When you think of Gold Coast, how many of you think of it as a family destination with theme parks to go to only? We thought the same too, but boy were we so wrong! Here are 10 things that you must do in Gold Coast and beyond other than theme parks!
1. Drive your way around Aussie and have fun with the spontaneous detours!
Actually one of the things that we love most about road trips is the absolute freedom that comes along with it! Like a place? Drive to it. Have time to spare? Why not just drive randomly around and explore the outskirts of a city? Which was exactly what we did when we were at Hervey bay and guess what, we actually spotted wild kangaroos!
After we were done with gushing over the kangaroos, we noticed that the skies were really clear that day and the sunset was sublime. So we found a nice spot, parked our car and snapped a shot of us with the gorgeous sunset as the background 🙂
2. Enjoy a great time with your new feathered friends at Maleny Botanical Garden
Being parrot lovers, we absolutely fell in love with the adorable precious feathered babies here at the Maleny Botanical Garden Aviary! The parrots here were extremely tame and friendly towards human! It was amazing! They’re allowed to fly freely and randomly land on anybody’s head or shoulder! It can be quite hilarious at times when you get caught off guard by a giant Macaw that suddenly landed on your head!
3. Snorkel with the adorable green turtles at Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island is definitely one of the highlights of our trip in Queensland! The waters there was crystal clear! We really enjoyed our snorkelling session with the green turtles 🙂 If you’d like more details on our Lady Elliot trip, check out our previous blog post on the ultimate road trip in Queensland!
Fun fact: Green turtles are not really green actually. They’re mainly brown! But they’re named green because of the fats underneath their shell.
4. Drink in the gorgeous sunset at Noosa Beach
According to the locals that we spoke to, Noosa Beach is one of the top favourite destination for the locals! It’s not so known to tourists yet, but you will see plenty of locals hanging out by the beach, sun tanning, sipping their cocktails, enjoying the freshest seafood ever!
Tip: If you’re an ice cream lover, you must try the famous Gelato ice cream at Massimo! It’s along Hastings Street.
5. Busk in the cheery atmosphere at the fresh local markets
Albeit it being a rushed morning, it was still a good experience traipsing around the Eumundi Market which stocks really fresh local organic produce! A fantastic place to pick up interesting souvenirs too!
Tip: Skip your hotel breakfast and head to Eumundi Market with an empty stomach! (We didn’t and regretted our decision when we arrived too full at the market)
6. Come up close with the friendly humpback whales at Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay, also known as the whale watching capital of Australia and the home of the majestic Humpback whale! We had such a great time whale watching at Hervey Bay! We never experienced whales swimming that close to us before. This time we had both mummy whale and her baby swimming and playing really close to our boat!
Ps. Many tours offer guaranteed whale sighting and a full refund should you not be able to see one!
7. Fraser island, the world’s largest sand island
Hendric and Amada drove around Fraser Island via a 4 wheel drive with Nomads Fraser Island Tours! We didn’t get to go on this route, but the adventures that they shared with us were amazing! Fraser island is one of the most beautiful and largest sand island in the world! The entire tour was a 3D2N 4 wheel drive on Fraser Island and both of them agreed that you need at least 3 days to get the full experience!
8. Be blown away by the beauty of the Carlos Sand Blow
Yet again, another spontaneous detour that became one of the highlights of our trip 🙂 This place was gorgeous, it was unbelievable how this much sand got blown over and above the cliff, covering all of the vegetation in its way to form the Carlos Sand Blow!
9. Indulge in the freshest seafood ever
Foodies will definitely enjoy cruising along in Queensland as the drive is mostly along the coast and that also means, you get really fresh seafood! We had the sumptuous meal below at Surf’s Club at Noosa Beach. The oysters were so good!
10. Make new furry friends at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
This has gotta be our favourite activity in Brisbane! The koalas were beyond adorable! And look at the grumpy looking koala in the photo below! Rare shot indeed as it’s hard to catch a koala awake as they spend most of their time sleeping to conserve their energy!
Fun fact: Koalas sleep up to 22 hours a day to conserve their energy as their diet consists of eucalyptus leaves that need a lot of energy to digest.
So now, you have a long list of exciting things to do in Gold Coast besides only the theme parks! If you too would like to plan a road trip in Queensland, we have good news for you!
Scoot is offering a 10% off selected FlyBag/ FlyBagEat/ ScootBiz Fares!
Promo Code: ROADTRIP
Sale Period: 1100hrs (GMT+8) 8 Oct 2015 (Thurs) – 2359hrs (GMT+8) 31 Oct 2015 (Wed)
Travel Period: 9 Oct 2015 – 26 Mar 2016
Recently we went on a road trip in Queensland and that trip really changed our perception towards this amazing place! It’s really so much more than just a family destination! Especially for those that prefer to take things at their own pace, Queensland is one of the best places to do so.
1. The World Heritage Drive (Hervey Bay – Lady Elliot Island)
We had such a great time whale watching at Hervey Bay! We never experienced whales swimming that close to us before! This time we had both mummy whale and her baby swimming and playing really close to our boat! Check out the photos below where the baby whale did a backflip and gave all of us a good laugh!
Do you know, the whale watching season lasts for 6 months (May to Nov) in Gold Coast?
Fun fact: A fully grown adult humpback whale can weight up to 7,000kg?! That’s heavier than 5 adult elephants!
Tip: If you’re around at Hervey Bay and you have your own vehicle, go drive around and explore the area. We chanced upon this beautiful beach and witnessed one of the most gorgeous sunsets that we’ve ever seen in our lives 🙂
Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. This tiny eco island is less than half square kilometre and you can walk the entire island in 30 minutes! Because this island is a highly protected “Green Zone’, it is also a haven for more than 1,000 over coral species, colourful marine life which includes huge manta rays and really adorable green turtles! 🙂
Snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef has always been on our bucket list! Finally, we can tick snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef off our bucket list (but we still want to dive there though)!
