Sunday, June 24, 2012

Swimming in Pulau Manukan

As it is a Sunday today, we went to Sacred Heart Cathedral first to hear mass (schedule is 9:00AM for English mass), which is a regular family affair every Sunday (or sometimes Saturday for an anticipated mass).
From our hotel, we took a cab going to Sacred Heart Cathedral (fixed at MYR15) and arrived just minutes before the mass is about to start. It is a bit far from the hotel (10 or 15 minute drive away).
But before the mass, we of course had our breakfast first at KFC near the hotel.
Coming from hearing a mass we went straight via taxi cab to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. It is the common set off point to the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.
We went inside the building where stalls of different tour and boat operators were and asked about going to the islands. We came to know however that it was already considered late as it was already lunch time and that we only have time around 4PM, enough for one island. We were about to leave already but we resisted and decided to go to at least one island instead that day, choosing Manukan Island as it seems to be the only spot perfect for swimming with kids and not for diving. After haggling with some operators, we got Green Holiday's service and paid MYR64 for the 3 of us, fare inclusive of taxes.
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is comprised of 5 islands about 3 to 8 kilometers (depending which island) away from Kota Kinabalu. For today due to time constraints, we were only going to one island (Pulau Manukan or Manukan island). We were then led to the terminal where the ferries were parked and was asked to sit for a few minutes to wait. A lot of ferries and speedboats were docked at that time.
Minutes later we set off via speedboat. We were surprised as it was our first time to do island hopping with a speedboat. In the Philippines, they usually use a more slow but stable (or at least we felt that way) wooden rigger boats, we call as motorboats (powered by a pump motor). The cruising of the boat was fast and it was bumpy that the passengers felt it was about to capsize. We were asked to transfer from one seat to another or stay put, depending on the situation, by the boatman.
Our first stop was at another island (is it Sapi island?) to drop off some passengers.

Then, the speedboat hastily headed off bounded for Manukan island, where most of the passengers were going.

approaching Pulau Manukan (Manukan island)
finally here!
Ethan was asleep when we arrived (probably due to the wind blowing while cruising that made him sleepy) and Roshie was carrying him all throughout.
We then proceeded to the island and walked around its beach strip to find a spot where we can stay. Initially, we stayed on the benches where we can lie down Ethan as he was sleeping and we wait for him to wake up before we did anything.
So while waiting, I took pictures of the beach area, comparable to the white sand beaches in the Philippines but I find this place more serene and child-friendly because of its facilities.
Later then, we found an open spot as a group was about to leave and took the table for ourselves. Good thing it was under the tree and well shaded so we have a place for the rest of the afternoon's stay in the island. What's good here is that use of the beach facilities such as the tables and benches are free unlike in the Philippines where you have to rent these out, either per day or per hour.
Barely 1.5 hours of sleeping and Ethan is awake at last! He seemed surprised as to where he is but he immediately got up and started playing with a stick he found in the sand.

Minutes later, together with Roshie, they waded through the water and took a short dip, under the heat of the sun. The sun is striking hot at that day, but the water is cool that we almost didn't feel it was a hot day. Ethan usually loves swimming in pools and beaches and like this one, he seems to enjoy it a lot.
From afar he can see the "balls" or the buoy floating devices that serves as a guard and divider of the area. He immediately went after and called for it as he loves throwing balls around. He was frustrated however that these balls doesn't nudge.
It was past lunch time and getting hotter so we decided to pause first for some lunch. We bought some food at the fast food service in the island and we started eating. It was cheap considering we were on a resort island as we only paid MYR12.50 for the two meals already.
After eating, we decided to rest first before hitting the beach so as we stay in our table and sit, I just took pictures of the beach area and outlying islands nearby.

I also walked on the grounds, just to see if there's anything interesting going on. Aside from the pathways and the resort (where I didn't attempted to go in), it's just like a big open grass park and nothing much to do.
What's good with this island is it is always manned by lifeguards. There are stations like this one throughout the beach strip and they were also the right person to ask for some tips in snorkeling or where else to go.

me, Roshie and Ethan posing for a family picture
After half an hour of rest, we started wading in the water again. Ethan eagerly ran to the beach side by himself and started playing with the water.
me and Ethan
While we were playing at the beach, Roshie made a writing of Ethan's name in the sand and we tried to take his picture there, but he wasn't cooperating much as he wants to go back to the water.
Then later, it was about time to pack-up. We took shower first (there was a decent public shower for use) and changed clothes, readying for our transfer back to the city. I took advantage of sitting Ethan at this bench but he wasn't very interested and always tried to get up.
He was more interested in clinging at this big fish statue nearby.
There were also display of missiles used during World War II and in some parts of the island, military barracks during those period.
Roshie and Ethan
We headed back to the speedboat platform at 3PM as agreed upon with the boat operator. We thought 3 hours was enough but in fact it was such a short time, spent even in just one island.
me and Ethan
We were dropped at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal and we just walked our way back to the hotel. On the way I saw these pillars painted with graffiti and thought they were cute.
It was already late afternoon when we got back at the hotel. A side of the hotel is actually facing the national park and at that time the sun is beginning to set already.
We were dead tired as soon as we reached our room. We snoozed off for a couple of hours and came out later just to buy our dinner at a nearby Burger King.
We purchased a group meal to go at Burger King (MYR47.70). The meal consisted of four burgers, large onion rings and large fries, two apple pies, a large bottle of soft drinks and loads of ketchup. We didn't finish all tonight as we plan to eat the remaining ones (including two burgers), as breakfast tomorrow for we plan to leave early in the morning.
It has been a tiring day today. All the activities, including walking, swimming, etc. and the excitement took all the energy out of our bodies. We slept early tonight as we plan to wake up early tomorrow for another exciting adventure.

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