Brunei Darussalam


The number of Brunei cars seen throughout Kota Kinabalu this holiday season was, to put  it mildly, anything but a surprise. I commented in the previous post that shopping wasn’t necessarily a motivation for the KK getaway as we already had a shopping marathon in Singapore not too long ago. This was my second visit having driven there the first time and I swore never to drive again—if I wanted to, I could hop on to my car and ping-pong between Seria and BSB six times and the numbing effect would have been quite similar!

I met up with Jonathan of Breeze Magazine at Starbucks (yes, everything happens there for some reason) and got acquainted with photographer Gerry. After checking out the night scene there, having checked out Cocoon, Rumba, Bluenote and eventually settled at the Terrace right outside of Shenanigans at the Hyatt. It was at the Terrace where we discovered Frangelico, 20% hazelnut liqueur. I love the illuminated  rocky wall where I posed the bottle against and took this shot with Gerry’s 40D. Don’t you love how all the liqueur always have some legendary story that goes like this …

According to the legend, Frangelico lived three centuries ago in the hilly area bound by the right bank of the river Po … he lived as a hermit and through his love of nature and knowledge of its secrets created unique recipes for liqueurs.

↑ Hmm, I live in Seria (to many, that has similarities to being solitary), I have love of nature and have some knowledge of its allure but not its secrets, yet … producing alcohol only gonna land me in prison—not sure if you’d consider that legendary! Safer to stick to my love for coffee.

↓ At 1 BORNEO, the crowd gathered at the Centre Atrium where hundreds of shoppers looked on from every floor. As I’ve remarked elsewhere, shopping in Malaysia isn’t cheap perhaps the variety and availability more than anything but prices just aren’t captivatingly attractive. When it comes to designer clothing, Singapore is a better shopping destination though from personal exprience, prices in Hong Kong during a sale make Singapore sale look like a rip-off !

Strategic to 1 BORNEO are a number of hotels where apparently many more Bruneians stayed evident by the number of Brunei cars that are parked inside the hotel picket line. Pictured below is one of many budget accommodations operated by the same folks who run the highly successful budget airlines, Air Asia, of the same signature colour scheme.

BUTTON TALK by Levis?  It never ceases to amaze me how many different combination of words from the English vocabulary marketing folks are able to pull off from season to season.

I have always preferred to roam for the convenience of maintaining a single point of contact in spite of higher tariffs. However, an incident that occurred at the worse possible time changed my mind. I was running a rather tight schedule holidaying with my family and organizing meetings with business contacts while in KK. One of such meetings was with Louis Pang whom we had agreed to meet but because I was moving around KK so much I had to keep Louis updated just in case I had to reschedule. An hour before we were due to meet (see text message below), my Brunei lined was barred and I lost connectivity in the entire time Louis tried to reach me to confirm the meet at Starbucks. I had no choice but to get a DiGi line after my meeting with Louis.


I reached Starbucks at 4 pm, ordered a blueberry cheesecake and a name of an ice blended drink whose name escapes me now.  I managed to sign on to to Starbucks Wifi and got Jonathan to help me call Louis to let him know that coffee was definitely on and that I had arrived. So Louis and I finally met for the first time after over a year of IM-ing. Cutting a long story short, we talked about the Brunei Workshop, we exchanged stories and we talked some more and before we went our separate ways, I asked a Starbucks patron for this picture who was waiting in line for his drink. Which one is Louis Pang? (hint: not the one next to the lamp).

I hadn’t really left Starbucks as I was also supposed to have coffee with Steven Goh but he wasn’t available until much later so we called it off. I visited TIMES book store next door and took this picture as I left, took a shot through the window before I made my way to dinner at a nearby FISH & CO outlet for delicious fish and chips in a pan. “One Bite and You’re Hooked” is their slogan—worth a try if you’ve never had it before.

BIG APPLE DONUTS. The first time I came across the name was when my wife brought back these delicious donuts after her successful Mount Kinabalu climb. There is no shortage of food and shopping at Warisan Square or anywhere in KK for that matter.

