If you, or friends of yours, are planning on visiting South East Asia (and I highly recommend it) please be aware that there is no duty-free allowance for tobacco or alcohol if you are coming into Singapore from Malaysia. That means ‘zero’, ‘nada’, ‘niente’, ‘none’!
A few days ago our bus was delayed because some young backpackers were trying to bring alcohol into Singapore from Malaysia. We ended up leaving them at the border crossing in the middle of the night. I was reminded of an incident a few months ago when our bus was delayed because a middle-aged woman thought the open package of cigarettes she was carrying did not apply to the NO duty-free allowance law.
I have travelled with Singaporean friends who threw away their cigarettes before going through immigration. Trash receptacles are provided. Although most countries allow for some tobacco products to be imported without duty, Singapore does not. Some alcohol can be imported without duty but NOT from Malaysia. It doesn’t matter where you purchased the alcohol if your last port of departure was Malaysia.
Day 4 (Sunday, 5 March 2017) – The street in front of the Jesselton Hotel and a couple of the streets next to it, are transformed into a street market every Sunday morning so, after breakfast, we went shopping!
I bought a fabulous pearl necklace that looked like one that the woman in front of me on the Silk Air flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu was wearing. It consists of big, baroque, pearls in slightly different colours – some are a bit greyish and some are white to cream. One has a big flaw. They were quite cheap (250 MYR) but I think they are freshwater pearls.
I also bought some fridge magnets and bookmarks from a Bornean artist who describes his style as “naive”.
Saturday, 4 March 2017 – Reynald, our guide from yesterday, came back and got us but not so early this time so we had time to have a nice breakfast in the tea room of the Jesselton Hotel. The hotel’s name comes from the British name for the town before it was called Kota Kinabalu.
Today was our ‘beach’ day and we all agreed that Manukan Island was nice enough that an overnight stay would have been great.
We were all going to go on these bubble head ride things but as soon as my bubble went under the water and I felt the pressure, my heart started to pound!! I tried slowing my breathing but it didn’t help so I signalled the guy that was towing me that I couldn’t do it. I think he could tell by the look on my face. 😦
David got some great videos of all of the fish and I managed to get a little bit sunburned while snorkelling. Day 3 was a really good day! 🙂
The afternoon of day 2 (03 Mar 2017) began with lunch in the restaurant at Poring Hot Spring followed by time to relax in the hot pool. This part was strange – I have been to hot springs in Peru and Japan but they were nothing like this. These were small, tiled tubs with taps, outdoors.
When we were entering Kinabalu Park, we saw a hand-made sign that said a Rafflesia was blooming nearby. Go ahead, say it – “Andrea, you are the luckiest girl in the world!!” The largest blossom on earth cannot be cultivated. They grow where and when they want to so it is a matter of luck, not planning, to be able to see one. The area where they bloom becomes a protected site and the owners of the land cannot do anything with it except charge tourists to see the flower.
That evening we went to the Night Food Market in Kota Kinabalu for dinner. Day 2 was a very, very full day.
Friday, 3 March 2017
Kinabalu Park is a world heritage site and home to the smallest orchid, among other fascinating plants. We only had a couple of hours here but it is possible to stay in one of the lodges and explore to your heart’s content.
Next, we went to Poring Hot Spring and did the canopy walkway. This popular activity is not suitable for those who are afraid of heights or those who suffer from chronic impatience.
When it comes to dieting, salads are a girl’s (and a princess wannabe’s) best friend. I have been doing lots and lots of salad research and I think I have found the best that Singapore has to offer. Now I only need to learn to dance and perhaps find Prince Charming to be my dance partner 😉
Today we met Reynald who works for Borneo Adventure. He turned out to be an extraordinary guide. We began the three-hour drive from the city to Mount Kinabalu at 7 a.m., along the way we stopped at a town that has a great view of the mountain. I was finally getting to see the mountain that had been used as a lure to get me to move to Singapore!
I had chosen the Kota Kinabalu 5 day tour with Borneo Adventures because it seemed to hit all of the high notes and was quite reasonably priced. The first day included pick up at the airport with transfer to The Jesselton Hotel.
When we checked in, the staff at the front desk asked what time our tour was picking us up the next morning. When we advised that we were being picked up at 7am, she offered to arrange for boxed breakfasts as the lovely tea room where breakfast is served doesn’t open until 7:30am. I was very impressed – it is this kind of thoughtful gesture that leaves a positive impression.