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Monday, November 21, 2011

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Beginner's Guide to Traveling Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Truly Asia: My Experience

My first ever country that I have visited is Malaysia.


Because it's truly Asia? hahaha.  Well, since I have no point of comparison I couldn't comment much about that.  What I could say is that I really saw how much of a melting pot Malaysia is.  Every time I walk down the street, I always see people from different cultures, and it's always a fascinating sight.

It makes you want to stop from walking and just do people watching instead.  It's really amazing to see how people from different countries live peacefully together.  And yes, it is possible.  


My travel to Malaysia first started with me being emotionally and legally ready for the trip.  I guess that time, I was more concerned on the latter.  My friend who traveled to Hongkong experienced a lot of stress, probably due to her lack of papers and proofs that the immigration was asking of her.  Luckily I tried to secure all important documents.  But when you're lining up for immigration's interview, I think a lot of you would agree that it's still nerve-racking, despite knowing that you don't have any bad intentions and you're nothing but legal.

Documents and Other Requirements

Documents that they will be asking of you are your passport, a copy of your hotel reservations, air ticket to and fro, sometimes they'll ask you for a photocopy of the credit card used to purchase the tickets and even your id's.  Do bring 1K ringgit with you, that's the maximum allowable amount of ringgits you could bring to Malaysia and you could take home, the rest you could deposit in your ATM (through EON) or have traveler's checks instead.

To Plan or Not to Plan

It's wise to plan ahead, but seriously when you're there already at times you couldn't follow your plan.  When you check on google map landmarks in Malaysia appear to be very far but don't be fooled.  It's not as far as you think, especially the Petronas towers, the Suria KLCC, KLCC park and the Aquaria.  All these are somewhat connected.  


The best way to travel around the city is through monorail.  Hotels and inns usually have helpful maps and receptionists are also there to suggest good places or directions.  If in case you have trouble finding your way, you could ask some locals.  Not everyone there though could speak English, so choose whom to ask.  If you have to take taxi, try to take the ones away from landmarks.  There are only few honest taxi drivers.  A lot of them will bribe you telling you that the place is far and it's traffic.  So as much as possible don't take taxis. Monorails there are intertwined, so you could get to almost everywhere, you just have to walk to the station.


The food is very diverse.  They have food from almost all around the world.  Not to mention it's cheap.  Simple restaurants would range from 3-8 ringgits, while more expensive ones would go up to 12-30 ringgits.  Hotels are usually cheap and really convenient.

Around Town

We had book ours in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, really close to China Town, called Petaling Market.  It's where you could buy counterfeit bags and souvenirs. Street food is also amazing and cheap.   There are a lot of backpackers around this area because everything is relatively cheap.  If you want something more high-end, try to go to Pavilion.  You could spot real branded items there.  Just nearby is Aquaria that showcases different species of fishes, even forest animals, and insects could be seen there.  Suria KLCC is just around the corner.  It is where you could find the Petronas Towers.

Petaling Market *

Pavilion *

Aquaria KLCC *

                                                                   Petronas Towers *

If you wish to go all-out shopping with convenience I suggest you go south  to Berjaya Times Square, one of the biggest malls in KL.  They have Cosmo World Theme Park, and they have the longest roller coaster called Super Sonic Odyssey, that's 800m long.  It costs around 35-45 ringgit for a ride. 

Berjaya Times Square *

SkyBar *

The Best View of the Towers

They said that the best view of the Petronas towers is in the bar of Trader's Hotel 33rd floor called SkyBar.  You have to reserve in advance for  the cabanas on the side of the pool.  It is where you could have the best view of the city, not to mention the towers.   Drinks and food are expensive here so try to bring extra cash.  We bought our drinks for 20plus ringgits for each.

Malaysian Food

Please don't leave Malaysia without tasting Nasi lemak and chicken satay.  These 2 are traditional malaysian food.

Chicken Satay *

                                                                       Nasi Lemak *

The best place to eat street food is Jalan Alor and Imbi Market.  The food is very diverse and cheap.  Very good for backpackers like us.

Capoeira in the Middle of the City

Don't dare to miss street performance of street Roda, usually every night at Bukit Bintang.  This is a group of people practicing capoeira.  Aside from doing their own stunt they also do lovely percussion and chants that will get you going.

