spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


Leave a comment

Photography – Lantern Bug

Lantern Bug

The lanternbug (fulgoridae) is a tropical insect highly sought after by macro enthusiasts – and poachers – due to its exotic look and colourful exterior. Found in tropical rainforests in Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico and Central/South America, these planthoppers, which are related to cicadas, are typically found on trees whose sap they feed on.

Lantern Bug

Lantern bugs are so named because of its “snout” which was thought to emit light in the past, and local folklore attributed magical powers to the little bugger. The Amazonian Indians in the 19th century even believed that people bitten by the horny-looking creature will die if they didn’t have sex within 24 hours. Hmmm, I wonder if it was more of a popular dating technique to get the girl back then. In reality, the lantern bug’s elongated “Pinocchio” nose is actually an extended mouth to help them suck the sap from plants and trees.

Lantern Bug

Lantern bugs can be quite large, growing up to 3 inches long with a wingspan of 2.5 inches wide depending on the species. The next time you are in a tropical rainforest, look out for fruiting trees with larger trunks (such as Pyrops candelaria and Dimocarpus longan tree) – they are often sighted on the trunks in groups. They can be difficult to spot as they can remain very still unless disturbed, and will keep moving round the tree trunk when they feel threathened – I played “Bollywood” with one I was trying to photograph for 10 sweaty minutes. But when you finally see them, it is worth every exotic minute :)

Advertisements


1 Comment

Gaya Island Resort – Romancing Sunset

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

At a loss for words. For once.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Best way to take in Sabah’s breathtaking natural scenes?
Go on board the Lumba-Lumba & catch the best sunset of a lifetime

One of the most memorable experiences Darren & I had at Gaya Island Resort was on board a yatch. No resort getaway would be complete without a romantic sunset cruise, so I determinedly pestered him to go on one. Our ‘ dream carriage’ came in the form of a private 64-foot Princess yacht, Lumba-Lumba (even the name sounds so whimsical!).

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Big bright smiles in anticipation of a gorgeous sunset

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

We had a majestic view of sunrise over Mount Kinabalu from the resort, so we had to go around the island to view the equally spectacular sunset just behind the hill. Doesn’t the resort look like a natural sanctuary nestled amongst the lush greenery?

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Interior of the Lumba-Lumba outfitted by Louis Vuitton
Melissa, seen in the photo, was ever-so-friendly and kindly showed us around this mini palace. It was so well-equipped it could pass off as a real living room!

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Can you think of anything more romantic than lying on your bed and gazing at the stars with a loved one? *swoon*
Lumba-Lumba has a total of 4 cabins that can accommodate 8 guests. The main suite comes with an attached bathroom and skylight for stargazing.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Welcome to my living room! For 5 minutes. Duh.
It was so comfortable and cool I was reluctant to peel myself off the couch.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Eagerly moving towards the golden sun
This was one of the rare times I forgot all about freckles and embraced the sunshine in front of me

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Greek God basking in the sun
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it? What a sight for sore eyes, what a treat! ;)

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Meanwhile I attempted to masquerade as the figurehead maiden found on the ship’s bow
Lucky the boat didn’t tip forward from severe weight imbalance.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Panoramic view of the horizon
Going on the sunset cruise is definitely one of the best ways to take in Sabah’s natural wonders, from the majestic Mount Kinabalu, untouched lush rainforests and the great expanse of the South China Sea. No words can do enough justice to the ethereal experience.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Speechless. Brilliant. Jaw-dropping.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Perfect setting for honeymooners
This intimate scene of a sweet pair of Australian newlyweds admiring the opulent sunset looked so surreal.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

The sun transitioned into a warmer hue as it prepared to bow out for the day. And what cute cloud formations!

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Choose to admire the sunset on the upper deck if you prefer shade, or like us – laze on the deck and feel the breeze caress our faces. And cam-whore.
Free flow of drinks (wine, soft drinks) and nuts to nibble are served throughout the 1.5hour cruise. The sunset cruise is offered only on Tuesdays and Fridays, and strictly takes up to 12 guests at a time, so do book early with the concierge. It’s worth the RM250 per pax.
For an even more indulgent experience, you can charter the entire yacht for a private dinner and do some star gazing. Or negotiate with the owner to book it overnight and start procreating for the newly weds *wink*

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

The sun gets playful with peeka-boo!

