Kickin’ Back in Kota Kinabalu

September 12, 2009

Mandukan Island

Greetings- I apologize for the long overdue recap of our trip to Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.  We got in late Friday night to the Kota Kinabalu (KK) airport and were transported to the Pacific Sutera Hotel.  It’s a part of the Sutera Harbour Resort that encompasses 2 hotels, a marina and a golf country club.  They also manage a few properties around Borneo and offer packages to mix and match the different locations.  We took advantage of a package that included 2 nights at Mandukan Island Resort, 2 nights at the Pacific Sutera and 8 buffet meals.  It is the off-peak, rainy season in Borneo right now but we lucked out with fairly good weather.  Turns out that it’s even MORE hot and humid than Manila (hard to believe) and so I was forced to use the afternoon as nap time since it was too hot to do anything else!

Mandukan Island (pictured above) is a common day-tripper island for snorkeling and picniking.  The island clears out at 5 PM when the last boat leaves for the day.  Nick and I took the opportunity to shoot some pictures and enjoy the sunset from the beach.  The cabins reminded me of the wood log cabins common in MN, which felt incredibly fitting for Labor Day weekend.  During our explorations, we stumbled across the Scuba Doo (pictured below), a battery-powered submarine device that is targeted at novices with no scuba background.  This crazy contraption allows you to scuba dive down to 15 feet without using a regulator and it even holds the tank for you!  The glass dome acts as an air pocket, allowing you to breath without scuba gear.  Wild, huh??  Click on this SCUBA DOO LINK to learn more.

Kota Kinabalu

One of the highlights of our stay at the Mandukan was the steamboat dinner.  It was just like fondue, except healthier.  A selection of meats, shellfish and vegetables were steamed at the table in two delicious broths.  Never having heard of this concept before, I was delighted both by the slower pace of the meal and the great final product.  It also helped that we had 2 guitarists serenading us for a half hour – so romantic!  The next morning we were back to the Pacific Sutera, home of the monster Asian buffet.  You would think that after eating yourself sick the meal before that one would make different choices on the next round…. but I just couldn’t seem to learn from my mistakes!

Kota Kinabalu

By some twist of fate we got upgraded to a magnificent suite at the Pacific (pictured above)!  I’ve never stayed in one before, so it was a special treat.  The service was exceptional here, by the way.  We were incredibly impressed with our overall experience.  Beautiful rooms and grounds, great staff, amazing food.  Two thumbs way up from us!

Kota Kinabalu

This trip was practice in “Being” versus “Doing”.  We did a whole lot of reading, sleeping, strolling and eating.  It was exactly what we needed after diving into Manila head first.  Thankfully, the setting really served our purpose, although we were surprised at how hard it was to shift into “relax” mode!

Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu

Nick did manage to get a day of diving in and I spent some time with my camera.  The highlight of the weekend for me was going to the Rasa Ria Orangutan Sanctuary.  Rasa Ria is a rehabilitation center for orangutans ages 1-3 years old.  It is part of the Shangri-la resort and they do 2 feedings a day for public viewing.  Although we were crowded in there with 70 other people, it was really magical to be that up-close-and-personal with these adorable creatures.  My camera was loving them!  Be sure and check out the pictures at Smugmug.  Here’s one of my favorites.

Kota Kinabalu

On the way home we had a hilarious “I can’t believe this is happening” moment that merits sharing.  We arrived at the airport and got checked in and were making our way towards security when we noticed that about 150 people were just milling around near the security checkpoint (not in a line, mind you).  Turns out that the security line was closed for a half hour lunch break.  Seriously???  Can you imagine that happening in the states?!  People would be in an uproar.  But not here no, everyone just politely sat down and waited for them to finish.  Never mind that if you arrived late you were going to miss your flight now…. oh, the joys of traveling!  That’s it for this post.

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