Songwriters’ Round @ Mojo

One of the best places in Singapore to hang out at night is Wala Wala.

They’re one of the very few pubs that seems to get the formula right.
Hot pizzas freshly made – check.
Hoegaarden on tap – check.
Live rock music by the hottest local indie bands – check.
It’s no wonder their crampy 2nd floor gets filled up night after night.

Since then I’ve been trying to find a decent pub in my hometown that can match up to the same standards. Sadly, live music in Kuching is either crappy cover bands or dangdut pubs.
It left me wondering where all the creative juices in Kuching have flowed to. Surely Kuching-nites have more talent than just sitting in coffee shops complaining about the government.

I was told of a Songwriters’ Round held at Mojo one evening and decided to turn up with much skeptism, thinking it’s gonna be more torture than enjoyment.
Mojo is this small but cosy lounge bar located beside Denise the wine shop in Abell Road. They don’t serve Hoegaarden here. What they do have are fancy cocktails like IvannaHumpalot and Creamy Punani, which much to my dismay, is not served inside a real punani. 🙁

Tickets to the Songwriters’ Round cost RM20 and include one standard drink. The line-up was all local indie bands most of whom I’ve never heard of. Mojo was filled up when I got there. Not bad, considering the only promotion Gerald the owner did was by word of mouth.
Rock music wasn’t the only thing on the agenda that night.

Serini builds houses by day, builds dreams by night.

One band made a good effort shaking things up a little. Until this petite little girl came out with a red-feather boa, brought out her friend dressed like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars then proceeded to recite an eerie poem that sent chills down everyone’s spines.

Man, I seriously hope he’s paid to do this.
Also on the card was KL band One Buck Short. Why ‘One Buck Short’ instead of ‘One Ringgit Not Enough’? It’s a cool name for a band, but made them look like they’re always in financial troubles liddat.

The idea for Songwriters’ Round was for patrons to enjoy casual, live, acoustic and unplugged local music in the comfortable setting of a typical lounge room. It’s a nice deviation from rock concerts where it’s often loud, sticky and noisy. Best part is, you can always interact with the performers and tell them how much you love their music after their performance.

How does a punk rock band sound on acoustic guitars and no drums? Pretty darn good, I must say. One Buck Short rocked the house.
But it was Kuching’s own Tempered Mental who stole the show that night.

Lead singer Melina worked the mic like a pro and the crowd loved it. Even I find myself rocking ermm… shaking to their songs. Now, THAT’S the kind of band I’d like to see playing regularly at a pub in Kuching.

Tempered Mental will be playing at gigs in major cities like KL and Singapore over the next few months. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out our Kuching’s finest export.

Just listen to the music. Don’t bother watching the video ‘cos it’s all black.

That was the first Songwriters Round I attended and unexpectedly, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This certainly won’t be my last. Gerald is still looking for performers for the next Songwriters Round, so if you have a passion for singing, performing or anything else, drop into Mojo and let him know.
One thing for sure, I’ll be at their next event.

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Muay Thai Hey Ya

The Thais love their kickboxing alright. No doubt about that.

Muay Thai is one the most vicious and unforgiving martial arts discipline in the world. The sport has made international action heroes out of their fighters, like Ong-Bak. No other martial arts from Southeast Asia enjoys the same popularity outside the region as Muay Thai.
Thailand has Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. Kuching only has Gu-Bak: Pork Chop Eater.

Devoted Muay Thai fighters go through a very punishing conditioning regime that hardens their arms and legs into steel pipe-like toughness. Their bodies so fit there’s not even an ounce of fat left in them.

I had the opportunity to watch live Muay Thai action during my trip there. There’s this stadium on Soi Bangla that promotes itself as “Best of the Best Muay Thai”, so I thought don’t play play – must be good.
This same stadium also claimed to have “real fights”, as opposed to err… fake fights?

Beer. The essential ingredient to every sport.

I paid 700 baht (bargained down from 1000 baht) for a ticket. I won’t say it’s the best RM70 I’ve ever spent but it is something I gotta experience at least once in my life.

One thing that struck me immediately was how very young these fighters start. The first match I witnessed was between at 12-year-old and a 13-year-old. Later in the night there’s even an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old fighting.
Perhaps next time they might have two Thai babies slugging out each other when they’re not sucking on their mommy’s breasts.

