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Overwater Villas of Gayana Marine Resort

Due to its strategic location lies by the coast overlooking South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu has countless of tropical islands not far away from the city center. You can reach the island less than 10 minutes of boat ride from the city jetty. How convenient is it, right? If you are planning to have a short island staycation within the short distance of Kota Kinabalu but then, still giving peace and relaxation you are looking for, there are few you can opt for. One of them is Gayana Marine Resort

#1: Gayana Marine Resort

Rest serenely at the edge of a jungle on Gaya Island, Gayana Marine Resort boasts spacious and extraordinary water villas with wooden interiors and superior facilities. My husband and I booked to stay here before the commencement of last year MCO. Besides Gayana Marine Resort, they do have another sister resort, namely Bunga Raya Island Resort which is our next wishlist to experience. 

Gayana Marine Resort 02
#2: Register ourselves at their office in Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal

HOW TO GET TO GAYANA MARINE RESORT
The only way to reach this overwater bungalow is by taking speed boat provided by the resort at Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. All guests need to register themselves at the office in Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal before depart to the resort. The boat transfer is scheduled to depart at 12pm and the boat ride takes about 20 minutes. 

Boat Transfer (Free of charge)
Check-in: 12pm
Check-out: 11am

Distance from airport to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal: 15 minutes (Approx. RM10 with GrabCar) 

Gayana Marine Resort 05
#3: Crystal clear turquoise sea water and we're blessed with clear blue sky on our day of visit. 

The sea was calm and the boat ride was pretty smooth. Without we realised, we have arrived the overwater villas we're anticipated for. I have to admit that this is my first time overnight on one of KK's islands after living in the city for so long cause normally we only went for a day trip. Upon arriving, we're greeted with welcome drinks and friendly hospitality where they played the local music instrument to welcoming us. Feeling like a VVIP walking on a red carpet. 

Gayana Marine Resort 04
#4: Infinity pool overlooking panoramic sea view

THE ROOM
There are 4 type of villas in order to cater different need of the guests; Rainforest Villa, Ocean Villa, Breeze Villa and Palm Villa. The most luxe of all would be the Palm Villa features private plunge pools, glass floors in the living room and double shower and tubs for two offering seaviews whereas Breeze Villa are great for a group of families as it comes with separate living rooms and two bathrooms. 

As for us, we booked the Rainforest Villa facing the lush green rolling hills of unspoiled tropical jungle. All the stand-alone villas feature a spacious open deck and fitted with upscale amenities such as:
  • Air-conditioning 
  • LCD/Plasma screen
  • DVD player
  • Minibar with fridge, kettle and tea & coffee making
  • In-room safety deposit box
  • Ironing facilities
  • WiFi within the room 
Gayana Marine Resort -Rainforest Villa 1
#5: Room fitted with top-class amenities to the highest degree of comfortable and convenience of the guest 

Gayana Marine Resort -Rainforest Villa 3
#6: Ideal honeymoon spot for the newly wed couple

Gayana Marine Resort -Rainforest Villa Bathroom
#7: Private bathroom includes luxury amenities and powerful hot rainshower.

Gayana Marine Resort -Rainforest Villa 2
#8: Private open deck with sun beds 

THE RESTAURANTS
Due to its isolated and remote location which is completely cut off from the rest of the island, the only option for you to hunt for food is to dine-in at their restaurants. There no other restaurants, bars or even shops nearby. Hence, it's advisable that you can purchase some food and snacks earlier from the city's convenience store before departing to the resort. 

There are two restaurants available within the resort;
  1. Macac Restaurant - All-day dining venue serving Western fusion food with a distinctly Malaysian twist by the pool, including wood-fired pizza, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, salad and noodle soups.
  2. Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant - Open for lunch and dinner, serving fresh Chinese cuisines where guests can select their meal from the menu or even pick live seafood from the restaurant's tanks. 
During our stay here, we dine-in in both of the two restaurants where we had our lunch (first day upon arrival) and breakfast (the following day) at Macac Restaurant and dinner at Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant. Overall, we found the food was pretty decent and not bad but somewhat overpriced. 
 
Gayana Marine Resort - Macac Restaurant
#9: Macac Restaurant - All-day dining venue including where we had our breakfast here.  

Gayana Marine Resort - Macac Restaurant 2
#10: Macac Breakfast - Poarched eggs, grilled sausages, petit marinated sausages, hash brown, savory tomato relish and saute shitake mushrooms. 

Gayana Marine Resort - Macac Restaurant 3
#11: Freshly baked pastries and colourful fruits 

Gayana Marine Resort - Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant 1
#12: Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant - Open for lunch and dinner, this is where you can have fresh seafood from the fish tank. 

