Why drink and drive when you can indulge and fly?

arrivals

I must admit, I usually go to the airport just in time to catch my flight. I never even notice most things there – it’s just a transit point for me to get to my destination.

alcohol

I might grab a beer before the flight and I’ll definitely get cigarettes and alcohol if I’m flying international. That would be the extent of my airport experience. smirk

probiscus monkey

I was at Kota Kinabalu International Airport for an entire day last Saturday. I flew in on the first flight and flew out on the last flight back to KL. Here are my experiences while I was there:

The Terminal

Dining at KKIA

Stink or swim

kk view

This is the furthest I’ve ventured from the airport. The concept of this trip is supposed to be like The Terminal where you live inside an airport. I can definitely see that happening – there are toilets for your showers, food outlets for your dining needs, and perhaps you can even work part time. Heh!

famous amos

If, for some reason a civil war broke out in your home country while you’re mid-flight and your passport isn’t recognized anymore, I can safely say that yes, you can survive and even enjoy living in an airport.

kufong theraphy centre

Anyway, enough about that. KKIA has more offerings that I ever thought existed…like this massage place called Ku Fong Therapy Center. I went there to check it out coz I’ve been running around the entire airport and it was pure bliss.

herbal foot spa

The herbal foot spa involves submerging your feet into water mixed with herbal powder and cleaning it. You’ll also get a full massage up to your thighs – very nice after a tiring day. smirk

The foot scrub treatment is a pedicure of sorts. It lasts a full hour and it totally invigorated me for more exploration.

massage

Stephanie was kind enough to offer me a complimentary back massage for 30 minutes but unfortunately I had to turn her down since I had a limited time to shop.

cosmetics

Shop? Huai Bin? Yes, you heard me right. There are a lot of duty free items that everyone can get – perfumes and chocolates are available for purchase even if you’re flying domestic.

jack daniels

Naturally, I went for liquor filled chocolates. I’m a huge fan of these things – they’re not chocolates per se but pralines. Mmm…

chanel

Perfumes and chocolates in duty free costs A LOT less than what you’ll find in retail. It’s a good reason to grab some when you’re at the airport. My friend asked me to buy a bottle of Chanel for her.

cafe de jesselton

I headed over to get some food next – there’s some awesome coffee to be had at Jesselton Kopitiam at departures with a GREAT view of the runway.

jesselton kopitam interior

That’s the best part – you’ll see if your plane has arrived just from that coffee shop.

jesselton kopitam tenom kopi

Mr Kay was very kind – he noticed that I loved Kopi Tenom so much that he gave me some for my trip back!

jesselton kopitam crew

It was good talking with him about how F&B in airports work and the clienteles’ different preferences in food.

runway view

The view of Kota Kinabalu from the terminal is breathtaking. I’ve been here twice – once to conquer Mt. Kinabalu and the other time just to relax at the islands.

travel and tours

Hey, if you find it appealing you can always head out one of their tours!

bonia

I bought quite a lot of stuff at the airport, including a jacket from Bonia that I thought looked really cool on me.

handicrafts

I also got chocolates (for myself) and perfumes for friends.

ck collectors bottle with speakers

I really like this limited edition CK one/be that comes with built-in speakers (!!!).

giant fish

The Malaysia Mega Sales is also running now so you get twice the bang for your buck! There will be additional rewards and prizes from now until the 16th of September. Spend a minimum RM 250 and get an entry to Indulge & Win Contest + a RM10 on the spot voucher which you can use immediately. If you’re a Mastercard holder you get double the chance to win (2 entry forms) in the Indulge & Win Contest. Spend RM 350 using MasterCard and get all those and an additional nifty Recycle and Indulge green bag! All purchases made using a Mastercard will get 20% off!

curry chicken

No worries if you’re not a Mastercard holder – you’ll still get the RM 10 voucher to spend as you like! Plus you get 15% off everything too!

indulge till you fly form

The entry form is for the Indulge & Win contest which starts from now until 6th January 2011. Just spend RM 250 and above on anything at the airport (spas, shopping, dining) at KLIA, LCCT, PIA, KIA, KKIA or LIA and win fantastic prizes. You must submit the form with a maximum of 3 cumulative receipts totaling RM 250 on the same day. Mastercard owners will get twice the number of entries!

sabah pearl

Now to the prizes!

