Sunday, April 05, 2015

Shangri-la does exist

We knew we wanted to go somewhere for a little getaway for my birthday and we knew we wanted the beach.  A friend recommended Kota Kinabalu, and more specifically Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort. John and I had never even heard of it.  It is on the Island of Borneo in Malaysia.  I have never been more pleased with a destination!  We had the best, most relaxing time.  The resort was so beautiful, the staff almost all spoke English, it was super clean and the restaurants were really good.  It was easy to navigate around the resort, and there was always someone close by willing to answer questions.  Our room, in the Ocean Wing, was fantastic.  It had plenty of room for 2 adults and the Tiny American to spread out.  The patio had a spectacular view of the pool and the ocean.  It had comfy furniture to hang out on and enjoy the view and a giant tub that the Tiny American made use of.

When we were planning the trip we realized that there was a direct flight from Taipei to Kota Kinabalu that would have us at our destination in about 3 1/2 hours.  When traveling with the Tiny American a short flight  sounds awesome.  No transfers, no layovers, etc...but it was an airline that we were not 100% comfortable flying so we opted for a flight through Hong Kong which meant an additional 1 1/2 hours of flight time as well as a short layover.  We are lucky and Z is a good traveler for the most part.  We downloaded his favorite program onto the iPad and brought a couple of his favorite books, which we all have memorized now, and he was good.  We lucked out on our long flight there and back and had an extra seat in our row so we could spread out. People ask us how we travel with a prepared.  Bring little snacks, small toys and books. Like i said the iPad saves us when nothing else works; but most importantly, have patience.  It's not always easy, but I feel like if we stay relaxed and patient he will too and usually that works.  

The way we enjoy the beach with our Tiny American is pretty simple.  We get up early, we do anyway so we may as well make use of our time, breakfast at Shangri-la starts at 6:30 so we were some of the first ones there.  They serve a combination of Western and Asian breakfast choices.  They had a good selection of things that all of us liked.  One thing I don't understand, and it seems to be a cultural thing, is that they do not cook their omelets all the way, they leave them runny. It takes some getting used to. You could also order from the menu but we did not do that either morning.  The breakfast location looks out over the beach.  With full bellies we would head out to the beach for a couple of hours of sand and surf time.  It was easy to get a chair this early and the sun wasn't as harsh for Z.  This summer when we were at the beach he was not especially crazy about the ocean, but he has gotten over that and LOVED it. The first morning I wasn't sure we were going to get him out of the water!  He actually fell asleep on daddy's shoulders on the way back to the room. If I had one complaint about the whole resort it would be that there were not enough beach chairs and umbrellas on the beach.  If we had gone later in the day it would have been tough to find a shady spot.

I love to shell at the beach and there were lots of tiny perfect shells of all shape and color but they all still had someone living in them....Z loved that of course.  SO we only came home with one perfect sand dollar that John found on our last morning.

During nap time one day John had a massage and the next day I did.  John was also able to get in a round of golf on their beautiful course.  He saw several very large lizards on the course.  There were signs warning about crocodiles!

The pool was awesome and we spent time there in the afternoons.  Lots of chairs and umbrellas line the pool deck.  There wasn't a dedicated kiddie pool on our side of the resort but it had the zero entry and very gradually got deeper so it was perfect for Z.  The resort does have another pool with lots of kid friendly slides and features that if we go back someday when Z is bigger he will get full use of!

One of the coolest features of this resort is that they work in cooperation with Sabah Wildlife Department to rescue and rehabilitate Orang-utans.  They have a 64 acre nature preserve that hosts a wide variety of wildlife.  We were able to take a short hike into the preserve to an observation area and see the 2 Orang-utan they have in their program right now being fed.  It was so cool.  We got there in time to see them come through the jungle.  They are small, only 5 years old and maybe 1/3 the size they will eventually be and they seriously disrupted the trees when they swung in.  It was awesome to see and fun to see Z watch them.  He wasn't old enough for us to do some of the other walks you can do through the preserve, they offer several opportunities to see the other inhabitants of the jungle.

I had read that the sunset from the beach where we were was in the top 10  of best sunsets anywhere in the world....and it was.  I have never been anywhere where i could actually watch the sun just disappear into the water.  It was so beautiful. Z enjoyed playing in the sand and we enjoyed the breeze and the amazing view.

Sunset the first night.

sunset our last night

We dined one evening at a Japanese Tapenyaki restaurant.  The food was really good and it gave us an opportunity to visit with some of the other guests.  They chef was good about fixing Z his food first and not making him wait. It was still a little tough for him to sit for that long. The last night we dined at their open air restaurant that was set up like a street market with different offerings at each stall.  We tried several stalls but both really loved the Asian Fry Noodle place.  It was crazy crowded and took a very long time to get our food, but it was totally worth the wait.  The atmosphere was good and it made the wait not so bad.

I love this picture!

Our trip home was uneventful, just the way we like it!  It was a fun break from the city.  I think we will most definitely go back, maybe for Chinese New Year.  John liked it so much i'm not sure I will get him to go anywhere else, but I still want to see a few other things! But if you are ever planning a trip to Malaysia I would recommend Rasa Ria.

linking up with Tiny Expats here  show me your world.


  1. What a wonderful family vacation! How neat about the oragutans. Such a great cause! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great photos! It looks, like it was an amazing holiday :) And the tiny traveller sure had fun :) Thank you for participating in my Show Your World event! Could you place a line with a link n the end of this post as well, showing that you participate? (Spreading the word ;)

  3. Such cute photos of your little one! He is soo sweet :-)