Sabah Part 2
After we drew a hastily retreat from the seafood sinkhole restaurant, the twenty of us marched down the main boulevard, not knowing really where to look for a local seafood plaza, our fearless leader – James and Governing Body – Miriam did have a little tourist map, and we headed towards mid town, and took a sharp right into an older and less commercial looking part of town.
There were lots of taxi stands, locals chit chat along the side walks, some specialty shops sells local featured teas, durian favored coffee, and many other unknown (to us tourist) products. I am the one who really have no hesitation in approaching strangers to ask questions (if I need to). In my workdays, that’s was my job to find out what people needed in terms of people comfort in a large commercial building.
So I strike up a conversation with a sales lady in front of one of the tourist gift shop. What a pleasant surprise, she spoke Mandarin and Cantonese, and we were directed to a local seafood plaza not even 15 minutes by walking.
As we parted ways, we told the kind lady that we will be by to pick up some souvenir stuff if they were still open by the time we came by.
We finally got to this plaza; it is a huge out door gathering place, with round tables upon round tables of patrons enjoying local seafood. By their looks and clothing attires, they could have been locals or tourists, but may be more locals than outside people visiting. That’s exactly what we budget minded travelers had in mind. Eat where the locals eat.
We settled with a restaurant at the far end from our entrance point, we even managed to get an air conditioned enclosed sitting area, and close to bathroom facilities. One thing though, bath room facility in that part of town, some are clearly marked Gents or Ladies, some are just Bathroom, that case, it meant co-ed, not in the sense of “togetherness” , but “first in, first out”
Anyways, food as usual, was fresh and reasonably priced. I think we paid about 70 HK dollars a head for all the food we ate, and all the beer we drank, which was still very very cheap. Freshness and prompt service were the two things I remembered most.
After this satisfying “last dinner” in town, we took a leisurely stroll back the way where we came from, from the text stands and the shop we promised we would be back.
For the guys, we didn’t really care if we buy anything or not, but one or two “professional lady shoppers” in our group, they were determined to shop. So we descended onto the same shop that directed us to the seafood plaza; they were still open, I have a feeling that they were waiting for us, we didn’t let them down.
We bought, and afterwards the shop owner even negotiated a going price for each of the taxi driver to take us back to Hotel Shangri-La. By now we know, it is about 30 dollars Malaysian Dollars.
With our stomachs full, and arm loads of going home gifts, we headed back to our home away from home.
My rooming buddy and I had by now devised a gentleman agreement; I picked the bed closer to the bathroom, he picked the bed closer to the balcony, for he enjoys a quiet drink looking over the bay area and a very large gold fish pond on the hotel ground.
We got along fine, there was no excessive snoring, teeth grinding, or swearing in the three nights we stayed there. I think I will let him travel with me in the future!
I don’t know if it was a trendy hotel design or what, all the shower facilities has a ceiling to floor glass wall separating the sleeping area and the bathroom, privacy between the two areas was provide by a venetian blind,
I mentioned this to my rooming pal, he mumbled the design was for someone like newly weds or encounters of the third kind. I said, “Huh?”
Anyways, we turned on the news, and soon I blacked out from a day of island hopping and busing from one place to another.
Speaking of being bus from one place to another, we saw many Churches along the roadways and byways; they all had a large cross and white wash painted walls, and a large signage indicated the name of this church, strangely enough, the styles and construction of these signs all looked like they came from the same painter, except at a different location.
I asked our guide – Tommy, he smiled and said, “A local business man donated monies to al the churches around town for a new coat of paint and a new signage.
The job was probably done by the same bunch of painters and carpenters.
Talking about efficiency, and we worship the same God anyways, so what is the difference?
Next morning came soon enough, my roommate and I made up our mind to make the best of the remaining time in the resort, we took on an early swim in the beautifully designed pool which we frequented every morning, the pool itself is not very deep, but towards the west side of the pool, there is a man made water fall feature, water is being pumped up a stone wall about 12 feet high, and cascaded down continuously, swimmers can swim towards the base of the wall, there is smoothed concrete footing at the base of the pool, partly submerged by water, it all looked very natural and soothing. You can definitely stand on the footing, and let the water perform a water message on you.
The beauty of the pool and restaurant design is that, they are adjacent to each other. When you are tired of swimming and like to fuel up with food, all one need to do is dry up with a large royal blue towel, make yourself looked presentable, and stroll through the side of the restaurant entrance under a large canopy, and you are facing with a beautifully prepared buffet breakfast each and every morning from 7am to 9:30am. Trays and trays of nicely done up breakfast dishes featured western, Asians, and orient.
Life was good, some people prepared your meals, make up your bed, generally you are leading a life of leisure.
We strike up a amicable conversation with a gentleman, originally from UK, but apparently he spent a lot of years in the financial field all over Europe, he is currently retired, spent months on end travelling all over the world. He had done trekking both in the well travelled and unknown trails. Envy is the word when we listened to his latest conquest in those far away place.
We took a leisurely stroll towards the westerly side of the resort complex and explore a bit. To our pleasant surprise, there was a nice sandy beach hidden away just under a rocky outcrop on which they built a wet bar and equipped with plenty of large umbrellas, tables, and large lazy chairs.
Near the end, there was a large, private, and artfully designed spa and meditation center catered to those with health, beauty and longevity in mind, it was staffed by two trained and qualified technicians who specialized in the alternative medicine, message, and spa treatment field, service is by appointment only. Needless to say, we were disappointed that we uncovered such beautifully appointed place. The whole place feels relaxed and harmonized.
Well, we had breakfast, checked out of the room, and just trying to relax before our tour bus come and bring us back to Sabah International Airport. Life is good while it lasts.
We took a groupie picture, and off we parted Shangri-La Resort, and back to the real world. There is not much to shop or buy in this airport, we had a filet of fish from the airport Big Mac, and an ice cream sundae, surely a big drop in travelling status symbols, who would know we just checked out of Shangri-La!
We boarded the return Hong Kong Air Bus on time and about two hours later we were back to the familiar sight and sound of the oh so very busy HK International. We were back to Hong Kong. (To be continued)