They’re giving away 10 pairs of First Class Indulgent Holiday Packages comprising of:

– Two (2) first-class return air tickets to Cape Town, London or Sydney
– Three-nights complimentary stay at one of the following five-star hotels
   – The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town
   – The Landmark Hotel in London
   – The Blue Hotel in Sydney
– Top-of-the-range local holiday experience at any one of these destinations
   – Full-day Safari at Fairy Glen, Cape Town
   – Afternoon tea at Langham, London
   – Seaplane tour of New South Wales Coastline
– Every package consist of indulging dining and spa experience

indulge till you fly girl

OMG! Wish me luck coz if I win I’m going to choose Cape Town! :)

indulge and win entry

Get more details about the Indulge & Win contest here.

You know you want to join. How can you resist? smirk

Stink or swim

souvenior

You need souvenirs when you’re on vacation right? No, not her, you can’t take her back. :p

alam sensasi girls

I mean real souvenirs – and those souvenirs shouldn’t be your garden variety items which anyone can get so you’ll want to get something that reflects the culture of the place you’ve been too. Alam Sensasi has got it covered.

masks

Masks to scare people with?
Check!

sabah tea

Sabah tea?
Got it!

alam sensasi

“I was here” t-shirts?
Got ya covered!

You can even choose:

stink

S(t)ink

or

swim

Swim

Quite witty right? Right? Erm…can I at least get a sympathy smirk?

drums

Local drums?
They haz it! Large or small whatever rocks your boat.

gamat soap

There’s even Gamat (sea cucumber) soap that claims to cure just about any dermatological condition…

sabah pearl

…and other items like Sabah pearls. I was told these are pearls harvested from oysters from the seas around KK.

They even have more esoteric items like local gongs if you feel like lugging it back home with you.

That’s part of the local retail experience you get. Perfect for last minute souvenir hunting.

books and magazines

There is also the obligatory bookstore to save you from boredom during long haul flights (Kota Kinabalu International Airport flies to places like Korea and Taiwan, to name a few).

I love this local seafood store too. It’s called Dried, Frozen Seafood & Bird’s Nest Shop. Very straight to the point, they believe in pragmatic naming, none of that vague artsy fartsy creative stuff. ;)

dried frozen seafood and birds nest shop

It brings the fresh seafood of Sabah back from where you’re from. The best thing is that everything is flash frozen so you can bring it back!

sabah abalone

Sabah is famous for its fresh and cheap seafood – they have abalone going for RM 50 in packs of 2-4 (depending on size). That is REALLY cheap and I wish I bought some but my freezer is a little full right about now.

huge fish

There’s even large (HUGE actually) cuts of fish which you can bring back and claim you caught it while deep sea fishing in Kota Kinabalu if you’re so inclined. smirk

nice girl

This is the girl that was manning the Indulge & Win contest. She’s really friendly and helped me a lot in filling out the form.

I submitted my forms and now I hope I win. BTW, here’s a tip for you – the answer is 5 for the number of international airports MAHB handles. ;)

i with a cute chick

I’m with a cute chick. smirk

Dining at KKIA

tenom coffee black

REAL MEN DRINK IT BLACK!

asian delights food

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Eating in airports is usually a last resort. It doesn’t have to be though, airports have grown in leaps and bounds when it comes to food. It’s not just your usual fast food joints anymore with a 30% markup.

golden arches

…though the Golden Arches does have a presence here.

