Finally somewhere within my own country, I was having seconds thoughts about Sabah, because we brought our grandmother and it might be an issue as she can't walk too much, but it turned out fine, even though she didn't join us for certain attractions. Sabah, is truly beautiful, its sceneries never fail to amaze me again and again, even if its the same view. I know I say this a lot, but man I am definitely coming back. Shall we start?
We rented a car, but due to certain issues with the car we had to wait at the airport for 1 hour. After getting the car, we started our drive up to Kundasang, and boy can I tell you the drive up is so worth it, just pure beauty. after checking in to B-inspired Abode Kundasang, we started our journey, although it was already 4 pm by the time each one of us are ready.
First stop, the New Zealand of Malaysia, DESA Cattle Farm (0800 - 1700). If you googled online the look of it, its something similar to this picture. However I thought that we could walk in and be really close to the cows, but well I had high expectations I guess. I would highly recommend trying the gelato, every product there is made by their own cow milk. The gelato tasted heavenly, even my grandma loved it. I don't think milk or take yogurt so I can't comment on that. You can feed the calves and billies with grass and milk for a price, they are super cute, and when you walk further on you can see the adult cows chilling in their sheds, but do be careful dungs are everywhere. You get to see how they process their milk as well. I really fell in love with the view here.
Right after, we went to Kinabalu Park, there's a small entrance fee. We drove up and just did some sight- seeing, as we were there in the evening, it was extremely cold for me. Look at what I was wearing. They have trails for you to hike, or if you just wanna take a drive, you do that. Its good for the adventurers and explorers, I couldn't do it because I had my grandma to take care of.
It was only 1830, the sky was already turning dark, so we left for dinner. We at a restaurant called 89 Station, only 3 minutes away from the park by car. It is a non-halal cafe though. The sunset was beautiful as we ate our dinner and by the time we finished everything, it was pitch black, no street lights no nothing, we decided to just go back to the house and rest for night.
Set your alarm and wake up at 3am, THE STARS my god, I could have swore it almost formed a milky way. It was truly mesmerizing, but definitely too cold for me, so I went back in after 10 minutes, I didn't take any photos because somethings are better in person, I can safely say I was stunned.
After breakfast in town, we drove for about 30 minutes to Poring Hot Spring (0800 - 1800) , it would have been 45 minutes from our accommodation. The hot spring area was a-okay to me, but really relaxing no doubt, being adventurous *teehee* my brother and I decided to walk on the canopy, again there is a small fee, and you have to pay extra for cameras. they you have to climb up a tad bit, there are staircase provided, but its really tiring. You have to finish all four canopies, for some one who has acrophobia, the first 2 was not as scary, I could still look down, but when the 3rd one came into sight, my legs were shaking, my brother had the audacity to stop halfway and say to me: "Hey look at this view its so beautiful! " I would have smack him in the head, if we weren't on the canopy. After that's done, we walked further down the path and found ourselves a waterfall, chilled for a little and we left. They had a rafflesia site, but somehow it was under construction when we were there. We left the hot spring area at 11ish.
We were about to leave when I felt I must drink coconut juice because all that walking, hiking and climbing was making me sweat like mad, the stall was just down the road, and to our luck the stall employee has his own rafflesia , and he charged us RM10 per pax and brought us there, we were lucky because it was the flower's 2nd day of blooming. We didn't mind paying, how often do you get to see in person the world's biggest flower?
As we were driving out, something happened to our car, it overheated and the steering locked itself. We had to wait for the car company to bring in another car from KK, its about 2 and a half hour. We weren't going to wait that long doing nothing on our vacation, we wanted to continue our journey to Tagal Fish Spa, so we walked back down to the coconut stall and asked if they know any taxi drivers. They were more than willing to call their friends, but since it was a public holiday not a lot of them were in town. Our hero came to the rescue, he overheard and said he would taxi us there, and after negotiating a price we were happy to pay, we set off. (I felt extremely lucky to experience all kinds of help when a difficult situation was presented.)
Tagal Fish Spa was a 30-minute drive from Poring Hot Spring, there are stalls selling fruits and fried banana and potato along the way. After paying your entrance fee, you get to enjoy being eaten by fish, oh how the world turns. Every session is about 15 minutes, and you'll know your session is over when the lady broadcast your ticket number loudly. My sensitive feet can't stand the nibbling, it was painful for me, but an experience nonetheless, these fishes were trained and not the mention, they were really huge, was trying to grab one but instead I risked getting my fingers bitten off, so the moral of the story is, don't be stupid.
