photo slideshow

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Borneo Reef World in, where else? KK, Sabah, BORNEO!

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be invited to have some fun in the sun with a few other (new) blogger friends! Angeline of Everyday Food I Love, her sister Monica with hubby Jack of foodloh.com, Hayden of chanqingsheng.blogspot.com, Vincent of YottaCity.com, Tom of BorneoColours.com and myself met around 3pm at the private Sabah Point Jetty just opposite Hyatt Hotel, and I also bumped into old classmates, Aden (ahem) and Derrick who were going to take a look too! So we were one big happy group when we boarded the Natassya (a.k.a. the boat) to the soon-to-be-launched Borneo Reef World!
Aden n Derrick, with the view of KK city behind them as we were on our way!
Borneo Reef World the largest reef activity pontoon in Asia, moored in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off Pulau Sapi. It's kind of like in between Sapi and Gaya Island, but you dont have to see the people who are sunbathing on the beach as it's facing the backs of the islands, which gives it a beautiful view of untouched nature.
View of Gaya Island as we passed by.. It was such a beautiful day!
 You can get a boat daily from 9am, and return at 4pm. Adults (Above 12 Years Old) pay RM 360.00 each, while children (4-12 Years Old) only pay RM 230.00. This includes the jetty fees, insurance, fuel surcharge and a whole lotta underwater fun! If you go as a family (2 adults + 2 kids), it'll only cost a total of RM950.

The Natassya, approaching the barge!
Borneo Reef World!
A variety of activities are available on the pontoon, ranging from
Enjoying the calm and breath-taking scenery
Be mesmerised by the fish...
...or just take a photo with them in the underwater observatory!
In the underwater air-conditioned walkway, you can see all sorts of fish in their natural habitat, through the deep blue sea, with the natural sunlight still shining through! (Ok, maybe not that deep then.) They also have a scheduled feeding time which we got to see. Basically, that cluster of fish in the photo? They're swarming around some other fish (food), which is lowered into the water by staff on the platoon in a cage,like so:
FISH FOOD! Hmm..Fish eating fish though..? =/
The purple and yellow 'pyramid' is the entrance to the underwater walkway
Snorkeling equipment is also provided for those who want to have some fun in the water.
Like Tom, Hayden and I!
You can snorkel in the confined area (where there are still lots of fish to see).
Or in the big open sea!
Like me! =D
The fish and coral reef right next to the barge is so beautiful, and Hayden and I snorkeled half-way to the opposite island before deciding to turn back.. Yet another time when I wish I had an underwater camera..

Another option, and this really does depend on whether you're lucky enough to have a certain Vincent who is willing to be your personal photographer for a few minutes (nyehehe):
Underwater photography!!
Well, sort of... (This is Hayden doing his best yoga pose underwater)
... Vincent was actually in the underwater walkway.. He didnt even have to get wet! ;p (And yes, as you can see, things could get a little scary sometimes if Jack's around.. It's not all fun n games you know.. HAHAHA..!! ;p)
Also available (with extra charges of course) area variety of other water sports and activities, for example parasailing, Sea Spies (a motorised kayak ride with a glass bottom), banana boat rides, Ocean Walker (Helmet Diver), scuba diving and also the option of having an underwater photographer with you!

An new and interesting place to have some safe fun, Borneo Reef World is...
A Malaysian Production! Hahaha..
 After getting showered, dried and changed, we left Borneo Reef World watching the amazing sunset on the boat ride back..
View from the boat
View from the jetty
 I had an amazing time with my new friends, and really look forward to seeing them all again.. Special thanks to Angeline for the invite,and Borneo Reef World for a great day out! =D If you wish to have some sea time yourself, do contact them on facebook, check out their website, or just email them at dynamicholiday@gmail.com! =)

xxxxx

*Photo credits to those whose watermark appears in some of the photos - thanks a lot, this post wouldnt be the same without them! =D

Monday, 25 June 2012

Officially a Certified Diver!!

I've been so busy with other blog posts recently that I havent had time to tell ya'll:
YES!! I have finally joined the mermaid club (of which my bf Ray has already been a member for a year. ;p)!! =D

What made me decide to get the licence? Well, I've dived twice as a Discovery Diver before taking up the course, once in Sapi Island and once in the Phi-Phi Islands in Phuket, Thailand, and was instantly hooked by the serenity and beauty of the undersea world. It's like nothing you've ever experienced before, where all you can hear is the sound of your own breathing, and the feeling of gliding effortlessly through water, just like the colourful fish right next to you!
1st time diving at Sapi, and the view of the dive spot in Phuket.
But let me tell you, taking the course is a lot different from the Discovery. The Open Water Course takes 3 - 4 days, including one day of theory, where you watch 5 chapters on video, and are given a short quiz at the end of each chapter to make sure you understood it. You are also given these:
The Open Water Diver manual, dive log, dive table and its instructions.
After you pass the final exam (with a minimum of 75%, to which I am proud to say I got a good 94% =D), you will then be taken on 2 confined water dives, which can be a swimming pool, or if you take the course from a reputable dive operator like Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures S/B in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, they will be done in shallow waters in Gaya Island (and trust me, it's a whole lot more fun than a boring swimming pool! ;p)