Street Roda *

Travel Tips

As a tip for first time travelers, you should have at least a general itinerary for the day so you could get to experience more.  Also make sure to have a map of the city with you so you won't get to ask people always.  As I've said earlier maps are usually available in hotels or inns that you're staying.  Also try to wake up early.  I know night life in KL is fun but then you'll be missing out on a lot of stuff during the day. 

Since Malaysia is an Islamic country, try to dress up decently.  Usually when you want to visit temples, you're asked to cover yourself.  And always bring your passport with you at all times.

It's ok if you haven't covered everything, what is more important is that you have get to experience the culture that is truly Malaysia. 

* Images not mine
Publisher: Shy - Monday, November 21, 2011
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Isla Reta Resort: Best Beach in Davao

Isla Reta Resort - The Best Beach in Davao

Situated an hour away from the city, Isla Reta is a nice go-to place for beach lovers.  Not only does it have the most wonderful beach it is also serene.  The sand is reminiscent of Boracay.  Well it is like the famous beach minus the crowd and nice facilities.  What makes people really go here is the beach itself and the talisay trees that serve as shed for beach goers.

How to get there?

To reach Talicud Island you have to ride a boat from Sta. Ana Wharf.  If you don't know where that is, it's just smacked right beside Magsaysay Park.  All davaoenos know where that is, so you could just ask anyone.  The boat doesn't really have regular timings for trips.  It docks out only when the boat is full.  Boarding time starts from 6am and the last trip is 4pm.  Boat fee here is P85 per person, I'm not sure how much is the charge for kids.  The boat trip will take just about 45mins- 1hour.  It wouldn't be really boring because the scenery itself is entertaining.  Last time we went to the island, we saw some dolphins swimming in the sea.  This was the first boat ride for the day. So that was really a bonus treat for us.  

By the time we reach the island we hurried off to find our spot.  You could either pay as soon as you arrived or before you leave.  Paying fees are done in the canteen.  There is a girl named Joanne who is in charge of collecting fees.  She's also the one managing the canteen.

The Beach

So the beach, I don't know where to start.  There is really a lot of nice things to say about the beach.  The sand is really fine and white, reminds me of polvoron.  The ocean is clean.  Although there are some wood and roots floating here and there, it's usually cleaned up by staff every morning.  The debris are usually found near the docking area, but further away from it, it's clean and clear.  So we got our spot farthest away from the docking area where sand is finer,  and the water is cleaner.  Too bad there were lots of guests who also  found our spot but it's not really that bad to share.  Besides the place wasn't really congested with people so at most times you would hardly see any people taking a dip in the water, which is for me, a bit weird considering how wonderful the beach is.

Isla Reta Beach Resort

Ships docked along Sta. Ana Wharf

Scenery from the boat

View from our Nook

View from our Nook: Samal Island

                                                                           Nipa Seats

Finding "my spot"

Anyways, lucky for me we headed on to a more secluded place in the island.  The moment I saw that nook, I knew that it was my spot.  So the moment we landed we hurried off to conquer it.  Going there was really fun. The Adrenalin of just running to go to that place was exhilarating, added there were giggles and teases.  I was with my "gay friend" so that made it all the more fun.  To reach our place we had to go up the hill and go down the cliff, over a number of really huge boulders that were not only sharp but a bit slippery.  So we really had to be extra careful.  The moment we stepped on our nook, we were so glad we were alive.  It was well worth it.  The place was ours alone, it even felt like we were contestants in Survivors.  Needless to say, we had fun.  We laid on the sand under the shed of ipil-ipil trees.  So that was like sun bathing without exactly getting ourselves sunburnt.   Lunch time came, we ate the food that we brought.  Even though the canteen had some chips and drinks, and we could order there, we figured we would save more if we just bring our own, and we did.


Boats there are available if you wish to go snorkelling in snorkelling spots.  You just need to ask the guard there.  It would range from P1200-1500, that is good for 1hour boat ride.  Ours only cost P500 since I negotiated with the guard.  Everything could be negotiated and we managed to do it.  However we only had it for 30mins. which was totally fine for us since we didn't bring any snorkelling gears, and even if we did, we wouldn't have the guts to do that in deep waters [we don't know how to swim, ehem!].