asian delights

Kota Kinabalu International Airport has a wide range of local and international food to suit all palates. Their F&B repertoir is quite impressive. I guess it’s coz of the unique nature of this airport – a lot of Koreans fly in, as well as Caucasians coming to conquer Mt. Kinabalu, brave the white water rapids after and go diving in some of the best spots in the world.

asian delights staff

I had a late lunch courtesy of Mr. Kay, who manages both Asian Delights and Jesselton Kopitiam. The former is located at at Arrivals while the latter at Departures. I managed to glean some interesting information from him – what the Koreans and Japanese prefer vs what Caucasians and the locals prefer.

asian delights interior

He also related a really funny anecdote about the sensitivity of the smoke detectors in the airport. It’s for safety reasons and that’s why they have two different outlets here.

asian delights eating

Asian Delights has proper cooked food while Jesselton Kopitiam doesn’t due to the regulations on cooking in the Departures area (what they call Airside).

tenom coffee milk sugar

Anyway, I had the famous Jesselton Coffee a.k.a. Kopi Tenom which is famous in Sabah. It’s rich and aromatic and it’s available at both outlets. Kao, I like. Give me this to Starbucks any day! (which also has a presence here)

curry chicken

This is the curry chicken. It’s one of the dishes that Mr Kay recommended. I like the thickness of the gravy. It’s unlike Malay curry – it’s cooked local style so it has uniquely Sabah flavors to it. I ended up scooping up the gravy with my rice. It’s really good.

asian delights sambal chicken

Their other specialty is the sambal chicken. This one is spicy and very reasonably priced. The version with rice is priced at RM 12.90, as most main dishes are. We had just the dish alone with side orders of rice. He wanted to get me to try the beef rendang as well but I was so full at that point that I simply couldn’t fit anymore food in!

tenom kopi

The highlight of this place is definitely the coffee – be sure to try the famous Tenom coffee. It kept me awake the entire day!

cute chick

I went shopping after that (more on that tomorrow) for the Indulge & Win contest. How can I resist, especially with the awesome prizes (and the cute chick manning the booth). ;)

The Terminal

Greetings from the Land Below The Clouds! I’m in KKIA (Kota Kinabalu International Airport) right now, doing a Tom Hanks. smirk

kkia

I’m just staying here for the day though unlike the unfortunate protagonist in the movie. Anyway, I’ve been wondering around the airport and discovered an interesting thing. You CAN buy duty free goods despite flying domestic but it’s limited to perfumes only.

There are plenty of duty free stuff to buy over here.

Stuff for me

alcohol

A variety of ethanol based beverages including the new Absolut Acai Berry. It has replaced the Flavors of the Tropics Travellers Edition as their latest version. I was like a kid in a candy store. I like checking out the higher end single malts that I know I cannot afford. One can drool though. :p

Stuff for the kids

chocolates

Chocolates galore! It’s much cheaper than what you would get from retail prices. There’s large range to choose from. Actually it’s not just for kids, a lot of adults enjoy chocolates too. Except Aud.

Stuff for people who need therapy

perfumes

Britney Spears? Geddit? Okay, sounded a bit lame over there. :p

ck miniatures

Actually, they have a wide range of perfumes, and I got a CK miniatures collectible perfume.

Stuff for me again!

liquor chocolates

No prizes for guessing what kind of chocolates I like. Heh!

In addition to duty free, there are a lot of other items you can get like jewelry.

couple rings

This woman was trying to get me to buy a couple ring. She offered me 70% off the price tag which is a very, very good deal…

…except I don’t have a girlfriend. Heh!

888

I was quite tempted to get this RM 888 bracelet though…you know, since the proprietor was kind enough to slash off the price and I might need it as a gift to me future girlfriend. smirk

jewelry

Okay, I’m off to get a massage right now.

Hmm…that doesn’t sound right. Future girlfriend segueing into a massage…

Let me clarify – it’s a foot massage! Foot reflexology so I can…er, learn techniques to get brownie points with the other half. smirk

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