Monday, April 27, 2015

Stopover at Nabalu Market (Part of Kinabalu Park And Poring Hot Spring Tour) @ Sabah [East Malaysia]

Priscilla, our guide for this day trip to Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Spring, warned us that the drive up to Kinabalu Park would be similar to navigating the winding roads at Cameron Highland and i braced myself by bringing along a few plastic bags; you know, just in case i need to purge.

Turned out it wasn't that bad and i reached the first leg of our journey, Nabalu Market, with a full bladder instead. For non mountain enthusiasts like me, this should be a place you mustn't miss when you visit Kota Kinabalu.

Reason being Kota Kinabalu was best known for its majestic Mount Kinabalu and Nabalu Market happened to provide a panoramic view of the mountain that was most importantly, accessible by motor vehicles.

Pity the top was enveloped by a thick layer of cloud, lending an aura of mystery to the mountain considered as sacred and spiritual by the local tribes.

On a clear, cloudless day, you might be blessed with sightings of the four main peaks of Mount Kinabalu; Alexandra, Low's, St John's and South. Shockingly, Low's Peak is the highest point at 4,095.2 meters.

A panoramic picture for the sake of proving i was there. Honestly, i did consider climbing the mountain but knowing how accident prone i am, there is a higher likelihood i would kill myself. In addition, i could vividly remember my torturous non-summit hike up South Korea's Hallasan!

One of the mountain villages; i have always imagined this would be the ideal place to retire and i have already identified a few places! At the moment, rank number one is Nantou county where Cingjing farm is located.

Enough of the scenery; let's proceed to the market. 

There were quite a few buildings although it was obvious that they were catered for the lucrative tourist sector; i was expecting to see a local market with fishes gasping for breath on a tray of ice and hanging pig heads.  

The adventurous me would have climbed up the tower for a much better vantage spot to take photographs and i would have done so if not for the big "no-entry" sign. 

Back to the market - you can find local cultural handicrafts, nuts, magnets, key chains, small packs of grains and even fruits! I was thinking if the pineapples are the super sweet species known as Sarawak Pineapples. 

If you ask me, i would very much prefer the market at Cameron Highlands which was more a famer's market where you can get fresh vegetables and flowers.

Stalls at Nabalu were closely packed with one another and i didn't venture inside as we were given limited time. It also did seem that products were pretty much the same across stalls. 

My eyes were instead captivated by the beautiful, breathtaking landscape behind the buildings. 

A good retirement plan would entails buying one of the stalls facing the mountain; doing business is secondary and the main priority is to get a comfortable chair overlooking the impressive sight. 

Would you dare to buy cut fruits when you are overseas? I have had quite a few bouts of food poisoning and i am always cautious when it comes to purchasing cut fruits from this kind of stall. Kaoz, the pineapples looked so yellow; must be damn sweet! 

Another building; i didn't manage to cover all the buildings and regretted not hurrying along to check out one that was filled with souvenir stalls!

Magnets and keychains again; you could find plenty of them at cheaper prices at Gaya Street Sunday Market although you may wish to note that quality can be an issue. Choose carefully! 

Trinkets; one of the few things i would not buy back as souvenirs for family and friends. The other things include clothes, shoes, bags, watches etc.

Almost bought the mini guitar for the kids! 

Bananas of varying sizes.

Alex and i pondered for a while on nylon-net thingy; we initially thought they were fish nets but who the hell would fish on a mountain?! Maybe as net for volleyball? It eventually dawned on us that they were hammocks! 

Those afraid of dogs might want to keep in mind of the many dogs we chanced upon at Nabalu market; they were generally harmless and would ignore you unless you are holding on food. 

The most amazing thing happened to me; a tiny ladybird landed on my finger! Isn't it weird that the last time i saw a ladybird (after a long hiatus) was also at a mountain. Maybe it's a sign. 

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For the summarised itinerary of my 7 days, 6 nights Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) trip, please click here

Sunday, April 26, 2015

JPot DBS Set Lunch - Quality Steamboat in Individual Pot @ Vivo City [Singapore]

Singapore is infamous for its hot and humid weather but this disadvantage fails to deter many of its residents from embracing steamboat, giving rise to its popularity in the last decade.

This rise would not sit well with hygienists as steamboat usually entails sharing a pot of soup, raw ingredients where individuals might accidentally / carelessly contaminate the food with their own utensils. This is when JPot steps in! 

Offering individual pot for each person, the risk of contamination was greatly reduced. By the way, JPot is an abbreviation of Jumbo Pot i think since the restaurant was from the local JUMBO Group of Restaurants.

Have a large group? No worries as the biggest round table in JPot (Vivocity) can accommodate sixteen persons! 

As Joyce was a cardholder of DBS (Development Bank of Singapore), she decided to pick up the tab for the 1 for 1 DBS Set Lunch as my birthday treat (promotion valid till 31 May 2015 and payment must be made by DBS/POSB Credit or Debit Card). 

Ala-carte items were available but not knowing what to have can be torturing; hence, i absolutely love the idea of a set lunch where there was a little of all popular ingredients. Furthermore, ordering ala-carte can be utterly expensive!

While waiting for the ingredients, check out the 'dips' section for its beautifully placed sauces and condiments! Fret not if you are unsure what to do.

There was a helpful "recipe" for you to follow!

I am a boring man as i always stick to my personalised recipe; sesame sauce, peanut sauce topped with a generous amount of spring onions and sesame seeds. 

Next up was the "drinks" section. Hot and iced water would not be charged; if you prefer to have soft drinks, coffee, home-made barley and luohan longan tea, you may fork out S$3.80 (subject to GST and service charge) per person for free flow drinks! 

Our soups! Right was Tom Yum while left was Herbal; aside from the aforementioned two soup bases, there were also superior broth, laksa, silky porridge and vegetarian.

Fried beancurd skin and fried fish skin combination; in my opinion, i would opt to have raw ingredients instead of cooked food for steamboat. Also, they were not to my liking. 

The raw ingredients as part of the set; seafood, vegetables, meat and the carbohydrates (steamed rice wasn't in the picture as i figured you would know how steamed white rice look like). :P 

Let's start the feast! As far as soup base was concerned, i preferred the tom yum which did a better job in bringing out the flavour of the raw ingredients. Mom had the silky porridge; she liked it while i disliked it for its blandness. Superior broth was the most normal among the four bases we had that day. 

Seafood was fresh, specifically the live prawns which were still swimming in the tanks before they were cruelly slaughtered for mankind's greedy taste buds. 

Kurobuta Pork and Beef Short Ribs didn't disappoint although i figured i would have a much better deal (and a filling meal too) at Suki-Ya with its unlimited thinly sliced meat. 

Concluded the meal with instant noodles in Tom Yum! As the noodles came late and the three ladies had shared the steamed rice, the onus was on me to finish the noodles. Shiok ah! 

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Location
1 HarbourFront Walk #01-53,
VivoCity (Lobby F) [Near Sentosa Boardwalk]

Branches
As above. There was a new branch at Marina Parade and its address was as follows; 80 Marine Parade Road, #B-17 (Beside Watsons).

Website

Price
DBS Lunch Set Menu - S$34.80
[Subject to GST and Service Charge]

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