Best TV series of 2017

It's that time of the year again for me to showcase some of the best TV series that I've watched all throughout this year. This year the list features some pretty cool novel and comic adapted TV series and a few original series made for the small screen.

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime)

Imagine if Hitler’s Germany and Japan who had won World War II instead of the Allies. Germany dropped the atomic bomb on Washington D.C first and divides North America between themselves and Japan. That is the premise of Amazon’s hit dystopian alternative history TV series. Based on the 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle presents an interesting narrative of what could have happened to America and the world ruled by Axis powers.
PG Rating: PG

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

From another dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story set in a near-future New England in a totalitarian Christian fundamentalist group that has overthrown the United States government. The novel revolves around the journey of the handmaid Offred whose name derives from the possessive form “of Fred”, not unlike slavery-era America. In the era of declining birth rates due to increasing infertility, handmaids like Offred were forced to produce children for the ruling class based on the biblical story of Racher and her handmaid Bilhah. Messed up? I know. Watch it for yourself to find out how the story goes.
PG Rating: R

American Gods (Amazon Prime)

What if ancient and modern mythology were real? What if old gods like Odin, Loki, Czenobog, Anubis, Kali and Bilquis live amongst us in the modern world? How does these old gods compete with new gods such as the god of computers and the Internet, television, conspiracy theories, stock market and globalisation (for real)? This amazing TV series based on the novel by Neil Gaiman by the same name, American Gods is one roller-coaster ride of a series with a few good turn, twist and surprises round the corner.
PG Rating: R

Fresh Off the Boat (iFlix)

This sitcom follows the course of Eddie Huang’s Taiwanese family as they make their way from Chinatown of Washington D.C to Orlando, Florida to open a cowboy-themed steak restaurant in 1995. His mother struggles with the culture clash between her upbringing and a Florida community that does not have a large Asian population, his father embraces the “American Dream”, and Eddie struggles with assimilating into school. Yeah I totally copied all of that from Wikipedia but the point is this series is funny and entertaining.
PG Rating: G

The Americans (FX)

I love spy series and I love period dramas. Set in the early 1980s during the Cold War, it is the story of Elizabeth (Keri Rusell of Fecility) and Philip Jennings, two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the suburbs of Washington D.C, with their children. Their neighbor Stan Beeman is an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. Live their drama as they navigate through live of espionage, treachery, sabotage and marriage troubles LOL. Keri Russell, despite her age is still hot though.
PG Rating: PG-13

Marvel’s The Defenders (Netflix)

What happens when you combine Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist? You get The Defenders of course. This Netflix original combines some of the lesser-known Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen. In this series, the vigilantes team up in New York to fight their arch enemy: The Hand (Shoulder, Knees and Toes). Be very afraid. PG Rating: G

Riverdale (Netflix)

Remember the Archie Comics? You don’t? So do I because I’m too young to be reading them 😃. Anyway, Riverdale is an American teen drama TV series based on the characters of Archie Comics. It’s like a live action TV version of a Marvel or DC Comics except it’s Archies. Relive the nostalgia of Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge and Jughead Jones as the explores the darkness hidden behind a seemingly perfect life in the small town of Riverdale.
PG Rating: PG

Fear The Walking Dead (AMC)

If you love The Walking Dead, you’re gonna love its companion series and prequel - Fear The Walking Dead. I know this particular TV series is 3 years old already but I just found out about it this year so it still counts. The series follows a dysfunctional family based in LA on the onset of the zombie apocalypse. They must reinvent themselves, learning new skills and adopting new attitudes in order to survive as civilization collapse around them.
PG Rating: PG

Billions (Netflix)

Billions is not your typical courtroom or wall street drama series. Based on the activities of crusading federal prosecutor Preet Bharara and his legal battles with hedge fund manager Steve Cohen of S.A.C Capital Advisors. I know that sounded really boring but the actors really succeeded of turning this TV series into something interesting and riveting, keeping you wanting for more.
PG Rating: PG-13

Legion (FX)

Legion is a science fiction psychological thriller series based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion. Never heard of him? So do I before this year! But this character is connected to the X-Men film series so that should be good right? David Haller is a mutant diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age only to discover that he actually has some kickass super powers. Spoiler alert: David Haller is actually the mutant son of Professor Charles Xavier, no wonder lah.
PG Rating: PG

Afif simplified PG Rating guide:

G - For general audience, totally safe to watch with kids
PG - Parental guidance suggested - may contain mild violence or horror but generally no nudity or sex scenes. Avoid if your kids can't take scary stuff
PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. May contain some heavy kissing, brief nudity or sex scenes. Not safe to watch in the living room with family
R - Restricted. Contains some adult materials. Watch alone or with partner only.