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

As the sun hid behind the fluffy clouds, it looked as if a magical kingdom had materialised right before our eyes. I half-expected a dragon to fly out of it any time.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

What a dramatic sky. Nature’s canvas was so opulent it’s quite impossible to take a bad photo.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Transitioning into hues of pink and purple

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Dusk finally set in, and it was time to head back to the resort. I felt like I had just been to a theatrical performance, where the stage was the vast horizon and the sun the lead dancer, keeping me transfixed with every minute that passed.

Sunset Cruise at Gaya Island Resort

Definitely a day to remember for a long time to come
It was a short 1.5 hours, but to us it felt like eternity cos’ we simply lost track of time, wanting to prolong every moment. The sunset was just indescribable; it was so mesmerizing we could not take our eyes off it, just like a ravishing beauty. Its ever-changing hues and appearance kept us anticipating for more, ooh-ing & ahhh-ing by the minute. If only a man would describe me in the same way, I would die a very happy dame. Damn.

More on Gaya Island Resort:
Chasing Nature at Gaya Island Resort
Gaya Island – Private Paradise at Tavajun Bay
Gaya Island Resort – Finding Zen at the Spa Village


Leave a comment

Chasing Nature at Gaya Island Resort

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

Brilliant Green Throated Lizards and more exotic creatures await you on Gaya Island Resort’s daily Nature Walk

Darren & I recently went on a getaway to nature’s paradise in the form of Gaya Island Resort, a newly opened five-star retreat located off the coast of Kota Kinabalu on the shores of Pulau Gaya, the largest island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah/Borneo. Being nature lovers, this was the perfect location for us surrounded by untouched tropical rainforests and mangroves lovingly preserved for thousands of years complimented with the majestic view of Mount Kinabalu. Borneo is also home to many rare species including the orangutan, proboscis monkey and pygmy elephant.

We were thus naturally excited to go on the resort’s guided nature walks (9am daily lasting about 1hr; complimentary for guests) led by their in-house naturalist Justin Juhun – what an adventure! We couldn’t wait to discover the island’s distinctive flora and fauna hidden in the rainforest, and hear the stories he has to tell about them. We hear that a family of proboscis monkeys have been spotted in the jungle too, so we were even more eager to spot them on our walk.

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

Get wild with Gaya Island Resort’s Resident Naturalist Justin Juhun
Born in Tawau, a town located on the south-eastern coast of Sabah, Justin was raised in a family of wildlife enthusiasts who owned an animal sanctuary in their backyard. Justin’s thus no stranger to wildlife as he has been hand rearing orphaned infants from an early age.

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

On our way into the rainforest just behind the resort

Tips for surviving a jungle walk:
– Beware of commando-trained mosquitoes: wear a long sleeved shirt (I brought detachable sleeves) and pants, or prepare to be human buffet for the mosquitoes.
– Slather on insect repellent especially on the uncovered body areas.
– Keep your mouth closed. You’ll know why later on.
– Talk softly else you will scare away all the animals and insects, and your companions.
– Wear proper shoes as there may not be proper walking paths (we are in a real jungle, not theme park).
– Try to stay with the group or you may become the next Survivor wannabe – by yourself.

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

In awe of nature’s sculptures

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

Justin’s pretty much a modern-day bushman
He prances like a nimble monkey, crouches to listen to nearby animals like a leopard and mimics the calls of birds. Darren tried to do the same bird calls later, but all he attracted were mosquitoes.

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

A man’s favourite plant – Tongkat Ali
Nature’s aphrodisiac was aplenty on the island; we saw one of these every five steps we took. The Tongkat Ali root has been said to boost male virility, although Justin said this is not scientifically proven. Instead, he has been using this as a medicine for cancer.
I learnt a trick on how to identify  a Tongkat Ali plant – the leaf texture is velvety, and it doesn’t break when crumpled unlike other plants.