Gayana Marine Resort - Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant 2
#13: Our dinner at Alu-Alu Seafood Restaurant - seafood fried rice paired sweet and sour fish

MARINE ECOLOGY RESEARCH CENTER (MERC)
One of the special features of this resort that distinguish them from the rest is the establishment of MERC, a learning and educational centre to create awareness about the marine ecosystem due to increasing threats on the marine life. They even propagating Giant Clams and restoring damaged coral reefs on the island. What amazed both my husband and I was there is a spacious theatre hall on the island where they will play a short video regarding MERC and marine life. It's fascinating even for adults like us. 

Gayana Marine Resort - Marine Ecology Research Centre 1
#14: Marine Ecology Reseach Centre - Guests can get up close with sea creatures from starfish to bamboo sharks. 

Awaken to the sound of gentle waves lapping below in the morning and witness the stunning tropical sunset in the evening, we were completely immersed ourselves in once-in-a-lifetime luxury experience that pampering the body and enlightened the soul. This is why I always feel that our homegrown island resorts eventually can compete with most of the world-renowned island resorts in Maldives. Why travel so far away when you can experience in your home country Malaysia, right? Come and let's Cuti-Cuti Malaysia now! 

Gayana Marine Resort 07
#15: Final photo for memories before taking the free boat transfer back to the jetty at 11am 






The rates includes breakfast for 2

Proudly to announce that Gayana Marine Resort is now open for weekend stays starting from 19th March. For reservations and enquiries, kindly please contact this number 088-380390 or email them at rsvn.gayana@echoresorts.com.

[Credit to Oyster]
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New Zealand Day 5: Huka Falls of Taupo

 << Previous Post: Day 5 - Hobbiton Movie Set <<

Since our tour to Hobbiton Movie Set ended around noon time, we have ample of time for the next sightseeing. But before that, let's fill up the hungry tummy first. 

#1: Asian always be Asian. My friends and I decided to settle our lunch at Japanese Restaurant instead.

From Matamata town in the Waikato region, we continue by driving to Lake Taupo, approximately 1 and half hour drive. Lake Taupo is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania. Not far away from the lake is the country's most visited attractions, Huka Falls which one of the main reasons we drove to Taupo. 

Not far away from where we parked our car, we can hear clearly the sound of the gigantic, strong and furious water flows. As we got nearer, we're blew away by the crystal clear turquoise coloured fall.  No word can ever described how stunning this fall is. Sometimes when we're too busy with life, we tend to forget how incredible is our mother's nature works. It's best for us to stop a while, and admire while we still have the chance to do so.  

#2: Huka Falls of Taupo

#3: Walking trails and viewing platforms for the photographer and nature lovers to relish the falls at every possible angle.

#4: Jet boats zooming 

#5: One of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand

Don't worry about the admission fee cause it's free. As well as the parking lot. So do stopby here if you have the chance. 

We settled our night in Rotorua, which takes another 1 hour drive there. If you are planning to drive around New Zealand, try to gather those friends who have valid driving license so that you can rotate the drivers. Driving from one point to another in New Zealand can be exhausting. 

ACCOMMODATION IN ROTORUA

#6: 

#7: 

Roto Vegas Motel
Date Stayed: 17 September - 18 September 2015
Room Rate: RM296 for a room with queen size bed and a single bed attached with private bathroom

#8: Since there's kitchen within our room, we decided to cook our own dinner. To save cost as possible as we can
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New Zealand Day 5: Hobbiton Movie Set

 << Previous Post: Day 4 - Paihia & Russell <<

It's the day we have been anticipated for and we're overly excited for it. If you are a movie fan of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, I bet this place will definitely included in your travel itinerary and you shouldn't miss it at all cost. No introduction needed for this place cause once one mentioned about New Zealand, instantly Hobbiton will be on their mind. 

#1: Hobbitton Movie Set

What and Where is Hobbiton?

Set in the heart of Waikato region, Hobbiton is a movie set used for shooting the world-renowned The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies which adapted from an epic high fantasy novel. Found by Sir Peter Jackson who is the movie director, this privately owned 1,250 acre family sheep farm caught his attention for its breathtaking rolling hills and lush green pastures where he concluded it's an ideal scene for "The Shire", as described by the novel author, JRR Tolkien.

Practically, there are two ways to reach Hobbiton:

1) By self-driving. If you are from Auckland, it takes approximately 2 hours drive to Matamata town. U can opt to stay in the nearest town such as Hamilton (like we did) or Rotorua which both take about 45 minutes drive. Don't worry about the parking when reach the site cause it's free. 

2) Coach transfer. If you don't feel comfortable with driving around New Zealand, you can book for coach transfer from Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton. 

