Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Ventures

Just lately, I've been feeling extra passionate about venturing into home stays/ lodges - basically something like long stays and cheaper alternatives for tourists and backpackers here in Kota Kinabalu. 

Today my brother told me that one lodge right smack in the city is planning to sell it's lease and change management (however the terms are). The funny thing is, sometimes I don't think I'd even want to own it myself (having the highest profit margin, making the most says etc etc), I only want to... manage it, bring businesses in, network and introduce Sabah as well as the lodge as an alternative stay and even to assist the visitors on how to maximize their time here in Kota Kinabalu. 

Ever since I've been in the service, hospitality and tourism industry I've only loved it so much, and known about it so much more. And because Kota Kinabalu has the biggest potential to expand, with at least 2 premier tourist events in a month, I can only imagine that it's going to be one of the most livable, most visited city in the near future and soon. 

I wonder whether there are any business developers and investors out there reading this who are interested to expand in Kota Kinabalu. What started off just as a blogpost, I now feel like calling out to you guys out there who are looking for someone to manage their stays or lodges here in Kota Kinabalu.

I can do it for you guys :) You cannot find a lady more Sabahan who's passionate about hospitality, assisting in their adventures, an avid traveller myself to help you out and the travelers out there. 


Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Great Ocean Road

Ah, The Great Ocean Road. That's a relief of a good memory right there. 

A truly must visit when you're in Melbourne. I try not to use words that are well clearly overused when describing a place, but The Great Ocean Road is seriously, like no other. 

And there is really a beautiful story behind this amazing road. The Great Ocean Road has been rewarded an Australian National Heritage with 243-Kilometres stretch of a road along the south-eastern coast of Australian between the Victorian Cities of Torquay and Warnambool,  Built by ex soldiers from the World War 1 as a war memorial (the biggest one in the world to date), it is have said that the soldiers were summoned to build the road in honour of their fellowmates who didn't make it through the war and also to give the returned soldiers "proper" jobs. So they did, with a few shillings a day for over two decades. 

The whole stretch of The Great Ocean Road is picturesque, like a flawless painting. Just look at the picture below. When I was in the bus looking through the whole stretch of blue (what beautiful blue I've seen) I felt like I was constantly looking at a postcard wishing I was there, but - I was there, and enjoying every stretch of the view. While the lady infront of me was snapping away with her DSLR, I was clicking away with my mental camera - making sure I remembered some of the most significant spots and to embed them in my mind. 

And it was the truth, The Great Ocean Road is among the most photographed sights of Australia, making it one of the nation's most famous landmark. 

The Great Ocean Road begins from Torquay, a small township in Australia with a population just a little less than 7, 000 and ends at Allansford, the largest city along the road in the City of Warrnambool. 

In this post, I'll share with you more on the stops that I went. Besides following a tour group (like I did), you may opt to drive down the road yourself after all it's only about 243 Kilometres, you could probably finish it in a day. But if you'd like to enjoy the scenery, slowly and dreamily  - you may do so with other options of staying along the towns. There are tons of motels and B & Bs, for you to choose from - I'd recommend you this if you're here for the summer to enjoy the beach because I hear this place gets quite famous during that season :)  

Our tour group (about 90AUD and it's the cheapest) took us to Lord Arch Gorg, the Bells Beach, Lorne and Apollo Bay (beautiful little towns along the way but I didn't took photos of them, strangely),  and of course the most significant of all Twelve Apostles - Victoria's and among world's most famous limestones. 


The visit started off really simple - with Torquay as the first town we visited. It has the usual normal Australian feel, Kangaroos, long stretch of gorgeous greens and beautiful mountains as backdrop. 

Lovely. Almost like an Australian landmark of a postcard.  

Bells Beach 

Then we went to Bells Beach, dear God. It was gorgeous.  What I really like about most of Australian beaches is that they're mostly clean. They're really well taken care of - and everyone knows the luxury of having a really clean beach to play around with. 

The nerving waves, like a scene from a surf movie - the surfers were all geared up to jump on the next waves. And mind you it was friggin cold at that time. It was very exciting to these surfers hopping on to ice cold waves. I was worried for them. 

the Razorback at Loch Ard Gorge 

The Razorback have said to be a growing Australian delight, where its coined after a famous shipwreck. Named after the clipper ship Loch Ard that wrecked nearby an island in 1978, it ended the three-month journey from England to Melbourne. Where only two survived, Pearce and Carmichael both of 18 years old living and finding warmth inside it's numerous cages. (Wikipedia, 2012) 

Maybe among all, it is also the most, how shall I say "tourist friendly?". Reason being, we could actually walk down nearer to the coast and to the caves to take a photo of the caves and the famous strip. 

Loch Ard Gorge now only appears as two unconnected pillars, officially named after the two survivors, Tom and Eva. 

