Divine Travels: Five Things I Enjoyed in Miri and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Plus Some Travel Tips)

Miri Malaysia Woods
“Here na me, where na you?” (I’m already here, where are you?) :p
Photo taken by Jacylyn after the beautiful wedding ceremony at Park City Everly Hotel in Miri, Malaysia

Last weekend I wrote a very short update about crossing borders from Brunei to Miri, Malaysia here. I didn’t have any proper sleep at that time (thus the eye bags and drifting brain) but thought of updating everyone where I was. Why? It’s because I almost didn’t make it to this trip.

Thankfully, God has His own ways of providing an avenue for me to travel and attend my first destination wedding as one of the bridesmaids. As a result, I enjoyed the following special list during my short 4-day trip to Malaysia:

 

  1. DESTINATION WEDDING OF A FRIEND
Razel and Balan bride and groom destination wedding

The stunning bride and groom ~ Razel and Balan

As I mentioned, this is the first destination wedding that I was able to experience. I missed my first invitation from one of my good friends who got married in Melbourne, Australia. I’m pretty sure it was as lovely and as unique as this one too.

This specific wedding is very special. My friend Razel got married to a “tribal prince”. It was inspiring because Tita Virgie (one of the principal sponsors/ godmother of the couple) was sharing to us how Razel was praying to be married to a prince. And here she is actually marrying one. 😉

Bridesmaids destination wedding

Beautiful colors and lovely bridesmaids

Their wedding was exceptionally precious. It’s one of those weddings that turned some “boo-boos” to something good and unforgettable.

The morning of their wedding day, there was a heavy rainfall and strong winds. We kept on praying for good weather and dry grounds. Then afternoon came and voila! It was like God deleted any sign of dark clouds, drew the sun back, painted the skies blue, and made the ground dry enough for the guests, entourage, the dashing groom and radiant bride to march through the crowd with confidence (that nobody’s foot is going to sink on the ground, lol).

There were also some technical problems at the start of the ceremony but it didn’t cease the event from having one of the best, almost an a cappella choir. With just a guitar and a few lead singers together with the pastor, everybody started singing a couple of praise and worship songs that were chosen by the bride and the groom. It was such a beautiful music produced not by one or two people but by a crowd as we started to celebrate the union of this special bride and groom.

 

  1. THE WARMTH AND “FUN-NESS” OF OUR NEW MALAYSIAN FRIENDS
After Party wedding karaoke

The unplanned after party and karaoke with the bride (on her wedding night), old and new friends and pinoy performers – the Outrage Band

One of the things that everybody from Manila enjoyed during the destination wedding of Razel and Balan was the warmth and hospitality of the groom’s family and friends.

From the time that we were picked up at the airport by the groom’s friends Allan and Joshua (who left Miri at 10ish in the morning just to fetch us at 4ish in the afternoon and get us to the border on time), to the grandmother of the groom (who’s now the head of the Kelabit Tribe) who honored us their guests during the pre-wedding dinner by giving us a uniquely handmade tribal beaded necklace, and to the enjoyable time that we had with the groom’s relatives at their after party – this trip became more than a surprise treat.

 

  1. ACCIDENTAL BEST DATE EVER

I had the privilege of meeting someone special during this trip – he’s cute, very active, a young gentleman and fun to be with. Eep, eep, eep, hold your horses as he is not what you think he is. 😉 He is a new friend and his name is Josiah or a.k.a “guapo” as what her mamu (grandma) and mom fondly calls him.

wedding reception

The best date ever in this trip – Josiah
Photo Taken By: Bianca (Josiah’s Mom)

I had a great time meeting him and he became my accidental best date ever in Miri where we got to spend some time chatting, playing, and swimming. He’s also very helpful and sensitive that when he saw a stubborn plastic stuck on my luggage’s wheel, he immediately initiated to help me and pulled it off from the wheel.

Breakfast, Swimming and the view of Joanna serenading Josiah

Breakfast, Swimming and the view of Joanna serenading Josiah
(Pardon the iPhone photos. Thanks Tita V for some of the photos taken here.)

Oh and he’s also very charming that young girls like Joanna was very open about admiring him. I was actually entertained by these two during the wedding reception. 😉 Why can’t other men be like this young boy?

 

  1. BONDING MOMENTS WITH THE GIRLFRIENDS

This is my first travel experience abroad with Jacylyn and Anjali. They were so kind in adjusting for me – like when I needed to squeeze in on their beds and all (including the occasional demure snores).

We had a very limited time in Kota Kinabalu after the wedding in Miri but here are the highlights of what we enjoyed together:

(*Kota Kinabalu is about a 50-minute flight from Miri)

 

NANDO’S

Nando's Portuguese Restaurant

Oh lala! We were so giddy when we found out that there’s Nando’s (Portuguese Restaurant) at 1 Borneo Hypermall

Nando's Restaurant

Nando's famous chicken and sauces

Nando’s famous chicken and sauces

Yummy spinach and grilled sweet potato

Yummy spinach and grilled sweet potato

Molten Choco Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

Molten Choco Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

 

ARCHERY

Jacylyn

Jacylyn with her bow and arrow

Jacylyn was the one who got super excited when we saw Stars Archery at 1 Borneo Hypermall. New things also thrill me so we all went to try the sport (lol) with our game face on…well, almost.

