Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Kota Kinabalu

My 12 day trip to Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and Borneo (Kota Kinabalu) was full of sightseeing, partying, relaxation and adventure. It is convenient that David lives in Singapore now so there’s always a good excuse to go back to visit him! I based myself there and did a 4 day trip to Hong Kong/Macau and a 4 day trip to Kota Kinabalu to climb Mount Kinabalu.
 
Singapore
It is my 5th time in Singapore now so I feel like I’ve done most of the touristy things so I was keen to eat my way through the city. 
 
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork was one of my first meals and went there for their bak chor mee (minced meat noodles) – it’s extremely popular with the locals and even by 11am, there was a line.
 
Walked around Arab Street and saw Masjid Sultan (mosque) and walked along the lanes with their cool street art. Walked through Gardens by the Bay which had cool futuristic looking trees and then headed to Somerset/Orchard to do some shopping.
 
No Signboard Restaurant in Geylang is a must in Singapore – I had been craving the chilli crab and it was delicious!
 
Gardens by the Bay
Chilli Crab
Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures and is full of diversity. There is a huge expat community here and it is definitely a city I would consider for work as there are lots of opportunities. 

I took an early morning flight into Hong Kong and by 6:30am, I was already at my hotel in Sheung Wan to drop off my bag. Took the MTR to Jordan and headed to The Australia Dairy Co. for some breakfast. Their “breakfast set” consisted of ham and macaroni, scrambled eggs and 2 thick pieces of toast plus milk tea. It is a typical Hong Kong style cafe and by 7:30am, it had reached capacity and was bustling.


Hong Kong styled breakfast
Walked around Kowloon Park, The Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui and walked along the harbour front with the skyline. Headed to Mong Kok for the Ladies Market and the Flower Market. Went to Causeway Bay to do some shopping. I was recommended to go to Kau Kee for lunch and by 12:10pm, there was a massive line to get in (they opened at 12:30pm). However when it hit 12:30pm, the line went quickly. I shared a table upstairs with some randoms and I ordered the beef brisket with e-fu noodles – it was incredible! Very much recommended to go for a good, cheap bowl of noodles (HK$45). 

Streets of Mong Kok
Flower Market
Avenue of the Stars
Kau Kee noodles
I caught the tram up to Victoria Peak and the views from the top were fantastic although foggy. The tram costs HK$28 one way with an octopus card so if you want to save some money, the bus is a better option (only HK$10). 

View from Victoria Peak
The Central-Mid Levels escalator is definitely worth checking out and were very cool. It is the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system and it makes sense to place it in Hong Kong as some parts are steep and very hilly.
At night, headed back to the Avenue of Stars for the Symphony of Lights show at 8pm. The skyline at night is even more stunning with the coloured lights. This was all in just one day and by the end of the day I was exhausted!

                                                      Hong Kong skyline at night
Macau

I did a day trip to Macau from Hong Kong and caught the Turbojet across. It takes approximately 55 minutes so it’s a quick ride. Got to the ferry terminal and caught the bus to Senado Square, 

Ruins of St Paul’s and explored the area. Went to Margaret’s Cafe e Nata for the famous Portuguese egg tarts which cost $8 and was tasty!

The best way to get around in Macau is to catch the free shuttle buses from the casinos. I caught the bus from The Sands to The Venetian and then explored Taipa Village. There were lots of old buildings and Portuguese style architecture.

 

 
Senado Square
Ruin of St Paul’s
Famous Portuguese Tarts
Park near Taipa Village
Hong Kong
I got back to Hong Kong in the evening and Jen was ready to take me out. We went to Tsim Sha Tsui to the Intercontinental to Ozone Bar which is located on the 118th floor and apparently the tallest bar in the world. We shared a bottle of vevue cliquot and had some food and the nighttime view towards Hong Kong Island was amazing! We headed to another rooftop bar, Sugar in Taikoo for more cocktails and food. Later, we headed to Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) which is the party area of HK. I was going to buy drinks but it was ladies night so all girls drank for free! It was a lot of fun partying there!

Champagne with Jen
Food and venue at Ozone Bar
Cocktails at Sugar
Food and drinks at Sugar
The next day was terrible but Jen picked me up to go to lunch at the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant. We had  a variety of delicious dumplings, pork buns, eel and BBQ pork.

On the ferry to Jumbo
At Jumbo Restaurant

Jen showed me her new apartment and then I headed off to Stanley. Checked out Stanley Markets and walked around the area. It’s a really nice waterfront area.

Sunset at Stanley
Murray House in Stanley
I got back to Sheung Wan by bus and got ready and met Jenny (who I met on exchange in Aarhus) for dinner and drinks. She took me to a local restaurant and we had some good food and I also tried the pineapple bun. We headed to LKF for drinks and went to Billiard bar, a shisha bar, Play Club and a few other bars around.

Delicious local food!
Jenny & I

We partied til 4:30am and I went back to my hotel, had a shower then caught a taxi to the airport. I finally got my sleep on the 3.5 hour flight back to Singapore.

Singapore

I came back to Singapore on Saturday and had dinner with David at Tim Ho Wan in Lavender. THW is the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant so it is very well priced. Luckily we didn’t have to wait in line but apparently you can wait over an hour to get a seat.

We ordered 10 different dishes which was a bit over ambitious for the two of us but we tried a variety of dishes including prawn dumplings, spinach and vegetarian dumplings, BBQ pork and prawn vermicelli noodle, BBQ pork buns which were all delicious!

                                                                  Tim Ho Wan feast

After, met up with Lauren and Lukas at their hotel and we pre drank before heading to Piedra Negra where we drank strawberry daiquiris. We headed to Zouk club after and got bottle service and danced the night away. I backed it up with 3 big nights in a row so I was exhausted by the end of it!

