Thursday, January 3, 2013

Best of a Travelife 2012: A spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Kota Kinabalu

It took me all of 90 seconds to say yes
to a second trip to Kota Kinabalu in three months.

Last year, I was in Kota Kinabalu twice for a Travelife.

The first time was at the end of May for a cover and television show shoot. Then I enjoyed my visit to KK so much on this first trip that I was back again after only a few months for some proper R&R.

Some friends had invited on a spur of the moment -- you don't need a visa, there's a direct flight between Manila and KK and tickets are pretty reasonable, after all -- and it took me all of 90 seconds to say "yes."

Read more about Kota Kinabalu in the current issue of Travelife, and by scrolling down...

As my friends will tell you, it usually takes me longer to decide what to eat on a dinner menu, frankly.

But ask me to come along for a KK holiday, and I'll say yes in 90 seconds. And I had so much fun the second time around, that this definitely qualifies as the best spur-of-the-moment trip of 2012.


The golf clubhouse of the Shangri-la Rasa Ria
in Kota Kinabalu

As in literally a spur-of-the-moment

Some friends and I were having lunch on a Tuesday, and over dessert, they came up with the idea of going to KK for a long weekend. It was just good timing. Someone wanted to play golf, and a couple of people wanted to just spa and hang out by the beach

"We can fly out on Friday afternoon and be back by Monday," one of the guys had said. Then he looked at me, knowing I work harder than most people, and said: "Yes, you can work at the office until about 1 PM and go straight to the airport."

Then he added: "Besides, you can always work on the beach..."


Breakfast at the Ocean Wing lounge
of the Shangri-la Rasa Ria

Yes, with WiFi and my trusty Mac, the world is literally my office anyway.  So I basically spent the entire week in a bathing suit in Kota Kinabalu, working on my computer on the beach or in the giant tub on my terrace.

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It’s a no-brainer, actually, as there’s a direct flight between Manila and Kota Kinabalu. Then, when you land in KK, the infrastructure is pretty good. No one hassles you for a ride or a tour at the airport exit, the scenery is nice and pleasant, and everything is within comfortable driving distance.

It's very good and convenient for getting away from it all. Best of all, KK has great hotels so there’s no need to compromise if you like the luxe life. Just make sure you book the right rooms.

What was on my iPod
in Kota Kinabalu

David Pack

David Pack

James Blunt


We were booked at the Ocean Wing of the Shangri-la Rasa Ria, which is the best resort on the island.

There’s another luxe resort in Kota Kinabalu just off the mainland of Borneo that I also want to try one of these days on a third trip to KK; but it's more work in terms of travel time, as you need to hop on a boat from Jesselton Pier to get there.

However, this very trip will literally take you away from everything and transport you to centuries of nature. I’m so going to do this one weekend, the next time I get a chance.

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But so far, I’ve stayed twice in a row at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria and I like it. It’s a nice holiday because the rooms are very relaxing.

My room at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria...
In the Ocean Wing, too, most of the rooms have spa bathtubs for two on the terrace, so that adds to the fun. On my last trip, I stayed on the top floor of the Ocean Wing, and from the spa bathtub you have a most amazing sunset view and complete privacy.

This time, I wanted to just take lots of walks by the beach and hang out by the pool, so I asked for a ground floor Ocean Wing room. It was perfect. I could walk out from my terrace straight to breakfast or whatever it was I wanted to do.

ROOMS #173 & 174

Kota Kinabalu's sunset

By the way, friends or families traveling together might want to book rooms # 173 and 174 on the ground floor of the Ocean Wing because you can close these two rooms off just like an apartment with lots of privacy.

It’s especially good if you’re traveling with kids because there’s no need to take elevators or staircases to get to the action.


And what did I do for four days in KK? Well, I only left the resort once, and that was to visit two dress shops selling hand-painted traditional Malaysian clothes.

One of my friends wanted to visit the local museum so he rented a car and driver, and dropped me off at the shopping center on the way, and picked me up again afterwards.


At one of the stores, I found a gown that I’d passed up on my last visit in May, and this time it was calling my name. I figured that if I’d come face-to-face with it on two visits to KK four months apart, well, then that gown and I were meant to be.

Just another couple of days in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife. And my best spur-of-the-moment trip for 2012.


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