Friday, March 30, 2012

The 'Get Acquainted with Home' Project (Sabah)

I've been quite occupied and thoroughly engaged in The 'Get Acquainted with Home' Project. My personal effort in getting to know more about Sabah as a state first, a home second while learning the finer details of the traditions, ethnicities, rich cultures and places to explore that have been my four walls as I was growing up. I learned too little, and too slow, so it's time for me to buckle up, get rough and get acquainted with home. 

I still hold firmly on the idea of exploring other nations, but charity begins from home, and I needed to start to appreciate rightly from here. Things just got more interesting now that I'm blessed to combine both what little of my talent and my passion into this project. 

So if there's any place, or anything that you want to know more please ask me I will try and bend my back to help you. 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jesselton Port, KK

Kota Kinabalu has so many cool places to hang out. By the beach (my all-time favourite), by some local bars, by some local family eateries, the list just goes on and on.

Just lately I discovered a new place to hang out - and it's especially relaxing and gorgeous at night. It's the Jesselton Point. The main function of this port is to connect the boats, ferries to all the islands including Labuan. You can get your tickets from Jesselton Point as the tour operators operate from about 6.30am - 5.00pm.

Quiet, and very near to the big Suria Mall, traffic going down this area is not too crazy either, helps too that the parking spots are easier to find as compared to the bars right smack in the city along Gaya Street and parking spots are major factors for me. You can park right behind The English Tea House or Cock & Bull. There are parking spaces (both paid and free) for you to grab. 

In the morning it's busy with beach goers parading their bikinwears, sunhats - ready to boat to their favourite islands. At night, it is laidback and gorgeous, with speedboats as the setting and splashing of waters as background noise.

Should you stay nearby Suria Mall, maybe at Eden Hotel, Gaya Centre Hotel or even Capitol or Jesselton Hotel, please make it a point to hang out, have some drinks or even catch some bites at the Jesselton Point. It's quite nice :)

Go to Mamutik Island and Sapi Island via Jesselton Port 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Support Groups

It has been a challenging couple of weeks. Too many decision makings, too many sudden changes, I am trying to keep myself afloat. Tonight I went to the beach to clear my head a little. It has been forever since I'm out on the road by myself. 

Observation tells me that people live for others. I'm not saying it in a very suicidal manner, I meant in a way that people actually work harder or do more things because of or for the people they love and by that they're then 'living'. The people around me that night was filled with so much love. They're around their best friends, families, lovers :) 

Tonight I learn that our support groups are the most important and most vital thing one could ever ask for. The belief that there are people who care so much for you, and there are people who put faith in you - is a recognition of your being in life. 
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.  - Mother Teresa 
If support groups are difficult to find, look for one. There are some people out there who share the same values and beliefs as you do. Doesn't have to be in a form of a romantic relationship, it can be in groups of people that share the same sports, ideas, or shared communities. 

Support groups. 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pulau Sapi @ Tunku Abdul Rahman Parks

Before I proceed to my write up on Pulau Sapi, let me do the duty to carefully explain to you why there are so many people talking about so many islands at the mention of the word, Sabah. Reason why I'm doing so is because whenever people visit KK City, they have very limited time in exploring most of the natural gorgeous attractions, and sometimes ended up just moving around KK City. And when one does that, people would usually end up asking, why are there so many mentions of islands when we get to experience none? 

As you can see from the previous Matthew Paul map below; Sabah is situated close to top north of the Borneo Island. That said, it's a privilege to say that tons of islands are under the local towns and cities surrounding the shores of this particular part of Borneo island. From Sipitang (look out from South left), imagine yourself  "walking" from the Sipitang's shore / beach walk up slowly to Menumbuk, Kuala Penyu, Pulau Tiga, Kota Kinabalu, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Layang - layang, Mantanani, Langkon, Kudat Pitas, Lankayan, Berhala - keep walking until you reach (probably) the last step of Sabah, say maybe a land in Tawau.

As you are walking (by the Borneon line), imagine how easy it is when you can simply ask what are the nearest islands to that town or city, that is Sabah for you. Different from other states say maybe something that is right smack in the middle of peninsula, it is difficult to associate an island (unless a private one) to the state. You'd either have to drive out (PD or East Coast of Terengganu) or fly out. Sabah is blessed with a beautiful location and it's natural resources that are circling it. That said, if you are right smack in the middle of Sabah, you too need to spend time and cost on travelling to go to the nearest shore. 

So today, I ventured into 1 out of 97837482 Sabah's island/ attraction. Pulau Sapi.

Firstly head to Jesselton Point (which I will blog another day), to get through any tickets because they have tons of boat or package operators there.

Jesselton Point
Pulau Sapi is listed under the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Among others are, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, Padang Point/ Pulau Gaya and Sulug. 

Growing up as a kid, dad used to bring us to Pulau Manukan a lot. Back then it was a really famous spot, now not so much - maybe because it is poorly maintained, or there are lesser fishes and corals (no food). So I kept hearing good things about Pulau Sapi, and the fact that it was a half an hour boat ride from home is no excuse I shouldn't check it out myself.

