Friday, November 6, 2015

Fly Me To Labuan Part 4 – What To Do in Labuan


10 Things To Do In Labuan

Never would I have ever thought that my family and I could be so busy in Labuan! Besides just relaxing and chilling in our Dorsett Grand Labuan hotel, we had loads of adventures scurrying about Labuan and enjoying what Labuan has to offer. For those of you who think Labuan is a boring city, think again… because after reading this post, your thoughts of Labuan will never be the same again.


My final post on the Labuan, the Federal Territory of Malaysia off the coast of Borneo in East Malaysia, had all of us going on an unforgettable exploration of Mother Nature, historical sites, island hopping, shopping and lots of seafood in no particular order. Best known as an offshore financial centre and for its rich resources for oil and gas activities, Labuan is also a haven for shoppers with its duty free code and a bountiful harbor filled with loads of fresh seafood from its coastal South China Sea.

While one can always opt to laze around by the beach or chill out by the pool, it is always fun to do a little exploration when traveling with family or young ones. These helps to keep the young and the old busy with short activities as well as create new memories of merriment. Here are my list of Ten Things To Do in Labuan!


One: Go On A Cycling Adventure


Why not? Isn’t it perfect to seek out a vacation spot with some exercise thrown in for good measure? It has been ages since I went bicycling and it really brought back some fond memories of yesteryears when I used to cycle a lot. We started our journey from Dorsett Grand Labuan and headed towards the Labuan International Seaport, bypassing a few landmarks along the way which we stop to take a look.


Joining the Tourism Malaysia group of cyclists and accompanied by Labuan Royal Police, our cycling expedition was a great way to take in Mother Nature and its lush greenery in the early morning of Labuan. From easy paths to slight hilly slopes, there was certainly plenty of sweat as well as laughter and joyous chatters all the way on our rides. This cycling expedition was made possible by Tourism Malaysia with compliments from Manager Cik Norhidayah Md Noor and special thanks to the Chief of Police Tuan Adzhar Othman from Labuan Royal Police for the escort service.


Rental of bicycles is available from LDA Holdings (Labuan Holdings Sdn. Bhd.). Contact Ms Syafiqah, at 60 8 7413 155 or 6013-5070795 for more information.



Two: Visit Labuan Botanical Garden


After our cycling excursion, we also stopped at the Labuan Botanical Garden. We took our bikes along the paths in the garden for more greenery tour. Situated behind the old airport and along Jalan OKK Abdullah, the Labuan Botanical Garden was formerly the site of the Government House. It is a recreational park filled with lots of old trees, tropical plants, reflexology path, skate ramp, lakes, a tree house, children’s playground and more.


A little historical information on the garden from Toursim Malaysia stated that this was once a state government mansion, also known as “bumbung 12” by the locals, built in 1852 for Labuan’s first governor, Sir James Brooke. Through many tales of his ruling and his entertainment in having many dignitaries staying at this state house, the place was severely destroyed during the various rulings and was only rehabilitated and developed in to a recreation park by Labuan Corporation in 2001. This garden is quite a popular site for locals as well as tourists.


LABUAN BOTANICAL GARDEN
Jalan Oak Abdullah (opposite the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church)
Free Entrance



Three: Hike Up Bukit Kubong


Hiking is apparently another local favorite at Labuan and one of the easier places for a leisure hike is at Bukit Kubong. Standing only at 148m above sea level, Bukit Kubong is also the highest natural peak in Labuan. The hiking path takes under an hour and is not overly strenuous so that amateur hikers like me made it through pretty well. The view is pretty pleasurable and one can even catch glimpse of the South China Sea from the hill. Just make sure to stay on the path of the trail and do not simply wander off and take anything from the hill.




Love the natural element and characteristics of rock formations!


BUKIT KUBONG
Jalan Tanjung Kubong,
87000 Labuan



Four: Learn About Labuan By Visiting Historical Sites



Labuan Museum

Every place has its history. Labuan is especially filled with a rich list of historical moments from its various rulings by the British and Japanese and others. Covering a total area of 92km, the Federal Territory of Labuan comprises the island of Labuan and six other islands namely Burong, Daat, Papan, Rusukan Besar and Rusukan Kecil. Historical link with Brunei and Sulu’s sultanate suggests that Labuan was once part of the Moghul and the Majapahit Empire before it fell under the ruling of Brunei Sultanate.



History of Labuan in a Nutshell
The Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Omar Ali Saiffuddin II, handed Labuan over to the British in 1846. The British developed and ruled Labuan, flourishing the city through coal mining and trading activities. In 1890, the administration of Labuan was taken over by the British North Borneo (Chartered) Company while in 1906, it was then handed over to The Colonial Office. Labuan became part of the Strait Settlements, a British colony comprising of Singapore, Malacca and Penang, in 1907. In 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army took over Labuan as their headquarters to launch their invasion of Borneo. Allied Forces managed to free Labuan in 1945 and Labuan was placed under the British Military Crown Colony in 1946. Finally in 1963, Labuan gained its independence and became part of the Federation of Malaysia.


