Humming “I’m leaving on a jet plane” I boarded the Malindo flight to Kuala Lumpur in Chennai on a sweaty November night. After a light meal, I dozed off while watching the Big Bang Theory for the umpteenth time! Woke up only when the plane landed with a small thud. With a couple of hours layover, we freshened up and grabbed a quick coffee. Then it was onward to Kota Kinabalu. Nothing would have prepared me for the first sight of those beautiful islands of Borneo. Shimmering and clear azure-aquamarine waters surrounding absolutely green islands, a few boats with sails blowing in the wind, golden sandy beaches….it was marvelous to behold.
Greeted by the very friendly Tourism Board members, we felt at home immediately. They gave us wonderful bead chains and a little welcome bag. The ever smiling faces are something you will see all across Kota Kinabalu. I don’t think I saw a single frown – be it the Bell Hop in the hotel, a cabbie, the doorman or the hotel Manager! Everybody seemed so happy and contented in life. The happiness is infectious and it infuses into you immediately.
A bus took us to the Pacific Sutera which is such a great location. The lunch we had that day was par excellence. Truly the Tom Yum soup was so tasty and satisfying. The view from our hotel room was fantastic and that’s putting it mildly. I spent half hour on a deck chair on the beach – dozed off and recovered from the flight! We spent two beautiful days at this resort. The sunset at this resort is supposedly one of the top 10 in the world! And rightly so….I’ve seen sunsets at so many places including the Sedona sunset, but this one was nothing short of magnificent. With the myriad changing colors and the reflection in the waters of the South China Sea, it is a sight to behold! Managed to go to the nearby Imago Mall and do some quick frenzied shopping! They have all the brands there as well as a few local shops. More in another article!
We set off to the Sabah Tea Resort – long drive but so scenic. I sat in the very first seat so it was exciting. People dozed off on the bus but not me. I enjoy the ‘Me’ time and always use bus journeys to reflect. The tea estate, at an altitude, was cool and dare I say a bit chilly! With cozy cottages and yummy fare with green tea infusion in most dishes, we had a very nice stay there.
We then went off to the famous Shangri La Rasa Ria to spend the next 3 nights. This resort took my breath away. We walked to our rooms with the rainforest on our left. Got into the room and saw it overlooked the ocean! Wow!! With a hot water tub in the balcony, comfortable beds, and a huge bathroom, we were hooked! Macarons, dry fruit, chocolates and pillow menus were there for the asking! I could get used to that luxurious life. Really – I hope the Rasa Ria people are reading this!
In between, we did zip lining between islands (a high zip line strung between two islands over the ocean – you are harnessed to the line and literally zip across 283 meters), white water rafting on the Kadamian River, Ocean walk in the Borneo Reef, local shopping and a lot of other activities that are truly Sabahan!
It was an amazing trip and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!