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KUL-BKI On Air Asia + Snorkelling In Sabah Photos  
User currently offlineKEno From Malaysia, joined Feb 2004, 1842 posts, RR: 27
Posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 15102 times:

PART 1 : FLIGHT REVIEW




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Photo © TTT
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Photo © Poowin Bunyavejchewin


Outbound flight
Kuala Lumpur - Kota Kinabalu
Air Asia AK 108
Reg. 9M-AAL
B737-300
16 Apr 2004
dep 1800, arr 2030 (scheduled)
dep 2015, arr 2235 (actual)

This was actually my first experience with Air Asia - Malaysia's low cost carrier. Not a very good first impression I must say as the flight was delayed by more than 2 hours. The only consolation was that all passengers were sent text messages to their mobile phones regarding the delay some 4 hours in advanced. The revised departure time of 1900 actually turned out to be 2015, but no information was given to this further delay while all passengers were waiting at the departure hall. During the flight a steward explained to me that 2 of their aircrafts were grounded due to technical difficulties, hence creating a domino effect of delays to the network. When asked about why nobody at the airport informed the passengers about this further delay, he explained that it was due to lack of communications between the aircrafts and the ground staff, which I think should have easily been dealt with properly. One thing I am quite impressed is their leather seats in the aircraft, something that I did not expect from a low cost carrier. Anyway, I wasn't actually in a rush and was more than glad to arrive in Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Sabah later that night at 2230.

Although Sabah is a part of Federation of Malaysia, because of their autonomous status, the State of Sabah controls their own immigration. A Malaysian citizen from Kuala Lumpur like myself was given a 3-month entry stamp. For stay exceeding 3 months, I would have to present my passport despite this being a domestic flight. However, the are no restrictions for Sabah residents to travel to Kuala Lumpur. The same autonomy status is now enjoyed by State of Sarawak, which in 1963, together with Sabah and Singapore, joined Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) to form the Federation of Malaysia (Singapore left in 1965, while Brunei refused to join).

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Photo © Raymond Ngu
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Photo © TTT


Inbound flight
Kota Kinabalu - Kuala Lumpur
Air Asia AK 103
Reg. 9M-AAF
B737-300
20 Apr 2004
dep 1245, arr 1515

I was really hoping that there wasn't going to be a delay this time, and thankfullly, it departed on the dot. Barely a minute after taking off one could see a group of lovely islands just off the city centre - all a part of Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park. Further down the coast one could clearly see Pulau Tiga, made famous from CBS Survivor series #1; and minutes later, Labuan Island was clearly visible. If the weather's clear, be sure to get a window seat (on the correct side!) because the view is fantastic. We arrived in Kuala Lumpur 5 minutes ahead of schedule.



LEFT : View of Sutera Harbour Resort & Golf Club shortly after take off.
RIGHT : Airport runway & Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort (tanjung = cape).




LEFT : The islands of Manukan (the big one), Mamutik (left) & Sulug (right)
RIGHT : Pulau Tiga (CBS Survivor Island)




I saw this billboard right in the city centre. Australian Airlines serve Kota Kinabalu 2x weekly from Sydney and 2x weekly from Cairns. When is Qantas / Australian Airlines coming to Kuala Lumpur?



PART 2 : TRAVEL REPORT

We stayed in Hyatt Regency Kinabalu in downtown KK for 4 nights. The following morning we had an all-you-can-eat dim sum breakfast at the hotel. It might be hard for some to believe how cheap Malaysia can be : a dim sum buffet at this 4-star establishment only costs RM 20 (or US$ 5.20). Then we were off to Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park which is a group of 5 islands gazetted as a national park, just minutes off Kota Kinabalu city. We chartered a boat for the day to take us to 2 islands - Sapi & Mamutik Islands. The boat ride from Sabah Port took about 15 minutes and cost us RM 160 (US$ 42) for the day's rent - it takes up to 6 people, so the more people you have the cheaper per person it gets.