Tip: If you want to dive, stay at least for a night at the resort! We only did a day trip and sadly we couldn’t dive as we had to catch the plane back to Hervey Bay on the same day 🙁
2. The Great Beach Drive (Fraser Island)
For the other route which the other pair, Hendric and Amada, took, they drove up from Noosa Beach all the way to Fraser Island via a 4 wheel drive with Nomads Fraser Island Tours! We didn’t get to go on this route, but the adventures that they shared with us was amazing!
For a start, Fraser island is one of the most beautiful and largest sand island in the world! The entire tour was a 3D2N 4 wheel drive on Fraser Island and both Hendric and Amanda agreed that you need at least 3 days to get the full experience! One of the clearest waters that we’ve ever seen!
Overall, we were convinced that Fraser Island was a must go and we will definitely be back to Queensland to visit this gorgeous place! More details on their full experience at Fraser Island coming up soon on Pohtecktoes blog!
How to get to Lady Elliot Island:
We flew Scoot to Gold Coast, rented a car and drove all the way up north to Hervey Bay! From Hervey Bay, you have to catch a flight to Lady Elliot Island. We found it really easy to drive around in Australia. The people there seemed really friendly and road rage felt non-existent!
Good news for all of you! Scoot is offering a 10% off selected FlyBag/ FlyBagEat/ ScootBiz Fares!
Promo Code: ROADTRIP
Sale Period: 1100hrs (GMT+8) 8 Oct 2015 (Thurs) – 2359hrs (GMT+8) 31 Oct 2015 (Wed)
Travel Period: 9 Oct 2015 – 26 Mar 2016
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our road trip adventures in Queensland! Have you done a road trip in Australia before? Share with us your experience in the comments below!
Recently we went on a short trip to Quan Zhou and for us the highlight was really the food! Quan Zhou would be an ideal destination for the more matured generation, a great place to bring your parents or even grandparents for a holiday. Most conveniently, Tigerair now flies direct from Singapore to Quan Zhou.
Quan Zhou used to be the largest port in Asia about a 1,000 years ago! But fast forward to today, it’s a regular seaside city which still attracts tons of domestic tourists.
Delight your taste buds with a taste familiar to home
Quan Zhou is actually part of Fujian province and its cuisine is quite similar to our home cooked Chinese dishes back in Singapore. So this would be a great place to bring your older folks as they will have no problem adapting to the food here. You will notice that they will serve a soup dish, fish, vegetables, seafood (usually sotong) and a meat dish.
One of the local’s specialty would be the traditional Jiangmu Ya (Ginger Duck) which was one of our favourites! You have to dip the meat into a separate dish of ginger and vinegar which gives the dish a really interesting taste. The ginger taste is not that strong actually, in case you’re not a fan of ginger like us.
This has gotta be our ultimate favourite – OYSTER EGG (right photo below)! We were shocked at the ratio of oysters to egg! In Singapore, you could possibly count the number of oysters with one hand but over here, it’s impossible! It almost felt like there was hardly any egg and all oysters only. But this dish is really awesome, wins hands down. We ate fried oyster egg for almost every meal!
Tip: All oyster egg lovers must try the oyster egg in Quan Zhou! It’s the BEST!
Okay, the next dish, frozen siphon worms, is kinda gross. BUT, it tastes delicious! No joke. In fact, it was Daniel’s favourite dish! The dish below is actually a bowl of sea worms. You have to add in the packet of vinegar into the bowl and eat it together. Its texture feels like mushroom and it tastes not too bad.
Explore your cultural roots and go temple hopping
Quan Zhou is quite a religious city with numerous temples dedicated to the various deities. One of them is Kai Yuan temple, which is also one of the oldest and largest buddhist temple built during the Tang dynasty.
One interesting factor about this temple would be the Hindu influence which can be seen in parts of its architecture like the pillar in the right photo below. The other amazing thing would be the pagoda (left photo below) that has been built more than 700 years ago. This pagoda has withstood countless typhoons and earthquakes and it’s still standing strong till date!
The other temple that we visited was Nan Pu Tuo which is a famous temple that was founded during the Tang dynasty too. It was quite fun exploring the temple as it was much larger than we expected!
Tip: If you have the time, buffer in around 2 hours to do a simple trek up to the top of Mt Putuo which is located right behind the temple.
The next temple is Jin Jiang’s most famous temple, Cao’an Temple. It’s location is quite secluded and it was said to be built by the Chinese Manicheans during the Song Dynasty. But overtime, the locals viewed this place as a Buddhist temple.
Be entertained by their lively cultural performances
We really enjoyed watching the performances after our delicious local lunch! Apparently this restaurant only organise the performances when there’s a booking. And we were the only patrons in the restaurant that day! Which meant they performed for us only, we felt so honoured!
The 2 performances below were our favourites, especially the puppet guy on the right! He was really good! And the thing I loved most was the smile on his face throughout the entire performance. We could tell that he really enjoyed what he was doing 🙂 We later found out that some puppets have as many as 36 different strings! We really wonder sometimes how come the strings never ever get entangled….hmm..
The “Nezha that was dancing to techno” performance was a little weird and ridiculous though. But we had quite a good laugh over it.
Calm your soul and take a stroll at Qing Yuan National Park
There was just this overwhelming sense of calmness and peace as we took a nice morning stroll at the Qing Yuan Shan National park. The air was exceptionally crisp and fresh; we were totally surrounded by greenery. It was such a good retreat for our soul.
The stone statue of Lao Zi in the photo below is one of the main reason why people visit the Qing Yuan Shan as well. It’s one of the iconic landmarks of Quan Zhou and apparently if you haven’t taken a photo with the Lao Zi statue, you haven’t been to Quan Zhou.
There’s a local saying that if you can touch the nose of Lao Zi, you can live up to 120 years. But if you can touch the ears, you can live up to 160 Years!
Busk in the lively atmosphere of Gulangyu Island
We took a day trip to Gulangyu Island which is a popular holiday destination for the locals. It’s easy to get there via a ferry from Jin Jiang (where we were at in Quan Zhou).
Gulangyu Island was quite a strange place, we didn’t know quite how to describe it. Somehow on one side, it felt like we were back in the past, with the coolies without shirt and a towel draped around their neck, pulling the carts piled up with goods on them.