Later that evening, I joined my in-laws and we were brought to a pub for a night of drinking and entertainment. I later learnt that a brawl broke out shortly after we left. My first drink was coke but later switched to Heineken even though I cannot stand the taste of beer or alcohol for that matter.

It was close to midnight when we left the pub and back home, I would not think about grabbing food but I made an exception and we all had more than one helping of their delicious porridge. Just take a look at how packed the place is at midnight. Was I wrong when I said KK’s economy was thriving?

Jesselton Point Jetty—the gateway to the islands and the open seas!

↑ Leaving Jesselton Point Jetty. The journey to picturesque and fun filled Manukan Island ↓

This holiday season, and you’ll just have to trust me when I say there were beautiful people everywhere you looked. I think they’re more affectionately referred to as hotties and I’m not referring to the soaring temperatures on the beach.

↓ Many thanks Mel for lending me your side profile and those shades.
Hope you enjoyed Manukan Island as much as we did.


↓ My brother-in-law and his wife were the first of a group of three to go on the para gliding experience. I was offered a chance but gladly turned it down because the one key experience I’m taking home with me is the opportunity to shoot para-gliding where the strong winds, rough waters and restrictive space were a factor and not forgetting the EOS 20D and early generation EF 28-135mm lens were other factors. My next trip abroad, only L lenses!

↓ The only two things holding the people against the elements are a strong hinge and rope that resembles those used by mountaineers.

↓ My sister-in-law and her niece were the last group to get swept off their feet and excitement quickly replaced initial fear of the unknown


Waves of visitors just kept coming to the island. Amazing traffic at this time of the year that rivals that of Sentosa Island in Singapore and the sort of traffic we need at the Ulu Ulu Resort in Temburong.

A little girl from Kuala Lumpur was stung by jellyfish while playing in the shallow waters. She was in so much pain her screams rippled through the air. I happened to be back at our table when this occurred and I wanted these pictures to remind travellers not to take clear and innocent looking waters for granted. I learnt from the locals that two years ago, a young Korean girl died from jelly fish stings around the stomach. One of the guides said it’s safer and the sting less painful if swimmers had full body suit on instead of a bikini. Just earlier, my wife and kids were playing in the same area but it was my sister in law who went snorkeling and got stung on her arm.

When these pictures first appeared, I was promptly asked if anyone urinated on the affected area to ease the sting. I was taken aback at first thinking how on earth would it be practical to have someone pee on the burns in a public area not to mention totally rude and adding insults to an injured victim. Today, vinegar is used instead and it was suggested that when vinegar is applied together with cold charcoal ash, the burn marks are said to disappear quicker.

↓ Had this couple been the only people in the picture, it would have been almost a scan off a brochure.

I read a report about health risks that increases exponentially with the use of Sishas (also called bongs) compared to regular tobacco smoking. Interesting and colourful ways to shorten one’s life like a death orgy!

I just had to take a photo of this—a 5 Litre Heineken DRAUGHT Keg that I came across at a relations residence. There was not one but a number of these large cannisters that they would make great door stoppers or overly huge paper weight. One  keg alone violates Brunei customs of a maximum of 6 cans of beer! Hahahah and there’s no way anyone can hide this anywhere. I have to say I had not seen anything like it previously.

↓ Check out also Gayana Eco Resort in an exclusive feature.

↓ On the way to the airport, we stopped by Burger King for take outs and lion dance marked the grand opening of TEXAS  Restaurant and Bar. I visited it twice this trip not realizing that it’s a new establishment.

35 thoughts on “DOING KOTA KINABALU

  1. Great pix on the life of tourist. Bet you have fun down there… Compare to Brunei, the people there (including tourist) are buzzing with activities…


  2. 3yrs back when me and a friend drove to KK for Christmas, the queue at KL is so long that basically we are just 50m away from the roundabout petrol station. Since then, i have never drive to KK during this time. What’s the story in pic 16 & 17?


