Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Valentine's Day Date: Camping at Pulau Mamutik

Our second Valentine's Day together and we still haven't celebrated it over a romantic candle-lit dinner in a swanky resto. As a backpacker couple, we have more than a dozen other mushy ideas of our own. And yes, camping is one of them.

Our tent, Hurley. His first trip overseas.

Although we weren't able to secure a permit from the Sabah Parks Office to camp at Pulau Mamutik, we still checked out of Summer Lodge. We'll be camping for one night only, and will be back in mainland the next day so we reserved for another double room. And since they have a luggage storage area, we left one of our backpacks including Shervin's laptop. We still brought our tent, just in case we'll be allowed to camp.

Once again, Shervin and I picked up Gabe and Nadge from Kinabalu Daya Hotel. From there, it's just a 15-20 minute walk to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal. Along the way, we stopped by a supermarket to buy drinks and a small restaurant (where I saw Family's Brand sardines being served!) to buy take away nasi goreng and mee goreng for lunch.

A ferry/speedboat ride to one of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park's islands is RM13 (RM17 if you're staying overnight). Just add RM10 if you want to visit two. Aside from this, you need to pay RM6 for 'government tax' (like terminal fee) plus RM10 park admission fee (already good for all the islands).

The first time we visited this national park 9 months ago, we hopped from Pulau Sapi to Pulau Mamutik. Pulau Sapi is much nicer but we chose to go to Pulau Mamutik again so we could camp overnight (though Gabe and Nadge will be leaving us in the afternoon).

Our speedboat only took 15 minutes to get to the island. The park's admin office is stationed on the dock. We paid RM10 each admission fee and asked for permission to camp overnight. Overnight camp fee is RM5 per person. Tents are also for rent, RM30-40 depending on the size.

Pulau Mamutik offers a barbecue lunch buffet, which costs a whopping RM45 - the price according to a Filipino we met who's working for a parasail operator. Now if you're not willing to splurge like most Koreans (who usually belong to a tour group, the food might be part of their package anyway), you can dine in Mamutik Cafe. Meals are at an affordable RM7-8.

Left: Upon docking. Buy/present admission tickets at the entrance. Right: With Gabe my sis, this is our second overseas trip together!

As I've mentioned earlier, we still bought takeaway lunch in Kota Kinabalu center where nasi goreng and mee goreng are only RM4-5. We ate under a tree shade, seated on our sarongs. The shore was full of locals since it was a Saturday. And a lot of them were probably celebrating the last day of the Year of the Ox. Muslim women clad in loose shirts, jogging pants and hijab (headscarf) were happily snorkeling. How difficult it must be to swim in those layers of clothing! I was very amused.

We only did a short swim in the afternoon. Actually, more like just a dip. I was seven weeks pregnant. Even though swimming is a recommended low impact exercise (of course without diving and jumping into the water) for soon to be moms, I still would rather not move much.

5:00 PM is the last trip for day trippers to go back to mainland. Gabe and Nadge bid their goodbyes at quarter to 5 to start looking for their speedboat. The crowd finally thinned. We pitched our tent on the far end of the shore near a hike trail.

Left: Shervin pitching. Got the beach to ourselves. Right: Sitting on a fallen tree branch. Not too high, no need to worry about preggy me.

Soon after, the sun began to set. Half hour more, it was already pitch dark on our side of the island. Aside from us, there were a few other foreigners who stayed. They were housed under a huge tent, and were probably part of a dive group. There's one operator on the island.

Cool breeze swept in our tent. The rustle of the waves hummed us to sleep. We awoke just before midnight. The loud cracks and bangs by firecrackers from the mainland echoed in the stillness of the night. Kota Kinabalu was celebrating Chinese New Year, and maybe Valentine's Day too since they're on the same date.

I zipped our tent open and saw fireworks from afar. What a beautiful night. Sherv unwrapped our left over nasi goreng and mee goreng, we haven't had dinner. I looked up and saw the sky sparsely dotted with stars. Such romantic date, I thought to myself. And our soon to be baby's already with us.

It was briefly spoiled when we noticed that the water suddenly rose to a high tide. Leaving our tent just a meter and a half away from getting soaked. We didn't want to move more inland because the pseudo jungle behind us is a home for monitor lizards (we've seen them lurking earlier). Thank goodness after an hour, the water did not advance further.

Now fast forward 10 hours, we've already packed our bag and were hanging out Mamutik Cafe. Boatmen said that the first trip back to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal is 1:00 PM. I was constantly nauseous that morning. Perhaps it was the unbearable heat, or maybe it's just the pregnancy. Shervin told the park admin that I was feeling sick and we needed to go back to mainland as soon as possible.

Pinay Travel Junkie confession: I kind of exaggerated being dizzy and pretended to be really sick so we can make it to a Couchsurfer's New Year luncheon gathering. Still, we got on a 12 noon trip.


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The Nomadic Pinoy said...
May 2, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Camping I think even kicks it up a notch over your typical candle-lit dinner in a resto. The solitude of it all, wow, who knows what happens beneath those nylon covers?

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
May 3, 2010 at 1:26 AM

Haha! Exactly Dennis. Solitude = romance.

liz said...
May 4, 2010 at 6:58 AM

are you preggy already in this pic??? how nice! :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
May 4, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Hi Liz! Yup, but just almost 2 months pregnant. So I was still skinny. I'm starting to balloon now!

Gallivanter said...
May 4, 2010 at 6:25 PM

I love Sabah! Ole! :-)

pinoy boy journals said...
May 6, 2010 at 6:35 AM

coming from a story writer POV, this one is romantic!!! pitched tents in kota kinabalu. monitor lizards. jungle. fireworks display. with the man you love and the baby to be. awesome moment here gaye!!! i like this post a lot!!!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
May 6, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Thanks Jerik. That V-day celebration was indeed romantic. It felt like the island was our own.

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