Yet on the other hand, you see a very different form of nice modern European architecture that was oddly out of place.
Tip: To fully experience this island at its best, stay for at least a night. That way you can get a more intimate and insightful experience of the locals’ way of living on this island.
And then you have the streets lined up with rows of different local delights, with some of the stalls selling Taiwanese snacks. This was a scene that was similar to the Taiwanese street markets. The food here was quite expensive though, like all touristy destinations, pricing has obviously been marked up.
Okay, this has gotta be one of the strangest and weirdest phenomenon that we ever saw! Just check out the series of photos below. This is apparently the latest trend in China! Everybody was sprouting from their head, both guys and females!
You can also get your souvenirs from this place, a huge variety of dried local snacks. Some of our favourites were the locally dried long an as well as the dried cuttlefish which had no additional flavouring or preservatives added to it. Really yummy!
Nearby the island, there’s a famous coastal drive where you can chill at the beach or even cycle along the coast. We didn’t have much time though, so we only went down to the beach for a quick look.
According to our local guide, the locals love coming here for a swim especially during summer! This beach would be flooded with people! It was really low tide when we were there though.
So, that basically sums up our short time in Quan Zhou! For those of you who are keen to visiting this part of China, Tigerair now flies direct from Singapore, super convenient!
Hope you all enjoyed reading about our short adventure in Quan Zhou! Do you have a favourite city in China? Share it with us in your comments below!
Every trekking enthusiast will definitely love the Lycian Way in Turkey. The Lycian Way is a 500km coastal route along Southern Turkey stretching from Fethiye all the way to Antalya. It’ll take around a month to complete the entire trek.
But not many of us have the luxury of time to do such a long trek and the good thing is that you can choose to do a sample of it just like what we did. We trekked from Oludeniz to Patara beach in 3 days.
Day 1: Oludeniz to Kabak Beach
We started our trek around 10.30am, feeling all revved up and excited for the journey ahead!
The Lycian Way is a marked route and you will see these red and white stripes along the way. Although sometimes some of these markings have faded away and you must be careful not to miss it. There are different markings along the way, so don’t get mixed up!
Tip: Follow the red/white stripes for the Lycian Way route. Don’t get confused by the other coloured markings!
And the trek begins…look at how gorgeous the view is! Most of the time you won’t even realise that you’re tired as you’ll be too distracted by the amazing views!
There are several water points along the way and we met some trekkers who refilled their water using these water points. But our stomachs are too used to boiled water and we didn’t dare risk it. Hence we each carried 3 litres of water and our bags were sooo heavy. Not the best option, but no choice as we needed water for cooking at night too.
Tip: Save on some baggage weight if your stomach can handle spring water.
See the long row of white boxes in the photo below? They’re actually beehives! They were much larger in real life and I obviously did not dare to go any closer to them as I absolutely hate bees!
This part got a little tricky, we were so distracted by the beehives and kept on walking down the path and didn’t realise that we were supposed to turn left! See the small faded sign that I was pointing to in the photo below? That was the sign that was supposed to tell us that we had to turn left.
Tip: Watch out for the small faded sign that’s suppose to guide you to turn left when you’re on your way to Kabak Beach!
Finally, we reached Kabak Beach at about 5.30pm and decided to camp on the beach itself. There were guest lodges around but we kinda enjoy camping outdoors and we brought our tent and sleeping bags along too. So yeah, thankfully it was off peak as usually travellers are not allowed to camp on the beach!
Budget Tip: Choose to camp on Kabak beach for free if you’re trekking the Lycian Way during off peak season!
Day 2: Kabak Beach to Alinca Village
Despite our aching muscles, we woke up bright and early feeling very excited for the amazing views ahead! True enough, we were rewarded with breathtaking scenery as we hiked the Lycian Way.
Tip: There were hardly any shops opened along the route from Kabak Beach to Alinca Village. So better stock up on your food and water supplies for Day 2! (Could also be due to us trekking during off peak season)
Another fun part of the Lycian way is its varying terrains. We had to cross 2 rivers at the beginning and encountered this really rocky slope on our way to Alinca Village. It was much steeper than it looked in the photo. You have to trek with extreme caution as one mistake can cause you your ankle!
Stopping to have our lunch when a cow walked past. It looked stunned to see us and froze in its tracks. Haha.
There were some ruins along the way and this was one of them . It was an ancient underground storage area for water which was no longer in use anymore.
Finally after a long day of trekking, we saw signs for this GE shop and we were so grateful to be able to stock up on our food and water! We were running out of supplies already by then!
Tip: There are hardly any shops opened along the Lycian Way (or maybe cos we were there during off peak season). But you can pick up all the supplies that you need from the GE shop at Alinca Village!
We were pleasantly surprised when we found out that it was free to camp at their premises! We could either choose to camp in their garden together with their sheep and dogs or at the second floor of their shop. We chose the second floor, but it was really super windy though! Felt like our tent was going to get blown away anytime!
Budget Tip: Camp for free at the premises of the GE shop at Alinca Village!
Day 3: Alinca Village to Patara Beach
For the last day, we chose the road route a the beginning over the forest route as we were pretty much exhausted by then and the forest route was a really undulating one!
Tip: To save on your energy for the rest of the trek, opt for the road route instead of the forest trek! It’s less undulating and tiring.
The last part was a downhill journey, a really steep one. We only descended for about 500m but it was still very challenging especially when you’re carrying a heavy load, after awhile we could feel the impact on our knees and ankles.
Finally, we reached Patara Beach! We were actually quite surprised, we thought it was much farther.
Guess what we spotted along the way! From afar it looked like shadows. But upon closer examination, we realised that they were actually tadpoles! And there were sooooo many of them! The entire roadside was filled with tadpoles!
According to our guesthouse owner, he told us that the route we were taking will usually around 5-8 days to complete! We were a little stunned when we heard that, but decided to just go for it and see how it goes. Well, we were proud to say that we completed it in 3 days! Overall we had a really great time trekking the Lycian Way and we highly recommend this trek to all hiking enthusiasts if you’re heading to Turkey!