Berjaya Times Square Theme Park

Berjaya Times Square Theme park is one of those places that is so close by and you think about going some time but somehow never really got going until now. It’s quite accessible, right in the middle of the city near Bukit Bintang but I thought we could always go there any time of the month, no rush so we went to other places first.

Getting there is not a problem because who could miss the massive Berjaya Times Square building in the middle of the city centre along Jalan Imbi. You can park at inside the building itself or next door across the road at Kelab Conlay for a whole day parking rate of just 9 ringgit which I did. Located on the 5th floor of Berjaya Times Square, the theme park occupies an entire 3 floors of the shopping mall/hotel. You just take the elevator to the 5th floor and there you are.

Here’s a protip: buy your tickets in advance online and spare yourselves from the massive queue at the ticketing counter, especially during weekends. Ticket price for Malaysians are RM41 for adults and RM30 for children. I took the Family Package (2 adults + 2 children) and another MyKad adult ticket so the total was only RM143 for the entire family. Pretty cheap compared to other theme parks we’ve been before but if you consider the limited number of attractions inside, it’s a reasonable price. Just print your online booking receipt and show them at the entrance. You’ll go straight to a special counter for online purchases. From the entrance, you’ll have to wear the usual wristband for visitors. Unlike some other places, you can actually go out and come in again into the theme park not once but twice on the same day. And you’ll probably want to rent a locker for 4 ringgit per day to store all your bags and belongings because you can’t wear them for most of the rides. Bear in mind though, you can only unlock the locker once before needing to pay to lock it again later. If you do buy the prepaid card, remember to return them to the cashier before leaving to claim your 5 ringgit deposit.

The attractions are divided into two, one for children and the other for adults. There are altogether 7 attractions for children in the Fantasy Garden and one of them the Crazy Bus is “closed for maintenance”. As for adults, they can go on the Galaxy Station area 4 major rides/attraction (if you don’t count the payable video game arcade). Yes only 4 because two of them Dizzy Izzy and DNA Mixer are still “closed for maintenance”. From what I learn from the reviews, they closed for quite some time now and they’re taking their own sweet time fixing them rides. Most of the adult rides have a minimum height requirement so you better tell your little ones in advance which ride they could take and which they couldn’t to avoid disappointment and that sad look in their eyes.

One of the more popular ride is of course the Supersonic Odyssey roller coaster ride. It is Asia-Pacific's longest multiple-inverted roller coaster that is 800 meters long and runs at a top speed of 80KM/H. Although only 800 metres long, I can assure you your adrenalin will still be pumping for a while after going through that ride. If you go bright and early there’s practically no queue for this ride and the crowd gradually builds up towards the evening.

As with all other theme parks, the food sold inside are pricey and not worth it. Thankfully you can go in and out of the park twice remember? So we had some ayam penyet lunch in Sungai Wang Plaza next door and then do our Zuhur prayers on the 8th floor of the mall.

So is it worth it to bring your family to the Berjaya Times Square Theme Park? For the price - I think it’s okay. Had they fixed the 3 permanently broken rides it would be more value for money. The park is open from 10:00AM to 10:00PM so you can spend 12 hours inside the park if you want to (we got out after 7:00PM). Would I go back in the future? Not anytime soon.

TM Resorts Fraser Hill Sri Peninjau review

While the kids were away, we took this opportunity to go for a short getaway in Fraser’s Hill near Raub. I have always had a soft spot for Fraser’s Hill. It’s cool, peaceful and tranquil there away from the bustle of other highland resorts such as Cameron highlands or Genting. The area is small enough to be spared from the horrors of plantation and over-development. I’ve been there a few times with friends and family. With friends it was for a hiking trip to the Pine Hill and Twin Peak trail. I stayed with my sister, mom and both our family once at the Pines resort a couple of years ago and that’s about it. We’ve never returned back to the highland resort ever since.