0540, waiting for the sun to rise and it was rising. It was too cold for me but the view, do you believe me now? This is the view from my abode. Even though it was too cold for me, we still stood there for 30 minutes just to watch the sunrise, if you ever have the chance and determination, please don't waste this opportunity.
After an early check out, we headed down to Nabalu Market as it is on the way to Kota Kinabalu. There are so many things to buy, from handmade handicraft to sarungs and batiks. As we were on a tight schedule, we only managed to stay for 2 hours.
The BEACH! On our second last day, we headed to Jesselton Point to get a boat to the Islands! My favourite part about KK. We got a boat service to go to 2 islands, Sapi Island and Manukan Island. Needless to say both islands had a lot of tourists making appreciating nature a bit difficult but we try to do what we can to enjoy ourselves. In Sapi Island, do get the snorkelling mask from your boat service because there are corals and fish and I liked it. When we head to Manukan Island, the island was much bigger and we didn't feel like swimming anymore so we went parasailing instead, we also wanted to try sea walking but we were running out of time. I guess when I am on holiday, I l like to splurge a little on things I normally would not do. We went back to the condominium right after to rest and left for the sunset at Tanjung Aru.
We were a bit late, so the sun was setting already but you could still see the horizon, the islands, it was like a piece of art indeed.
We left KK the next day for Kuala Lumpur, but before that we had just enough time to visit the Handicraft market, again we bought a lot of things, from clothes to jewellery and left Sabah full of great memories, souvenirs and knowledge about a part of Malaysia we didn't know about.
My stay in Kundasang: B-inspired Abode
No idea where this place is? Neither did I till I googled: Places to go near Bangkok. she is famous for her Death Railway, if you've watched The Railway Man starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, you'd know what I am talking about. And yes as the title suggested, I went to this unfamiliar place alone, and trust me I loved every moment of it. (Before you doubt me, the pictures of me are either taken by my driver or I used a selfie stand.)
There are a few ways to get to Kanchanaburi like driving, taking the bus or minivan as well as the train. I chose the last option, 1: I've never sat in an old, air con-less train before; 2: they say the scenery is beautiful. I stayed near Khao San Road the night before as I felt it was near to THONBURI TRAIN STATION, the most direct line to Kanchanaburi, there are only 2 trains going there, one at 0745 and 1335. Due to the terrible traffic, a 12- minute journey turned to a 43-minute ride in a taxi, I thought I was going to miss my train, I ran like my life depended on it. The fee will always be 100 THB, no air conditioning, just natural breeze. I have to warn you though the dust particle might be too much for some. After 2 hours, I finally reached.
I stayed at THE NINE GUESTHOUSE, booked through booking.com. Its only a 5-minute walk from KANCHANABURI STATION, you have to cross the road and walk pass CHUNGKAI CEMETERY and the THAI-BURMA RESEARCH CENTRE (0900 - 1700). Its a standard, normal guesthouse, with a yard in front of the rooms and a cafe beside, just in case you are the every-morning-must-drink-coffee type. What I loved the most was the owner, she is super friendly, and helped me get a driver to go to attractions that are too far for a fair price. The room was enough for 2, with a king size bed , air condition as well as a private bathroom equipped with soaps and towels for only 711 THB. After settling, I began my little adventure.
Hellfire pass (0900 - 1600) is about 1.5 hour from the city, you can always ride the bus from Kanchanaburi bus station (take the bus to Thong Pha Phum) but it was already 12 by then, I wanted to maximise my time so I got a driver instead. Please bring a hat, sun block. most importantly mosquito repellent, I've only walked for 5 minutes and I was already scratching all over. The entrance is FREE, I really encourage you to get the audio guide ( again no money required, just give them your ID), its informative and emotional, hearing what kind of conditions they were in at that time was really painful. They have a shorter route of 500m (one round and you go back to the entrance, trust me its tiring enough), and also a longer route where you'll walk all the way to the other side, if you have a driver, get them to wait for you there.
Let's talk briefly about Hellfire pass' (Konyu Cutting) history; its a difficult section of the line to build, 26 m deep 500 m long. the POWs Australians, British, Dutch and other allies) were forced by the Japanese to work long hours and many died from cholera, dysentery, starvation, exhaustion etc. As you walk between the rocks, you can see flags and kind words from travellers especially from said countries being displayed there.