  3. Excellent set, the last few shots were taken at Gayana? Including the Lili lingerie? xD

    I like how clear your sea shots turn out. I use Polarizer during my trip, bad idea, I got my PL in a rush and didn’t do my research. =\ should had gotten myself CPL instead.

    Nice photo with Louis Pang, =)


  4. Lovely pictures.

    By the way, are you planning to do another proper post of Gayana – would like to see more pictures as I have not been there for years.

    And that super bright snack place is less than 5km from my house in an area called Foh Sang. Lots of excellent simple kopi tiam eateries there but parking is dreadful!


  5. Beautiful photos, my favourite is the one where you can see the fish clearly in the water (beside the bridge) … reminds me of the cenotes in Mexico… crystal clear waters and very curious fish! 😀


  6. From the pictures, I would think you were here shooting for our tourism board rather than having a holiday. You pictures make Kota Kinabalu (my home) looks FABULOUS. It was great meeting you FINALLY. Wish we had more time so we could do dinner together with your family. Another time then 🙂


  7. I got the 5L keg from Kuala lurah…selling at bnd$ is considered as half a case of beer 🙂 Got 3 kegs. Awesome memorabilia for the beer drinkers!


  8. Jan, your boyish look makes you look younger then your friend. Although he might be younger in term of age. What are your beauty secrets? Anything to do with living in Brunei? or Izzit the Heineken Beer you drink or the Lilli lingerie you wear? 😛


  9. Thanks everyone!

    Posts like this that are very long, I tend to prioritize the pictures before the words so there’s a tendency to leave people with unanswered questions when the answers would come eventually when I have a chance to write my posts.

    David, my beauty secret is that I keep no secrets, definitely has something to do with my living in Brunei and absolutely nothing to do with beer or lingerie I don’t wear 😀

    Yet, in spite of the weaker currency, the KK scene excites me and I see myself drawn to do some work there. The same can be said for Singapore, both of these destinations require no visa for a Permanent Resident like me to travel to. Where Nokia Connects People, I like to think that SHIMWORLD Connects Worlds.


  10. Hey Jan Shim,
    As we are planning a trip to kota kinabalu…hence landed on your blog….OH MY GOD you are one amazing photographer…Awesome Pictures!!!! how do you do that? They are just too good!!!
    I am also looking forward to buy a SLR still confused between Canon and Nikon.


  11. Thank you very much Juhi. I’m getting ready for a wedding shoot and will be out for most part of the day. I look forward to sharing some thoughts about the photographs and also help you, if I can, decide on the camera. But you should know that I’m 100% Canon so I may be biased, or may not be entirely.

    Have a good weekend 🙂


  12. That is a nice shots of Sabah you have there. Like louis said, your shots is more like what our tourism board would use for their promo. Hope to see you in the near future.


  13. Jollence,

    I hope you had a good time conducting the Nikon Workshop in Brunei. Among the participants was a former colleague and friend of mine who is new to DSLR. I like KK a lot and hope to do some work there this year.

    As for the pictures, I guess it’s the influence from my many commercial portfolio—I instinctively compose them the way I thought corporate clients and visitors would appreciate.


  14. Can I ask you regarding ur equipment .
    What SLR are you using & what type of lens ?
    Thanks for inspiring me new idea in photography!


  15. Of course you can (ask) but whether or not I’ll tell is another thing. Just messing with you! If you looked at my Tech Stuff page you’ll have more than just an idea of what I use.

    I don’t mind questions about my personal gear but please do not ask me which brand is better—with the advancement in camera technology today, there isn’t a clear answer anymore. I’m actually glad that the two most popular brands Canon and Nikon are equally capable equipment now (two years ago this wasn’t the case).

    Onus is now on the person holding the camera to take great pictures and people should stop crediting the camera and instead credit the photographer for having the ‘eye’ for the shot!


  16. KK – sounded boring to me and I never even planned to visit, approached countless of times, heaps of planning & discussion, But I still wasnt really hyped up abt it. HOWEVER after seeing what you have here, OMG Im booked for a trip there now. Thanks to you JAN!!! Final Countdown! 🙂


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