After you pass all the tests the instructor will give you (basically he will show you, and you just have to follow suit. They are mainly about getting you comfortable underwater, and familiar with your gear and all its uses. Exercises like removing your mask and regulator, ensuring you know the hand signals etc will be conducted.), you will be taken on short dives where you can start wondering at the beauty of this other world!

So why not just do Discovery Dives whenever you wanna dive? Why pay and go through all the hassle of getting a licence? Well, first off, Discovery Divers only get to go up to 12 metres deep, while as an Open Water Diver you get to go up to 18 metres. And trust me, there's a LOT of amazing dive sites that are definitely over 12 metres! Plus, there are sites which dont even allow you to dive without a licence, one of which is my motivation to go on to take the Advanced Open Water Course, which allows you to dive up to 30 metres - Sipadan Island! =D
Photo credits from WWF
Sipadan, ranked no. 2 in the whole world as best diving spots, has been a dream for me, which is why I really wanna get my advanced licence within the year, so I can plan a trip there next year! There is a certain limit of divers allowed each day to dive on the island, but especially with an advanced licence, there are many more sites to visit nearby, such as the Mabul, Mataking and Kapalai islands to keep me busy while I wait for my turn! Examples of must-see dive sites at Sipadan are Barracuda Point, The Wall, and the Turtle Tomb Cave, which you can only explore with an Advanced licence!

With an advanced licence, you can also go on night dives and wreck dives, great for diving in other spots in South East Asia, where we have arguably some of the best! ;p
Wreck diving in Labuan.. Photo credits.
Downbelow is one of the best choices if you wanna get your licence here in Sabah, and many tourists who are here to explore the beautiful waters do! Located in KK Times Square, which is right next to Sutera Harbour Resort, whose marina you will be departing from to their centre on Gaya Island (about a 10 minute speedboat ride), Downbelow is also a licenced PADI dive shop where you can buy your first dive gear.
A pair of good fins are at the top of my list of gear to buy, but perhaps not as much as a fashion statement as these ones!
A 5 star PADI dive centre, Downbelow maintain high standards of safety for all their equipment (and, oh, by the way, dont worry about any gear but your swimsuit when learning to dive - everything else will be provided! =D), and they are fully licensed through Malaysia’s Ministry of Culture, Arts & Tourism. So what are you waiting for? Come get your diving licence, and maybe we'll explore the same underwater world together one day! Only then, I'd hopefully have an underwater camera to take beautiful underwater photos with, because I'm not kidding when I tell you it's a whole different world Downbelow! =)

Bloop bloop bloop! (xxx underwater ;p)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Kg. Poturidong, Tamparuli welcomes Miss Earth Sabah 2012!

Part one & two, hit the links! =)

Waking up after a very satisfying nap, we got out of the van, and into the rain again. At least the weather seemed to be having fun.. Hmm.. Very Tamparuli style, our first order of duty was to cross the suspension bridge over the Kiulu river to reach our last destination of the day - Kg. Poturidong.
Even cute lil puppies dare to cross the bridge! =)
The people of Kg. Poturidong were so welcoming, and even though we'd been delayed because of the rain, they were still warm and generous and all smiles! They had set up an area where the datuk and datin told us a bit about the area and how they have taken measures to protect the environment around them, especially the river, where they have Red Zones where it is prohibited to catch the fish.
We even had a welcome performance which could be heard all the way across the river on the road up the hill! =D
Datuk giving a short speech
Group photo in front of Kiulu River.
They had also prepared a buffet style tea time, with all different varieties of their traditional food.
Anyone know the names of this food?
The ubi leaves were nice.. (The blackish thing, top left)

Fresh coconuts after food! =)
Then we went to the river where we got to experience first hand what it's like to feed the friendly fish!