The action in the ring was great. There’s one match where we even witnessed a KO in Round One (see video later). However, the production value of the show is crap at best.
Every match is accompanied by a live band that plays some irritating music that sounds like a god-awful cross between Chinese opera music, and Kenny Sia singing karaoke.

As the night went on, it looks like the action OUTSIDE the ring is just as entertaining as the action inside the ring. These girls were just whooping and gyrating wildly throughout the night.

And I can’t help but to do this. Just check out the video. 😉

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If Thais Speak Hokkien

Everyone’s probably sick of reading the Adventures of Kenny Sia in Phuket already so this will be one final entry about my trip.

Oh and you probably won’t get the meaning of this entry if you don’t speak Hokkien, so please bear with me just this once.
You know, with all that notoriety Thailand has as Asia’s sex capital, I gotta wonder what are odds of Phuket sounding like “Fuck It” and the nation’s capital sounding like “Bang Cock”.

What are the odds of me stepping off the plane at Phuket International Airport, and the first thing that I saw was this poster of a baby looking at me with his gaping mouth, eyes wide open, and these Thai words in front it that reads like “DIU”.

I sometimes wonder if all these dubious names would come up if Thais speak Hokkien.

Take an example. The most popular red-light district in Patong Beach is Soi Bangla. In Thai “Soi” means “Street” and “Bangla” means “Festival”“Soi Bangla” simply means “Festival Street”.
In Hokkien however, “Soi Bangla” is a foreign worker from the Bangladesh who is very unlucky.

Elephant porn stars. How is he able to perform with so many people watching?

It’s ridiculous. Sexual connotations are everywhere in Thailand. I was brainwashed after just one day walking around Soi Bangla, so much so that when I saw this shopsign,

And when I saw this shop,

Sometimes, you’ll see shop signs that sound ridiculous, but you can’t pin point what exactly is wrong with it.

I was a little overwhelmed by all these. However, nothing could suppress my laughter when I walked into a dive shop in Phuket, and adorned on the walls are posters promoting dive trips to…

What kinda name for an island is THAT?!
Man, I can so imagine seeing a yellow-haired Paikia Ah Beng squatting on a wooden bench, floral shirt unbuttoned halfway, dragon tattoo, cigarette in one hand, yelling “OI! LU KUA SIMI KUA?! KUA SIMI LAN?!”

If the island is called Similan Island, does that mean the birds on the island are called “Similan Jiao”?

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Steady Steady Pom Phi Phi Island

It’s interesting to note that prostitution is officially illegal in Thailand, but the law that was erected (excuse the pun) is paper-tiger at best.

For most tourists who don’t want to have sex with Thai hookers, Phuket offers plenty of opportunities for us to make love to Mother Nature.
The Patong nightlife was a bit too much for me, so I decided to take it easy at the quieter Kata Beach – 20 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Patong.
Anyway, this more of a photoblog entry. If you like any of the photos here, click on it to download a larger size one for your computer wallpaper.

Kata Beach is a more family-oriented G-rated beach compared to Patong. There’s no sex or debauchery and the only form nudity here is the pure and innocent kind.
It’s beautiful here. I regret I didn’t stay here from Day One.

There’s not many places in the world where can you enjoy a mouth-watering plate of Pad Thai while sitting shirtless in an classy open-air restaurant overlooking the entire Kata beach – all for just 50 baht / RM5.

On day two, after my buffet ‘brick fart’ at the hotel, I hopped on the tour bus I booked a day earlier [1400 baht/RM140].
Destination: Phi Phi Islands.

This is a destination NOT to be missed by anyone travelling to Phuket. The wind-carved limestone rocks stand majestically in the background. The sand is soft and white, and the crystal clear Andaman sea is actually torquoise.
It was simply breathtaking.

This is Maya Bay, the filming location of that Leonardo Di Caprio movie “The Beach”.
Just like how McDonald’s burgers never look the same as they do on the menu, Maya Bay was nothing like how it was in the movie, especially after so many tourists and speedboats crammed the place.