Archery

Playing Hunger Games
(Hungry na ako dito, lol!)

Anjali

Anjali trying to focus (after this picture)

JM

It’s moi winking and stretching. This sport is not that easy!

I discovered that archery is not that easy because you need strong arms and the ability to control the bow as you shoot and focus the arrow at your target. It felt like when it was my first time to do Barre3 or Pilates, my arms were starting to jiggle at one point.

I also need to practice winking on both my left and right eye as I’m more comfortable to wink using my left eye more than my right. I need more focus next time. It was so fun that we’re planning to try it again here in Manila. (Any recommendations from you guys are welcome).

“ULAN” IN MALAYSIA

Okay, so it was a bit rainy in Malaysia and we were quite “sabaw” from the lack of sleep and from watching all those fun Jimmy Fallon’s videos. We got inspired so here it is!

Pardon these 3 ladies (Chinese, Indian, and Filipina) who ended up lip-syncing (failed) a known Aegis song “Basang Basa Sa Ulan” when they were in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. These things usually happen when people lack sleep and when its past midnight, right?

This is (NOT) the Rak of Aegis. This is the Lack of Aegis.

*Please pick 720p or HD in the settings (as if that will improve anything in the video, lol).

 “Basang Basa Sa Ulan” (Wet, Wet, Wet in the Rain) by the Aegis

Performed by: “The Lack of Aegis” (Anjali Jolie, Juana-Maria, Jack Lyn)

  1. GOODIES AND FOOD TO TAKE HOME

I love bringing something local and special from my trips. It’s like taking home a taste of that country with you. So from this trip I bought the following:

(Don’t forget to try these things when in Malaysia. I’m sure there are more but here are the simple goodies that I personally tried, which are all good.)

 

Goodies

(1) Famous Amos Cookies – crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth goodness, (2) OldTown White Coffee – super good and creamy 3-in-1 coffee. My personal favorite is hazelnut, (3) Crispy Chicken Floss from Bee Cheng Hiang (not in the picture) – aaah this one is deliciously unforgettable

 

EXTRA TIPS WHEN GOING TO MALAYSIA:

MONEY/CURRENCY

My friends Anjali and Jacylyn gave me a very helpful advice – to order my Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) prior to our flight. You may order your MYR at Sanry’s Foreign Exchange and pick them up a day after. You may need to pay a deposit and pay the remaining pesos the following day.

Of course the exchange rate varies but two weeks ago the conversion rate was PHP/MYR = 14.

HELPFUL APP

An easier way for you to compute whenever you’re traveling is having this app on your phone: XE Currency

WHERE TO STAY

We stayed at Park City Everly Hotel, in Miri Sarawak. Maybe you can still search for a better hotel depending on your budget. The hotel seems old but still nice. Overall, we think that the carpets at this hotel needs to be cleaned and maintained. My friends and I had some occasional allergies from dust and God only knows what other allergens were there.

CitiTel

CitiTel Express Lobby

In Kota Kinabalu, we stayed at Cititel Express. I don’t know what kind of hotel Jacylyn and Anjali stayed in KK prior to this one but this hotel made them both super happy (except for the receptionist who took forever to check us in).

If you’re in a hurry and a trainee welcomes you, just be extra patient and ask for the manager or someone who’s already a regular employee to help you get checked in quicker.

Our room doesn’t have any window but it was clean and the bathroom was spacious enough. We had a nice and affordable stay in this hotel. Don’t expect anything special or 4-star choices at their breakfast buffet. It’s not that bad as you’ll have choices from making your own kaya sandwich, salad and congee, and to curry and rice meals. If you need water, there’s a water dispenser (hot, cold, and warm) in each floors.

GETTING AROUND KOTA KINABALU

I wasn’t able to get around Kota Kinabalu because of my limited time in the city but here’s a creative guide that you can use in planning your visit to KK (courtesy of CitiTel Express).

A creative guide map for kota kinabalu

Things to do and experience in KK

I hope this article helped (and eeer entertained you?) in one way or another.

Do you have any wholesome questions about inspiration, travel, and lifestyle? Send me a message. I would love to answer them on my podcast section. :) Happy Sunday!

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4 Comments

  • September 14, 2014

    Cecilia

    I’m sure our Heavenly Father is delighted to see His beautiful, strong, and empowered Princesses celebrating together. I may need to brush up on my fencing skills along with your archery practice ladies. 😉

    • September 14, 2014

      Joanne-Marie

      Hi Cecilia! I’m sure He is as we were delighted to celebrate together too. 😉 Woah! Fencing? When and where did you learn it? I’m interested to learn both sports. It’s a nice and classy combination!

  • September 19, 2014

    ardyrobertod

    looks like you really had a lot of fun..or too much, based on the video :-/

    • September 19, 2014

      Joanne-Marie

      Hahaha! Kuya Ardy, was it too much? 😉 I like your new website and my photos on it! Yay! Congrats! :)