Sapi Island



Sapi Island has some of the clearest waters I've seen. However, it tend to be slightly crowded during weekends but there's enough space for everyone  Smile The beach was just perfect for a lazy day in the sun - the water was absolutely crystal clear, the white sandy beach is very powdery and the sun was shining gloriously for the entire day. The coral reef was not as good as the ones I've seen elsewhere, so Sapi is more of a beach island rather than a snorkelling spot. After 2 hours on Sapi, we moved on to the neighbouring island of Manukan.


Manukan Island








I have to say that Manukan has to be one of the best snorkelling sites I've been to. The marine life was fantastic with various species of tropical fish, including Angel Fish (Nemo) and Moorish Idol (the injured fish in Nemo). We brought an underwater casing for our digital camera so I'm glad to share our snorkelling experience with everyone.


Kota Belud market



The following day we drove to Sabah Highlands towards the base of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia (4095m). At midpoint we stopped at Kota Belud which is famous for its weekly Sunday market. Farmers and tradesmen from around the region would gather to sell their produce from fresh fish and vegetables to handicrafts and even electronic goods. There was even supposed to be a weekly buffalo auction and Bajaw horsemen, but we've probably missed it by the time we arrived.




LEFT : En route to Kinabalu National Park, RIGHT : Hilltop town of Kundasang


Kinabalu National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site



Quoted from UNESCO website :-

Kinabalu Park, in the State of Sabah on the northern end of the island of Borneo, is dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095 m), the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It has a very wide range of habitats, from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest to tropical mountain forest, sub-alpine forest and scrub on the higher elevations. It has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species with examples of flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.

The site has a diverse biota and high endemism. The altitudinal and climatic gradient from tropical forest to alpine conditions combine with precipitous topography, diverse geology and frequent climate oscillations to provide conditions ideal for the development of new species. The Park contains high biodiversity with representatives from more than half the families of all flowering plants. The majority of Borneo's mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates (many threatened and vulnerable) occur in the Park.





On our way back to Kota Kinabalu (2 hours drive) we stopped at Likas Bay Mosque just outside the city centre. We then drove to the nearby Signal Hill to catch the sunset which overlooks the city harbour and the islands of TAR Marine Park. We stayed for another 2 nights in Kota Kinabalu - taking it easy at the hotel swimming pool, visited Sabah Museum and chilling out at Api Api Centre (great food!).


Finally I would strongly suggest visitors to Malaysia or Singapore to incorporate Sabah into their itenerary - it's such a fantastic place. The best part is that the tropical islands are just at the city's doorstep, making it ideal for shortbreaks. If you are transiting via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines, why not enquire about the FREE domestic flight coupons exclusively for transiting passengers. Kota Kinabalu also has direct scheduled air links from the following cities : SIN, NRT, KIX, ICN, TPE, KHH, PVG, HKG, CAN, XMN, MNL, CEB, BWN, CNS & SYD. From Singapore, it is much cheaper (up to 5 times cheaper) to catch an Air Asia domestic flight from Johor Bahru (JHB), which is about 1.5 hours' drive from Singapore (depending on traffic), rather than flying directly from Changi with MH or AO.

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineOdie From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1641 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 14803 times:

Keno: All the pictures you took were amazing!! Two thumbs up! Awesome trip report too!  Smile

User currently offlineGoldenMAS From France, joined Mar 2002, 57 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 14794 times:

Amazing photos!! I would also want to go to KK one day.... Really cool!

User currently offlinePlanesarecool From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 4119 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 14785 times:

Amazing trip report and photos. I took some similar photos to the one you took, when i was swimming with the Manatees in Florida. I take it you were using an underwater camera?

-Stephen


User currently offlineMAS A330 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 14683 times:

Nice report, fantastic pictures. Come to think of it... I miss sabah... puts me in the mood for the beach... will be doing KUL-BKI-MDC-BKI-KUL on MH for diving next month

User currently offlineCaptain_777 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 295 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 14639 times:

Amazing pictures and great report!!

I need a vacation.