Visit the Labuan Museum for more facts and historical elements of Labuan. We had the honors of having Mr. Willie Teoh (Contact: 019 882 0551), whose vast knowledge of historical information of Labuan gave us personal insights of the Federal Territory of Labuan.


LABUAN MUSEUM
U 0364, Jalan Dewan,
87008 Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan
Tel: 608 7414 135
Email: mlabuan@jmm.gov.my
Entrance: FREE




Labuan World War II Memorial

We stopped at one of the most visited places in Labuan during our bicycling excursion, the Labuan World War II Memorial.


A tranquil landscaped memorial garden, now maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Britain, is the final resting place of the many war heroes from Australia, Britain, New Zealand and more whom have died in battle or captivity in Borneo during World War II. Beautifully kept to commemorate the brave young heroes, many war veterans still visit this memorial, especially first Sunday of November every year where a service to mark Remembrance Day is held here.


LABUAN WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL
Jalan Tanjung Batu




Peace Park

Built by the Japanese, the Peace Park monument is an important symbol in Labuan as it acts as a promise to peace and mankind of the aftermath of the Japanese invasion. It is also a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in the World War II.


In Memory of All Those Who Sacrificed Their Lives on Land and at Sea and Around Borneo During World War II And in Dedication to World Peace.

Constructed by The Government of Japan In Cooperation with The Government of Sabah on 30 September 1982








Surrender Point Memorial

Another meaningful and must-visit historical site is the Surrender Point Memorial located next to the Peace Park. This memorial marked the location where the Japanese officially surrendered their ruling on Labuan to the Australian in charge in 1945. Lieutenant General Masao Baba, Commander of the Japanese 7 Army and Supreme Commander of Japanese Forces in Borneo, arrived at Labuan to surrender the forces under his command to Australian Major General George Wootten.




PEACE PARK and SURRENDER POINT MEMORIAL
Jalan OKK Daud
Contact: 608 742 3445 / 608 742 3446




Labuan Chimney


The Chimney monument remains to be a mystery till today on the purpose of its existence. The red brick tower, known to local as “punil”, was believed to be built in the early 1900 when coal mining was at it is peak in Tanjung Kubong under the administration of British North Borneo Chartered Company. Due to the significance to Labuan history, the Chimney monument was conserved by the Department of Museums and Antiquities in 1997 to restore its original structure.



CHIMNEY MUSEUM
Lot 2 Tingkat Bawah,
Bangunan Tabung Haji, Jalan Kesuma,
87008 Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan
Tel: 08 7463 603
Email: pr.mc@jmm.gov.my
Entrance: FREE

*Details cited above and more historical information can be found at www.pl.gov.my



Five: TEE OFF AT LABUAN INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB DRIVING RANGE


More fun awaits at Labuan and this time, it’s a favorite sport for many! Show off your skills at teeing off at the Labuan International Golf Club Driving Range at its 18-hole golf course or simply visit their driving range like we did. Beautifully landscape with lots of acres of plush greens and a breezy atmosphere, the driving range proved to be a great activity even for my little one who really took on the sport happily.



LABUAN INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB
Jalan Sungai Pagar, Kiansam,
87000 Labuan
Tel: +60 87 468468
Opening hours: 6:30am-11:00pm



Six: Island Hopping at Pulau Kuraman


With all the islands on Labuan, it’s only sensible that one should definitely visit one. Island hopping is simply a must in Labuan and out of all the islands there, we found ourselves taking a short half hour speedboat ride to Pulau Kuraman from Victoria Harbour. It was a gorgeous sunny day the day we arrived at the harbor and boarded the speedboat.




With an amazing 360 degree view of sea filled with boats, ships, oil tankers, oil rigs and more, Mother Nature bestowed gorgeous blue sky filled with fluffy cottony clouds on our trip as well. Arriving at Pulau Kuraman, we stared in awe at the 5.2 square kilometers of land surrounding by clear azure waters of the sea.







It is pure bliss for us at Kuraman Island. There plenty to offer from simply lying on the worn out hammocks staring into the sky or dozing off to having a picnic (which we did and this can be arranged by Dorsett Grand Labuan for a fee) to water sports such as snorkeling, diving and more.




Our group went wild with taking photos of course!


To hire a boat for Island Hopping, contact Rodney at 016 328 1689 or email fishermens_advance@yahoo.com




Seven: Visit Morning Market At Pasar Sentral AND Labuan Fish Market


Labuan is a haven for seafood. With its abundance of seafood harvested from South China Sea, Labuan is a hotspot for many to buy the freshest catches from the sea at very affordable prices. There are two hotspots to buy your favorite seafood in Labuan. For the more commercial way, head on over to the Labuan Central Market or Pasar Sentral.