How we got to start of the Lycian Way
We took a dolmus from the bus stop behind the mosque at Fethiye (about 25 mins walk from the harbour) to Oludeniz and lighted at the start of the Lycian Way. Cost us around 3.5TL and the bus ride was only about 25mins. Fethiye is a very small city, ask around for the bus stop to Oludeniz and tell the bus driver that you want to go to Lycian Way. He will let you know when to alight.
How did we get off the Lycian Way
Our last stop was at Patara Beach. There’s a small dolmus station at Patara Beach. Walk along the road instead of on the beach, after about 20 minutes of walking, you will see a small bus station. We took the bus direct back to Fethiye at 3pm and the bus ride took about 2 hours.
Where we stayed at during the trek
We chose to camp and brought along our tent and sleeping bag. But actually there are plenty of guesthouses along the way and they aren’t too expensive too. We camped for free at Kabak Beach on the first night and the second floor of the GE shop at Alinca Village on the second night.
What to bring
Bring at least enough water to last you through the day. If your stomach can take it, there is natural spring water along the way where you can refill your bottles. But we weren’t daring enough as the last thing you want during a trek is an upset stomach.
Bring enough food as well. For our route, we didn’t see any shop opened at all till we arrived at Alinca Village on the second day where we restocked our supplies at the GE shop.
If you need any further information about trekking the Lycian Way, drop us a comment below and we will try our best to help you if we can!
Looking back at our beautiful memories of New Zealand, we really do miss this country! So many wonderful moments spent here, from satisfying our adventurous souls, healing our soul with nature and simply breathing in every inch of this amazing country. Here are our 5 compelling reasons why you must visit New Zealand! (Bonus – details at the end of the post on how you can win a 7D6N all-expense-paid trip to New Zealand for 2, which includes travelling in style via Singapore Airlines Suites!)
1. Be at one with Mother Nature.
We did a road trip on both islands of New Zealand and seriously, you really see sheep and cows almost anywhere during the drive except of course when in the city. Enjoy the scenic drive of vast green pastures, endless winding roads, pretty blue skies and beautiful rolling white fluffy clouds.
2. Satisfy your adventurous soul.
There’s an adventure here for everyone in New Zealand! Be it bungee, skydive, black or white water rafting, ice climbing, horse riding, fishing, the list never ends! And where else to do such an activity with perfect landscape? On good days when you’re sky diving, you can have an amazing aerial view of both North and South island!
3. Have the best road trip of your life.
We rented a campervan and drove down from North Island to South Island, one of the best road trips that we’ve ever had in our lives! The spontaneity was so awesome, you have the freedom to drive to anywhere, stop anytime you like, and basically do anything you like!
“My favourite part of the road trip is being able to just stop anytime anywhere to simply take a photo of the breathtaking scenery or to have lunch!”
4. Hike the “Great Walk” of the World.
New Zealand has some of the world’s best walks and it’s definitely a must do if you’re here! Especially if you’re into hiking and nature. We went for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek but unfortunately lady luck wasn’t on our side. The weather was so terrible and we were kinda caught in a storm :/ We will be back again!
5. Experience the Maori Culture.
The Maori people are believed to be the indigenous people of New Zealand. One of our favourites was getting to watch the Maori war dance aka Haka. The Haka was traditionally used as a war dance on the battlefield where it’s a display of the strength and unity of the tribe. Today, you might get to see this being performed if you’ve into watching rugby matches.
Thinking of heading to New Zealand soon? Well, good things must share right?
Here’s a chance for you to win a 7D6N all-expense-paid trip for 2 to New Zealand worth S$30,000 from CIMB Bank (Singapore)! Think free accommodation, meals, luxurious car rental, exciting activities such as private tour at the HobbitonTM Movie Set, a volcanic explorer scenic flight and even a return Suites ticket by Singapore Airlines! Super shiok!
How to win the CIMB New Zealand Escapade for 2:
1. Sign up for any CIMB Credit Card by SMS-ing, CIMBNZE<space>name to 72008 if you haven’t already gotten one.
2. Spend a minimum of S$20 per transaction for a chance to win! Remember, every transaction you make from 1 September 2015 to 31 December 2015 earns you an extra chance of winning.
Besides the New Zealand Escapade Grand Prize, CIMB Credit Cards has also prepared 2,000* exciting gifts to be redeemed every month! Simply –
1. Register for your monthly gift via SMS.
2. Make 8 transactions** of a minimum S$20 within the qualifying month.
*To qualify, the Cardmember has to be one of the first 2,000 every month to SMS and thereafter make the 8 eligible transactions within the qualifying period.
**These transactions will also be considered for the New Zealand Escapade Grand Prize.
To entice you further, here’s a picture of the interior of the really luxurious Singapore Airlines Suites. It’s really CRAZZZY! We can never imagine that such premium service can exist within an aircraft! You have your own private room, gourmet fine dining with your own selection of wine and of course, full flight entertainment with a 23 inch wide LCD screen (largest in the sky!).
For more details on the CIMB New Zealand Escapade for 2 and monthly gifts, please click here. Terms and conditions apply.
Good luck! 🙂
We were really excited when we decided to explore our neighbouring country, so near to home and yet rarely the go to destination for fellow Singaporeans like us! Most people usually head to JB in Malaysia for cheap and good food, grocery shopping. But what we experienced in Sabah really changed our mind about this country! So here are 6 awesome things to do in Sabah!
If you think climbing Mt Kinabalu was challenging, wait till you’ve tried Mt Trusmadi! The trail was really challenging especially when the bulk of it was done in the night! But it was still a really fun and rewarding experience for us. The view was awesome, you can even see Mt Kinabalu when you’re at the summit of Trusmadi! Just be prepared to get really dirty and muddy though, but well, that’s the fun part right? 😉
Tip: Leave your leech socks at home. No leeches here, so don’t worry! 😀
Tip: To reward yourself after the climb, enjoy some delicious Boreno Fried Chicken located right next to the Amazing Borneo office! It really does taste better and healthier than KFC, no joke! Felt so good indulging in this sinful but yet worth it meal, heh 🙂
4 days of trek in the wilderness, far away from civilisation. Just us and nature, it was pure bliss. The highlight was to trek to the spectacular 7 tiered Maliau Falls which was really stunning. The photo below was taken during the dry season. Can you imagine how majestic it would be during the wetter months?
