Saturday, September 17, 2011

[LABUAN] So There's a Chimney Made of Bricks

And then what? Labuan is really just stop over for me. I could have easily bought an Air Asia ticket to Miri and asked my parents to accompany me for a weekend Brunei getaway by car (they live an hour away from the border) but I really wanted to try the ferry from KK. Since my flight arrived in the late afternoon, I just went to Borneo BeacHouse to spend the night. I reached Labuan by ferry the next day during lunch time. For directions regarding the ferry, just refer to the Brunei Through Labuan Via Ferry article where the trip is discussed in detail.

Labuan is referred to as the Pearl of the South China Sea. It's composed of the main island and surrounded by around five or six smaller ones that serve as weekend getaways for locals and foreigners alike. It is also known to be an offshore financial center. I've read somewhere that there are around 65 foreign banks here. I don't know if it's true, though. The place is also popular for Duty Free shopping and is well connected to the rest of Malaysia through its international ferry port with connections to Brunei, and its airport with daily flights to KL.

After checking in at Uncle Jack's, I had my typical nasi goreng lunch in a bar nearby where the waitresses were Filipinas. There are a lot of Filipinos here and it should no longer be a surprise to anyone. When in doubt, talk to them in Tagalog. Again, physical appearance is not the best indicator of nationality here. You can also try to distinguish them through their accents, which is a bit hard to do because some of them are proficient in Malay.

I ended up not seeing a lot. Just like its neighbor Kota Kinabalu, Labuan has the same set of tourist attractions which mostly consist of beaches and vacation islands. I decided to do a city tour in lieu of island hopping. The city center is small and most sights can be reached on foot. For tourist spots located north of the island (mostly beaches and historic structures) you can ride one of the vans which they call Mini Bas.

Heading east I was able to visit Labuan Square, Labuan museum (did not go in), Labuan Walk behind it, and the Tourism Info Center next to it. The Financial Park is just a few steps away in front of the Grand Dorsett. The business center has a handful of skyscrapers that make up a good looking skyline, especially when viewed from the ferry offshore. The Grand Dorsett seems to be the most expensive accommodation here as per the Tourism Bureau list, with rates going upwards of 390 ringgit per night. I only paid 20 for Uncle Jack, haha.

Farther east are the Labuan International Sea Sport Complex and the Marine Museum. Both can be reached on a leisurely stroll from the Waterfront, although a ten minute bus ride is also an option. The corresponding bus would be Mini Bas 1, which goes farther north to reach the Botanical Garden and the World War II Memorial, none of which I was able to visit. I'm lazy. And it was hot! I just wanted to find a public pool and jump in, but that didn't happen. Instead, I went to the Bus Station and boarded Mini Bas 6 to the Chimney.

The van can bring you to three tourist locations: the Chimney and Labuan Bird Park which are just next to each other, and Pancur Hitam beach, which the flyer claims to be the most developed on the island. The Chimney is a tall tower of red orange bricks, a remnant of the British occupation and had something to do with the coal mining industry. I had to spend some time looking at it because buses were infrequent, and I did not walk around to discover soon enough that the Bird Park was just three cartwheels away. The Chimney has a museum by the entrance by the way. For the Bird Park I just took a photo before heading to the bus stop once again to wait for the van. I never reached Pancur Hitam in fear that a bus wouldn't come to pick me up. The place is a good 15 km away from the Bandaraya if I'm not mistaken.

It was time for rest and two iced Milo glasses after that. I just stayed at the guest house and finished my Osaka backlogs before falling asleep. Some more tourist spots in Labuan if you are interested: Layang-Layangan Beach, Peace Park, and Surrender Point, all of which are to the north and can be reached via Mini Bas 4. If you are a diver, Labuan has around four wreck dive spots that you can visit, seems like fun but most likely to be expensive.

[LABUAN] So There's a Chimney Made of Bricks

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

Anonymous said...

Hi. How where can i find the bus to chimney? Or how to i reach the city centre? By bus from the ferry terminal? Or can i just walk? Thanks

ihcahieh said...

@Anonymous - Hi. Too far from city center if you walk. I took Mini Bas 6 to get to the Chimney. That is the better option. :)

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