Usually it’s virtually impossible to get a good (read: affordable) deal during school holidays or weekends but this time after much persistence and effort I’ve managed to snag a relatively good deal at one of the hotels there. The place we stayed were called TM Resorts Fraser Hill Sri Peninjau apartment, tucked away at the highest point in Fraser’s Hill. Fraser’s Hill is only a short 2 hours drive away from home, another reason why I liked the place very much. From the clock tower in the middle of the town, I had to drive another 3 kilometres to the apartment along a winding and gradual climb up the hill.

First look, the place looked like a typical apartment housing, 4 stories high. Parking space was limited and I had to negotiate a sharp and narrow turn to the back of the apartment. Nobody was present at the reception but one guy showed up minutes later, probably back from a toilet break. To be honest the reception is nothing more than a small room not unlike the maintenance office at my flat. I filled up some forms and got our keys to a room on the 2nd floor. It’s a relatively spacious one bedroom apartment. There’s a living room and then the bedroom. As we enter, there’s a whiff of musty smell mixed with the smell of something burning in the air.

The burning smell slowly subsided but the musty smell persisted throughout our stay. The windows were ajar when we got there and I could only guess that rain water or the damp climate somehow contributed to the aroma. There were some rattan furniture and a small 21” LCD TV in the living room. No Astro or cable TV whatsoever so we had to make do with terrestrial TV hooked to the antenna. The bedroom is attached to the bathroom. Didn’t expect any bath tub or jacuzzi in there but I expected then to be clean at least which is not the case. The toilet bowl looked like it had just been cleaned after a while and the little sink is leaking. The bed sheet looks alright at first glance but upon closer inspection by the wife, she found several unsightly stains on it. We then straight away called the reception to change our bed sheet which they did but the new sheets was only slightly better than the one earlier. At least we knew from a fact that this one is washed and new.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t have high hopes for a 140 ringgit per night apartment from Expedia. The bare minimum was it should be clean and free from smell. That said, you get what you pay for and that’s exactly what happened in my case. The rest of our visit was uneventful. We took a stroll and had a little sight-seeing tour around the town centre and had coffee and hot chocolate at one of the newly opened café. Later we had dinner at the usual eateries near pine road. We had planned to go for a short hike around one of the many trails there but unfortunately almost all of them are closed until January or February I think which is a common occurrence these past few years. Our only other option was a trek to the popular Jeriau waterfall but unfortunately it started to rain later that afternoon.

Will I be coming back to Fraser Hill? Definitely but most probably somewhere else apart from that Sri Peninjau apartment. If you’re low on budget and don’t mind staying at a 1 star resort then the TM Resorts Fraser Hill Sri Peninjau apartment would be perfect for you. You can call them at this number below number for reservation or you can always book one on

2018 Minimalist calendar

I don't know whether you noticed but free calendars are hard to come by these days. And since I'm too cheapskate to buy one, I've been looking around for some nice printable calendars to use from the web. Naturally, I'm looking for a simple, minimalist calendar design and out of the dozens that I found, only this one from Kal's Kickstarter page that ticks all the boxes. It is a really nice minimalist calendar with classy Helvetica font and lots of white space. The only problem is, it's not printable. I can't find a single printable document or template for that design anywhere. And since I'm not about to spend £19 for this calendar, I decided to design one myself.

graphic from Kal's Kickstarter page

graphic from Kal's Kickstarter page

Using the easiest tool I know - Microsoft Word, I designed the calendar from scratch. A 7 by 7 box and then the numbers and days. I had to manually type every single day of the calendar year and check and double check they are all correct so it took me over an hour to finish. The result? Not bad at all, almost a mirror image of the original but for £19 less. You'll have to print the calendar yourself, suitable for A4 and A3 printing although you'll have to set the print job to fit the A3 printout. If you'd like to edit the original Word document, feel free to do so. Links to download below.

Afif Minimalist calendar 2018 PDF

Afif Minimalist calendar 2018 red weekend PDF

Afif Minimalist calendar Nov and December 2017 PDF

Hana's CIC convocation

When Hana enters kindergarten-going age 2 years ago, I thought we were just going to send her to a regular kindergarten near her nursery. But my wife calculated that it’ll cost us just us much sending her there or one of those franchise kindergarten like at CIC (Children Islamic Centre). So I thought, what the heck. At least the latter should expose her to more international environment and she’ll get to learn more English than the regular kindergartens.