3. Pamper your aching feet and body with a spa
We had one of the most relaxing and luxurious spa at Kama’A Rejuvenation and Wellbeing spa which was located conveniently in the city centre of Kota Kinabalu. ever after our tiring Trusmadi and Maliau Basin trek! The hot stone massage was amazing, really felt our muscles fully relax. Unfortunately we only managed to take photos before our massage begun. Our masseurs were not bad, but Daniel’s masseur was better though. But overall we had a great 3 hour spa and massage session! For those on a budget, their 1 hour foot massage cost only 75RM! Super worth it!
4. Explore Pulau Tiga, the Survivor Island
Remember the very first season of the popular variety show, Survivor? Guess what, it was held right held at Pulau Tiga in Sabah! There were so many things to do on this beautiful pristine island. We snorkelled, dive, relaxed on a hammock while enjoying the sea breeze and even enjoyed a spa! Yes, a spa! A natural volcanic mud spa that has been around for donkey years!
5. Enjoy the glorious sunset at Manukan Island
This place was heavenly! Think white soft sand, clear blue waters, beautiful blue skies with white fluffy clouds, it was almost like the Asian version of Maldives! We stayed at the Manukan Hill Side Villa and it so amazing! We could enjoy the sea view right from our room! Also, the villa had their own private beach with your own deck chairs, umbrellas, beach towels, etc!
6. Spot Proboscis Monkeys during our Wildlife river cruise
We had so much fun trying to squint our eyes at the trees trying to spot any movement that might be the endangered Proboscis Monkey! Sadly there are only less than 6,000 of them left and they can only be found in the Borneo forest.
7. Light your night up with beautiful glittering fireflies
We did see fireflies before, but we’ve never seen thaaatttt many fireflies before! It was crazy! It really did feel like a Christmas Light Up when we were there. And one very interesting and strange phenomenon was that somehow, these fireflies are able to send some signal to each other and synchronise their light up time together! It was mind blowing. Once moment everything was darkness, and then suddenly, they all light up at the same time and it was sublime!
Fun fact: Fireflies might seem so cute and pretty, but do you know, they’re actually cannibalistic creatures?! They feed on their own kind to survive!
Overall we had an amazing time in Sabah and if you’re looking for a quick and nearby getaway from Singapore, do consider Sabah! Lots of adventure, nature, wild life, beaches for you to explore and enjoy 🙂
How to book the above tours:
We booked all the above tours with Amazing Borneo. They have a wide range of activities for you to choose from in Sabah. We had a very fuss free experience with them and we highly recommend to anybody who’s keen on exploring Sabah. This was also our second time booking with them, our first was for the Mt Kinabalu climb.
Ps. All of the above photos were taken with the Samsung Galaxy A8 except for Trusmadi and the river cruises which were taken with the Samsung NX1.
Check out our take on the Samsung Galaxy A8 as a travel phone . We were really impressed with the phone camera of the A8. Especially the 16mp rear camera which is currently one of the best in the market right now.
Oh and this phone is really good for those who love taking selfie pictures! The front camera is not bad either with a 5mp resolution. To activate the front camera, all you need to do is to pose with your palm facing the camera and once it detects your palm, it’ll count down for 2 seconds before taking the picture.
Another key feature of the A8 is its super AMOLED screen display which makes viewing of our photos really pleasurable! The screen is also large enough to leave our tablets at home and to use our phones instead! Especially when we meet fellow travellers, it’s always so much more convenient to simply swipe through photos in our phone as compared to showing them via our DSLR camera.
Big thanks to Amazing Borneo for the awesome adventure in Sabah! Also thank you Samsung for letting us try out your Galaxy A8!
Hope you’ve enjoyed our post about things to do in Sabah! Do share with us your experiences of Sabah if you’ve been there before too!
For all of you nature/jungle trek fans, you will love it here at Maliau Basin in Sabah! We did a total of 4 days jungle trek and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly! Thankfully, no leeches as it was the dry season. Beware though, Maliau Basin is famous for their leeches especially during the wet season! 4 days of just being out there in nature, what a great way to heal our soul.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” – John Burroughs
Day 1: Kota Kinabalu – Maliau Basin Studies Centre
We spent the most of day 1 in a car driving actually, about 5-6 hours in total. Cos it’s a long long way from the city to Maliau Basin! There’s a reason why this place is also known as the “lost world of Sabah”. But at least the ride was very comfortable and we were pretty much used to long car rides after our Footprints Across Asia journey 🙂
Our first stop was at Keningau Town where we had our breakfast. We then continued on our journey to the Shell Maliau Reception where we had our lunch and briefing about the Maliau Basin.
Here was also where we changed from our van to a 4 wheel drive as the route to the Maliau Basin Studies Camp (MBSC) was really bumpy and uneven!
Upon reaching MBSC where we will be staying for our first night, we were immediately greeted by wildlife! We were at the lobby of the MBSC when suddenly we heard a loud flapping noise and a big bang! Poor thing, apparently this hornbill lost its way and flew right smack into the door of the souvenir shop! Must have been such a fright for this bird.
Tip: If you ever encounter any raging wild boar, run as fast as you can in a zig-zag line! Apparently they can’t turn their necks and can only run straight. heh.
Here’s our cozy room for the night, not too bad at all. Definitely exceeded our expectations. There’s even hot water here! But of course, no wifi.
We were supposed to go for the Sky Bridge (treetop canopy walk) but it was closed for maintenance. So we decided to chill and took a short walk to admire the view of the beautiful Maliau river instead. You can’t really see from the photo, but the water was actually reddish brown in colour! As our guide put it, it looked like “teh-o” (tea without milk). It’s not dirty actually, the colour’s due to the minerals from the decomposing plants that seeped into the river.
Oh and while we were admiring the river, we spotted a baby wild boar and its mother crossing the river! It was too far to take a photo of them though.