With over 150 vendors, one can go all out and buy the widest range of seafood and fresh produce as well as local products of Labuan. The market is well kept and easy to shop. Segregated by various sections of seafood, meat, vegetables and other produce, it is also a huge market that one can easily spend a solid hour or more scouting for the best offer.



I wanted to buy everything! The seafood here is as fresh as it gets. Fishes with gleaming bright eyes denotes that these were probably just caught a few hours ago. The variety of fishes available are also amazing and quite mind-boggling. Other seafood such as giant clams, large squids and bottled neck squids (quite rare now on our side of Malaysia), octopus, prawns, assorted crabs and more are so tempting at sight. The folks selling at the market are also very friendly and courteous as we exchange some words and pleasantries.


More fresh and local produce are available where stalls are loaded with colorful vegetables, fruits and local produce. One can also buy dried seafood such as dried anchovies, salted fish, dried shrimps, local made belachan, Sagu, Keropok Emping and so much more.


For an even better deal, wake up at 5am (just like us) and head on over to the Labuan Fisheries at the port to check out the freshest catch of the morning. The wholesale market is a sight to behold at the wee hours of the morning as many locals head on straight here to buy seafood freshly loaded off the boats. The prices here are even better but one has to purchase the seafood in the denoted portions for wholesale.


It is sure a magnet for my lens as I really had an awesome time capturing all the gorgeous seafood displayed simply on the covered floors or basic stalls. It’s first-come-first-serve (unless you have a business arrangement with the wholesalers) so go early to pick your favorite seafood.


We spied huge lobsters caught that morning that looked majestic and colorful. Some of us even managed to grab super large prawns that were relatively cheap compared to our prices back home. One can even find highly-prized fishes such as the Seven Star Grouper, Empurau, Sultan Fish and more here. Word of the day here…. Go Early!!


A plus point when staying at Dorsett Grand Labuan, one can also opt to buy fresh seafood from the hotel’s reliable seafood supplier or purchase your seafood at the Central Market or Labuan Fisheries and the hotel will be able to provide the packaging to pack and freeze your seafood for a minimum price so that you can take your goods back home.


LABUAN CENTRAL MARKET
Jalan Bunga Tanjung,
87000, Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan

LABUAN FISHERIES
Jalan Merdeka,
87000, Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan




EIGHT: Go Crazy With Duty Free Shopping


Mentioned the word ‘shopping’ and most of us tend to get excited, mentioned the word ‘duty free shopping’, adrenalins would soar to the highest level, at least to me. Irresistible prices for goods like alcohol, perfume, chocolates and more will always be so tempting. Since Labuan is also a duty free port, don’t miss out the duty free shopping here.


We visited One Stop Duty Free Shopping and filled our bags with lots of goodies! They have plenty of choices on all goods, especially alcohol. Stock up on alcohol, chocolates, snacks and lots of goodies for family and friends…


ONE STOP DUTY FREE SHOPPING SDN. BHD.
Lot A, G Floor, Victoria, Jalan OKK Awang Besar,
87000 Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan
Tel: 6016 2020 200 / 608 7421 178




NINE: Paradise Spa & Reflexology centre



After walking, hiking and shopping, one definitely needs a good spa or reflexology to unwind and work out all the kinks. Head on over to Paradise Spa & Reflexology Centre for a full body massage or foot reflexology and let the masseur worked his or her magic on you. They offer plenty of various packages with different time options as well. There are plenty of private rooms with TV available on the various floors of the centre.



After experiencing an hour and half of foot reflexology, I slept like a baby that night…


PARADISE SPA & REFLEXOLOGY CENTRE
Lot 33, Lazenda Centre,
Jalan OKK Abdullah,
87000 Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan
Tel: 608 7443 655 / 6010 948 9911




TEN: Catch Sunset View At The Beach


Whether it’s with family, friends or lovers, one don’t really need a reason to catch the sunset at the beach. There are quite a few beaches in Labuan such as Layang Beach, Pancur Hitam Beach, Batu Manikar Beach and more. Absorb in the gorgeous sight of the sun setting in the evening with some cocktails would be a perfect moment in Labuan!


Dorsett Grand Labuan offers catering services so if there is ever a moment worth celebrating, have the catering team setup Cocktails and Canapes by the beach for extra pleasures…




Labuan turned out to me so much more than what my family and I had expected. There’s more waiting to be discovered, so if you are planning a Cuti Cuti Malaysia vacation, Labuan is certainly one place you would want to visit with family or friends!




To book your flights on Malaysia Airlines, visit their website www.malaysiaairlines.com
For Dorsett Grand Labuan information, visit their website www.dorsett.com


This Trip was made possible by Dorsett Grand Labuan and Malaysia Airlines.

All opinions on this trip are entirely my personal opinions.

*Photos without my watermark are courtesy of Ching YS. & Joan



Labuan Stories
Fly Me To Labuan Part 2 – Dorsett Grand Labuan Staycation
Fly Me To Labuan Part 3 – Where To Eat in Labuan
Fly Me To Labuan Part 1 - What To Do in Labuan

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