I was put in the same boat together with some Australians, some Kuwaitis and a few holidaying Thais. Stupid me made a boo-boo when I asked the Thais onboard “Are you going to provide us with lunch?”
They gave me this weird look instead like I just insulted their grandmother. “I think you better ask the tour guide instead.”
OMG! I was so embarrassed I was about to jump off the boat and swim back to Kuching.

It’s so bad to assume they’re tour guides just because they’re Thais. I should know. Once I was in Attica (a very popular expat nightclub in Singapore), an angmoh thought I was a waiter working there and ordered some drinks from me. Bloody tulan.

We stopped at an island where there’s a big group of monkeys were seemingly waiting for us.
Tour Guide: “Alright! We stop here. We going to fitting monkey.”
Kenny: “Huh? Fitting monkey? With what?”
Tour Guide: “We going to fitting monkey with bananas!”

Feeding monkeys with bananas lah. Nabeh, make me excited nia.

We stopped at this bay where there are literally thousands of tropical fishies just waiting to be fed.

You haven’t experienced Phuket until you’ve snorkelled here. The corals are great. The visibility underwater is great. Everything here is great!

Look at how many of them there are!
There I was holding a piece of bread on my hand and all these fish were just nibbling right off my fingers.
It was an amazing feeling. Beats watching from behind a glass wall ANYTIME.
We had lunch at Phi Phi Don – one of the main islands. It’s a quiet and quaint little town still rebuilding itself after the devastation of the Tsunami. Everything here is so quiet and slow-moving.
Even their pets act lazy.


The beaches on Phi Phi Don have really spectacular views.

I mean, REALLY spectacular views.

Later on, we explored the tiny but beautiful Khai Island – another “must-go” destination.

The entire island is no bigger than a soccer field and it’s not as crowded as the bigger islands we’ve been to.

The water surrounding the island is so clean and clear it’s begging for me to snorkelled in it.
There’s a real danger snorkelling here though. Sea urchins lurking underwater are plentyful. At one point, a jellyfish was swimming past my belly, barely missing me by an inch.

I wasn’t so much afraid of being stung by a sea urchin or a jelly fish. But I heard the local remedy for treating such injuries is by getting someone to pee into a coconut shell, and then pour the urine over the open wound. Heh, I was afraid of receiving treatment more than injuring myself.

It’s so nice over here.
I almost didn’t want to leave.

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Sex, Sleaze and Massage in Phuket

So I asked the tuk-tuk driver, “Take me to the biggest and most popular massage place in Phuket.” and he said “You want massage? I bring you go ‘Christian Massage’.”

Christian Massage? What kinda massage centre has a name called “Christian Massage”? Must be some kinda sick religious freaks they have in Thailand. I’m imagining them reciting passages from The Bible while massaging my feet. “Cast ye away every man muscle aches, back pain and sore feet. Improve ye blood circulation!”
I was still puzzled over that ridiculous name for a massage centre when I arrived at this humungous pink-purple building.

Ohhhh…. Christin Massage. My mistake.
So I happily entered the building, hopped up the staircase and then OMG!
What I saw was ROWS AND ROWS of scantily-clad heavily-made-up ladies sitting behind a huge glass window smiling and waving at me. KNNCCB. This is not a massage centre! I just walked into a friggin’ BROTHEL!!!
WTF? Before the pimp can even talk to me I was already out the building cursing that damned tuk-tuk driver under my breath.
Only after some asking, searching and digging around that I finally settled for this place instead.

Let’s Relax? Of course. And I never regretted coming here. This place is a complete contrast to that whore house that is Christin. Everything here exudes the first-class charm and all the hallmarks of a private sanctuary. I love it so much I ended up coming here twice in 3 days.

I walked in there and the receptionist politely greeted me Sawadeekarp. I gave her my credit card she said Sawadeekarp. I got my card back she said Sawadeekarp. Sometimes I dunno if she said Sawadeekarp or I wanna swipe your credit card.

The Thai massage [500baht/RM50] I had was absolutely out of this world. My masseuse knows all the right spots to hit. It was very relaxing. I had my limbs bent in the opposite direction God intended them to be. But it was well worth it.
Instantly I felt human again.