Sumptuous dinner! We really weren’t expecting anything like that, but wow, the chefs at MBSC were really awesome! Oh and while we were enjoying our dinner, there was a fruit bat flying around the dining hall right above our heads in circles. Part and parcel of nature I guess.
We were surprised that the MBSC had a auditorium within their premises! Not bad at all, fully equipped with a projector and air conditioning. We had to watch a 15 minutes video about the Maliau Basin, it felt like the video was done many many years ago though, time for an updated version!
Woohoo, highlight of day 1! The night drive into the forest to spot some nocturnal wildlife! Exciting!
And look what we spotted! A very cute Buffy fish owl! We also spotted quite a few flying squirrels, civets, Samba deers. But it was too dark and they were moving too fast for us to capture a clear shot of them. The owl was the only one that stood so still for our photo 🙂
Fun Fact: Do you know that an owl has extremely sharp claws? Our guide shared with us that one of his colleague used his bare hands to rescue an injured owl that was lying on the ground and ended up getting scratched very badly by the owl! It was so deep that you could almost see the bone and he ended up having a very infected wound as the claws were full of germs and had to be admitted to the hospital.
That sums up the end of our first day in Maliau Basin. Kinda a relaxing day to prepare us for the long trek the next day!
Day 2: Maliau Basin Studies Centre – Agathis Camp – Ginseng Camp (9km/6 hours)
From the MBSC to Agathis Camp, we took the 4 wheel drive and because of the vastly improved road conditions, we took only 30 minutes compared to 1.5 hours in the past.
Sadly, the Agathis Camp is no longer in use as it was destroyed by the elephants about 2 months ago.
I know our outfit looks damn cool. Haha but no choice, because we didn’t want to get infested with leeches!
Tip: To avoid leeches, use leech socks! (The white fabric that we’re wearing below our knees) You wear it over your normal socks before wearing your shoes. Also, tuck in your shirts to prevent any sneaky leeches from crawling in!
Apparently Maliau Basin is infamous for their leeches, especially during the wet season! Thankfully we were there during the dry season (Mar to Oct) and it has not been raining for the past few days when we were there. Hence we only spotted maybe less than 10 leeches in total during the entire trek?
We really enjoyed learning about the different types of trees while trekking. The tree in the right photo below was a huge Agathis tree which is very commonly found in the Maliau Basin forest. That’s why one of the camp was named after this tree. There were aplenty of spiraling lianas (left photo below) along the trail too!
We also spotted some gibbons swinging wildly from tree to tree and even caught a glimpse of the huge helmeted hornbill! Ryan taught us how to identify different types of animal/bird calls and it was very fun practising whatever we’ve learnt along the way. It really does feel like Geography coming alive! 🙂
“Let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth
Everyday we will have pre-packed lunch which our porters prepared for us.
Reminder: Leave no trash behind! We brought back our plastic containers and utensils and reused them again for the next day’s lunch.
Finally, after around 6 hours of trek, we reached the Ginseng Camp which will be our crib for our second night!
We did a short 20 minutes trek to the nearby Ginseng Falls but sadly, due to the recent dry spell, the falls has been reduced to a tiny fall.
Tip: Be careful on your way down to the Ginseng Falls! Lots of slippery rocks with moss on it.
Again, never have we enjoyed such a feast in the middle of a forest before. 4 different dishes complete with a fruits dish! Very very delicious! Shiok!
Day 3 & 4: Ginseng Camp – Maliau Falls – Ginseng Camp – Agathis Camp (19km/9.5 hours)
According to Ryan, the third day was the most challenging out of our entire 4 days Maliau Basin trek. The first 500m ascend was really steep, but subsequently it was quite flat. The toughest parts were at the start and the last 2km when trekking down to the falls.
We really enjoyed the wildlife in Maliau Basin. As we were trekking, we heard some branches cracking and falling. We though it was a deadfall, but when we turned around, we realised that it was a bunch of playful Red Leaf Monkeys swinging around the canopy! Too far to capture a clear shot of them though.
Do you know, the giant millipede above might not be poisonous but it’s able to shoot out a liquid that can blind you?
Fun fact: Any idea how to tell if a wild mushroom is poisonous or edible? Well, if it’s still looking so pretty and untouched, it means it’s most likely to be poisonous since none of the forest animals/insects have eaten it!
Some parts of the trek were slightly more challenging as you have to climb up/down via the wooden ladder. But definitely nothing compared to the crazy terrain at Mt Trusmadi!
Tip: During the last 2km of descend to the Maliau Falls, be very careful as it’s really slippery! We were there during dry weather and it was still very slippery, can’t imagine how it’d be like during the wet season!
And here it is, the majestic 7 tiered Maliau Falls! You have to be there to experience it for yourself. It’s even more beautiful during the wet season when the falls is much larger than this! Imagine finding this amazing falls hidden deep inside a forest!.
“Nature itself is the best physician.” – Hippocrates
So that sums up our 4 days trek in the Maliau Basin! We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and this nature break was definitely much needed for our souls. 4 days of just us and nature, no distractions from the world outside.
How to book this tour
We booked our 4D3N Maliau Trek with Amazing Borneo. Note that the standard package is usually 5D4N but due to time constraint, we did the 4D3N trek instead. Usually we prefer travelling independently but for certain activities, you will definitely need to book a tour. For the Maliau Basin trek, it’s not very accessible and just to get to the starting point, you need at least 4-6 hours of drive. Even if you decide to rent your own vehicle, it’s going to be quite costly. For us, we had a fuss free experience with Amazing Borneo because they settled everything from the transport, hiring of porters (to carry our food/water, to cook for us), guide, permits, accommodation, food and logistics.
When was the last time that you fully immerse yourself in nature? Share with us your experience in the comments below! 🙂
Not many people know that besides Mt Kinabalu, there are 2 other peaks in Malaysia for trekking too! We didn’t know that ourselves till we went with Amazing Borneo to challenge ourselves to climb Mt Trusmadi, the second highest peak in Malaysia. We were told that albeit its lower altitude of 2,642m as compared to Mt Kinabalu (4,095m), the trail of Mt Trusmadi was much much tougher. Read on to find out why!