Pulau Sapi is known as it is now is because the shape of the island, seen to be similar as a cow's head. Sapi is the Malay term for Cow.

So what's in Pulau Sapi?

People. Lots and lots of people. It's not an issue if you can still find a quaint little place for yourself to relax, and it wasn't an issue for me cause I got myself a nice spot next to super hot Japanese men /thumbs up/. And what about the water if you may ask? Crystal clear. The better compared to Manukan.

By 11AM - the beach gets really packed
And even when Sapi has to accomodate so many people, the beach was still super clean. Perhentian Kecil was even more dirty in fact (the surroundings only), but the waters still proved crystal clear. 

Likewise, Sapi's water was beautiful.

So what did I do? Or what would one do? 

Snorkel! Diving! Water sports! Any sun and fun! 

At one point of swimming around I was swarmed by these fishes I got a super freaked out. Thinking they'll probably start munching on me, I started vigorously swimming away from them /phew.

Sea Walking perhaps?
Sand Turtle :) 

Among other attractions in Sapi besides a bit of hiking is this massive lizard! I think they rare them because there were 4 massive lizards walking like a boss in the island. Of course everyone couldn't help but snap loads of pics with it. I was no exception :P

It didn't struck me that I brought the randomest of items to Pulau Sapi until my brother told me that my bag was massive. I was like, eh. Yeah. And decided maybe I should dissect it and share it with everyone what on earth I bring around most of the time. Besides the Dumbbell (this is my gym bag), I've been bringing everything else in there around me most of the time.

Could you guess what they are just by looking at the first photo?

I know, I wasn't sure either :

At the thought of coming to Sapi, I figured I needed to play around with a certain budget for a day trip to Pulau Sapi. I look at value of things depending on what I can do with the money in terms of travelling, moving around and experiencing certain attractions. (E.g when my brother told me he had to fix his speaker for RM 3K, I nearly died because it would worth 20 return flights to Manila for me). 

That said, I told myself that my budget shouldn't burst RM 50 for the day. 

Here goes, 

RM 23 - Return Boat Transfer

Island*Fare per pax/boat
Adult (return)Children (return)
Manukan IslandRM23RM18
Mamutik IslandRM23RM18
Sapi IslandRM23RM18
Sulug IslandRM25RM18
Two island hopsRM33RM28
Three island hopsRM43RM38
Four island hopsRM53RM48
Boat charter for one islandRM204
Boat charter for Malahom BayRM204
Boat charter for Police beachRM204                                                                                  From Blog Malaysia 

RM 7.20 - Fee Terminal (compulsory) 

RM 3.00 - Conservation Fee (something like for maintenance and management of the beach)

RM 7.50 - Mixed Vegetables with Rice

RM 10.00 - Snorkeling Mask and Life Jacket 

Total: RM 50.70 

Okay so it burst of more than RM 0.70. But let me tell you how slick I was in getting cheaper deals with the Snorkeling mask and Life Jacket. A guy from the operator I bought the ticket from actually told me to loan the jackets from someone working there who can specifically give me RM 10 for both Snorkel Mask and Life Jacket (usual is at RM 15). The moment I reached Sapi, I started scouting for this one dude (name written on a piece of paper like he's got my next clue or something) and eventually got it for RM 10. Good way to save some money :)
Upon arriving the terminal back from Sapi after a long day of snorkeling, sun and fun, I decided to burst it even more, something for myself :) Two scoops of Gelato ; Nutella and Chocolate Chips flavour = RM 8.90.

So all in all, I spent about RM 59.60 for an entire day of beach, snorkeling, lunch, relaxing and self indulgence. While to some these means two jugs of beer, a blouse, or even a book, I converted the value to a day of beach, equally good! :D 

Here's where I strongly recommend you to save more on your budget. Get your own Snorkeling and Mask equipment. If it comes with Flippers, better. It is economically better in the long run. After last weekend, I realised I'm getting more and more in love with snorkeling (water activities), I ought to get myself the equipments myself. And last but not least, bring your own food! The only reason why I didn't bring my own food was because I wanted to try it out myself and account it in my a traveller's day trip budget.

Some local boys actually chatted up with me, making sure I was okay (since I came alone) - they were really friendly, I love the people I meet while travelling or moving around. They're really genuinely nice. Other eye candies would be the hot Japanese men seating next to me. /phew/ God bless them all! 

So if you're around KK and have a day to spare?

Get your ass up early say around 8am, and boat up to Pulau Sapi. Bring Frisbee, bring beach balls, bring bikinis, bring books, bring nothing - it's all up to you to make do of how your beach day should turn out :)  

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Gaya Street Market, KK (Sundays)

My family's Sunday's traditions would be getting up real early, maybe around 7 - 8am in the morning, have some breakfast and pay Gaya Street a visit. It has been like that since we were kids - until today. Almost kind of feel like there's something amiss if we don't just (at least) glance through Gaya Street on Sundays. Gaya Street Market is only open on Sundays. So what's in Gaya Street Market? Probably only the randomest stuff in the city.

How to get there? 