#2: The departure time, departing on the place of departure

Guided Tour

Hobbiton doesn't open for walk-in visitors, hence you need to pre-book your ticket in advance via online. The time slots and places are pretty limited, so it's wise to book earlier to avoid disappointment. There are few tours available for the visitors but I found the regular tour which costs $89 for adult and $44 for youth (age between 9 to 16) is fairly sufficient for us to cover almost all the movie set we're looking forward for within 2 hours of tour. 

#3: Pre-book your ticket in advance via online. They don't accept walk-in customers. 


Because we booked the 10am guided tour, we left our sweet and cosy AirBnB in Hamilton as early as 8am cause the drive took roughly around 45 minutes to reach Hobbiton Movie Set. It's a wise choice to self-drive in New Zealand because the scenery along the drive is amazingly stunning and awe-inspiring. When we arrived at the destination, we parked our car nearby the general office. And in order to reach the movie set, we have to hop on to their tour bus which has been included in the fee. While inside the bus, some introductions through films were being played. If case you're wondering did I watch all the movies? The answer is, "No" for The Lord of The Rings but "Yes" to all the Hobbit trilogies. Maybe I should find some time to sit down and watch The Lord of The Rings. How about you guys?

Being me again, I think it's best to share more photos for you to justify how beautiful this place was...

#4: Rolling grassland of The Shire

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10: The only manmade tree in this movie set which made of steel and silicon

#11: Am I qualify to be part of The Hobbit? 

#12: The only Hobbit holes where visitors are allowed to go in

#13

#14: The Home of Bilbo Baggins, the main character

#15: The Green Dragon Pub where visitors get claim a complimentary drink from 

This place is so real, and surreal too. I just can't believe that what I had watched and seen on a big movie-screen and now, they are standing right in front of me. Everything looks exactly like the one in the movies - except for the size of the Hobbit homes which tend to be slightly bigger than the movies. This movie set totally exceeded our expectations, especially the hobbit holes where they are so detailed and fascinating. Not forgetting too the colourful bright round doors with the picturesque and charming garden that never fail to amaze the visitors. 

The one and only downside is - because it's a guided tour and you unable to visit on your own, do expect a big group of people during the tour. So taking photos might be challenging here, and sometimes you need to take it quick and fast as possible as you can. I'm not sure how much does the private tour cost but we felt that the regular tour is sufficiently worth more than that. It aint' cheap though!

Overall, my friends and I do enjoy walking through the enchanting village of Hobbiton. Even if you have never watch any of these movies, you will still find this so-called Middle Earth tour to be interesting and amusing. Definitely one of the top tourist spots you shouldn't miss in New Zealand. 


You can book your ticket from here.
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2020 Recap - From Miss to Mrs

Looks like this is my first post for the month of December, and this also concludes my final post for the year of 2020. Obviously I'm getting more and more procrastinating again.
 

What's up everyone! So how's 2020 treating you so far? Good? Or bad? Maybe some of you had experienced the ups and downs, but always remember to be grateful and thankful that you have made it this far. By the way, can you believe that today is the last day for the year 2020 and tomorrow, we're going to welcoming another brand new year. Phew, time is indeed flies so fast without we realise it! 

Now, let me do some brief recap of what I had experienced throughout the year. It's funny to reminisce that last year was my most travelling year where I got to travel almost every month, but then who will ever thought when come to this year, everything seems to be crumbling down due to unforeseeable and unpredictable pandemic which hits the whole world. All my travel plans which I had planned earlier eventually fall apart. The only trip I managed to proceed is The Aloha State, Hawaii of USA (post here) where I went in the early of March.

#1: One and only trip for 2020 - Hawaii of USA

These are the trips that I have no choice but to cancel with a heavy heart 😫:

  • Athens & Santorini, Greece with Scoot Airline - Initially we plan to take our pre-wedding photoshooting here.
  • Dubai & Abu Dhabi with Cebu Pacific  
  • Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Slovenia & Slovakia for my final solo backpacking trip before settling down
Just wondering when will we able to travel again, like we used to be without worrying too much. Frankly speaking, I do miss travelling a lot, and I believe most of you do feel the same way too. But at this moment, all we can do is to always stay safe and pray hardly that everything will back to normal once again.

Since we are not able to travel abroad yet, therefore I took this chance to travel locally by supporting Cuti-Cuti Malaysia. I went and covered most of the places around Sabah like:
#2: Cuti-Cuti Sabah

And because majority of the hotels in Sabah are doing promotion including those 5-star hotels, immediately we took this opportunity to do a relax and rejuvenate staycation at these prestige and luxrious hotels:
  • Magellan Sutera Harbour
  • Hilton Kota Kinabalu
  • Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel
  • Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
#3: Staycations in 5-star hotels of Sabah

Besides going to Kuching for Chinese New Year early of this year, the only domestic trip we made it this far is to Kuala Lumpur in the month of July. We even rented a car and drove to Genting, Bukit Tinggi and lastly, Bentong just for the sake of fresh durian. 