Of course, no trip in Thailand is complete without witnessing the sleazy nightlife that the tom-yum kingdom is famous for. After watched some Muay Thai action [700baht/RM70], it’s time to explore the a-go-go bars.

Best. Toilet sign. Ever.

It’s a disappointment ok. There’s nothing there but vaguely sexy girls dancing with vaguely erotic moves. Sorry but I wasn’t turned on at all.
Heh, if I wanna see girls in skimpy outfits dancing like a slut I can just go for ‘Ghetto Heaven’ nights in Zouk KL. They’re much better anyway.

Sometimes even the tourists themselves hop onto the bartop to dance with the go-go girls.

There are easily more working girls than guys at night in Phuket. Walking around the red light district of Phuket, I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad.

Happy because there are so many girls in itsy-bitsy-tiny clothings walking around. Sad because of the desperation and lengths these girls go through to try to secure a client.

This statue pretty much sums up what the sex tourists in Phuket are like.

I can’t even walk from one end of the street to the other without having at least 3-4 freelance hookers all wanting to spend the night with me.

For the record, I wasn’t up to any naughties while I was in Phuket. It’s a bad idea to do that because:
(1) You don’t want to bring back a disease as a souvenir.
(2) You wouldn’t know whether the person you sleep with is a girl with a butt-ugly face, or a guy with really good make-up.
(3) Paying for sex is just… so wrong.

Regardless, sights like these around the red light district is pretty common.

It’s Phuket Bike Week and there were huge groups of bikie gang members from Malaysia, Singapore and around the world congregating in this little island showing off their boy toys. At times, you’ll see a sumo-sized American riding a Harley Davidson down the road, and a tiny Thai girl 1/5 his size sitting on the back.

The Singaporean War Pigs is what they called themselves.

As I walked into Tiger Entertainment, a very tall and manly transvestite grabbed me by the testicles to attract my attention. Hello? Whatever happened to tapping on my shoulders?
“Hiiii, I lab youuuu!” the tranny said as (s)he gave my balls a nice big rub. I have no idea why she said that. But I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read and she’s not one of my fan girls.

Don’t be tempted. These are MEN.

For lack of a better description, Tiger Entertainment is one sleazy dirty fucked up place.

I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s like a food court. Instead of individual stalls, they have bars. And each bar has their own army of girls who will go out of their way to make you pay for their overpriced drinks.

Found myself a bar where the girls were dressed up as schoolgirls and bought myself a beer [90baht/RM9].

It didn’t take long for one of them to sit next to me and asked me to buy her a drink. 150 baht for a vodka orange. Out of courtesy I said ok lah.
She thanked me and before I knew it, the girl was sitting on my lap and licking on my ear. I was so excited, my Big Bird got bird flu.

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The Phuket trip was a total blast.

There’s too much to write and I’m sure nobody wanna about read how much of a great time I had, otherwise people are gonna have this image of me smirking at everyone else staying at home over the Good Friday long weekend. So I’ll keep it as short and sweet as possible.

The view of the majestic Andaman Sea from the plane was absolutely spectacular. It’s like watching a movie trailer teasing me of what’s to come before I get to experience the real thing.
Touched down Phuket International Airport 1pm on the 14th April. As soon as I walked out of the arrival gates, 143 minivan taxi touts were already there waiting to pounce on poor widdle me. It reminds me of KLIA, except they’re not illegal and the Thais don’t make those annoying kissy kissy sounds the KL taxi touts make to grab attention.

“Where you go? Taxi? Patong Beach? 150 Baht (RM15)!”
Patong Beach my ass. The first stop every tourist made is most likely at that tour agency who had connections with the taxi driver. I spent 10 minutes in there, and ended up paying for an pricey accomodation at a resort hotel.

Tour Agent: “This one good. 2000 baht (RM200) a night and comes with big fart.”
Kenny: “Comes with what?”
Tour Agent: “Brick fart.”
Kenny: “Oh you mean breakfast?”
Tour Agent: “Ya ya! Buffet brick fart!”

My bungalow in Duong Jitt Resort, Phuket.

I soon discovered that I’ve been ripped off. Turns out that the prices of almost everything in Phuket can be haggled and bargained for, and Kenny Sia suck major ass in that department.

