Monday, June 30, 2014

Travel Fever: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia


After learning that I will move to a new country soon, my good friend R graciously offered to host me to a 3-day visit to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. R, together with her adorable cousins, visited the Philippines last March. My boyfriend and I promised to return the favor and visit them in May 2015 for the Harvest Festival, which obviously won't happen anymore. I'd love to see them before I leave, so we decided to arrange a quick trip by end of July.

This will be my third time to visit KK. The first time was with my girlfriends. I was young and with some of my best girls, so naturally, most of my memories were of food, alcohol, dressing up, partying and a lot of silly stories that still make me and my BFF Tara cry with laughter. The second time was with the boyfie. It was a celebration of my 27th birthday in the small but charming island of Sapi. 

Spent my 27th birthday at Sapi Island | 2012
  
This time, our hosts plan to bring us to their native village two hours away from the city. I have no clue where it is, but R said it's like Tagaytay except that there's a nearby falls where we can swim and cook BBQs. I'll let my OC self rest and leave the preparation to my friends. 

UPDATE: According to R, their village is called Tambunan. The valley is peppered with terraced padi and  picturesque villages. There's also a dense bamboo forest surrounding the village, a legacy of the British colonial period.  Also, the Rafflesia Forest Reserve is just outside  this village. Rafflesia is one of the world's largest flowers. This strange plant is called the "corpse flower" because of its foul odor, which some say smells like rotting flesh. Cool facts! :)

Apart from that, I still have 1.5 days to spare and so I decided I'll go on a foodtrip and visit some places of Sabah culture. A few minutes of research and some friendly recos brought me to this list.


SIGNAL HILL OBSERVATORY PLATFORM. PHOTO VIA http://ilovesabah.info.

I have a fascination for observatory towers. I guess it has something to do with my belief that we always have to see the bigger picture to better appreciate a place, a situation, even a person. Also, looking over a place from greater heights humbles me and make me realize how small I am and that the world is not always about me. It keeps me grounded.

Signal Hill is the highest point in the city and a good place to watch the sunset. The boyfriend and I get a high doing this. A big can of Tiger beer sounds good, too.

A couple of minutes drive from Padang Merdeka will bring you to the airy deck where you can get amazing views that extend to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Best of all, it's FREE!


MARI MARI CULTURAL VILLAGE. PHOTO VIA www.AirAsia.com.

A visit to this village will immerse you with the different traditions of five Sabahan ethnic tribes - Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun. There's blowpipe-making demonstration, fire-starting using bamboo and tattoo-making. Very similar to the Philippines. So what I'm more interested to try are the traditional delicacies from each ethnic group.

The price is a little steep at around RM140 or Php 1,900/pax and the place is around two hours away from the city so I suggest you spare a day to get the most out of it.  
ignal Hill, the highest point in the city, is one of the best places to get a good view of Kota Kinabalu. Just a couple of minutes drive from Padang Merdeka will bring you to the airy deck where you can get amazing views that extend to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and further. - See more at: http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/signal-hill-observatory-platform#sthash.uzTbyLJo.dpuf
ignal Hill, the highest point in the city, is one of the best places to get a good view of Kota Kinabalu. Just a couple of minutes drive from Padang Merdeka will bring you to the airy deck where you can get amazing views that extend to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and further. - See more at: http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/signal-hill-observatory-platform#sthash.uzTbyLJo.dpuf
Signal Hill, the highest point in the city, is one of the best places to get a good view of Kota Kinabalu. Just a couple of minutes drive from Padang Merdeka will bring you to the airy deck where you can get amazing views that extend to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and further. - See more at: http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/signal-hill-observatory-platform#sthash.uzTbyLJo.dpuf


SABAH STATE MUSEUM AND HERITAGE VILLAGE. Photo via http://www.sabahtourism.com.

The Sabah State Museum is a good alternative if you want to know more about the Sabah culture without going out of the city. The place offers information on their Natural History, Ceramics, Ethnography and ArcNhaeology exhibits. There's also a Heritage Village where you can  experience different types of traditional houses of the various indigenous groups of Sabah. 

To reach the Sabah State Museum and Heritage Village, ride bus no.13 (towards Penampang) from either bus stations in front of City Hall or Wawasan Plaza in KK. Admission fee is RM15 of Php140 for non-Malaysians.
By bus, take the No.13 (towards Penampang) from either bus stations in front of City Hall or Wawasan Plaza in KK - See more at: http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/sabah-state-museum-heritage-village#sthash.2aPBGkU9.dpuf




KK NIGHT MARKET. Photo via http://www.borneoecotours.com.

Food is and will always be a big part of my travels. Food represents the character and diversity of different race and culture, and it's also a good way to know locals! Start a conversation about food and you'll never run out opinions. Try it! :) 

The KK Night Market is one of the most famous in South East Asia and promises fermented prawn, jungle honey and exotic fruits as well as a thousand and one kinds of BBQs. Now I'm hungry! I love the Hawker Food Stalls in Kuala Lumpur, and so I'm really anticipating an even greater gastronomic adventure in KK.  

The KK Night Market is located in Jalan Kampung Air near the old Filipino craft market.

I hope you find this helpful, especially if you find yourself KK-bound anytime soon. :) Safe travels! 