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

A butterfly (to-be) did this
Justin taught us how to identify wildlife by the traces they leave – poo, foot trails, half-eaten leaves and in this photo – the larvae of a leafwing butterfly (so named because their wings mimic dead leaves) rolling itself up in a leaf which acts as a temporary shelter. They secure the leaf with silk they produce.

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

Husk of a molted cicada
Cicadas molt (shed their skins) on a nearby plant when they are about a year old and emerge as adults. The abandoned exoskeleton remains, clinging to the bark of trees or on leaves. There must be millions and millions of cicadas in the rainforest, cos’ they were noisy as hell.
And remember why I said not to open your mouths in the rainforest? Raise your head up and you will see romantic trails of water dripping from above. It is not morning dew. It is cicada pee.

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Close-up of a cicada

Nature Walk at Gaya Island Resort

The rainforest flora is as fascinating as its fauna

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Green Pit Viper curled up in the tree
Snakes apparently make home at a specific spot – Justin knew exactly where to find this fella. I was filled with trepidation as we trekked towards its location. I was honestly scared to death as I had never seen one outside of glass enclosures. It was quite happy to mind its own business while we ogled – or shrieked – from below.

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Termite hill

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Termite’s Recreation Centre
Termites do not stay in this ball-like structure – it’s sort of a recreation centre where they hang out to socialise and maybe date, and then move on to their housing quarters which is the giant terminate hill just below.

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Mini termite hills – nature does have its own humour

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Bioluminescent mushroom
Something tells me I shouldn’t eat this. Perhaps I should ask Justin to conduct a jungle gourmet tour since the greedy me kept looking around for things to eat :p

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

A really pretty lizard well-camouflaged by the tree bark
We would have missed it if Justin didn’t point it out to us. It seemed that the urbanites in us were blind to many things around us despite being so enthusiastic to spot wildlife. This walk actually me to slow down a little in life, to just quietly observe my surroundings. I have come to realise I see more now, and am able to give more creative ideas when I invest in few moments to really listen and think, instead of scurrying through life.

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Flying Tree Lizard

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

What a cutie!

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Banana Flower

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Fruit of the Nutmeg Tree
Finally something I can eat! Nutmeg is used for flavouring many dishes, in perfume and medicinal oils. An extremely useful plant to have around.

Gaya Island Resort

Reishi Mushroom, more commonly known as Lingzhi (ganoderma lucidum)
The jungle is full of medicinal treasures too! This tiny little lingzhi took about 2 years to grow, no wonder they are so expensive. Justin told us that he had spotted another piece nearby which is over a hundred years old, and its value would have been about US$45,000 a few years back.

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Even the birds came to sing

Gaya Island Resort nature Walk

Chat with the bushman
We were fortunate to have lunch with Justin after the walk and got to know him better. It was intriguing to hear him talk about his lifelong interest in wildlife, and about his ambition to start his very own wildlife reserve and conduct more research on flora and fauna’s useful properties as well as conservation.
While he was really serious and alert as a panther on the walk, he was very chatty during lunch, and almost like a little boy when talking about his future wildlife reserve. He was the one who set up the jungle walking paths at the resort, and I could sense his eagerness to get back into the jungle after lunch for more exploration. He shared that he is building an observation tower near a family of proboscis monkeys he discovered so resort guests will be able to see those precious creatures during future nature walks. I want to come back!!

Gaya Island Resort Nature Walk

Discover nature’s wonders for yourself
We had an enlightening experience – and an awesome good workout (Darren was dripping sweat and showing too much through his white linen shirt, not that I mind haha) during the nature walk. It is definitely an activity that I would recommend going for when you are at Gaya Island Resort (and it’s complimentary for goodness sake!) I think it may change the way you look at things.For a more exclusive exploration of the forest (or if you want to do a walk in the nocturnal evening), Justin can be booked via the resort at RM150 per person in the group, and the walks can tailored to varying difficulties and distance to suit one’s ability and interests. And I am looking forward to the day the bushman finally has his very own jungle. 