Hey I’m here for holidays, not to engage in some petty business negotiations – that’s reserved for work. Me being here must’ve contributed greatly to the Phuket Tsunami Restoration Fund, which is a good thing, I guess.

Anyway, I arrived in Patong Beach after much delay. Was kinda disappointed I came a day after the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year). The Thais celebrate it by dousing random strangers with water, and the taxi driver told us there was some huge water fights going on during the day that we’ve missed.
So instead of watching chicks soaked in wet T-shirts, I had to put up with watching bald, burly and oversized bikie gang members who were here for Phuket Bike Week. 🙁

Phuket Island looks and feels very much like Malaysia’s own Penang Island, except the signs are all in some weird font I can’t understand. There are virtually no signs of the tsunami disaster that hit the area in 2004. The tourists have come back in droves and business is better than ever.

The entire Phuket Island is surrounded by beautiful beaches – the biggest, loudest and most popular of which is Patong Beach. This one isn’t the prettiest beach, but definitely the most interesting. Over here, tourism reigns supreme and commercialism is in its full glorious swing.

Every other shoplot around Patong is either a pub or a hotel or a souvenir shop or a tour agent or a tailor or a massage centre. These curious little shops keep the island lively and busy but it gets repetitive after a while.
The town council obviously wasn’t too imaginative when it comes to planning the beach front. They simply just CTRL-C one section and then CTRL-V all over the place.

The street vendors here are among the most enterprising ones I’ve seen. They’re also the most polite street vendors. Always trying to make an extra quick buck of you but never pushy. Everywhere you go, people are trying to sell you T-shirts, lamps and necklaces.
The scene here reminds me very much of Petaling Street. Unlike our Malaysian counterparts though, they won’t scold you rude words if you just look and don’t buy.

I walked into a tailor shop and paid 5000 baht (RM500) for two sets of made-to-measure work shirts, cashmere trousers, silk ties and belts. The Indian salesman even threw in another tie in for free. Not the cheapest in Thailand, but still a bargain.

It was almost sunset when I felt the urge to fly the skies and see Patong from a different angle.

It was completely on impulse that I paid a vendor on the beach 800 baht (RM80) to take me parasailing. Most likely I overpaid again, but it was worth every cent of it.

Moments later I was in the air with a life jacket on my back, a stupid harness strapped tightly around my groin, and one muthafarking daredevil behind me hanging on to NOTHING but the suspension lines of the parachute!

Look ma, no safety harness!

It was unbelievable. I was worried about him falling off more than I was worried about myself!

View of Patong from the parasailing experience

The whole thing was disappointingly short though, but still orgasmically good. There’s nothing like having a 5-minute long orgasm with a strange man wrapping his legs around you from behind.

It was getting late Feeling a bit voracious, I decided to seek food.
Dining in Phuket was absolutely divine. The fried rice was downright mouthwatering and the Thai spices packed in all the delightful flavours.

Their oysters are so big, fresh and succulent. And they’re just 30 baht (RM 3) each!

I’ve had more expensive oysters in Australia and New Zealand, but seriously, these ones are hands-down the best fresh oysters EVER.

After dinner, I felt the need for a some good old fashioned Thai massage. But the entire Patong Beach was FILLED TO THE BRIM with massage centres. There’s even a place that combines an internet cafe with a massage centre!

I don’t wanna waste my time and money on some half-arsed massage by a tranny. So I hailed down a tuk-tuk and asked the taxi driver to bring me to the biggest and best massage centre in Patong.
And that’s when my Phuket adventures really began…

(more, to be continued)

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This Is Better Than Freedom Fries

They probably meant ‘French Fries’, but I could be wrong.

These signs are EVERYWHERE in Phuket. Looks like they don’t like the French too much over there in Thailand. I can sorta visualise a burly Thai chef in the kitchen throwing unsuspecting French tourists into a frying pan full of oil.

Better not visit Phuket if you’re from France, otherwise you might end up as a fast food menu item.

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Phuket, Understand?

There will be no major updates on until Wednesday.
my luggage
I’m on a much needed holiday break in the tropical island paradise of Phuket, Thailand.
phuket from the air
Hey, I deserve this. 🙂 After all I’ve been working hard and busting my baht for the past 4 months. So all I wanna do right now is kick back, relax and have a good thai.
Be nice to each other now.