Kennet River 

There's nothing quite to shout about this place really - except for KOALAS!!! Hehe, they're adorable - and they're not quite as "everywhere" as some of you might think, they're only living at some spots, some unfortunately are at  the zoos, while the more fortunate ones stay at a conservation area like the Kennett River. 

And besides just the Koala, and the duckies that Yuen Yee were raving about, there are also these beautiful cuckatoo and parrot like birds that were squirming around scaring some American girls and I away. 

A friendly one even landed on my shoulder :)  - this was actually a freaked out face. 

London Bridge

A gorgeous piece which was initially of a limestone connected to the mainland by a "bridge". This "London Bridge" became even more famous when the "bridge" collapsed when a couple was busy rendezvousing on top of the limestone resulting in a national emergency (because they can't walk back to the mainland) causing much media attention to the couple. 

There were choppers, rescuers, you name it - everyone tried to save the two. What were they doing there in the evening anyway? 

Only to reveal more - as the girl was actually the married guy's affair. I still remember my tour guide's exact words - "speaking of getting caught". The whole thing made it to news everywhere around the world the next few days. 

The Twelve Apostles 

Last, but definitely not the least - the Twelve Apostles. Formed by hard erosions, the weather has made the Southern Ocean erode the limestones from it's actual form to form caves, cliffs, arches which have been constantly collapsing till just recently. Meaning - the erosion is ongoing and can very dangerous. 

But Google the Twelve Apostles, and you will find photos after photos of these amazing limestones carefully stacked and carved up next to each other. You can view all of these and more with a chopper, provided at the tourist centre. 

The Korean Girl :)  
One can stare at these amazing view forever, I tell you. The chemistry between all the elements in the picture, the sky, the limestones, the brawns, the waves. 

This creation, is picture perfect. The Great Ocean Road is awesome - I can only say so much, the next time you're in Melbourne, reserve a day for The Great Ocean Road and you'll be back with so many pictures in your head enough for you to articulate them to your friends :) 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Manila City (Intro)

At 12 noon over the hustle and bustle of the colorful traffic when I just reached as I walk around the Ermita Street (also) trying to eavesdrop the few tagalongs words that I could, a kid, maybe around 4, sneaked up at me from behind, possibly saw me from a mile away in my obvious as a sore thumb touristy outfit, he reached his right hand out to me in a scoop like position, dark brown dry skin, big brown eyes, unidentified gender freckled and dirtied from the sun and the smoke, long untrimmed musky hair, shoeless feet, torn sleeves, muddied shorts, not a frown, not even an expression, he looked at me and looked back at three more of his possibly friends of the same fate he made from the streets (about a block away), a practice he'd do every second, and after nearly 10 seconds of softly nudging me (while I could do was pray and evidently ignoring him) he finally ran off somewhere else and left me. There was no sigh of sadness, no anger, let alone giggles, it was as if that was a job he neither hated nor loved, that it was just another day being alive in the streets of Manila. 

Of all the big and the small places that I've visited, Philippines is by far the hardest to articulate on. Friendly, hardworking, luxury, heart wrenching, difficult. Yes, I understand that every nation in the world has the good and the bad, but somehow, or for the strangest reason, the heart-wrenching in the Philippines is too visible, and much, much more depressing, to me. But it's also one of the most beautiful nation I've ever laid eyes on. So yes it was difficult to disparate these two extremes that I have been fortunate enough to experience. 

All the times when these kids were looking at me, expecting me to be that another kind soul, my heart breaks. It's an "advice" I hear from so many people, don't give to one, because when you give one, a million comes, you will be terrified and the situation will be even more difficult. 

So I bowed down to the advice. Because Manila city IS a lot mysterious than I knew. The homeless people, the kids, the parents and the adults, must have gone through so much and must have lost so much either, their purpose, their soul and maybe even their sanity, and I as a "tourist" would have no idea just by sympathizing them after 5 minutes of my blatant judgements. There are a lot more unspoken rules that I needed to equip myself first and holding my hands and emotions are among the first. 

But the beauty, the unbeatable and almost untouchable beauty the Philippines has is amazing. With over 7000 islands and a million more species of both land and water waiting to be discovered, I could never understand why Philippines is far less mentioned among travelers (even among the most hardcore European and American backpackers) until I visited the hard part of the city itself. A ruly fact that unfortunately, most tourists would feel "unsafe" when put in those situations that I just described. After all, they ARE obviously non-Asians (unlike brown skinned like me that could get away as one). Almost screams endless attention to the strugglers and homeless around the city. Causes non-comfortness, really is an unfortunate situation.  

As I came home for dinner tonight, and before I nibbled on that Satay stick mum bought, I took my time to take and give blessings for whatever food that I have on the table to appreciate that I am beyond fortunate to even have options.

Till then, will share with you more about the Philippines and other issues I came across with while visiting.

Young kid toying with a broken pillar

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.