Friday, 20 July 2012

Singapore and Malaysia

This Trip: FROM 2012.06.15 TO 2012.07.01

You can be really annoyed at times when you need to put off or even call off a trip under constraints of cost, time and distance. If you fancy a dream vacation in an idyllic resort amid the ocean but famous destinations like French Polynesia and Maldives are either too expensive or too far away from your current location, the oceanic island Sipadan located in the Celebes Sea off the east coast of Sabah in East Malaysia is a best option as Sipadan has a very rich underwater ecosystem and has been rated by many dive journals as one of the top spots for diving in the world. Time and money spent on planning and making this trip to Singapore and Malaysia were well worth it for the great pleasure we were given, especially for we passed all 14 days under the azure sky.


We should have spent at most 2 days, instead of 3, touring such a terribly small country. There were perfect transport networks and diversified choices of food. It's definitely a safe, clean, and advanced country. However, there's hardly anything that really amazes tourists. It's more a desirable place to live, rather than one for travel. We stayed in Singapore from 16th to 18th of June. Interesting places that might be considered a part of the itinerary included the Merlion Park where the Merlion stands and at the same time it's a best point to view Marina Bay Sands; Bayfront Avenue and Marina Bay Floating Stadium also best viewpoints of the luxurious hotel, ArtScience Museum, and the Avalon Singapore; Sentosa Island the giant playground with attractions such as Universal Studios, and Underwater World Singapore and Dolphin Lagoon. The last night in Singapore we had some good times walking around, drinking and dining at a very nice place called Clarke Quay.

Tioman Island

On the 19th morning we headed towards Malaysia. It took 2.5 hours from Singapore to Mersing, Johor by bus and then 1 hour and a half from Mersing Jetty to Tioman Island by fast ferry, not to mention the time spent on getting off the bus with baggage, crossing the border between the two countries, and getting on the bus to continue on our way. Upon arrival on the island in late afternoon, we took the shuttle to Berjaya Tioman Resort. We made use of the rest of this day to rest and plan for activities for the following days. It's a nice resort. We had spa and massage, went jungle trekking, and did sea sports such as snorkeling and kayaking. For meals, we'd purchased only buffet breakfasts served by the hotel. We lunched and dined in some Singaporean or Malaysian style restaurants beside the road that connects Berjaya and the jetty. Two mostly seen animals on this island were lizards and bats on trees that ladies might generally stay away from. We also saw monkeys but beware of some starving ones that could got aggressive. The island and Berjaya Tioman Resort were both nice, but we should have spent only 3 days there. On the 24th we flew with Berjaya Air to Kuala Lumpur. It's the smallest plane I'd ever boarded. There were only 12 rows of seats.

Kuala Lumpur

In contrast to Singapore I didn't feel really secure in this capital of Malaysia, foods were delicious though. We toured around the city by rail. Interesting attractions on our itinerary included the landmark of Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers which were once the tallest towers in the world; the limestone hill called Batu Caves, one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India; and Thean Hou Temple, a landmark six-tiered Chinese temple. A 2-day stay in Kuala Lumpur was just right.

Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort

On 26th very early morning we departed from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau by plane. At Tawau Airport a staff from the resort gathered this whole group of tourists arrived on the same day. We got on the shuttle that then brought us to Semporna, Sabah Malaysia where Pulau Sipadan Resort and Tours jetty office was. Finally around 12 of us went on the speedboat. I had lots of fun during the 1-hour journey as the small boat went so much up and down amid the waves. A fellow traveler on-board suffered from serious seasickness, however, the boat had to slow down for her good. We arrived at Kapalai at around 14:00. We were starving and therefore we all had a nice buffet lunch the first thing before getting briefed about our stay in the resort. Actually the package was all-inclusive, i.e. room rate per person; shuttle and speedboat round trip; and 3 buffet meals plus open snack bar each day. We loved this resort. During our 4-day-3-night stay, we took enough pretty pictures, swam with fishes and sea turtles, snorkeled over beautiful coral reef, went kayaking while immersed in the cooling sea breeze of Kapalai. Accommodation is all in wooden chalets with a balcony which offers the total sought out privacy by lovers of sunbathing. From the windows and balcony of our elegant and spacious room, we had an extraordinarily wonderful view of the crystal-clear green sea in which coral reef and fishes were clearly seen just under our feet.

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