Saturday 17 March 2018

#HotelReview : Billabong Scuba, Mabul

Using iPhone6s #majorlove

I decided to stay at Billabong because let's face it; I think Billabong Scuba is one of the best budget accommodation in Mabul. 

From my point of view, there are two extremes in Mabul; budget vs luxury resorts.

Most of the so called 'hotel' in Mabul offers packages [2D1N, 3D2N etc] since you'll need to pay for the 1 hour boat ride to the island plus food and snorkeling. Everything is done in-house.

To be honest, I chose Billabong Scuba because it looks the nicest *vain*.

However, my initial interaction with them were not that great. 
  • Contacted them via email [in English] asking for the package price. 3D2N in seaview chalet cost RM763 per person. Was told that they don't accept 2D1N bookings
  • Which is a bit weird considering I've read people sharing their experiences online
  • Using another email address, I contacted them again [in Malay this time] and wallaaaaa .... the price for 2D1N package is RM510 per pax
  • For your information, sea view chalet is the best class of accommodation they had. Other room types are cheaper
  • In the end, we ended up paying only RM426 during check in. Tak pasti kenapa.

The sea view chalet

Things To Take Note
  • They only have 1 boat trip from Semporna to Mabul everyday - at 8am
  • The checkout time is at 12noon but the boat to Semporna will come at 3.30pm
  • Electric is only available from 11am-4pm and 6pm to 6am 
  • Don't bring food into the room [rats]
  • 3 snorkeling trips daily; 8am, 10am and 1.30pm

What I Love About Them
  • guided snorkeling + free water confidence lesson. These guided snorkeling is very useful as the ocean current was ridiculous. Hahaha
  • compared to other places, they offered cheaper cooking charges. Ranges from RM5-RM15.
  • comfortable bed
  • good food
  • in the morning and evening, the locals will be selling fresh seafood just below the resort

All these for RM50

RM90 lobster

What Could Be Improved

  • the toilet was a bit run down [toilet bowl cover was broken]
  • streamlined the communication ; how can different people quote different prices?

Other than that, it was great considering it's a budget accommodation.

RM510 per pax [Quoted Price]
  • welcoming drink
  • return boat transfer
  • accommodation with en suite bathroom and AC
  • 3 snorkeling trips around Mabul /Kapalai
  • 2 lunch, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast
  • 24/7 hot drinks + bread + spread

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Friday 16 March 2018

Semporna and Mabul ; Make The Best Out of It

To say that our trip to Semporna is perfect; would be a lie.
But we enjoyed em and that's the most important thing.

Bought the tickets on a whim, during AirAsia promo early last year. RM240 per pax (return flight) which I think is quite reasonable considering the distance.

I would highly recommend for you to stay for at least 5 days to cover all the attractions. Being there for only 4 days, it was a bit tiring and we can't stay for more than a night in Mabul.

Things To Know
  • Nearest airport is Tawau Airport. From here, it takes around 1 hour to get to Semporna. [RM90 per taxi or RM25 per person via shuttle van] - I liaised directly with my hotel for the transport
  • Mabul Island is open throughout the year since they are monsoon-free
  • There are two marine parks; Tun Sakaran and Sipadan. Tun Sakaran is where Bohey Dulang is plus all the island hopping activities. Sipadan includes Mabul, Kapalai etc. 
  • So if you are planning to go to Bohey Dulang, you'll need to be in Semporna; they don't do Tun Sakaran trips from Mabul
  • That is why ideally you'll need 5 days to cover both marine parks
  • Earliest flight to Tawau is at 7.15. You'll arrived at Semporna at approximately 11ish am.

Day 1
Airport transfer and checked in. Okay, about the hotel I chose. The only reason I chose Poga Backpackers is that it has 8.1 rating on 
Some hotels scored higher but they only offered shared accommodation [dormitories]. But this place has its pro and cons. 
Pros : super strategic location, nice hosts, AC
Cons :  super thin bed, super slow water pressure, thin walls

I would recommend Dragon Floating Inn or Sipadan Inn 2. They're super near to everything; Giant, Watson, pharmacy, the jetty and restaurants. 

We ate at Restoran Bismillah and Fat Mom - for seafood [both are highly recommended].

For cheap seafood, do go to Fat Mom; they even open during lunch. We ate here twice, both not costing more than RM40. Once we ordered small portion of dried butter prawn (RM16 : 9 large prawns); so cheap!