It's actually the resident 'fish spa', as when you hold the fish food provided in cute bamboo holders in the palm of your lightly clenched fist, the fish will come and suck at your hand! It feels weird at first, but it's actually quite fun! The girls were also told to try catch a fish with their bare hands, and Affy actually did! =D
The risks of being an official photographer.. Hahaha.. Poor Radzie..
Fish food!
This is how you feed the fish while getting a hand massage...
... And this is how you catch a fish with your bare hands and reward it for being caught! No prince appeared though...
Yes, those splashes are all fish.. The kg. folk decided it would be a great experience to throw fish food at our legs! ;p
 We were then told we had to get out of the river, as the current was coming down fast.. True enough, a few minutes after we'd got out n on to the next activity, which was tree-planting, the river had risen and looked very angry..
According to one of the guys I asked, the river becomes a very muddy colour when the currents start racing, and you shouldnt go near a river after it has been raining for safety purposes.
Planting trees near the river.. But not too near! =)
 Two cute little girls dressed in the traditional Kadazan outfits then proceeded to hand each finalist and Olivia a rose each.. So cute!

In return, the girls did a casual sumazau dance with the young (future Miss Earth?) girls, to the beat of my gong!
Ok. Maybe not just MY gong.
Cz that expression says it all: I have no idea what sounds are coming from this thing!
Since it was getting late, we all then bid our farewells to the lovely people of Kg. Poturidong, and made our way back over the suspension bridge. I think everyone but the driver slept the whole way back to Sutera Harbour! It was a long but exciting day, and though we all enjoyed it, everyone (ie me) was happy to have a date with their bed that night.. =) I actually got home, fell asleep straight away at 8pm n didnt even twitch til 4.30am, when I woke up n had to rush n do some stuff before leaving for another day! ;p

xxxxx

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Rumah Terbalik, Tamparuli & Miss Earth Sabah

Part 2 of Tamparuli day trip. Part 1 HERE

Immediately after leaving Zip Borneo, it started to rain yet again. Luckily it waited til we got in the vans I guess.. ;p We headed on down to our next destination:
Unfortunately, it was still raining when we got there, so we didnt get the chance to take any photos with the upside down car in the garage, but I did find one on their official facebook page:
When they hosted the kids from Rumah Kanak-Kanak
What more Malaysian car to hang up, but the Perodua Kancil right? ;p


Now, being Miss Earth Sabah finalists, these beauties handled whatever Mother Earth threw at them, with a smile!
Traipsing up the walkway after hitting the gong 3 times - Sabahan style!
When you visit the house, there will be a guide who will explain the significance of certain things, and tell you about the environmental message the house wishes to convey - that if we dont do something to save our planet soon, our environment is gonna go upside down! Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside the house, but lucky you! I remembered some of the more unique stuff to tell you! Hahaha...

So this is what the actual house looks like:
Everything, and I mean everything, inside is upside down, which means the furniture is bolted to the ceiling, while the fans, lights, and even the lizards are on the floor. The only thing that is not upside down is a Chinese ornament which is used to bring luck. Obviously, if you hang that upside down, it will also bring the opposite - bad luck!

The house is built as a traditional Sabahan house, with the design more specifically coming from Kota Belud. with the living room, kitchen, and all the bedrooms decorated as such. Even the jamban a.k.a. toilet is the traditional squat toilet! There are slippers on the 'floor', and even playing cards and coins strewn around, again, on the 'floor'! A pet cat sits on the upside down sofa, and they even have a handwritten height chart written upside down on the wall!

The most difficult thing to hang upside down in the house was the sewing machine, which weighs, if I'm not mistaken, 35kg. Some visitors actually feel uncomfortable as they walk through the house, as it is not what we can psychologically accept. Motion sickness is accentuated with the house being slightly tilted downwards as you walk through, to prevent rainwater remaining stagnant on the 'roof'. It actually took longer to build this house as compared to normal houses too, as the workers could not be in the house for too long before needing to go outside! If you do feel slightly queasy though, dont worry. Just look out of the window for a couple of minutes and everything will be fine. =)

The owner, Mr Alexander Yee, was there to greet us, and he told us that the house is actually the first upside down house in South-east Asia! Whee..!! Yet another reason everyone should come and visit Sabah! =D We do have a variety huh? ;p After visiting the house, visitors can go to the souvenir shop, called the Tamu (which means 'market' in Malay) to get unique and environmentally friendly gifts.
Tell everyone you've been there, done that, got the t shirt.. ;p
Mr Yee talking with the girls, while Deidre and Olivia pose next to organic soaps! ;p
The Rumah Terbalik team also generously prepared a buffet lunch for us, and as we were crazily starving, there are no photos, cz I only remembered to take as the last spoonful was making its way down to my stomach.. MUAHAHA.. ;p

After lunch, it was time to make our way to our 3rd and final location for the day (during which journey I had a very nice nap in the van.. ;p), so we bid goodbye to the staff and poor Mr Yee had to stand between 6 beautiful ladies on each side for some group photos (now, dont be jealous boys).
With signboard and certificate of appreciation.
Again, the rain stopped while we were inside the house, and started up as we left the premises.. Hmm..
Next stop, Kampung Poturidong, Tamparuli!!

xxxxx