Dolphins In Kuching

There are dolphins in Kuching.
It’s true. Not kidding. I neber bluff u ppl one.
Yes, there are indeed dolphins in Kuching. That’s a fact. I didn’t know it and I think most people in Kuching never realised either. Can you believe it? The ironic thing is that it took a Brit to tell me that there are dolphins in my own backyard when I’ve lived here for 16 years of my life. How embarrassing right?

One thing though. If you’re hoping that the dolphins we have in Kuching are ANYTHING like the ones you see on Gold Coast that can jump through hoops, do tricks and win Olympic gold medals in gymnastics; then sorry lah my friend. You’ll be sorely disappointed.
The dolphins we have in Kuching are Irrawaddy Dolphins. Part of the reason why not many people bother about them is because they are possibly the most boring dolphin species EVER.

Look at it. They are nothing like those dolphins you see in Hollywood movies which are all playful, cute and cuddly. Our Kuching dolphins are so damn freaking ugly they are like the Furong Jiejie of dolphins.

When Francis told me about it, I was skeptical.
Yes, Francis, there are dolphins in Kuching. And there are penguins eating kolo mee in Sekama too.
I thought this Francis must be nuts. Maybe he kayak too much, his wife not happy and whacked him in the head with the kayak paddle. Nonetheless I was still interested and curious about these “Kuching dolphins”.

Francis proposed that we go dolphin watching on a kayak and we agreed to meet up during the Tuesday public holiday. Joining us were Peggy from World Conservation Society in New York and the dolphin expert Wayne from
Together, we are the Oarsome Foursome. Hur hur.

The weather that day was simply perfect. And it turns out we don’t even have to travel far to go dolphin-watching.

Wayne brought us to an abandoned private beach in Santubong – just 40 minutes away from the city and a short distance away from the Damai Beach resort area. Dolphins in Santubong? Now I’m even more skeptical.
By the way, this marks the second time I kayak, and the first time I had to paddle a one-person kayak into an open river.

Someone in the background doesn’t like me. 🙁

After a false start, I managed to get my body into the kayak. Along with two muddy feet.

We were paddling aimlessly for about half an hour or so in the Santubong River and there wasn’t any signs of dolphins around. I was disappointed, though I wasn’t exactly expecting to see any to begin with.
Irrawaddy Dolphins are after all listed as an endangered species, so it’s likely less than 0.1% of the Kuching population has seen one. If you can spot one in Kuching, can buy 4D liaw.

I joked to Francis telling him that if we couldn’t take photos of the dolphins, I’ll just photoshop some up so people would believe us. Then we heard it.
“Over there!” Peggy yelled out to us. We stared at the general direction she was pointing at, and we saw this.

We were so excited we nearly creamed our pants.
The four of us quickly paddled towards the dolphins, probably scaring them off in the process. It wasn’t until much later when we learnt how to approach the dolphins cautiously that they begin to warm up to us. And when they come in groups, boy, do they come in large groups.

At one point in the water, we were quietly sitting on our kayaks and four different groups of dolphins were encircling us. Each group probably around 10 dolphins. There were no propellers, no noise, no sounds of paddles hitting the water.

Just the four of us, silently watching dolphins swimming from all around us, rolling up gracefully onto the surface, sprouting jets of water off their backs before diving back down again. They look so tame, so harmless in the nature.

It was an amazing experience of sight and sound. Words cannot do justice to how magical it was to be so close those rare and elusive dolphins of Sarawak in the wild. And I take pride in knowing that I’m one of the first few to be watching these gentle mammals from a kayak.
To me, it sure beats watching stupid dolphins jumping around in Sea World.

For more information on dolphins in Sarawak, visit Wayne’s blog. Or try your hand at kayaking with Francis Ho.
Kuching is a great place. There’s no other cities in the world I know of that allows you to watch wild dolphins frolicking about in their natural habitat without travelling miles away into the countryside. For now, we still have the privilege of watching these endangered dolphins off the shores of Santubong.

That’s a privilege we should make full use of. At least until they decide to build more resorts around the area and scare all the dolphins away with pollution.