The start was relatively easy, a pretty good warm up to the real deal. The first 2km was just a boardwalk trail which was mostly flat with some stairs. We took about an hour to reach the cabin.
But midway through our boardwalk, it started to drizzle and then began pouring on us! Thankfully we brought our rain jacket but still, we were almost drenched as the jacket only covered our upper torso! Luckily the cabin was nearby and we walked over as quickly as we could.
Tip: A raincoat is definitely a must bring as it’s very precipitous at Mt Trusmadi, similar to Mt Kinabalu.
We reached our cabin shortly after and we were delighted to hear that hot drinks were available for us. What more could we ask for than a cup of hot sweet Milo/coffee in this cold rainy weather!
The cabin was very comfortable and equipped with proper toilets too. No hot water though. But because we only did a short 2km boardwalk trek plus the weather was so cold, we decided to skip the shower.
The rooms were dormitory styled with double decked bunk beds. But because there weren’t many people, we had a whole room to ourselves. We did meet another couple (Janet and Andrew) who reached earlier than us. Our sleeping bags were a little damp though and had a rather unpleasant smell. So you might wanna bring your own sleeping bag or a liner if you’re particular about it. But for us, we were too tired that we didn’t even bother about the smell. Anyway theoretically, your nose gets used to smells after 7 seconds. So just tahan for 7 seconds and you’ll be fine 😉
Tip: Slippers are provided at the cabin. So you can lighten your load by not bringing your own slippers. But we still brought ours as we wanted to change into our slippers the next day after we’re done with the trek. So it’s up to you!
Dinner was provided and we were really impressed with the dishes! There was even bak ku teh (chicken) and it felt so good sipping the hot soup it in such a cold weather! We chatted with our newfound friends for awhile before heading to bed at around 8pm. Yes, 8pm. No choice as we had to wake up later at 1am for our supper/breakfast before heading to the summit.
Thankfully we didn’t have any trouble sleeping at 8pm as both of us didn’t have much sleep the night before and it had been a long day for us. Breakfast was again such a pleasant surprise, full fledged with delicious fried noodles, fried bread, sausage, white bread with kaya or jam. We felt like we were eating enough to fight a war! Although figuratively, climbing Mt Trusmadi did feel like a war, a mental war with yourself.
Tip: Another must-bring, headlight. The main part of the climb will be done during the night and with such a challenging terrain, you definitely need your headlight!
The first 200m of the summit climb were mainly stairs via the boardwalk, still relatively simple. The real challenge started when we started trekking on the trail without the wooden planks. This by far is one of our most challenging trek till date. It’s not as intensive as Mt Kinabalu, but it’s physically and mentally challenging.
Here’s why Mt Trusmadi’s more challenging as compared to Mt Kinabalu.
1. You have to climb vertical rock faces in the dark
At some parts, the rocks were almost vertical and you will need to grab onto a rope to climb up. It was really fun actually, kinda felt like rock climbing, but only without any harness. Sometimes we had to climb using a ladder instead.
Tip: When climbing down a ladder, it’s always easier to turn around and climb down facing the ladder instead of the other way around.
2. You have to stay strictly on the trail or face a steep drop!
We also spotted some signs along the way that read “Steep drop ahead” and there was only a rope that acted as a barrier. So, be very careful when climbing and always stick to the trail and follow your guide! Mt Kinabalu also had steep drops when nearing the summit but for Trusmadi, the trail was really narrower and the steep drop was literally right next to you!
3. Be prepared to get really really dirty especially when it’s raining!
And we wonder, where did Trusmadi get it’s name from. Geddit geddit? haha. Maybe it should be renamed as Trusmuddy. But well, be prepared to get really really dirty! Just look at how muddy my shoes and pants were! This was definitely something that you will not face during the summit climb of Mt Kinabalu which was mostly dry rocky terrain. But for Trusmadi, the last 300m of the summit climb was one of the muddiest trek that we’ve ever done in our lives!
4. Train your thigh muscles with the huge steps that you’ve gotta take
At Mt Kinabalu, it was mostly medium sized steps when climbing up and towards the summit, it was more of a relatively flat upslope terrain. As compared to Trusmadi, the terrain was mostly made up of almost vertical slopes and it can get quite tiring especially for people with shorter legs. Climbing up was tough, but climbing down was even more tiring!
Tip: Bring your gloves, you will definitely need them during the summit climb! When climbing in the dark, we had to rely a lot on grabbing branches, rocks, etc for support and you never know whether they are safe to grab. At least with gloves, you don’t have to worry about that.
5. Beware of booby traps and watch your footing!
Especially as it was at night, it made it so much more challenging! You have to really stay alert and focused at all times! As this trail is still not as commercialised, it is still pretty much left untouched. Low lying brunches, rocks, fallen tree trunks, tree stumps are just some of the obstacles that you have to be careful to not trip over. Imagine doing what i was doing in the photo when it was pitch dark with only a certain radius that was illuminated by our headlight. To make it even more challenging, I forgot to change the batteries of my headlight and it was super dim 🙁
Tip: Don’t forget to check the batteries of your headlight! Mine almost ran out of batteries and the light was super dim during the night climb. Please learn from my lesson!
Finally, we reached the viewing tower of Mt Trusmadi which was still 300m away from the summit. In fact this place was at a slightly higher altitude than the summit itself! The view was beyond breathtaking. We were high above the clouds and the different formations and layering of the clouds made it so picturesque. All of our effort was worth it 🙂 Unfortunately we missed the sunrise just by a few minutes and it was already starting to get bright when we were there.
The last 300m to the summit was super duper muddy! But it was also because it was raining the day before. The views were actually nicer at the viewing tower where it was higher than the summit. But apparently the official board of Mt Trusmadi was fixed here first and hence they continued to use this as the summit.
Descending Mt Trusmadi was also very tough, especially on our knees. But at least it was bright and we could see every obstacle that was in our way. We took around 3.5 hours to reach the summit, but 4.5 hours to descend to our cabin! First time that we took a longer time descending a mountain than ascending!
Oh and also, we came across so many pitcher plants during the climb! It was the first time in my life seeing a pitcher plant actually. According to our guide Jo, some pitcher plants could grow huge enough to store 5 litres of water!