User currently offlineINNflight From Austria, joined Apr 2004, 3765 posts, RR: 60
Reply 6, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 14558 times:

Very well done report! Keep them coming!  Smile

regards, Florian



Jet Visuals
User currently offlineEx_SQer From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 1435 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 14511 times:

I would strongly suggest visitors to Malaysia or Singapore to incorporate Sabah into their itenerary - it's such a fantastic place.

I could not agree more. On my trip there more than a decade ago, I climbed Mt Kinabalu, relaxed in hot springs after that, visited an orang utan sanctuary, watched turtles lay eggs, and went white water rafting.


User currently offlineKEno From Malaysia, joined Feb 2004, 1842 posts, RR: 27
Reply 8, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 14510 times:

If anyone's interested here is the price range for return flights to Kota Kinabalu.

From Kuala Lumpur

US$ 0 - Malaysia Airlines free domestic flight for connecting passengers (see restrictions)
US$ 61 - lowest rtn with Air Asia (regular offer)
US$ 118 - lowest rtn with Malaysia Airlines (50% advanced booking)
US$ 160 - highest rtn with Air Asia (last minute)
US$ 167 - night flight rtn with Malaysia Airlines (arrive at 2am)
US$ 236 - standard rtn with Malaysia Airlines

From Johor Bahru, near Singapore

US$ 57 - lowest rtn with Air Asia (regular offer)
US$ 94 - lowest rtn with Malaysia Airlines (50% advanced booking)
US$ 160 - highest rtn with Air Asia (last minute)
US$ 188 - standard rtn with Malaysia Airlines

From Singapore

US$ 200 - rtn with Royal Brunei (max 30 days stay) via Brunei
US$ 220 - rtn with Malaysia Airlines (max 7 days stay) non-stop
US$ 390 - rtn with Australian Airlines non-stop

From Bangkok

US$ 61 - lowest return with Air Asia (special offer)
(i'm not sure how high it could get because this is a new route)


User currently offlineWidgetBoi From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1432 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 14459 times:

Amazing pictures Big grin

jeremy


User currently offlineUALDUDE From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 170 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week ago) and read 14423 times:

ABSOLUTELY AWESOME REPORT!! LOVE THE PICS!!

User currently offlineSwissgabe From Switzerland, joined Jan 2000, 5266 posts, RR: 33
Reply 11, posted (10 years 2 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 14203 times:

GREAT Trip Report. Have you climbed Mt. KK as well?


Smooth as silk - Royal Orchid Service /// Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens - Springbok
User currently offlineBNE From Australia, joined Mar 2000, 3174 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (10 years 2 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 14201 times:

Great report, A new airline but you actually incorporated part of the scenery of your destination. Some people have these great trip incorporating every aspect of the plane travel but nothing of anything else.



Why fly non stop when you can connect
User currently offlineKEno From Malaysia, joined Feb 2004, 1842 posts, RR: 27
Reply 13, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 14139 times:

Swissgabe,
Unfortunately I haven't climbed Mount Kinabalu. My trip was a very last minute decision and apparently all accommodation at the base camp (at Laban Rata) are fully booked for the whole of April and May. My advice is to make an early booking if you are planning to climb because it is very popular especially during weekends and school holidays. From what I gathered, almost anyone can make the climb as long as you are fit to walk long distances. Climbing the mountain is definitely going to be my main priority for my next trip.

During my visit to Sabah 3 weeks ago, the mountain was really clouded up so we didn't manage to get any decent photo (we got there at 11am). The best time to watch it is between sunrise and 9am, after which clouds quickly builds up because of the warm humid climate of Borneo. Luckily, a friend of mind sent me some photos a few days ago because he knew that I missed out on the mountain when I was there. He did the right thing for spending the night in Kundasang and catched the view very early in the morning. And surely enough, it was clouded up again after 9am.



User currently offlineSyarif From Malaysia, joined Jul 2004, 29 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (10 years 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 13554 times:

"I have to say that Manukan has to be one of the best snorkelling sites I've been to"

KEno, you should try Perhentian Island and Redang Island in Terengganu next time... the corals there are richer than those in manukan though the fish looks nicer in manukan.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


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