We left for Sai Yok Noi Waterfalls (0800 - 1800) after, it was on the way to and from Hellfire pass. Noi means small, and yes it was a small waterfall. The water is clean. the location is very well-shaded, very suitable for a little picnic session. Across the road from the waterfall there are a few shops selling local snacks as well as a 7e. We only stayed for 30 minutes and left for my most anticipated attraction.
As you head to the Death Railway, there are shops selling clothes, souvenirs and more. Honestly, I was very nervous about this site, because again of its WWII history. I was mesmerised, the view was amazing as I walked along the railway tracks I couldn't help but feel calm. It was so peaceful, in contrast of the pain and suffering the POWs had encounter whilst constructing the railway. I suggest that you take a walk on the track and just enjoy the serenity that comes with it. You can look up Thai-Burma Railway to have a full understanding of what was going on at the time. Unfortunately for me, I can't stay too long because it started raining, my driver and I ran back to our vehicle as fast as possible. We decided to head to Prasat Mueng Sing Historical Park (0800 - 1700) which was located about 30 minutes away from the Death Railway.
Prasat Mueng Sing Historical Park to me is like a mini Angkor Wat. I've always loved ancient ruins and you can guess how excited I was when I got to see these architectures. Of course having had a chance to visit Angkor Wat itself, the historical park wasn't extremely "breathtaking" but beautiful in its own way. It was about 5 pm, and we decided it was time to go back to the guesthouse.
There's actual a vegetarian restaurant beside the guest house, but I chose to walk another 3 minutes to another vegetarian restaurant, On's Thai Issan which offer vegetarian cooking classes as well. The food was delicious, that I had to order 2 dishes, and that's a lot for somebody who can't really finish a whole bowl of something. Do order to Tom Sap, it deserves so many thumbs-ups. After that, I walked to Kanchaburi Train Station to explore Kanchanaburi Night Market. Like every other night market, they sell food and clothes amongst other things, not to mention a foot massage for 60THB, products are relatively cheap. The next day was going to be a long one, so I went back early to rest, apart from a few bars and the night market, there's nothing much to do at night anyway.
(my morning started with a good 1.5 km hike up a mountain and a 30-minute swim at Erawan Falls (0800 - 1630), still trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle even when traveling, LOL. We left the guesthouse at 0800 and reached Erawan National Park at about 0915. You can also take a bus from the bus terminal, the earliest bus is at 0800, but it'll take you about 2 hours to get up here. An entrance fee of 300 THB is required for foreigners. There are 7 tiers to this waterfall and the higher you go the more beautiful the waterfall gets, at least in my opinion. A lot of tourists will hang around the first few tiers, and by a lot I really do mean A LOT. The water was cooling and clear, a beautiful colour of green/ blue, a site to behold indeed. To hike up to the 5th tier onwards, it was really a challenge, but I don't give up easily and I was glad, because the 7th tier was my paradise. My driver liked the 5th tier, the only reason why I didn't like it was because of the fishes, they kept "biting" my dead skin away, WHAT IF I LIKED MY DEAD SKIN, FISHES? WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO EAT ME! It took us about 2 and 1/2 hours to go hike up and down, that was always because we only swam in 2 out of 7 tiers. After a quick change of clothes, we got food and left for Srinagarind Dam (0800 - 1800) (this was my driver's suggestion, he said since we are in the area)
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, the view is too breathtaking, its like a painting, I'd assume heaven looks like this. There's nothing much to do there, but a few things to look at like the sun dial and a place to pray. I was more focused on the view, I just stood there like a mannequin. The guy right there, my driver, and now my friend.
After a quick shower and a simple checking out procedure, I decided to head to the bridge over the River Kwai. Again, lots of tourist, maybe it also had to the with the fact I went during their holiday. The bridge has platforms on the side so when the train comes, you won't die. As I was walking along the bridge, there was a train so the experience was exhilarating. JEATH museum was 5 minutes away, I usually loved going to museums, but I didn't really enjoy this one, I thought it lacked a system.
And that's the end of my trip to Kanchanaburi. I took a mini van (Win Happy company) from Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal back to Bangkok at 5pm and reached about 8pm. It was not a bad ride. I am definitely coming back again, there's so many more things I felt I have not got the chance to see, like the Elephant camps (proper, non-abusive, for the elephants kind). Till then, I am signing off for now.
An Aquarius actress seeking for the meaning of life: good food, good friends, good places, good music, basically everything that is good.