Since my last visit to Penang was way back in 2009, I decided it was high time I visit again, when a couple of seat sales came up last January. I remember telling myself that the next time I come back to Pulau Pinang, I’ll stay in Batu Ferringhi.
Thanks to the lovely people at Shangri-La, they made my plans come into fruitition. I reached out to my contacts, and was offered a two night’s stay at Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa at the start of my trip. It was the perfect timing, as the resort was a beautiful welcome to the island after a long night of traveling.
One of the reasons why I was having second thoughts about going to Sabah was money. I had some unexpected expenses last January and I have several trips lined up in the coming weeks, so I figured it’d be better to cut my losses at Php 1,289 (my airfare) instead of spending so much more on the trip. However, in the end I threw caution to the wind and went to have an awesome trip.
Kota Kinabalu is pretty cheap compared to other Malaysian cities. Sure, the taxi drivers are averse to using the meter, but KK is so small you can just walk anywhere (except to the Mount Kinabalu Park and other attractions because it’s FAR). I’ve had a couple of expensive meals over the weekend, and I was surprised that my end total is just Php 1,337. Shopping in Kota Kinabalu is not too exciting, except if there are sales I suppose. Some of the items sold in Peninsular Malaysia is also available in Sabah, but there are also a number of brands and products that are locally produced like teas and cigarettes.
There are a number of souvenir shops in the shopping centers, but if you’re looking to buy Sabah tea, it’s best to check the supermarket, as the prices are much cheaper. There’s also the handicraft market, or the former Pasar Filipino (Filipino market), where local souvenirs are sold (batik, wood carvings, anything and everything made with sea shells).
A final note on Sabah: if you’re bringing US dollars, make sure that they are series 2006 or more recent. Money changers do not accept dollars from earlier years, which is a real pain. There are plenty of ATMs that accept VISA and Mastercards, so you can make a cash advance if needed (some hostels, like the Lavender Lodge does not accept credit card payments).
I’m writing this from the dining area of the Lavender Lodge in downtown Kota Kinabalu. I’ve been here since Saturday, and if it weren’t the start of the week, I probably wouldn’t be blogging this early.
I meant to write a day to day update, as I did for previous trips, but I figured I owe it to myself to have a break from blogging and to travel just for the love of it, and not because it’s a great material for my blog. The daily recaps of my travels take a lot of discipline and energy and somehow made it seem as if everyday should be interesting just so I would have something to write about. I’ve done a lot of interesting things this weekend, though I wouldn’t write about it until the coming days or weeks.