To celebrate the 50 years anniversary of the founding of their association, ASEAN have organised some special itineraries for bloggers through some of the most beautiful Asian destinations.
This has been for me a really adventurous and mind-blowing experience and I am really excited to share my trip to Malaysia and the Philippines.
Kota Kinabalu – Day 1
The first destination of my adventure was Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah situated in the northern state of the Malaysian state of Borneo. I arrived late in the evening after a long journey and went straight to bed so that I could be up early in the morning for the my transfer Sandakan.
Sepilok – Day 2
After my transfer it was time for me to visit the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which aims to increase awareness of the little-known bear species named after the crescent shaped of fur on their chest that matches the rising sun.
Here we saw the beautiful orphan sun bears (the smallest bears in the world) that were being rehabilitated so that they could be released in the wild again. I even saw two playing together, they were so cute! It is so sad that they are endangered because part of their bile is used by Chinese medicine to cure heart diseases.
After this cuteness overload, it was time to meet the most famous Borneo inhabitants. We walked to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, just in time for the morning feeding session. It was fascinating to see how much their behaviour is similar to us humans. We even had time to witness a theft! A gibbon came out of nowhere to steal all of the bananas and ran away with them. The Orangutans were heartbroken!
After this lovely morning, we headed off to the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort, which is situated in the lush and wildlife-rich Kinabatangan rainforest. We went on a boat safari trip in search of wildlife and I spotted the cutest animals, which included proboscis monkeys, hornbills, gibbons and many beautiful birds. If you ever go to this resort, I totally recommend the night safari and the sunrise one as you will spot so many beautiful animals. For example, you can spot baby alligators in the evening trying to eat fish that are 3 times their size!
Sepilok – Day 3
I woke up at 6am to find a deer and some piglets right outside my room, they were soooo cute! We headed off to visit a fishing village to buy so fresh local fish that our chef cooked for us. I picked the blue river prawns, they were the size of a lobster (and absolutely delicious!).
The experience at the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort was really unique. We had no wifi or phones, and we were basically tucked in the wildness, living like the locals.
Manila – Day 4
In the morning, we were transferred to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Here we stayed at the legendary Manila Hotel, which has welcomed a number of historical figures, such as Michael Jackson, John Kennedy and Ernest Hemingway. They even have a museum where they keep all the pictures and letters!
After a relaxing afternoon taking pictures around the hotel, it was time their world famous buffet. I swear, you will never see anything like it. It was massive, and it included cuisine from all over the world: Italian, Chinese, Japanese, French and anything you can think of (see pictures to believe!)
Manila/Bohol – Day 5
I woke up to the most amazing breakfast and headed off to a short city tour of Manila Intramuros, which was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century and is the oldest district of Manila. As part of the Intramuros, we visited Fort Santiago, which was built as the main defense fortress during the Spanish colonisation, and Casa Manila Museum, which has the prettiest courtyard (we couldn’t stop taking pictures!). We finished the tour with a visit to the San Augustin church and stopped for a San Miguel beer tasting.
Following this really interesting tour, we headed off to Panglao Island to reach the South Palms Beach Resort for dinner and a little bit of relax.
Bohol/Chocolate Hills – Day 6
The South Palms Beach Resort was a real bliss. It is situated on a long stretch of white sand beach and crystal clear water, making it an absolute paradise. My room was facing the ocean directly and I witnessed the most beautiful sunset. Also, the food was amazing and the fish was incredibly fresh and tasty.
We took some stunning pictures and we headed off to the Chocolate Hills, which are probably Bohol’s most famous tourist attraction. Their name comes from the fact that the 1268 hills are covered in grass that becomes chocolate brown after the dry season. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed that there was no chocolate growing on these hills!
It was getting late, but fortunately we still had time to visit the Tarsier Rehabilitation Centre and the Butterfly Farm. The Tarsiers are so cute, have you ever seen one? The ones living in this centre were rescued from families who kept them illegally as pets, which led them to serious depression!
We ended this intense (but amazing) day with a late dinner on a boat cruising the Loboc River.
Manila/London – Day 7
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and it was time for me to go home. I have learnt so many new things during this adventure and I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to learn more about wildlife, about Asian culture and eat some truly amazing food. Thank you ASEAN for making this possible and once again congratulations for your 50 years.