Beers & cocktails
Bottle service at Zouk
The next day went to Hai Di Lao hot pot with David and his friends and had a variety of beef, vegetables, dumplings and fish balls in 2 different broths – one was super hot Schezuan chilli flavour and one was like a chicken mushroom flavour. At one point the chilli one was too much. All in all, it was good.
Hai Di Lao hot pot
Kota Kinabalu

On Sunday afternoon, I left Singapore and took a 2 hour flight to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo. I stayed at

Masada Backpackers which was located well in the city centre and very close to the bus station. The next morning, I caught a shared taxi to Kinabalu Park which took about 2 hours. I registered, organised a guide (Alex), permit and insurance there and started the hike around 9:30am from the Timpohon Gate.

It took me around 3 hours 40 minutes to reach Laban Rata which is the 6km mark and 3,270m high. Apparently it takes between 3 to 6 hours to get there but it depends on your fitness level and speed. You walk through lush rainforest and it is still

a tough course with lots of big stairs and a steep incline pretty much all the way up. Altitude affected me around the 5km mark so I took it very slow.

Scenery up to Laban Rata
Track up to Laban Rata
First day of the hike

When we reached Laban Rata, I went to my lodge and took a nap as dinner was served from 4:30pm. It started bucketing down with rain when I went to dinner which wasn’t pleasant! The dinner was buffet style and I had a variety of meats, vegetables, noodles and rice which was satisfying. We played card games for a while and then headed to bed around 7:30pm. I found it hard to fall asleep as it was fairly cold and because it was harder to breathe as the air is thinner.

The next morning I was up by 1:30am and went down for supper at 2am. I wasn’t feeling great but ate some food to get my energy up. I left at 2:40am and headed up to the summit. Luckily it wasn’t raining and not too cold but trail was still very wet. The first 500m up was a challenge for me as I was experiencing some altitude sickness but I took some nurofen and was feeling better. We had to climb up steep rock faces using ropes and then there was gradually steep ascent up on naked granite rock. I took it nice and slowly and it took 2.5 hours to get to the summit (4,095.2m). When I reached the summit, I felt a huge sense of achievement! We enjoyed the sunset and slowly made our way back down to Laban Rata.
                                       Steep rock faces we had to climb using rope
Sunrise – absolutely spectacular!

At the summit!
Got back to Laban Rata and had breakfast and rested for a while before going back to Timpohon Gate. It was easy to go down and took only 2 hours. My guide kept telling me “you are a very strong girl” which was pretty hilarious as he was trying to catch up to me. Back at the Park entrance, had a buffet lunch and then headed back to Kota Kinabalu by taxi.
                              On the way down from the summit back to Laban Rata

All up, the hike cost me 757 RMB (approximately $255).

Breakdown below:

330 RMB – accommodation for 1 night plus 5 meals 
25 RMB – shared taxi to Mount Kinabalu Park
15 RMB – park entrance
107 RMB – permit & insurance
150 RMB – guide fee for 1 person (you can split the costs if you share with others)
130 RMB – taxi back to Kota Kinabalu (biggest cost as I couldn’t find a shared taxi back)

I think by doing it yourself, it is one of the best and cheapest ways to do it. The only thing I pre-booked is the accommodation which is advised especially since there is only a limited number of accommodation in Laban Rata. Lots of people I spoke to were paying double what I paid by booking it as a tour. Anyone can do this hike as you can take it really slowly but you definitely need a good general level of fitness.

End of the hike woohoo
I met a great bunch of Aussies, Norwegians, Belgian and Austrian on the hike. We met up back at Kota Kinabalu and went to the Night Markets to have a seafood feast plus went for beer tower which was well deserved after completing Mount Kinabalu! 
 
Beer tower

The next morning I spent eating roti canai (SO cheap at just RMB1.50) at Choice Restaurant and walked around the harbourfront of Kota Kinabalu. My muscles started to hurt and it was a nightmare to walk up and down the stairs. I was in pain for a few days!

Singapore
Came back to Singapore and went back to David’s to drop my stuff off then met Lauren, Lukas, Johanna and Marcus at Newton Hawker Markets. We shared Hainese chicken rice, beef and chicken skewers, vegetables and hokkien noodles and had a bit of a feast. Lauren and I then headed to The Tippling Club in Tanjong Pagar for some awesome cocktails. It is a cool restaurant/bar with a great cocktail list. Headed to The Library which is a hidden bar which requires a password to gain access, and had another cocktail. When the Library closed, we headed to Fordham & Grant with the other bartenders and made some new friends along the way.

                                                                    Hawker food
The “Purple Drank” and “Juniper Sling”

On my last day of Singapore, Lauz and I went to The Study to have a lunch with new friend, head chef Ayo. The menu is British inspired and we got really looked after. The entree consisted of iberico pork and foie gras scotch egg, pickled beetroot, roasted asparagus and capers and it was the best scotch egg I’ve ever had! The heirloom tomato salad, truffle burrata, sherry shallot vinegar with black olive was light and fresh. The main was a beef burger with bacon, cheese and caramelised onion, English ale snapper fish and chips and the stand out dish was roasted pumpkin, truffle potato gnocchi, kale and basil pesto – the flavours married together perfectly! All the meals tasted amazing and was top notch!

Entrees
Head chef Ayo
Mains
Dessert

In the evening, met up with Olivia at Plaza Singapura and went to Tsukada Noko for Japanese hot pot. There was a long line and we waited close to an hour but it was worth it! It was lovely to catch up with Olivia again.

Olivia & I

Singapore it was a blast – see you back in May!

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