It being right smack in the city, makes it easy for people or tourists to reach Gaya Street. You can opt to take buses (from all over wherever you are) and stop at Padang Terminal, cross the road and that's where you can start the walk for the market. The stretch goes right up just before Ipoh Old Town Kopitiam. It is about a half an hour of sightseeing for a side of the market, and maybe an hour or more if you make a turn and cover the next stretch (lined in red).

It starts from 6.30am - 1.00pm. I can see from TripAdvisor that everyone recommended to start the market early due to the fact that it gets really crowded, stuffy and really hot after 9am. This is mainly because most first Sunday masses' end around 9am, and right after the masses Sabahans would usually spend their Sundays taking a walk around Gaya Street. So if you are uncomfortable with the weather perching up real hot, take their suggestions and come earlier. There are tons of old coffee houses and shops along the street, have a hearty breakfast to begin your day and just take a stroll in the market.

I was greeted by this lovely lady helping her mum out :)

Just like other tourist attraction markets, Thailand usually being the most famous in having markets, Gaya Street Market too has the randomest of stuff. And by random I mean;

A couple of Christian statues / crucifix
Old Books
They even sell chicks among other animals for adoption or to rare them. Some of you might find the idea of selling animals (especially in cages) a little disturbing, but I sincerely believe most do good out of buying our caged friends here :) 

Like some people who would buy birds just to release them, very good for the karma. 
You can choose to do that instead :) 

Colourful Birdies

Some even come to Gaya Market just to get massages from the Blind Society. They're quite big here in KK. simply because they work real hard to survive. They open every Sundays, and have regular meetings / AGMs. I would know because I personally have helped them during my time in high school. 

Society of the Blind Sabah

It's called the "Mosquito Repellent" Plant - how, apt
Or an elaborated, beautifully sequinned Baju Kebaya from Gaya Market maybe? 

Toys - perfect for the little ones
But of course they have hardware items! 
Other kinds of toys - perfect for the older kids :P
Local paintings. 
Local paintings - some are drawn then and there
A couple of lovely butterflies. These are for interior decorations, something for the curtains, the rooms maybe. 

 And Gasing. Learn from this dude how to rope the gasing in/ out :) 

Learn how to play the Gasing

 And something for the ladies, plenty of pearls and Parios along the way 

Last but not least, some Bornean Cigar. 

One of my favourite stall would be this uncle playing the Gamelan. The Gamelan actually plays a real classy harmony, perfect as a background music for you to just rest and relax to. Check out the video I took, and tell me this isn't classy! 

You can finish Gaya Street Market, easily in an hour or maybe more if you're serious at bargaining and shopping for some stuff. Suggestively, you can squeeze the market in before the islands or maybe before flying or busing of to another district. It's one of the oldest market tradition here in KK :) 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

World Press Photo Expo, KK

Rushed to One Borneo last night just to catch the World Press Photo Expo with brother before he drives back to Kota Marudu.

Oh my God, the pictures were incredible.

I teared looking at most of the photos. Which was something I didn't agree with (maybe I'm in denial). Most of the photos are tragic. World is filled with tragic truths, and because of that, in most cases, photojournalism tries to convey messages that we should appreciate what we have. But I believe the world is filled with the good and the bad, and the good seems to be underrated most often in photojournalsim especially. Why is that so?

Sigh. Am I indenial? 

In the midst of all the photographed tragedies deemed as best stories of the world in '11, I saw this. The brightest among all.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo   
Jos├ęphine Nsimba Mpongo, 37, practices the cello in the Kimbanguiste neighborhood of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. She is a member of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste (OSK), Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra. During the day, Jos├ęphine sells eggs in Kinshasa’s main market, and rehearses with the orchestra most evenings during the week. The OSK was founded by its current conductor Armand Diangienda in 1994. Initially, just a few dozen musicians shared the small number of instruments they had at their disposal. Today, the OSK can muster 200 players for a concert. Most are self-taught amateurs who hold down day jobs all over the city. 
Photo credit:  
Panos Pictures for Der Spiegel 
Andrew McConnell speaks about the project: 
"I was sent on assignment by Der Spiegel magazine to photograph the Kimbanguiste Symphony Orchestra in Kinshasa, DR Congo. Two German filmmakers were in town to premier a movie they had made about the orchestra and I was to document the event. The orchestra practices at the conductor’s compound in the Kimbanguiste neighborhood of the city, a place filled with musicians that reverberates to the sounds of string, brass, wind and percussion instruments. The compound was separated from the street by green corrugated plastic and I made the picture with the intention of showing two worlds side by side, one chaotic, poverty ridden and sad, and the other rising above all that, beautiful, inspired, and full of possibility."

My heart sank, I was holding my tears, and acknowledged these amazing hidden creatures out there. That despite the chaotic life we live through, we should live passionately and embrace moments that make us the happiest in life. Easy, slow, true and close to heart.

World Press Photo, Kota Kinabalu 
Monday - Friday 11.00am - 10.00pm
Saturday - Sunday 10.00am - 10.00pm
1 Borneo Hypermall, Jln Sulaman 88400
KK, Sabah
            + 603 2333 2888      

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.