More on Gaya Island Resort:
Gaya Island Resort – Romancing Sunset
Gaya Island – Private Paradise at Tavajun Bay
Gaya Island Resort – Finding Zen at the Spa Village


Leave a comment

Gaya Island Resort – Private Paradise at Tavajun Bay

Tavajun Bay

Getting acquainted with the sun, sand & the sea at Gaya Island Resort’s Tavajun Bay
If you were wondering about my silence in April, that’s because I was holidaying most of the time. I was in Bangkok for Songkran in early April, followed by a leisurely beach getaway at Gaya Island Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
I seriously can get used to this, heh ;)

Tavajun Bay

Tavajun Bay is Gaya Island Resort’s private beach accessible to all their in-house guests. It is a tranquil beach located five minutes from the resort via complimentary boat transfer (hourly). It’s the perfect place to be relaxing by the beach and falling asleep to the sound of sea waves and beautiful sea-nery.

Tavajun Bay

All dressed for a beach holiday!
I brought my big sun hat along, which Darren could not stop teasing me about. But hey – it did its job of keeping my face outta the sun super well.

Tavajun Bay

Tavajun Bay
Pristine-white sand and clear waters greeted us as we arrived. I was in awe of the lush greenery just behind.

Tavajun Bay

What I appreciated was that the private beach allowed us the privacy to sunbathe in peace (I wouldn’t mind more people around if I had a better figure haha).

Tavajun Bay

In awe of the beautiful sights!

Tavajun Bay

Tavajun Bay

Tavajun Bay

I couldn’t wait to plonk myself onto one of the welcoming deck chairs

Tavajun Bay

Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre
The resort is in the midst of setting up a marine rescue centre at the beach to rehabilitate turtles and other marine life. It should be ready by later part of 2013.

Tavajun Bay

Enjoying the pristine view – it’s not everyday I get to be so intimate with nature. And yes, I have a big butterfly on my head. I only dare to wear it on this private beach. heh.
Butterfly hairband – From Bangkok (they have them in birds too – stay tuned *wink*)
Striped shades – House of Holland

Tavajun Bay

The beach is all mine. Yay.

Tavajun Bay

For lunch, we pre-ordered a personalised a gourmet picnic basket for an indulgent afternoon. Everything was meticulously set-up to create an exclusive ambience. The friendly resort staff was always on-hand to make sure we felt comfortable. I felt so pampered.

Tavajun Bay

Picnicking in idyllic style

Tavajun Bay

The food containers were adorable!

Tavajun Bay

We ordered pitas, crispy brinjal with Thai chilli sauce (our fave), potato salad and an assortment of cheese and fruits. And a bottle of white wine. Indulgence, indulgence. More please!

Tavajun Bay

This guy is definitely born to enjoy life.

Tavajun Bay

Sipping wine while enjoying the beautiful scenery in front of me. I am so glad I don’t need to prepare my own picnic basket for once!

Tavajun Bay

The mountains look even lovelier after a glass of wine.
Sitting on the beach with nary a worry made me think about life, about what I really wanted.
More importantly, it allowed me to share some quality time with my dear friend Darren – cos’ there was no Internet on the island, wahaha :DAt times, I think we are all so attached to the online world, we are hidden behind our mobile devices all the time until we lose sight of the person right in front of us. So coming to Tavajun Bay could be a great way to spend time with a loved one, and we saw honeymooners and elderly couples enjoying each other’s company. It was a wholesome feeling. 

Tavajun Bay

For those who want something more simple, there is a dining area on the beach which serves excellent seafood.

Tavajun Bay

I like the open-air concept

Tavajun Bay

The food is so good a family of wild boars from the jungle regularly visit the restaurant.  They are pretty harmless though (as long as you don’t try anything funny), staying at the boundary of the restaurant while hoping to get some food. This was the first time I came face-to-face with a wild boar, and the feeling was electrifying.

Tavajun Bay

Time to explore the waters after lunch!

Tavajun Bay

I take my hat off Darren – he’s such a natural poser I was left dumb-founded.

Tavajun Bay

I was seduced to try the pose myself too, but I think his was better.

Tavajun Bay

It was soon time to get back to the resort for more activities, and we left feeling well-relaxed and satisfied.

Tavajun Bay

What a wonderful way to spend the day! :)

More on Gaya Island Resort:
Gaya Island Resort – Romancing Sunset
Chasing Nature at Gaya Island Resort
Gaya Island Resort – Finding Zen at the Spa Village