Overnight Stay

If you figured you wanted to stay over for the night. You could for P850 for concrete cottages and P750 for wooden ones.  They also have tents that you could rent for P400 for a night.  There is one guard who is roaming around the beach with the flashlight so you would feel safe.  Oh yeah, the gate closes at around 9pm, so if you wish to buy food or what not from outside, you could do that before the closing time.  We were able to go outside past 9 pm since I had to have my charger charged.   I did bring the charger with me but I forgot the round socket that had to go with the charger.  So smarty me, I had to ask some people in the beach for that.  But I figured that there is more chances for me to borrow that from people from outside the resort.  And I was right.  The second store we visited had the exact thing that I was looking for.  I asked the manang to have my charger plugged in using their electricity.  I would just have to pay per hour and they agreed for P30/hr.  I went back to get it after 2 hours.  By then the gate was closed but I had the guard to accompany me outside.  We just knocked on their closed store and they gave me back my charger. The sweetest part is that they only charged me P30 for 2 hours.


Food there is expected to be more expensive.  We had our coffee there that costs P15 for a cup.  Alcoholic beverages aren't found from stores outside but are sold in the resort's canteen.  We bought our drink, a liter of The Bar, for P135.  You could bring some food with you, or bring the raw ones and have it cooked in the resort for some additional charge.  For some, they'll buy fishes in the wet market outside the resort and have it cooked themselves or send it to the resort staff and just pay P30-50 to have it cooked.

A word of caution

Before leaving the place, make sure you have brought everything with you.  Last time we went there, my friend left her cellphone on the bed.  When we called the person in charge, she said that the staff didn't see any phone in our room, which was really impossible since my friend remembered to have last use it there.  Anyways, just a heads up for everyone.  Although, other than that, our clothes left hanging near our cottage weren't stolen.

But all in all, it was still a good experience.

The best beach I ever went to so far near Davao.

If you wish to have reservations, you could contact Joanne at 09282141487.
Publisher: Shy - Monday, November 21, 2011
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10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Davao

Davao City

why visit davao
Visit Davao.  Where Life is Here. *

Why Visit Davao?

I'll tell you why.

I'm a local. I was born here and lived here for 20-something years already and I'll try to make this article as bias-free, as possible.  But what the heck.  I'll tell you what I know about my place of birth.  If you ask me if you should come over to Davao, I would think... hmmm... where should I take you?  If you are that urban person and you want something different, then come over.  If you want to go here to party then it's not the place for you.  

You see, Davao is a quaint city.  Although its the biggest city in the Philippines in terms of land area, we are still way behind development.  But I must say investors are coming in to shell out some money.  There are a lot of malls and buildings that are being erected in the last few years.  That should be a good sign that Davao is indeed getting better.  We might be behind development but we have plenty of other things to boast.  

1.  We've got the cleanest city and water

We have been dubbed by the WHO as having the cleanest water in the world.   Aside from having clean waters, our streets are generally clean too.  I remembered our city was featured on national tv.  The reporter tried to ambush the streets to prove the claims and went around the city with his camera on.  And we didn't fail him.  It was indeed garbage-free, well for the most part.

2. We've got some kick-ass Mayor.  

I think much of the improvements in the city are due to the fact that we are under a very good governance by our very infamous mayor, Rodrigo Duterte.  He is known to be very strict and isvery aggressive in implementing laws.  He would even go out of his way to make sure the laws are followed.  One time he went out in his car to this busy party street along Torres, and brought out his megaphone and shouted at the party goers and bar owners to shut down the place.  It was past 2am and bars should be closed by then.  After the incident, the bars were forced to close in 2 weeks until they could process papers to pass the criteria for operation.  And ever since then, all bars close until 2am.  We have Smoking Ban here so smokers are only allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas only, if caught smoking someplace else they have to pay P10,000 fine.  Firing fire works are also not allowed during Christmas and New Year.  What we do to make a lot of noise is that we just blow our horns, strike our pans and shout, after that, we either eat or  sleep.  But I guess it's the safest way to greet the year.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte
Inday Sarah Duterte *

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte *

3. We're typhoon-free. 

Typhoon has been hitting the Philippines plenty of times.  True, but in Davao we don't experience typhoon that much.  They said that's because Mt. Apo is shielding us, but I'm not really sure of that.   We've got an almost predictable weather here.  According to my boss from Manila, he notices that it's summer everyday in Davao.  Well yeah, that's because even on rainy season, it's still sunny during the day, but the only difference is, it rains at night.  This usually happens during the ber months.

4. We've got 911

We are the only city in Asia that has this.  Only ours is for free and is totally subsidized by the local government.  Other than Davao, 911 can also be found in Canada and US. I heard that one foreigner didn't believe it so he tried calling 911, after someone from 911 responded, he became a believer.  Truly, we don't only have people to respond to our emergency needs but they are also well equipped with up-to-date facilities and medical paraphernalia.  I had been once inside the 911 emergency van and my-god it was big and new.  And by the looks of it, it's expensive.

