Monday, April 7, 2014

Sabah Kota Kinabalu - Trip Planner Series

Sabah – arrived in Shangrila Tanjung Aru. There are 2 Shang's in Sabah, one in Tanjung Aru (nice beach and sunset, and the other in Shangrila Rasa Ria Resort - go there for the Orangutans mini conservation centre. Was looking forward to the Shangrila (fondly called the Shang), all my experience with other Shang hotels has been tremendous, undoubtedly one of the best hotel chains there is. One that is comparable is the Royal Plaza in Singapore. For Royal Plaza, even when you call the front desk, the way they greet you is as if they are looking forward to your call.

Yes you actually get the below view, and you can pose in it as well. Really nice 'photo' view.
The famous Shangila pool + sea + tree view...

Back to Shang Tanjung Aru. Tanjung Aru is known by locals as one of the best spots to catch the sun set, and has a good number of dining options available along Tanjung Aru beach - so called Beach 1 & Beach 2. 

Sunset by Tanjung Aru Beach - public beach

Nice fruit juice too!...
Check in experience was average, and calling the front desk and in room dining both was disappointing. Not really in the mood to write about my experience but definitely was no where close any of the other Shangrila’s I’ve stayed in. I do have to praise the on duty manager – both Russell and Hakimi, as they went out of their way to assists us, and tried their best to make up for the rather ‘dissapointing’ experience we had with the Shang!.

Shang itself, the place, and the facilities are quite top notch. Nothing beats the children mini water 'theme' park they have. If you and your kids are adventurous, even for a 2 year old there is something to do in the water.
Nice Water Park - source Expedia.

I really liked the giant chess set. And note the nice sea view you get.
Chess it out

Shangrila itself is a great location to view the Sunset. The beach itself I didn't manage to check out, but haven't heard rave reviews - probably the islands nearby would be better. Shang has got a long sea side so you can pick your views.

Sun Setting right behind an Island
From this spot, at this time the Sun set right at the back of the island, so couldn't get the fireball sun view but was still a spectacular sight.
Watching people watch the sun set while watching the sun set

Completing our stay in the Shang, we checked out and then moved to Hyatt Regency - it is right smack in the Kota Kinabalu (KK) town. Parking in Hyatt is complimentary. Upon arrival, we were nicely greeted and checked in. Room was nice. Too bad not given the sea view. YuGou (can't recall exact name spelling) at the entrance was a pleasant delight, he was really informative and provided some very good suggestions on where to eat. Click Hyatt to check out ratings and rates. Read on...

So after we checked in, besides really liking the room, we were hungry, and we were contemplating of either going for the night market or Fook Yuen - a restaurant recommended by the pleasant Hyatt staff. Decided on Fook Yuen as it is difficult to get Halal Dimsum in Penang (weird isn't it)...

Fook Yuen is quite close to Hyatt, around 10 minutes walk only. Told you Hyatt is right smack in town. Good to see the JAKIM (authorized and authority in Malaysia to issue Halal Logo)

Fook Yuen - Halal

Firstly ordered the DimSum. I'm not a DimSum expert, eventhough I have a food blog , - not an expert on Chinese cuisines as hard to get Halal Chinese Food.
DimSum, some done.
Overall the DimSum was nice (now again I don't have a good benchmark). My only thought is all the DimSum dishes were prawn based (with a concoction of chicken, veg..). What if I don't eat prawn...

Roti Kahwin
Dim Sum and some

And what happens after that - obviously below. By the way not the drink - Kopi Cham (campur?) - mixed coffee + tea. 
 Above is the roti kahwin. Pretty nice, but the old town type of bread would be my preference. Talking about OldTown - it was right next to Fook Yuen, but rather empty. Good to see a local breed out doing a Malaysian and now global franchise.
The Bill. 

Next day, while waiting for friends, we went for a climb at the Signal Hill Observatory Program. The beginning point is just a 10 - 15 minutes walk. The stair climb itself is not too bad, unless you are carrying a 2 year old kid :)
The Beginning

The Climb (half of it)

At the observatory deck - I'm guessing will be more happening in the evenings!

The view.
It was a nice climb up, and offered a good view of the city. My thoughts is its one of those activities that you'd do if you have the time. And guess what we realized when we got to the top - you can also drive up there. Haha.

We then headed to the City Mosque - Floating Mosque. A nice view. We didn't go in though.
Floating City Mosque
 As you can see, there is also a boat paddling option you can pay for if you are up to it at the mosque. We had some snacks right next to the Mosque. Bakso and Keropok Lekor. Ok to fill an empty stomach.

Then we drove across the road, to catch the sunset.

Right across the mosque, there are good parking spots, by the sea side, with a joggers / cyclers path.

Well as normal, once you complete the SunSet and after Maghrib prayers, it is time to head for dinner. A friend recommended Kampung Nelayan - Floating Seafood Floating Restaurant. Frankly I was initially worried it would a be rip-off with way expensive dishes and some simple cultural dance.   When we arrived, depending on where you park, you'll climb a deck of stairs, greeted by the host. You have 3 options - Buffet at around RM38 if I recall - but it is inside and you do not get a view of the Cultural Show. Probably makes sense since if everyone is walking around to take food, pretty hard to have a clear view of the dance on the platform. The other two options that offer a view of the cultural dance is ala-carte (menu) ordering, or Steamboat at RM20 per person.
Steamboat - some of the items served...Serving more then enough per person

 Overall the price was reason-able, except for the juices. Note - somehow Waze navigation took us to the wrong destination, so confirm the address, call and ask or try Google Maps. Also check out their facebook page :  FB Kampung Nelayan.

The cultural dance itself was entertaining and quite 'stuntful'. Mostly covering the local traditional Sabahan Dances from the many native races there.

That ends another day in Kota Kinabalu. This is just the beginning of the trip, and once you venture to Kundasang, the view and experience just gets better. If you do plan to stay in Kota Kinabalu, you can start with Hotel'sCombined website that gives you a comparison of rates from multiple providers and a good summary of reviews and rating, click Hotels in Kota Kinabalu

Next entry planned is part 2 - Kundasang (viewing Mount Kinabalu and Rafflesia the Flower) as well as Ranau.  Click to read on.



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