#4: Trip to KL in July

Last but not least, the most important highlight for this year is where I upgraded from Miss to Mrs. Yes, I'm officially tied the knot. Our wedding reception was initially scheduled to be on 10.10.2020 but due to the sudden spike of covid-19 which caused by the state election, both my husband and I decided to postpone it. Plus, all my siblings and relatives are not around KK, we felt that no point to held the tea ceremony as well as the wedding reception. 

#5: Both of us are avid travellers. He is backpacker whereas I'm flashpacker. 
And we have been travelled together to almost 10 countries within 3 year 

And that pretty much sum up my life for the year 2020, although most of the time I was spending my precious time by staying at home. I still go to work in between, just that my time at home is more than going to the office. Despite this, I felt it's not a bad idea afterall cause I got to learn and try cook more new recipes. Frankly speaking, I have never into cooking but not until MCO, it has literally changed me and I got to cook different type of cuisines, including nasi lemak, curry chicken, chicken rice, Thai, Korean and Japanese cuisines. I even tried to bake cake and made desserts for the first time in my life. 

Talking about my resolution for the upcoming year of 2021, I wish I could shed some pounds and to blog more frequently (tons of backlog travelogues). Of course the most importantly is that I wish I could travel abroad next year - at least once perhaps. Seriously cannot tahan already. Luckily I still remember where I store my passport. Do you still remember where you place your passport? And where will be the first country you wish to visit once the border is open and safe to travel? Do share with me by leaving a comment below. 

Before I close this chapter, I sincerely wish each and every one of you to stay safe and healthy always. Let's pray together that the world will getting better and restore back like it used to be. In the mean time, be a responsible "rakyat" by complying the stipulated SOP - put on your masks when going out, keep your social distance and avoid large gathering. Take care everyone! 

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New Zealand Day 4: Paihia & Russell

 << Previous Post: Road Trip to Paihia & Day Tour with Harrison's Cape Runner to Cape Reinga  <<

It's our 4th day in New Zealand and we decided to take things slow and easy, before continue with our next road trip. Since we're in Paihia, a main tourist town in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand, we took the chance to explore this small little town and also the neighbourhood town which is Russell

PAIHIA TO RUSSELL

Getting to Russell from Paihia is pretty easy by taking ferry to cross over. It's more convenient if you have car so that you have the freedom to explore Russell. Departs every 15 minutes from Opua, the ferry crossing took approximately 10 minutes and passed through the harbour. You can purchase the ticket online in advance, or even on the vessel on the day. 

#1: Taking ferry from Paihia to cross over to Russell

So, what's so special about Russell? Besides being the country's first sea port, it's also first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. The town holds a significant place in New Zealand's history as it is full with lots of historical places and buildings. Even the town's streets retain their original layout and names since 1843 and many of the historical buildings are open for public for visit. 

#2: A very quiet and quaint town of Russell 

We spotted few cafes and shops but they were closed as it's still quite early in the morning (probably around 8am). I guess the best time to come here is before the lunch time cause I believe that most of the cafes, restaurants and shops have opened their business. It's not a bad idea to arrive here earlier cause we hardly spot any tourists and we can stroll around the town in a peaceful and calm environment. 

#3: Driving around Russell is so relaxing

#4: Museum in Russell 

#5: Flagstaff Hill - one of the spots in Russell you shouldn't miss 

#6: Spectacular lookout point 

#7: Wild flowers in Russell 

RUSSELL TO PAIHIA
After spending roughly 2 hours exploring Russell, we took ferry to cross over to Paihia again before leaving the town permanently. Similar to Russell, Paihia is a delightful small town that don't need extra miles to discover the entire town. My friends and I just parked our car at one spot and then, we walked around by heading to the museum, public library, war memorial house and we even having our lunch here. 

#8: A delightful small town of Paihia

#9: Williams House Public Library - We're kinda attracted to the exterior of the building

#10: Paihia War Memorial Hall 

#11: Sakura blossom in Paihia

#12: Our lunch in Paihia - pork ribs and burger 

ACCOMMODATION IN HAMILTON

We then continue driving to Hamilton, the most populous city of the Waiko region which takes about 4 and half hours drive via State Hwy 1. My friend booked one night stay in this bed & breakfast by the name of Glen Horne and it turns out to be one of my favourite stay throughout my trip in New Zealand. Not just that our stay is cozy and comfortable, the host even provide us a simple and light breakfast. That's so warm and thoughtful. We went bed earlier and have a good rest cause on the following day is going to be another exciting day. 

#13: Our stay in Hamilton

#14: Clean, cozy and comfortable bed & breakfast. Highly recommend. 

Glen Horne B&B 
Date Stayed: 16 September - 17 September (1 night)
Room Rate: RM319 for 3 pax - 1 queen bed and 1 single bed ensuite with bathroom
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