penang Hill

The trek can take 4 hours, or 2 hours depending on your stamina. Beware that rain showers are common.

9. Take a water taxi to Straits Quay

If you stay at the E&O, there’s a free water shuttle to Straits Quay, a modern shopping complex with yachts berthing.

10. Visit penang Hill

Visit penang Hill for some fresh air.

We were recommended by a penang couple working in Singapore to definitely go up Penang Hill. Perhaps if you’ve a car and coming at night. The night view is fabulous.We went in the morning by bus 204 from Komtar. Took us about 1hr30 mins. Arrived at 930am. The queue was long just to buy tickets. As foreigners each ticket cost 60 MYR per pax. But this means you don’t queue for the Furnicular. You get to sit right in front. For the experience, that’s fine. If I’ve a family of 3 children, I’ll say its not worth it.

At the top us cooling. But the place is crowded with locals. I don’t think its worth coming up. Its not at all like Genting Highlands or Cameron where there’s enough to keep you occupied. Here the air is not as cool or fresh. There’s just too many people. Even the cafe that’s supposed to be good, I’m sure you can get them at Love Lane.

Honestly, I’d rather have stayed in the hotel or visited Batu FERRINGHI. If you’re short of time or need to take the Furnicular to come up, its not worth the price.

Another shocker was the Bellevue hotel It looks like its stuck in the 1970s with a layer of dust. It does have a very well maintained garden.

Overall it has a tranquil ambience. But this was quickly dispelled in less than 10 mins when screaming children and other tourists in groups of 7 enter and have their holiday making.

Although the GM said its fully booked for  the next 9 mths, I doubt I’ll ever want to stay here unless I’m from Penang and want to escape the heat. Otherwise I’ll simply go to Cameron Highlands if cool weather is what I’m after.

I would have just stayed at the E and O, or have coffee along Lovelane or just cycle through Georgetown.

Take Bus 204 from Komtar to Penang Hill. 2 MYR per pax.

Take Bus 204 from Komtar to penang Hill. 2 MYR per pax.

Secret Garden at Bellevue Hotel

Secret Garden at Bellevue hotel

Top 10 things to do in Kuching, Sarawak

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#1 Visit Top Spot Hawker Centre
If I could, I would have eaten there every day. But then I’ll miss eating at the Chinese restaurant Toh Yuen, which is also fabulous.

Oyster omelette UFO style

Oyster omelette UFO style

2. Stroll along the Waterfront

Local hand-woven bags as sourvenirs

Local hand-woven bags as sourvenirs

Kuching is safe to walk at night

Kuching is safe to walk at night

Just opposite the Hilton Hotel. Most tourists seem to congregate around the waterfront which is the colonial administration centre during the days of the White Rajahs.

3. Have coffee along the Waterfront.

James Brooke

James Brooke

4. Visit the Bako National Park and take a boat-ride

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5. Try the local indigenous food

Bamboo lamang rice

Bamboo lamang rice

Especially the lamang rice which is not sold commercially. Planted by the locals, it is only enough for own consumption.

6. Visit the local Sunday market.

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Sarawak is home to indigenous flora and fauna.

Stir-fry jungle ferns

Stir-fry jungle ferns

7. Buy the local black and white peppercorn

White is spicier and for soup. Black for black pepper steak

White is spicier and for soup.
Black for black pepper steak

8. Visit a longhouse such as the Annah Rais, which is the longest long-house and still inhabited by the locals. You can still spot some trophy skulls from the headhunter days in the chieftain’s hut. I didn’t take photos out of respect. Catch a cultural performance if you’ve the time. Its extremely well choreographed and not touristy as the aim is also to share with the local Malaysians about the rich heritage.

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9.Try the local food such as the Sarawak laksa.
Unlike the Singapore version which uses thick white noodles and thick gravy, this uses vermicelli and is more soupy.

Sarawak mee siam

Sarawak mee siam

10. Catch the Rafflesia.

Largest flower in the world. It was flowering when we were there, but unfortunately was in the opposite direction. For a small fee, you could pay a guide to help you trek to the site.  We went to Semonggoh Wildlife and Nature Reserve to see the  rehabilitation of the orang utans instead, which to me, is a pity, because I don’t like to see animals kept too close to human contact. Although I applaud the authorities who are moving in the right direction and preventing illegal poaching.

Orang utan at Semonggoh

Orang utan at Semonggoh

Its not difficult to see why the White Rajahas of old fell in love with Sarawak. Sarawak and Brunei were part of Borneo.  Its a land rich with flora and fauna, national parks and cultural heritage.

11. For the Chinese, do get the birds’ nest, but only if you know a local who can bring you to the right place as there’re fakes.

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