WELCOME TO LOVELY MALAYSIA!
We just arrived in our first port of call: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia!
Starbucks was our first stop off of the Sapphire Princess Cruise ship. What a great place! The manager and staff here are so friendly and kind. This particular shop is located near the cruise port at 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. The free Wi-Fi, pleasant atmosphere, delicious coffee, and clean environment is making our adjustment to Asia especially pleasant. MasterCard and Visa, as well as U.S. and other foreign currency is accepted here. If you happen to ever be in this particular area of Kota Kinabalu, please give these friendly folks a visit. Writing a great review about this particular Starbucks location on Trip Advisor and the Starbucks company are on my to-do list as soon as I get home in about three weeks or so because they really deserve it!
WELCOME TO KOTA KINABALU:
This is a wonderful city in beautiful Malaysia! If you are cruising, Kota Kinabalu (known as KK by the locals) is easy to walk around and explore on your own from the cruise port. It is a good idea to wear SPF 50 sun screen, sun glasses, insect repellent and a good quality hat during your visit here. The climate is almost always hot and humid so be sure to carry along a bottle of water as you enjoy your time in this fascinating city.
Kota Kinabalu is located in the island of Borneo, right by the South China Sea. Although riding the bus around town is most common, we chose to walk the city and we also took an excursion by bus the to zoolocial park, heritage center, and the Sabah Museum.
While here, be sure to check out The City Mall located about ten minutes from the cruise port. (And, pop into the Starbucks mentioned above). Here you will find great deals on clothing, watches, and other items you may have forgotten to pack for your trip. Most of the shops accept U.S. and other foreign currency and the Malaysian people are extremely kind and friendly to visitors. NOTE: Not many of the shops will accept major credit cards.
For more information, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kota_Kinabalu
As you walk along the streets of Kota Kinabalu, you will come across many food and market stalls. Gaya Street is best known for street food and is an interesting place to stroll. Popular foods consist of grilled stingray, noodles with fish sauce, shaved ice, and fresh coconut juice to name a few. Talked-about-restaurants to try: Salut Seafood Restaurant and Kah Hiong Zhu Chap Restaurant. We were in Kota Kinabalu for only two days, and since we were cruising, we ate on the ship. But, from talking to others who were “foodies”, I learned that these establishments were well worth a visit.
As already mentioned, we enjoyed an excursion to the Lok Kawi Zoological Park and Heritage Center. This was developed by Sabah’s Wildlife and Forestry Department and covers 280 acres of wildlife and botanic gardens. It is located along the Penampang-Paper old road, which itself is interesting because there are typical villages and rice fields you can enjoy viewing along the way. At the zoo, be sure to check out the Borneo Pygmy Elephants and Orang Utan and Proboscis Monkeys. The botanical gardens are lovely too and are well worth visiting. Before you enter the gardens, say hello to a very friendly and sweet cow in a pasture nearby who absolutely loves to be talked to by people!
Our next stop was to the Sabah Heritage Village where we learned about Sabah’s rich culture and building techniques. Surrounded by a natural jungle, we discovered customs of various ethnic groups and learned about their unique social systems. Afterwards we visited the Sabah Museum which feature even more artifacts and information on the rich history and cultures of this beautiful part of the world. If you are visiting Kota Kinabalu, I would definitely recommend a visit to these particular places of interest.
WELCOME TO PENANG, MALAYSIA:
Most of our time was spent in the bustling capital, George Town. Here we enjoyed a mixture of culture and historical sites located on the northeastern tip of the island. Our first stop was at Wat Chayamangkalaram. The Siamese temple was built on land that was given to Penang by Britain’s Queen Victoria back in 1845. With colorful dragons outside the temple walls and an interior decorated with scenes from Buddha’s life, it’s a temple to remember. It is home to the fourth largest reclining Buddha in the world. When planning your visit here, please know that you will need to remove your shoes before entering the temple.
The next place we visited was the Pinang Peranakan Mansion which belonged to a wealthy Chinese man named Chung Keng Quee (Kapitan). Beautiful antique furniture along with multiple curio-cabinets filled with collectables from all over the world was the main feature of this amazing home. It was a gorgeous place indeed, but I am very grateful that I don’t have to be the person to dust or take care of the vast amount of contents inside of this incrediable mansion! Whew!
After our visit to the mansion, we wandered through the city, visiting Saint George Church and later oobserving the locals going about their daily routines before heading back to the ship. We especially enjoyed watching families and children laughing and playing together in the city park. What a fun place!
WELCOME TO LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA:
We decided to take the day a bit slower and stroll the city center on our own. This is a small beach town with several shops, boutiques, and even a cable car system. The system apparently has the longest suspension in the world between the two stations and was constructed without building any roads through the jungle. Legend has it that on a clear day, one can see Thailand in the north, and Indonesia in the southwest. It was a rather dark, cloudy day with light rain….and we did not ride the cable car. Therefore, we are unable to confirm this Langkawi legend.
There are loads of venders near the beaches offering beach umbrellas, jet skis, and a variety of boats and other water crafts that can be rented for the day. The town also has a Rice Museum and Cultural Complex that we did not visit. There is a Starbucks in town to check WIFI and enjoy a good cup of coffee. Old Town White Coffee, a popular coffee house seen throughout Asia, is located just above Starbucks in the same building. Getting to the town center is about an hour’s walk from the Langkawi cruse terminal, but shuttle rides can also be purchased for $16/person.
WELCOME TO KUALA LUMPUR, MALASIA:
It takes at least 90 minutes from the pier to get to Kuala Lumpur. That’s a lot of “bus time”. Since it was our last day on the ship, and we were anticipating two VERY fast-paced days ahead of us in Singapore following the cruise, we opted out of the trip to the city in exchange for endurance training and conditioning at the ship’s fitness center. When I write about Singapore, it will make a lot more sense why we opted out of Kuala Lumpur, and required such preparation…..
So, without photos, I will give a brief description of what Kuala Lumpur has to offer:
A popular spot to see is the National Monument. It was built to honor the soldiers who died during World War II as well as the soldiers in the Communist Insurgency War. The monument stands at 49 feet tall and is famous for the seven sculpted soldiers that symbolize leadership. Another popular attraction is Merdeka Square or “Independence Square”. This is Kuala Lumpur’s representation of it’s colonial era that was once the place of parades and cricket competitions. Today, it is home to the Royal Selangor Club, the National History Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Continuing on, the most visited and popular attraction is the iconic Petronas Twin Towers. These magnificent towers are what has made Kuala Lumpur so well known today. These massive towers that soar at 1,483 feet tout a sky bridge that rises 557 feet above the streets below. There is an art gallery, theatre, aquarium, and science center in the Petronas Tower as well as many businesses and shops. More upscale stores surround the towers and businesses throughout the world host world conferences here. Nearby, there is a huge shopping center that covers 1.4 million square feet and offers 450 outlets of restaurants, entertainment, shops, spas, and fitness centers. There is something for everyone in Kuala Lumpur!
That is all I have to report on the lovely country of Malaysia.
“Jumpa lagi“ ….or, good-bye…….until we visit again. Happy and safe travels to all!!