Discover your chi in resort city
IT’S hard not to be enchanted by Borneo from the moment you lay eyes on it. The SouthEast Asian island is split into three nations – Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
Malaysian Borneo is then split into the states of Sabah and Sarawak, with Kota Kinabalu Sabah’s capital. And KK, as it’s colloquially known, puts on a show from the get go.
The city’s airport backs right on to the turquoise ocean, tempting you to jump in.
Just a 45-minute shuttle ride from the CBD is Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria resort, one of the chain’s two hotels in KK, and a place of rest and relaxation. We start our visit to the luxury resort by hanging out with its most popular attraction – the baby orang-utans.
Rasa Ria is surrounded by 160ha of rainforest and within its grounds is a 25ha nature reserve, a joint project with the Department of Wildlife.
The reserve is home to four orphaned orang-utans Tenten, Itinban, Kolapis, and Wulan. There, the animals are trained for eventual release into the rainforest.
Guests can watch the young orang-utans feed twice daily for a fee. Human contact is kept to a minimum to help with their rehabilitation, but being in the presence of the rare creatures was still an amazing experience.
Afterwards, it was to the resort’s spa, Chi, for a one-hour traditional massage.
I’m going to be honest – I’ve never had a massage before because the concept felt a bit weird to me.
However after this experience, I’m a convert. The massage was relaxing and soothing, and I wish it went on forever.
The evening only got better with a sunset river cruise before dinner at the resort’s Indian restaurant Naan. Word of advice – try the lobster masala, it’s out of this world.
As comfortable as the kingsize bed was, there was no rest for the wicked and at 6.30am the next day our group is hiking up a hill for breakfast.
The exercise is worth it. We reach the peak for our summit breakfast, in awe of the view of the sun rising over Mt Kinabalu and of the tales our guide Adrian Zeno Uloi tells us of head hunters and wedding traditions while we dig in to fresh fruit and pastries.
Our wildlife adventures don’t end there. It’s then into town to catch a ferry to Sepanggar Island for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Dubbed “Discover Scuba”,