During the first day, we just walked around, not doing much because the boat to Mabul leaves at 8am and we obviously missed them. The snorkeling trip starts at 9am and again, we missed it.

Day 2
Woke up early to go to island hopping. Booked the trip with Semporna Travel on FB. To be honest, it was a bit disappointing. We paid RM95 each for a 4-island visit. The tourist jetty was 1.5km away. So we walked in the scorching sun 💀

  • Pulau Tatagan : the sea gypsies village. Basically we just went near their floating houses and the children will just hop over into the bot and kinda harassed you for money and treats. When it went overboard, the guide will chase them away. But it was good  seeing a different way of life there.
  • Pulau Bohey Dulang : should be the highlight of our trip. Were promised a hiking guide but we didn't have any [there was 12 of us] The route were crazy, nearly vertical from the get go. Not even 100m in, I gave up. I has torn ligaments on my ankle and still recovering. So we went back down and wait for others. They said the view from the top is amazing.
View on top of Bohey Dulang [from Google]
  • Pulau Mantabuan : perhaps the biggest disappointment of the day 😖 It was a small island, yes. Beautiful, clear water but not much to see underwater. It's a bit like Pulau Beras Basah in Langkawi, not so much of a snorkeling spot.
  • Pulau Sibuan : this redeemed everything! Very very beautiful place.
Pulau Sibuan
For our trip back to hotel, we called Uber [nasib baik ada].
That night, we ate at Fat Mom again. Ordered 'kerang' and we got this weird version instead. Hahaha Not as juicy as the usual type we had.

Day 3
After breakfast, we went to Billabong office which was only a few steps away and got on the boat to Mabul (the jetty was just beside the office). One hour later, we arrived at Billabong Scuba [will do a dedicated post later].

Checked in, had lunch, went snorkeling, walked around the island...

Day 4
Breakfast, snorkeling again, lunch then checked out. Went back to Semporna and then to Airport.

The End.

*some companies provide an all-in service [Mahligai Semporna & Adli Ayob on FB] just compare their prices with your budget!

**all in all, we spent around RM1,100 per pax 
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Sunday 11 March 2018

Lombok : Itinerary & Tips!

Bukit Merese, 2016

Though this is my second time here, I wanted to give N the quintessential Lombok experience. 

However, I'm not so much of a culture person so I skipped Desa Sade (traditional Sasak village) and Desa Sukarara (traditional weaving) since I've visited them before. 

Gili Trawangan before Tiu Kelep! 
The first time around, me and Ika went to Tiu Kelep before Gili. We were not fit at all and the hike were a bit strenuous for us. The distance were not too bad but the elevation really ... really made it hard. So when we got to Gili the next day and had to cycle, God it was soooo painful (our legs were super sore)! With N, I pushed the visit to Tiu Kelep towards the end of the trip. So soo much better.

Things To Bring To Tiu Kelep
Suitable footwear (can be slippery + need to cross a river), bring a towel at least because it can be super cold [and no changing room so at least you can wrap your body] and waterproof phone case because you can feel the cold blowing mist even when you're far away. Imagine when you get closer to the waterfall to take pictures, the lens will be covered by water, trust me. And oh! Bring water along.

Villa Hantu
I remember getting the most beautiful picture on top of Villa Hantu in 2016.

There used to be a makeshift ladder by the villa so you can get to the rooftop and take amazing photos.

But now the ladder is there no more. You'll need to get inside the villa to take pictures. Tips : Go there around 11-4 when the sun shines bright!

From @intansuehaini

Wear A Lot of Sunblock and Don't Forget to Reapply! 
I had the worst burnt ever in 2016; even with applying sunblock. With snorkeling trips, you'll need to constantly reapply the sunblock after every dip in the water. Just our luck, the boat was filled to capacity and we had to sit at the front part of the boat (without any cover).

I had sun spots on my nose which has slowly healed after more than 2 years. But still not fully recovered until this very day. Better be safe than sorry! #loveyourskin

Not to Be Missed : Bukit Merese
If I had to choose between the waterfall and Bukit Merese, I'll choose the latter. It offers such amazing view that my breath were taken away every single time I'm here. *Best to bring a hat + water because it can be scorching hot*

Choose the Tour Guide Correctly
Always always read reviews on tour guide / supir before making your decision. I've engaged with Eka Senggigi during my trip in 2016; a pleasant experience. This time his brother, Made accompanied us. [You can find @ekasenggigi on Instagram]. I would definitely recommend their service!