Fast forward 2 years later, Hana is about to end her stint at the kindergarten. I have to say the place gave a well-balanced education between standard kindergarten syllabus and Islamic education. It is fair to say that her teachers did a job well done educating Hana. I would totally recommend sending your kids to CIC, including this one in Taman Puncak Jalil.

For her convocation ceremony, they booked an auditorium in University Malaya (UM). As with most other functions with the school, this one cost 70 ringgit for each parent just for attending not including the graduation fees of more than a hundred ringgit. I used to complain (silently) about these extravagant fees but now I understand that to get quality education and graduation ceremonies, you’ve got to spend good money. Besides, compare that to the one where I work, it’s basically nothing. A typical school fee for a semester in my school cost north of 70,000 ringgit, what is 70 ringgit for a convocation ceremony.

Linda was naturally excited to be back in her alma mater again after so long. I too had some fond memories of the place during our dating days. The auditorium was huge and spacious and freezing cold. That said, the place was not filled to capacity because I saw quite a few empty seats. Beforehand, the organizer distributed snacks from A&W - nuggets, a piece of fried chicken among others. They were all cold and a bit soggy of course. I didn’t expect oven fresh meal that late in the afternoon anyway. Hana’s performance was first in line. She practised for months and even then she and her classmates didn’t get all the parts right (no judgment of course). A few hours later, she walked on stage to receive her (fake) diploma and then we go home.

Next year she’ll be starting standard 1. I’d be lying if I say I’m not anxious for her. Will she fit in quickly, make new friends and cope with the demands of primary school? I’m sure she’ll do fine but still, I am a normal worried parent.

Sabah Trip 2017

For our annual family holiday this year, we’ve decided to go to Sabah in the east part of Malaysia. For a family with kids in school, going for a holiday anywhere require you to factor in school holidays and costs. I’ve always thought plane tickets to anywhere would not be cheap during school holidays. I mean they’re always on demand during holidays so usually they would jack up the price for sure. My wife however was very resolute and determined to get cheap tickets for this trip. She would constantly look for news of travel deals and promo codes and her persistence paid off when in a stroke of luck she found a return flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for just RM198 each. What’s more she even invited her sister’s family, parent and one other sister for the trip making it a 13-member trip.

To get the promo price, we had to book and pay for the tickets 8 months in advance. Book in March but only fly in October. I didn’t plan for the itinerary until a month before. Eight months is a long time and a lot can happen if I plan too early. I booked for a 2 nights stay in Kota Kinabalu via Airbnb and the Kundasang overnight stay via Google search. Yes this trip is going to cover the state capital and also the Kundasang highlands. We also booked a van and a car for this trip. A 15-seater Nissan Urvan and also a Proton Saga. The van alone could probably fit all 13 of us but it will be packed with passengers and luggages and I’m not sure it will be a comfortable 4 hours return trip to Kundasang hence why we booked the extra car. The van cost RM250 per day and the Saga FLX cost another RM120 per day.

It was going to be a 4 days trip. First day in Kota Kinabalu (KK), second day in KK and Kundasang. Third day in Kundasang and KK and the final day in KK only. We chose to park in Putrajaya Sentral’s Park and Ride facility and take the ERL Transit train to KLIA from there. The parking lot cost only 6 ringgit per day which is pretty reasonable and way cheaper than to park near KLIA itself. The one way ERL Transit ticket cost RM9.40 for adults and RM4.20 for children with further discounts for senior citizens. The train comes every 20 minutes so we didn’t have to wait long and the entire ride took only about 30 minutes. This is the second time we went on a plane, at least for my family but the first time using KLIA. Baggage check in with Malindo Air went on smoothly who provided a generous 30 kilo per person baggage allowance. And after going through the usual immigration security checks we were waiting for our flight to depart at the departure gate.

The flight from KLIA to KK was 2 hours and 30 minutes long. It’s the longest fight we’ve been on and Malindo Air was kind enough to include snacks (pizza slice, cup cake and drinks) for the journey. There’s also inflight entertainment so the kids could occupy themselves with that during the flight. We touched down smoothly in KKIA around 5 o’clock. Immigration into Sabah was also smooth, we just had to submit our MyKad for checking and registration. And since I’m not on any ban list, I could walk in into Sabah without any incidents. Our rental van contact was already on site to hand over the van and the keys. Since it was already dark by 6:00 PM in KK, we decided to stop by for dinner at a restaurant nearby. Just our luck, we chanced upon the most expensive restaurant in the neighbourhood so it seems. A meal cost RM8 on average and for our group, RM120 in total. I know everything is slightly more expensive in Sabah but I never thought it would be this expensive.