Fun Fact: The pitcher plant contains a sticky liquid that attracts small insects to enter and once they do, they get trapped inside the plant and ends up as food for the plant.
Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves very much climbing Mt Trusmadi. For those that are interested in a quick getaway trek or an alternative to climbing Mt Kinabalu, do give Mt Trusmadi a try! All you need is a weekend to climb Mt Trusmadi! 🙂
How to book this tour
We booked our tour with Amazing Borneo who settled everything for us from the pick up at the airport, to our accommodation, land transfer, to booking of all the necessary permits of Mt Trusmadi. It’s almost impossible to go on your own as you will definitely need a guide and to get to the starting point, you will need about 4 hours of drive! So you’ll still need to rent a car or hire a taxi, which is not cheap either.
This was our second time climbing with Amazing Borneo as we previously we booked our Mt. Kinabalu package with them and we were very pleased with their service. What impressed us most was the passion and dedication that their guides displayed. You could tell that they were there because of their passion and they really loved what they were doing. Our guide, Jo, spoke excellent english and took really good care of us during the climb.
Thank you Amazing Borneo for hosting us! All photos above were taken with the Samsung NX1.
For those that have climbed both Mt Trusmadi and Mt Kinabalu before, what do you think, which was more challenging for you? Share with us your view by commenting below!
Majulah Singapura, translated as “Onwards Singapore” in Malay, our official ceremonial national language of Singapore.
After coming back from our 1 year trip around the world, we started looking at Singapore in a brand new perspective. Just in time for Singapore’s Golden Jubilee last year, we decided to do a feature video on Singapore, our beloved homeland, and boy did we have loads of fun! Being able to view Singapore from a traveller’s point of view and yet having experienced first hand growing up in Singapore, we were able to capture the essence, culture and the little things that make Singapore, truly Singapore. Watch it in HD if possible! Enjoy.
Produced, Directed, Edited: Sunrise Odyssey
Music: Thomas Bergersen – Promise
Do hit the like/share button if you are able to relate to this! 🙂
Thinking of the next travel destination to explore? Why not check out our very own backyard right here in Singapore! Visit these 6 lost gems of Singapore before they’e gone!
1. Marsiling WWII Tunnel & Naval Base
A military underground tunnel built by the British and left abandoned after the WWII. The underground storage facility was used to supply oil for the British Navy but was disused after Singapore gained independence in 1965.
After bashing through the forest for awhile, we finally spotted the entrance of the underground bunker! Looked intimidating, but it was not that bad actually. Just be prepared to get dirty though!
There’s also a rope available to help you get in or out of the tunnel. Just be careful of the vines around the entrance which might cut you as you enter the tunnel.
Tip: Bring along a headlight or a strong torchlight! It’s really dark inside the tunnel especially as you enter deeper into the tunnel.
After entering the tunnel, you’ll be greeted with a flight of stairs which will lead you down deeper into the tunnel. If you look at the photo below carefully, you’ll be able to see patches of small white balls plastered on the walls. Well…they’re actually the eggs of the geckos living there! You might not be able to see them clearly, but you certainly will be able to hear them scurrying past you! There are probably hundreds or even more of them living in this tunnel!
If you still can’t spot the eggs, here’s a close up shot of the eggs and the geckos! Gross right? The whole time I was praying that they don’t end up falling on my head!
As you go deeper into the tunnel, it gets muddier and eventually we reached a point where the water level was above our ankles! That was when we stopped and headed back towards the entrance.
Tip: Wear proper trek shoes with good grip! It can get quite slippery inside the tunnel.
2. Kampong Buangkok
Kampong Buangkok was built in 1956 in Hougang, it’s also the last “kampong” (village) found in Singapore! Singapore used to be a fishing village where kampongs were ubiquitous. But fast forward to today, all you see are mostly modern skyscrapers and buildings.
Don’t you find this scene out of place in modern Singapore? It’s so interesting that this kampong still exists today in Singapore! According the the locals, they are still living the slower pace of a kampong life, leaving their doors open and trusting one another.
3. Istana Woodneuk
This is definitely one of our favourites of the list, an abandoned old mansion that was built by a Johor Sultan back in the late 19th century. It was also one of Singapore’s largest private residences back then. It was fun imagining what this place would have been like during its heyday.
That’s right, enter at your own risk. This place is indeed quite dangerous as it almost felt like the entire place was about to collapse anytime! Also right where I was standing, it used to be the ballroom of the grand Istana Woodneuk where the well dressed socialites gathered for their party. Eerie huh?
This place has been abandoned for more than 50-60 years and the photos certainly tell it all. It was also once used as a temporary hospital for the soldiers who fought for Singapore during the WWII.
4. Bukit Timah Railway
This used to be part of the Singapore-Kranji railway which was the first railway built in Singapore in 1903. The station was closed down in 2011 when the Malaysian operated railway service ceased its operations in Singapore.
We decided to continue walking on and to follow the railway track all the way to the end.
As you can see from the photos below, part of the trail can be quite wet and muddy. Be prepared to get your shoes wet and dirty!
Tip: Wear proper shoes if you wish to try out this hike, especially if it has been raining for the past few days.
Towards the end of the relatively short hike, you’ll emerge out of the forest and find yourself in front of the HDB flats in Clementi!
5. Yin Foh Kuan Cemetery
This place stood out the most because where else can you find a cemetery in the middle of a HDB estate?! This is actually a Hakka cemetery that was built by the oldest Hakka association (Yin Fo Fui Kan clan) back in the 18th century. This cemetery was also built on a hill as it was considered as good fengshui.
6. Shinto Shrine of Macritchie
Note: We’ve been advised by National Parks that it is not advisable for members of the public to visit this site as there’s no designated trail and there’s a high risk that you might get lost.
To commemorate the Japanese soldiers who died in the WWII, they built a Shinto Shrine for them which was located within the MacRitchie Reservoir forest. However it was destroyed by the British after the Japanese surrendered and the shrine is now left in ruins.
The original structure was a temple with no walls and thus you’ll find that most of the ruins are concrete slabs and structures left in the open.