Much Love,
Dang

Thursday, June 26, 2014

#LolaVibes Weekend in Panglao, Bohol


I'm embracing my lola-ness more than ever these days. I'm not sure when it started, but I'm in a phase where being alone didn't mean I'm lonely and saying no is rarely followed by sorry and guilt. Also, I don't feel the need to be friends with everyone anymore. I'm perfectly happy to be in fair terms with everyone and close to only a handful. You see, I was never the friendly kid in school. Back then, I thought it was something I should be sorry about. People thought I was snotty, and I can't say it didn't bother me. But age and experience came to play, and I slowly learned to respect that people are entitled to their opinion and the same applies to me. So if other people are entitled to think I'm a snob, then it's no longer my problem. In fact, I'm entitled to think of myself as a vampire, a unicorn, what have you. As my friend R puts it, with fabulous sparkly wings! ;-) Little girls, you can feel and be whatever you dream to be. As long as you don't hurt anyone, don't be sorry about it.

Speaking of which, my not so recent company trip to Panglao, Bohol witnessed my ultimate lola vibes. Since it's my second time to visit Bohol, and I've done most of the touristy things, I decided it will be a good time to DISCONNECT.  (Click and read why it's good for you!)

I didn't sign up for any group activities and stayed in the resort most of the time. It's a #LolaVibes weekend, but who says it can't be fun? :) 



Flight was early by 45 minutes. Good job, PAL!


We stayed at Amorita, a very nice resort that offers a magnificent view of the Alona Beach.


Luxurious bed and sheets: Check


They also deliver freshly baked goodies everyday. With personal notes, too. :)


I started the following day with an intense Yoga session by the view deck. It was way better than doing it in a confined space. I arrived Bohol with bad colds, and the fresh air alone cleared it the next day. Unbelievable.
I went kayaking alone, but was spotted by my colleague who took this photo.

I took advantage and posed for the camera. ;)
I was feeling sleepy, so I went back to our room, sat in the veranda and read the newspapers. So comfy that I snoozed for a good hour or so.
After dinner, I decided to join my friends for one round of the cheapest cocktails I've known to date. Buy one, take one for only Php 50.00. We're talking about imported spirits here --- Absolut, Malibu, Jack. Sulit! :)
I also went biking solo. I got some scratches and my butt cheeks hurt, but it was fun!
I went biking again with my buddies C and F the following day. We went out of the resort and pedaled our way to some nooks and corners of Panglao. Aside from the sheepish grins from the manongs, it was a good workout.
Of course I went swimming. The infinity pool was too beautiful to resist! :)

Sunbathed, too. Swim, sunbathe, swim, sunbathe. In numerous cycles. = NEGRA
To complete this lola-ness, I got teary eyed when the Loboc Children's Choir serenaded us with songs like "Paraiso", "The Prayer" and "There Can Be Miracles". Our company president looked like she wants to adopt all of them amazing kids. :D
Burned a few more hours doing nothing

Then joined a competitive card game I don't even know what to call ;)
We can't leave without eating at The Buzz Cafe by Bohol Bee Farm. To be honest, there's not a lot of good places to eat in Bohol, and food isn't that great compared to say, Cebu.

The Buzz Cafe offers the best food in Alona. I ordered cheesy lasagna which comes with salad (with flowers!) and special grainy breads that they bake and sell.
Don't ever leave the island without trying the Buzz Cafe ice cream. As in never ever. Take my word for it! They have the creamiest, tastiest local, homemade ice cream I've ever tried. And I'm an ice cream geek so I know what I'm talking about. I tried their Avocado first, and then went back with my friends where we ordered three freaking flavors. We can't decide which is the best. They're that good. Tried Ube, Corn, Malunggay and Avocado. They also have unique flavors like Malunggay (tastes nutty) and Spicy Ginger.

View from where we had lunch. Philippines is really beautiful!
 
This #LolaVibes trip had been fun. I can't complain. :)


What do you think of my #LolaVibes trip? Not too shabby, yeah? Share me your idea of a perfect #LolaVibes weekend by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading!


Much Love, 
Dang

Monday, June 23, 2014

Smart Buys: Palmolive Naturals Body Wash


I'm frugal. I'm proud to be one. For Filipinos, being frugal or "kuripot" has a stigma of being greedy or selfish. In truth, being frugal or thrifty means using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. So if you are smart and know better than wasting your hard-earned moolah by buying things you really don't need nor suit you, then cheers, and welcome to the frugal community! 

Part of this prudence is my quest to find products and services that are of high quality, perfect for my needs and are reasonably priced. Nope, I don't mindlessly go for the cheapest option available. Instead, I buy with due diligence whether it's for big ticket purchases like gadgets, house loan, etc., or as simple as the skincare products I use. I'm only willing to pay a premium if I get value for my money and get the results I wanted. It is not unusual for me to spend two hours in the grocery reading, inspecting, researching (thank you Google) the customer value propositions of different products in the market. I can spend the next 15 minutes weighing the pros and cons of different brands of let's say, cotton pads. I kid you not.

So when my best friend and kikay consultant, Tara, introduced me to the newest line of body wash from Palmolive Naturals, this nerd knew what exactly to do. I inspected the two variants (Milk & Honey and Milk & Olive), their ingredients, their CVP and yes, even the SRP. Both are very moisturizing and feels soft on the skin, thanks to their milk protein content. But my favorite is the Milk  & Olive variant because it smells like a more sophisticated, grown-up lady version of my usual milk bath. :) Plus, it saved me from the skin drought after too much sun soaking in Bohol for three days (posting a photo diary on this adventure soon!). Best of all, it's very creamy and lathers really well which means a bottle will give you a lot of yummy, refreshing showers. It is definitely a good buy at only Php 80.00/200 ml. bottle. Don't just take my word for it, try it for yourself!




Any good finds or frugal tips and thrills you want to share with me? Email me at dang_villanueva@yahoo.com or dang.villa@gmail.com. Let's make kikay shopping much smarter. :)

Much Love,
Dang