Anyway, we checked in into an apartment unit in Cyber City which cost RM202 per night, 20 ringgit cheaper if you contact the host directly. It got 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with 4 beds and 3 airconds. A pretty good deal for a large family like us. Since its raining and it’s already late, we didn’t go anywhere in KK that first day. On the second day, our first stop was non other than the weekly Gaya Street market. The itinerary says we’ll be spending an hour there tops before heading to Kundasang. But then you know how it is with women, an hour is definitely not enough for shopping.

2 hours later we finally depart for Kundasang, stopping at the famous upside down house in Tamparuli for a while. The funny thing was, we didn’t exactly go into the upside down house but bought tickets into the 3D Wonders Museum next door instead. Entry into the upside down house cost RM10 each but you cannot take pictures and there’s warning abound about fines if you do take pictures. The entire house is not that interesting really, just a regular house with everything fixed and decorated upside down. But the no taking pictures policy was the real deal-breaker. I suppose they want to build some sort of intrigue so that only those who came can really see the interior of the house? Well reading the TripAdvisors reviews, the majority that did so were not impressed. Does the Mona Lisa lost its appeal after being photographed a million times? I don’t think so. So we went into the 3D Wonders Museum instead where they do allow you to take pictures. This one though cost twice the price of the upside down house. Here they make paintings with subtle 3D effects which were interesting to say the least. Personally I’d skip this one attraction entirely but the others were keen to visit so rule of majority.

Annasuha homestay

Our next stop was supposed to be the renown Tamparuli bridge but since we’re already off schedule and we had a lunch appointment with my mother who also happens to be in Kundasang, we had to skip that one. The trip to Kundasang was long and winding and uphill but it’s not bad. Comparable with a trip to Cameron Highlands, including the pot holes and patches of bad roads. One thing for sure its really cold and windy in Kundasang. I learned that it is the windy and rainy season in the highlands this time of the year so it was expected. The temperature hovers around 16°C during the day and drops to 12°C in the evening. That’s even cooler than Cameron Highlands. Apart from that, Kundasang is also way better than Cameron in term of environment and nature. The hills are much less spoilt with vegetables farms and landslides. There’s a lot more greenery than hotels or houses. I hope it stays that way for a long time. We stayed at the Annasuha homestay which cost RM250 a night which is slightly cheaper than the normal rate of RM300 and above for the area. It’s a pretty basic homestay which is attached to the main house but it did have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We were alarmed at first to know that there’s no regular water supply from the main pipe and they’re using rain water in blue tanks for the entire house. Thankfully, that was enough to provide water for the duration of our stay. Another grand achievement of the ruling BN government - failing to provide even the basic necessary utilities like running water.

Although late, we decided to visit the Kinabalu Park anyway which was on the itinerary list. The park was already closed at 5:00 PM but we drove in anyway for a quick tour. Actually I have no idea where the park begins or end but I just follow the road uphill until I see the entrance to the Kinabalu trail. It was already dark by 6:00 PM but we managed to snap some photos at the memorial site and also the entrance to mount Kinabalu trail. Next we visited Kundasang town and stopped for a drink and some roti canai. Did I say the place was really cold and windy?

The next day, first thing on our agenda was the Desa Dairy Farm in Mesilau, which is just a short drive from Kundasang. We arrived a bit early at 7:00 AM and the gates didn’t open until an hour later. Entry fee is 5 ringgit for adults and 4 ringgits for children. The entire farm looks really beautiful with the magnificent mount Kinabalu as the backdrop. Sure you can smell the stink from the cow barns a mile away but that’s part of the charm and experience on the farm. We had some fresh milk and gelatos there and went on to feed some calves and kids. Overall it was a memorable experience at the dairy farm.

Afterward we drove for about 40 minutes to Poring hot spring. As you guessed it, it’s a natural hot spring area created from rocks heated from the earth’s mantle. You don’t actually go dip into the actual hot springs, they’re way too hot. They’ve made about a dozen bath tubs with hot water from the spring and regular cold stream water so you can control the water temperature. Apart from that there’s also a couple of artificial pools created from the streams nearby. I would recommend this one. Ticket is only 3 ringgit for adults and one ringgit for children.

