Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Part 1)

Got off to a late start......the plane arrived late so our boarding time was also moved to 9:45am (at least it was only a 20min delay) but surprisingly we still managed to leave MCIAA at around 10:15am....something to be said for Air Asia efficiency. 

For Filipinos, especially for the Muslim residents in Mindanao, Sabah is a highly sensitive and divisive issue in the country. It was leased by the Sultanate of Sulu to the British North Borneo Company in 1878 without relinquishment of its territorial rights over the state however in later years, Malaysia has interpreted the agreement as the complete cession of rights and that the Sabahanons has exercised self-determination and prefers to be considered Malaysian when it joined in 1963. The ownership remains a subject of debate and remains unresolved to this date. Oh well……enuff said on the subject. 
I always get patriotic whenever I go out of the
Flight time is only 1 hour and 33 minutes, experienced a slight delay on arrival due to runway traffic but landed at Kota Kinabalu Airport about noon time. Did not really have time to absorb the place yet, I just sort of whizzed through it. The airport is a bit small so we cleared Immigration immediately. Changed some currencies and took a taxi for RM30.00 to my guesthouse, Borneo Global Backpackers. 

Checked in at exactly 1pm, left my luggage inside and off to the city center to look for lunch and my LP guide book. It’s becoming a ritual now for me, the first thing I do in a new place is to go search for my Lonely Planet guide… travel bible! Hahahaha Took a regular bus to KK center which I paid only RM0.80 for a one-way fare to Marina Court. My destination is Centrepoint Mall, not only for my LP but also to have lunch, I’m famished! 

After going up and getting lost in the number of floors, finally got to the 5th only to be told na sa taas pa daw talaga ang bookstore……hay naku, exercise talaga! Got it for RM89.90 or less than 30usd (bargain na ba talaga ‘to?)… off to lunch at this mini-food court tucked in the corner of the mall. I had rice + 2 viands + coke for only RM6.80 (not bad for the price but di ako nabusog hehehe). After living once again back in the Philippines, every single shopping mall I encounter abroad seems really small in comparison! hahahaha 

I just realized it’s a long Chinese New Year holiday for everyone here. Most of the shops and offices are closed. I went into one of the tour operators at the Wisma Sabah building and they were really helpful. They gave me options on whether to join a tour group or have a “do it on my own” trip to the TAR islands……decided to just try it on my own coz the rate is a bit steep at RM175.

I walked passed the Central Market, with its lantern-strewn stalls of fresh vegetables and fruits. I have no clue though of what the dolphin statue along the junction of Jl. Tun Fuad Stephens means.....
Went to look for the Atkinson Clock Tower, a landmark in KK……passed by the backpackers area of Jalan Gaya…….ummmm, no way am I going to stay in one of these places… doesn’t look safe at all!!! My room at the BGB seems okay enough, so will stay there for the time being. 
Guesthouses along the Jl. Gaya road
Gaya Street though have another name....Australia Place....

As in feeling ko never-ending na lakaran ito……..when I saw a KFC, I immediately went to buy my dinner only to realize na halos every street corner sa KK has KFC! Hahahahha kahit sa Karamunsing, sandamakmak ang KFC.

And there I was, with my bag of KFC dinner, went to the bus stop and took the first bus…..after asking the conductor whether it passes through Karamunsing… mega dire-diretso talaga without stopping! As in, di pa makapagsalita ng English ang lolo mo kaya windang ang byuti at naka joy ride sa bus! Buti na lang me bisdak ako na katabi, she introduced herself and told me she will help me get on a different bus.

As much as I want to be with other Pinoys whenever I’m travelling overseas, there are times when caution is the name of the day. Really sorry to have to decline the invite to her house but I am just not comfortable enough to go to a stranger’s house even if she is a Filipino. Especially if my intuition tells me not to……

Thanks to Globe roaming, it really saved the day for me……after walking nonstop forever, tinawagan ko na lang ang BGB to get their directions to their place and also checked it through google map…by the time I finally located and arrived at the place, it was already past 6pm….I was going around for 2 hours!

Enough walking for the day….magFB na lang ako! Hahahaha

Shots around KK Center....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda aftermath : A Volunteer's Journey in Ormoc, Leyte (part 1)

The day did not start so well for me, good thing I'm OC about packing that I packed my bag partially the other night in anticipation of my trip to Leyte on the weekend. Ugh! Received a text message just 15mins before my DH briefing......"we are at Lipata now waiting for the ferry"......I panicked! I thought that my volunteer group will go on Saturday! Kalurkezzz...

