First Air Asia Ride
It was 4 pm on friday, 13th of March 2009 and my day had already been full of thrill. When the mechanic delivered the VW beetle that caught fire earlier that morning, the taxi was already waiting. Soon after, we were on our way to Senai airport, for the first experience with Air Asia. I’ve heard some interesting experiences with Air Asia, both good and bad. A friend of mine had his flight to Jakarta canceled. He was not notified and only knew about it when trying to register at the check-in counter. Can you believe it? With hotels booked and programs scheduled, he had no option but to drive to Kuala Lumpur to catch another flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta. So much hassle for cheaper tickets !!!
That day was my first experience. I had my wife and two kids along and we were bound for Kota Kinabalu. The moment the gate was open, the queue developed abruptly. We took it easy and slowly joined the line. We settled on our seats without any problem as Air Asia had done away with their free sitting policy. But many passengers didn’t know that and there were quite a bit of confusions. In fact there were some commotions. Maybe the stewardess was too tired, or may be these passengers were less than cooperative. In the end, the late comers were asked to take any vacant seats.
The journey was smooth and the weather was good. Once settled at the designated altitude, the stewardess started their rounds selling many different things- food, beverages, souvenirs etc.
We landed in Kota Kinabalu LCCT safely at 8.30 pm. The last time I was in KK, this terminal was nonexistent. From there, we took a taxi to Promenade Hotel in the city centre. I noticed that KK has changed considerably since my last visit in 2003. One thing never change – rumah air can still be found.
The next day we visited University Malaysia Sabah, particularly the beautiful aquarium in the marine and oceanography sections. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for noon prayer at Masjid Likas.
Later in the evening, we left for Kundasang. On the way, we stopped at Tuaran to buy claritine and some other medicine, as allergic reaction from the fire extinguisher dust inhaled the day before started to show its effect. The man at the pharmacy was very courteous in explaining the direction to Kundasang and advised me to be careful as the road was normally slippery in rainy days. It was raining lightly.
We reached Kinabalu Heritage hotel at about 6.00 pm. It was foggy. We checked in and went straight for dinner. The next morning we visited Mesilau Nature Resort, a place where the Mesilau gate is located. It was a cool morning and groups of climbers were already there as we drove up the steep road. I chatted with few excited climbers while my wife and daughter took pictures of the surroundings. We then drove to Kinabalu Park and stayed there for a while to visit the botanical garden.
Poring Hot Spring
After lunch we drove to Poring Hot Spring. The place was nice and there were many visitors as it was a weekend during school holiday season. The sulfur laden hot water emerged from the ground, collected and distributed to several hot tubs using piping system – so much for the love for nature! Nevertheless it was a practical way of doing things. Apart from pools and tubs for hot bath, there were also ordinary swimming pools and two waterfalls – one only 15 minutes away and another about an hour apart. My son and I enjoyed the waterfall. It was very cold and we loved the excitement. Then from the extreme cold we took the hot bath.
From the hot Spring, we drove to Sabah Tea Garden education centre, some 40 km away. Unfortunately, we missed the tea processing demonstration as they do not have the show on weekends. After having Teh Tarik, we went back to the hotel and took our rest. On the way, we stopped for durian.
Life stops early in Kundasang. When were out from the hotel at 9 pm, most places were closed. We were hungry and couldn’t find anything appealing in the area. We decided to go to Ranau, about 15 km from Kundasang. The air was dense with fogs and visibility was low. I drove slowly. Luckily there were several outlets available.
The sky was clear the next morning. From our room, we had a spectacular view of mount Kinabalu.
After breakfast, we left Kundasang, but instead of taking the following the route we took earlier, we diverted the journey to Kota Belud. It was a quiet country road with beautiful scenery. With mountain and fast flowing fresh water streams or rapids, it reminded me of Colorado, and almost instantaneously, I was longing for trout fishing, something that I did occasionally at Poudre River in Colorado. Colorado was also the place where I first met my wife 28 years ago.
We stopped at the Kota Belud mosque and offered a prayer. Later we found something very interesting indeed – SMK Arshad . On the way back to KK, we took the coastal road, visited Port of Sepanggar, a polytechnic, UITM and Nexus Karambunai resort. Later in the evening, my wife met her friend – somebody that has been helping her in providing assistance to Muslim revert of Sabah origin – but they had never met. The meeting had somehow motivated my wife to continue on helping new muslims to learn more about Islam.
Our last day in Sabah was spent in Pulau Manukan. In my previous visit I had snorkled in Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sapi. Comparing the three, I think Mamutik was the best. I had a mild flue and still coughing but determined not to spoil Amin’s holiday. After all, it was his idea that we took our holiday in Sabah. Alhamdulillah, we enjoyed the trip immensely.