Davao Central 911
Davao 911*

5. Diverse set of people could be found

We are home to at least 10 indigenous tribes and expats and tourists go over here as well.  And more and more tourists are coming over as time goes by.  Every now and then you'll see indigenous people playing their traditional instruments in the streets, trying to make a living.  If you happen to see people with blonde hair and selling pearls in a transparent plastic box, they're Badgaos, and they are known to be good divers for pearls and they sell these in the city proper to make some money.

Tribal dances *

6. We have very cheap food. 

Being in an island that thrives mostly on agriculture and being bordered by oceans, we are blessed to have an abundance of affordable food.  To give you an idea as to how cheap our food is, if you ever go to the wet market, talong (eggplant) costs P10 per dozen, and even more.  You try to go to Bangkerohan Market. It's the main drop off point of all veggies and fishes in the city, and it's the source of goods of fish vendors and veggie vendors from all across town.  The cheapest place to get veggies are the ones along the streets.  They are the ones not paying rent for spaces.  It's located near Magallanes Street. It's the extension from the main Bangkerohan area. When you go there don't be surprise when the vendors are willing to give you more than you paid for.  This is especially true when it's already 8am and they need to pack up before more jeepneys are coming by.  So I suggest you go there earlier.

Bangkerohan Market
Bangkerohan Market *

7. We have eco-adventures, zoos and nature parks. 

If you are in our city, what's really great to check out here is our recreational areas like museums, nature parks and zoos.  We also have a lot of activities for people who love adventure.  You can go scuba diving for as low as P750-P850, island hopping for only P1200-P1500, wake boarding (P350) and white water rafting.  The longest zipline in the Philippines is found here as well, stretching up to 850meters, along with it is tree rappelling. You can also try climbing the highest peak in the Philippines, Mt. Apo, towering at 10,311 feet.

8.  It's where you could find the cheapest price for durians.  

In off peak season which is around May to July, durians are selling for as cheap as 30pesos/kilo.  If you buy it in Mintal area or Calinan area which are first drop off areas for durians, it could be sold for only 15-20pesos/kilo.  During peak season, which is some time around March to September, durian price doubles and could reach as high as 60pesos/kilo.  Not so bad considering these are sold as high as 120pesos/kilo or even more in Manila.


9. The safest place to be

Davao is rank as the safest place in the Philippines and  one of the world's lowest crime rate averaging at 0.8 in every 10,000 persons per month.  Our police are the ones to take credit for this because they have served as excellent watchdogs.  Mindanao is actually known to be the home of the majority of Muslims in our country.  And to correct what people usually think about Muslims, they are really peace-loving individuals. There are just terrorists that are linked to some Muslim individuals but should never be identified with Muslims in general.  Both Muslims and Christians however, tend to live peacefully here in our city.

10.  Fantastic beaches.  

Well not everybody knows that we've got really good beaches.  Take for example, Samal.  It's 15mins. boat ride away from the city itself, and it's said to be developed like Hongkong but that will be way far in the future.  It is the home of the renowned Pearl Farm.  Not far away from the island is another amazing small island called Talicud.  It's an hour away from the city but it has the finest sand and loveliest beach line.  There are not much resorts here as it's just recently been developed yet a lot of beach goers flock here to have an excellent time with friends and colleagues.

Samal Beach
Beachline in Samal Island

So why should you visit Davao?

You go to Davao if you have the heart for adventure, fascination for nature, interest for indigenous tribes, appetite for fruits and have enough time to enjoy all these.

UPDATE [ September 26, 2016] : In Sulu, the Abu Sayyaf a notorious terrorist group, is now under sieged by the full force of the government's military.   Along side this was a bombing incident within the Davao city itself.  Even though the outskirts of the city is heavily guarded and the city is under the watchful eyes of policemen dispersed in strategic areas, locals are encouraged to be vigilant and to refrain from going to crowded areas.  As of today, there are already 20 Abu Sayyaf who surrendered themselves to authorities, however there are still some who have remained fighting.    While this is going on, business is still as usual in Davao, however proper precautions and vigilance are being observed by everybody. 

Source: Davao Philippines: Your Guide to a DaWoW Experience
* Image note mine
Publisher: Shy - Monday, November 21, 2011
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