From the hot spring we drove straight to Tagal Sungai Moroli fish spa. It is one of those places that I’d be happy to skip if it was up to me. Basically you pay 5 ringgit to let some mahseer fish nibble dead skins off your feet. You’ve seen them in malls but this time it is all natural in the stream. What’s more, to take pictures of the fishes, you’ll have to pay them another 3 ringgit. What a ripoff. Well I did skip this one, I just drove there and let anybody who’s interested with the fish spa go in. After that we head on to the Sabah Tea Garden which is a tea plantation in the Ranau district. It is situated just next door to the fish spa, you take a rough dirt road to the plantation. Unlike the one in Cameron, the Sabah Tea plantation area is not as cool as the former. Perhaps it’s right in the middle of the afternoon when we visit. Either way, we didn’t spend too long there since there’s not much to do except take pictures, walk among the tea plants and buy some tea sachets.

For this Kundasang trip, there’s another two places on the itinerary that we skipped - the Tamparuli bridge and the Kundasang War memorial. As we were leaving the Sabah Tea plantation, it started to rain a little and then quite heavily as we drove by Kundasang. We decided to skip the war memorial and go straight to KK. Driving in the rain was a bit of a challenge, not to mention the heavy fog in some parts. But I survived. Attention to the road and not speeding is key.

In KK we drove straight to the city waterfront for some seafood dinner. My Twitter friend suggested Welcome Seafood in the middle of the city but I chose the waterfront food court instead. I’m not really big on seafoods but since the others wanted it I just went along. We ate at Haji Manja place. For a 13 person meal of fishes and prawns, the damage was RM260. Crazy I know, there’s no way I’m paying that much just for food. However since somebody else is covering much of the cost, I’m not complaining. Before heading back to the apartment, we stopped by the night market and also the filipino market also known as the handicraft market. The wife had to shop for some amplang (fish cracker snack) and other souvenirs for friends and family back home.

A post shared by Afif (@afifplc) on

On the final day, we had an early flight back home to KL. From 12:00 PM, it was rescheduled earlier to 11:25 AM so we had little time to do anything much in the city. That said, I still went out just with the wife for a morning stroll in KK. We parked along Gaya street and walked to the waterfront and back. Our van almost got a ticket from the city hall officers. Lucky I managed to run to the van a buy some parking coupons from right across the street. Before leaving, we had some breakfast at the famous Fook Yuen restaurant. The halal dim sum was superb, also the “roti kahwin” toast and cold teh tarik.

Check in and immigration for the return trip went on smoothly. We were on board another Malindo Air flight this time without any inflight entertainment but we still got snacks. Like before, we took the ERL Transit train back to Putrajaya Sentral where we parked our car. The charge for 4 days parking was only RM20 ringgit. A real bargain. 4 days in Sabah is definitely not enough to to explore so many places of interest in the state. Although I get to visit much of the places on our itinerary, there’s so many others that we wished we had visited. A proper visit should take a week at least but then time and budget was not on our side. Overall it has been a memorable visit to Sabah. Will I come again in the future? For sure. Maybe not to Kundasang again but other places in KK and the surrounding districts.

Some notes of my maiden voyage to Sabah:

1. There’s a lot of car rental services provided by the locals. Make sure you get one from a reputable provider. Check their blogs, website or Facebook pages and read the comments. All will require you to pay a deposit and provide some ID and driving license. Take some pictures of the exterior of the car in case of disputes arising later. To get in touch with the one I hired, see the trip itinerary below. Driving an large van like the Nissan Urvan is not that difficult since the controls are just the same as any other manual transmission vehicles. However the seat is a lot higher and the driving experience requires some getting used to. Make sure you don’t fill up with petrol because this one uses diesel as fuel. I’m sure the owner will inform you beforehand.

2. Sabah and Sarawak has its own special immigration policy and although you’re from the same country, you’re still required to go through some immigration checks. Unless you’re a controversial opposition leader or public figure who are somehow on the banned list, you should get clearance into the state with relative ease. All you need to submit is your MyKad/MyKid for checking. And make sure you don’t lose the immigration entry slip that was issued during arrival. You might get into problems when departing if you do.
By the time my iPad finished searching for a network manually, I would have done eating

3. Unifi (Webe) telephone and Internet coverage was excellent and consistently reliable throughout my stay from KK to Ranau. I got LTE in the city and also around Kundasang and Ranau. Other times it 3G but my data connection is still acceptable. My other Umobile line on the iPad however was horrendous. In the city I only got 3G connection and even then the Internet connection was spotty at best and non-existent most of the time. I’d be surprised if it’s not the least popular network provider down there. Away from the city, you’ll be greeted with the dreaded E for Edge sign. Forget about even using Umobile in Sabah.