Lombok has been great and beautiful ❤
Till next time!
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Friday 9 March 2018

Lombok : Flight Ticket & Accommodation

Flight Ticket
First things first, the flight ticket. Always be on the look for AirAsia sale! Currently, only AirAsia has direct flights from KL to Lombok. Though, with AirAsia to score the cheap flight tickets usually you have to buy the tickets well in advance [1 year or less]. The usual return ticket price would be around RM400. 

My experience; 
2016 : RM103 (return)
2018 : RM280 (return)

Ombak Sunset Hotel, Gili Trawangan [2016]
Booked the deluxe terrace room for RM5++ (3D2N). Normal price would be around RM7++. This hotel is famous for their swing [practically everyone take a picture here when in Gili Trawangan].

  • Super spacious room
  • Big swimming pool
  • Nice architecture
  • The floor was slimy
  • Low water pressure
  • AC not working well (we were sweating through the first half of the night)
  • Food was so-so
  • Quite a distance from the night market + snorkeling point. Imagine having to cycle to get your dinner in the dark (some of the road have no street lights whatsoever).

The famous swing

Verdict : I would not recommend this place because it's soooo far from the night market, and you can get better hotel at this price point.

Rating : 2.5/5

PinkCoco, Gili Trawangan [2018]
Fell in love with the hotel since the first time I saw it online. The reviews were amazing! [9.4 rating on].

Stairs to the cafe


How cute is the swing?
  • Very attentive staffs
  • Provide padded bicycles [important!]
  • Nice architecture, beautiful room
  • Amazing massage parlour [with 50% discounts for patron]
  • Great breakfast food
  • They provide turndown services! [the staffs enter the room in the evening when you're not in, pull the blanket back, closed the curtain, dimmed the lights, put some chocolates on the bed and light aromatherapy candle]
  • Can be quite a distance from the night market if you're walking. By bike, it's only 10-15 minutes ride
  • Not much selection for breakfast, no buffet only a la carte
Rating : 4.8/5

Grand Senggigi, Lombok [2016 & 2018]


On both occasion, I only stayed at the hotel for one night [RM100/night].
Back in 2016, my tour guide recommended this hotel. It was spanking new, with comfortable bed.

This time around though, there are some issues. The first room assigned to us was festered with ants, the second room; issues with the AC and the final room can't be locked. 

Just skip this hotel, lots of affordable comfortable hotel around.

                                                                     Rating : 3/5
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Tuesday 6 March 2018

#MakanReview : Little Fat Duck [Evolve Concept Mall]

Pasta at The Little Fat Duck, Ranked.

I'm a pasta girl and would definitely choose pasta over rice, any day of the week.

Recently, I finally tried pasta at the Little Fat Duck, a food truck business that has blossomed into full fledged branches in shopping malls around Klang Valley.

I don't know why it took me so freaking long to try them.
They are famous for their affordable pasta but they do offer other mains and side dishes as well.

For our visit this time though, we only tried the pasta. All four varieties!

Best Pasta : Chicken Mushroom Mornay

From LFD's FB
The name definitely did not appeal at first (because of I was not familiar with em) but my oh my, it was GOOOD!
Cream sauce + cheese + brown mushrooms + chicken ham + spaghetti = Perfection ❤
My number one pasta choice here.
Rating : 4.5 /5

Special Mention : Carbornara

Although the Carbornara here is nowhere near the standard of the La Juiceria Superfood's. I would order it if they're out of  Chicken Mushroom Mornay. It's still super decent for RM6 price tag! 
[RM5 on Wednesday]
Rating : 4/5

Not My Favourite : Bolognaise and Sausage Spinach Bechamel

This basic pasta dish was too sweet for my liking. I love my Bolognaise to be a little bit tangy and meaty. I can taste the freshness of the sauce, though. Definitely not made using those canned sauce.
Rating : 3/5

Sausage Spinach Bechamel

It doesn't look so good, and not the best in terms of taste either. It was the last pasta that we've tried and we kept thinking of the Chicken Mornay all the time. LOL Not our cup of tea.
Rating : 2/5

Next time around, we'll sample the other mains especially the highly raved Chicken Confit.

Till then..
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