Good thing though, the saints probably wanted me to go......Multiple taxi rides (I had to return back home coz I forgot my personal phone where all the numbers are stored! Ang hirap ng tumatanda!!) and sweating all over, finally arrived at the ticketing office of Weesam Express an hour before boarding time.

Got my ticket, yeheyyyyyy!!!!

Was told to take the express shuttle which is going to take us to Pier 3.....siempre, front seat! hahahahha

Honestly, its my first time to travel inter-island in the Visayas region. I am excited about the trip, though not excited about why I had to make this trip.

Had a bit of a worry, but then I consoled myself with the thought that I have been to more challenging places in other countries......or arrived in the middle of the night without having a problem.....even with language barriers! Here, I am in my own freaking world, speaks Bisaya, hmmmm...should be okay.....

Oh well, except that the province just experienced the strongest typhoon ever recorded and the place might not be back to normal yet.....meaning, no electricity!

I'll just try my luck to get on a bus (if there is one that time) or hire a motorbike to take me to Baybay City, the place where the volunteers will be making their base. It is about an hour away from my place of embarcation, Ormoc City.

The only worry nagging at me right now is the fact that I will be arriving at 7pm in Ormoc City and might not find anyone willing to take me to Baybay City. Fingers crossed......

I arrived in a city shrouded in darkness.....the whole city of Ormoc is in total blackout except for a few places with either gensets or solar lights. I tried to haggle with a motorbike driver, thinking that this way I can get to Baybay faster but at the rate of PhP 700.00??? That is totally extortionate! I went out of the pier area and continued walking....heard a guy shouting, "Baybay City"....I was indeed lucky, there was a van waiting for passengers (last van for the night na daw) right at the bus station (I assumed it was a bus station coz I can see silhouettes of buses in the darkness). And the fare is only PhP about overpricing! Hahay buhay....its more fun in the Philippines talaga!

My only problem now is how to get hold of my org mates.....their phones remain unreachable.

I told the driver and my seatmate that this is my first time in Leyte, they were kind enough to drop me off at the main gate of Visca University where the rest of the volunteers are billeted. Again, another good Samaritan..... the guard offered to take me by motorbike to the building where they were housed as it was quite a distance from the main gate....

Finally! Found my org mate having dinner, and it was such a welcome scene....people from my district of CCMCL, from different organizations....there were Karancho riders who rode on motorbikes all the way from Cantilan....the ladies from the Womens Club.....the college kids from SDSSU....and of course, our very own......volunteers from MFBGI.

Here's our sleeping quarters.....hehehe....nakitulog sa mga boys coz they have plywood covered with tarp which is a great improvement from the sleeping area earlier pointed to in, cold, tiled floor....

Just cannot sleep properly......was not prepared to come in the rough....I did not bring anything at all. Lesson time na mo atraka, dapat kumpleto an bala. Need to really buy a tent.

Short naps in between while tossing nonstop....I can hear the snoring all around me, I really envied how deep they were able to sleep.

Woke up at 4am.....briefing time is at 6am....I'm assigned to the food distribution team....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Green Paradise Hotel, Dambulla

One of the reasons that we decided to visit Dambulla in this trip is because we wanted to meet up again with an old friend who is now based in Dambulla and to also visit the resort, Green Paradise Agro Eco Hotel, that I helped in setting up. It was great seeing old colleagues once again and to finally see the resort in operation, with guests walking around the property.

Although the resort just recently opened, the 67-villa property was completely full during the weekend. It seems a big hit with the domestic market as there were 02 different companies who had brought their teams for a weekend retreat.

The place really looks beautiful and promising despite the fact that not all the facilities and outlets are operational. I’m really proud of the team, for taking on the challenge and making it happen. Bravo guys!

Guest Accommodation
The Garden Suite is two-story, living room and bathroom in the lower floor and the bedroom on the upper floor.

The view of the mountains from the veranda...
Outdoor jacuzzi with the ever-changing lights....

Garden Suite veranda
Our visitor.....

 Lobby & Outlets
Main Restaurant
Main Restaurant

During rainy season, the lobby doubles up as impromptu venue for disco instead of the pool bar area ;-)

And since wifi is available....o sya palaging online! hahaha
Thai-themed Saturnia Spa


Swimming Pool and Bar

Pool Bar
Waiting for the sun to come out from the mist...

Trying hard mag yoga pose......hahahaha

Ciao! And till we meet again.....