4. Perhaps its geographic or logistic, but mostly everything in Sabah is a bit more pricey than in the peninsular. We were unlucky to step foot into the most expensive restaurant just outside KK called Restoran Baiduri Thai Seafood. The food was meh but it was expensive AF. Checking on Foursquare beforehand is great to gauge the price and the quality of the food. Too bad I forgot to do that that fateful evening. Cooking is a great way to save on your budget. Find a homestay or guesthouse that provide kitchen, stove and cooking/eating utensils. Although some people said it’s hard to find food in Kundasang, I actually found a few halal restaurants in Kundasang town for us to eat, no problem.

5. When choosing flight time, it is always good to depart early in the morning and return back late in the evening. You want to spend the most time in your destination city and not having to rush to catch the early flight home would be super. That said, be careful if you plan of using the train like ERL Transit. The last train home is 12:20 AM so if you arrive later than that, no train for you!

6. Everything is an hour early in Sabah. Although we’re in the same time zone, everything feels an hour early in Sabah. Sunrise is around 6:00 AM and by 7:00 AM it’s already bright as day. The same applies for lunch time, sunset and dinner. Plan your schedule accordingly. Some places of interest close early so make sure you don’t arrive too late.

7. Inflight entertainment is godsend for flights with kids. However not all flights have it so the good all way of downloading movies and TV shows on iPads and tablets is the way to go. Else you might have a few restless kids on your flight with you and not forgetting the long drive to your destinations.

8. As always, whenever I’m on a vacation, I’m torn between visiting the popular touristy places and paying a premium for something that is in essence a tourist trap or skipping it altogether. Some people would argue what’s the point of visiting a faraway place if you don’t see or do what people usually do? I try to strike a balance between those two. If the place or thing is really unique and interesting, I would pay to go see or do it. If it’s just too cliché or mainstream, I’d probably skip it. As for this Sabah trip, the upside down house and the fish spa are probably two tourist traps that you could probably skip.

Sabah Tour 2017 Itinerary

14/10/17 Saturday
10:00AM depart to Putrajaya Sentral Park and Ride
11:30AM take ERL Transit to KLIA
12:10PM arrive in KLIA, check in baggage
2:45PM depart to Kota Kinabalu Malindo Air OD 1014
5:30PM arrive in Kota Kinabalu, take rental van to apartment
6:00PM arrive at Cyber City apartment
7:00PM sightseeing in Tanjung Aru/Kota Kinabalu
9:00PM buy food for Kundasang

15/10/17 Sunday
7:00AM off to Gaya Street for breakfast and shopping
9:00AM depart to Kundasang
10:00AM stop by Upside Down House Sabah, Tamparuli
11:30AM stop by Tamparuli bridge
12:00AM stop by pekan Nabalu (souvenirs)
12:30AM arrive at Annasuha Guest house. Have lunch
1:30PM go to Kinabalu Park
2:45PM go to Kundasang War Memorial
4:00PM go to Poring Hot Spring

16/10/17 Monday
7:00AM depart for Desa Cattle Dairy Farm
11:00AM go to Tagal Sg. Moroli Fish Spa
12:00PM go to Sabah Tea Garden
3:00PM depart for Kota Kinabalu
9:00PM sightseeing in Kota Kinabalu (optional)

17/10/17 Thursday
7:00AM depart for Filipino market, KK
9:30AM leave for Kota Kinabalu airport
10:00AM check in baggage
11:25AM depart to Kuala Lumpur Malindo Air OD 1007


UMS Aquarium and Marine Museum
Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
Island hopping, KK
Atkinson Clock Tower, KK

More info:

Cyber City Apartment, Kota Kinabalu homestay contact:
Norita +60149528381
Diana +60168381093

Annasuha Homestay, Kundasang contact:
Norhayati +601131649536 / +601116410514

Ruslan Car Rental, Kota Kinabalu contact:
Ruslan +60168215834
Herry +60109417051