Monday, June 25, 2012

Taman Kinabalu and Poring Hot Spring

Due to time constraints and so we may be able cover more, we signed up for with our hotel travel desk for a Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Spring day tour which costed us MYR210 each adult, inclusive of lunch. It was a bit expensive but it's worth it since it would be hard to do this trip on our own. The hotel has partnership with Borneo Trails, a local but reputable tour agency.
We were picked up at the hotel lobby today around 7:30AM by the tour guide/driver because we have to drive far outside the city and after 1 more hotel pickup, our group of 7, seated comfortably in a van immediately headed towards Taman Kinabalu (Kinabalu Park) and after two hours of drive over some bumpy and curved roads, we stopped by a viewing deck with a good vantage point of the said mountain.
Mount Kinabalu is said to be the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. The  whole area, or the park of its namesake (Kinabalu Park or Taman Kinabalu) is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to vast species of flora and fauna and is today a protected site due to its great biodiversity.
viewing deck with Mount Kinabalu at the backdrop
At this stopover, we also had a chance to check out the shops for some souvenir items although my wife and I were not very interested at the time. We just sat down and wait for the others so we can proceed to our next stop.
We went past the entrance to Kinabalu Park and went instead first to Poring Hot Spring. There was a canopy on site but we didn't bother as we came there for some dip at the hot spring.
Our tour guide suggested we get a room, specially if we want privacy. We paid directly at the office an additional MYR15 for the rental and we were led to a room with our own hot spring tub.
how the room looks like from outside
As we got inside the private room, firt we saw is a bathtub, split into two, so we can have our own and control the temperature.
Roshie and Ethan having bonding moments at the tub
The room also had its own toilet and shower area. For the price paid for the room, I guess it's not a bad idea if you are a private person. For some reason though, I wish we could have used the public one as we feel lonely inside the room and there weren't a lot of people outside too.
This is how the public bathtubs look like. There's still individual tubs however for some privacy but the place is open. Since it also started to drizzle (and eventually rained) as we got there, then having a room was still a good option since we have a toddler in tow.
There were also two pools outside, but we weren't too keen on using it at that time.
We had 1.5 hours to spare at the hot spring as the other members of the group opted for the canopy walk instead. We met at 1PM at the entrance and then proceeded to have lunch.
It was already 2PM when we reached Fairy Garden Resort, where we'll have lunch at their restaurant. I was very hungry and started to get dizzy already at that time and it was good they serve the food fast.
our van parked amidst a beautiful view.
inside the restaurant
Didn't take picture as there weren't special with the food. Mostly vegetables (cabbages) and fried chicken with some soup and rice.
Our next and final stop was inside Kinabalu Park to visit the Mt. Kinabalu Botanical Garden.
From where we parked, we have to walk a bit downhill and a bit uphill to reach the entrance of the garden.
As we reached the Botanical Garden, we were greeted by a guide who happily explained and showed us notable faunas in the garden.
Here are some pictures I took during the 30 minutes tour inside:
As the Botanical Garden was the last stop, we headed back to Kota Kinabalu thereafter and it took around 2.5 hours travel this time due to some traffic. On the way, we passed by again the City Mosque of Kota Kinabalu and is a sight to see at sundown.
We were dropped off back in our hotel around 6PM and we just dropped our things in our room then headed out again, this time for dinner.
For tonight, we had our dinner at the food court of Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, which opened just earlier this year. I find the mall to be a bit high-end due to most shops are either boutique or branded. 
We ordered our food from Kuo Man while there was a separate counter for all drinks in the middle. Kuo Man is a Chinese Restaurant (or fast food outlet as it is in a food court).
stir fried beef with veggies, 2 cups of teh tarik and a large cup of soft drinks
wonton soup
grilled pork with sauce
The food was good, specially the pork (RMY10.50 for the food and RMY7.50 for the drinks) and it was yummy. We were informed the food court has a nice view of the sunset but too bad it was already dark when we got there.
After dinner, we went to the night market near Le Meridien Hotel, passing by vendors of fruits, dried seafood and items as well as handicraft stores.
We aren't sure if this is the "Night Market" or the said "Filipino Market". Anyway, beside Le Meridien is a series of stalls set up on street, selling items like pearls, clothing, bags, souvenirs, etc. like a flea market. We were disappointed though as I expected more and most items I thought were quite expensive since this was a street market.
We only got a few things and went back to our hotel to sleep well. Tonight is our last night and tomorrow we will be leaving in the afternoon for a flight back to the Philippines. But before that, we plan to do something if time permits so we are reserving our energy and strength for a good fun and activity tomorrow.

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