Yesterday afternoon the entire Travelife editorial team landed in Kota Kinabalu for close to a week of fun and work. It felt like a school trip, actually, as we all checked in for our Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu. There were 10 of us going and we had a really enjoyable and pretty luxurious itinerary ahead.
Until yesterday we'd all worked very hard so it was really time for a change of scene, even if the work pace has not slowed down. We literally hit the ground running as we were so revved up to see and experience all that Kota Kinabalu has to offer.
In fact at 10 PM I headed to the spa after a big dinner, but the guys decided to commandeer our van and driver and hit the town to check out what the locals do on a Friday night.
I was very happy with my Borneo therapeutic massage, done in a luxury villa by the sea. Talk about a relaxing end to a busy week.
CEBU PACIFIC'S EARLY
Incidentally Cebu Pacific has been in the news a lot lately for reasons I don't need to elaborate. Let me tell you about our experience. The check-in girl was polite and our flight today was so on time that we arrived in KK 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. More time for sunset at the beach! It took just a little over 90 minutes to get here from Manila -- what a painless way to start a holiday.
When we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, the first thing that struck all of us was how clean and orderly everything was. Of course Malaysia is 50 years ahead of the Philippines, as my friend J likes to say, but even in this outpost of Malaysia so far our experience has been cleanliness and efficiency.
ONE AMAZING SUNSET
And don't get me started on the sunsets. Wow. I've seen sunsets all over the world, and just last month I was lucky enough to enjoy a couple of truly amazing ones, including sunset over Hiroshima Bay as I sailed out of Japan on the six-star Silversea boat, the Silver Shadow, towards Korea. But today's sunset was just indescribable in its dramatic hues of orange and purple.
"Is it always like this?" I asked our driver. We had two vans and I was riding in the van with the driver who spoke excellent English. He replied: "Most days it's like this."
I persisted: "Do you ever get tired of looking at it?" He shook his head. Obviously not. Kota Kinabalu certainly is a paradise in more ways than one.
LIVE SEAFOOD FOR DINNER
For dinner, we could have done something fancy at our very nice hotel, but we were all in the mood for something really local but good. Our friends in KK directed us downtown, towards a local restaurant with about 15 to 18 very large aquarium tanks stacked up one on top of the other, and filled with all kinds of seafood. Here we pointed to a couple of things and got these cooked, and ate everything up. We'd ordered a feast and there was literally nothing left on the table afterwards.
|The freshest shrimps we've had in a very long time.|
They were alive minutes before being placed on our table.
|Delicious broth made with giant clams|
|Soft shell crab fried with garlic. |
Need we say more?
|Something called a Sabah vegetable.|
Absolutely delicious. I think I ate this whole plate.
|Ostrich meat sauteed in oyster sauce.|
We all liked this.
However a giant red snapper that had been steamed with soy sauce and leeks was the real killer, with soft shell crab and a large platter of asparagus-like stems that the locals called "Sabah vegetable" were close runner-ups. After everyone had a taste of the Sabah vegetable, I commandeered the plate and ate the rest of it alone. Absolutely delicious and a very good start to our week back in Malaysia, truly Asia -- and truly wonderful.
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