Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Labuan is a part of Malaysia Federal territory and quite well known as an offshore financial centre. Offshore? Because it's an island. We took a two hours and 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu to Menumbok. From Menumbok, we took another 30 minutes of speed boat to Labuan. The speed boat service is available almost once an hour, while ferry service (which will take one hour 30 minutes), twice a day. Of course, you can go to Labuan by air as well.

Photo shows the ferry (upper left), speed boat (lower left), our photo on the top deck of the ferry (upper right), and our photo inside the speed boat, with Betty's dad (lower right).

The journey on water with speed boat was really rocky. The boat, always drove by the wave off the surface and slammed back, splashed a certain amount of salt water few feet into the air with a hard knocking sound. The process continued for half an hour, with the speed around 60 km/hour. Can you imagine the feeling of staying in a moving DNA mixer in theme park for 30 minutes? We came out alive, with a little bit of advice: don't use the speed boat after 12 noon, when the sea gradually turns rocky, unless you're really adventurous. By the way, if you really wish to try once, please do it with your stomach empty (our photo inside the speed boat was taken a few seconds before the crazy journey begun). So, we decided to take ferry to return to Menumbok. The ferry was more steady, but move slower. Don't worry, the ferry was completed with air-conditioner, LCD flatscreens, foodstalls with nice drinks, and decks that offerred nice views. So, we had a really good time on the ferry (comparatively).

Labuan's streets.

Labuan is a small town, with around 80,000 population, which around 20% of them are not locals (students, immigrants, contract workers, etc.). It's the grown up place of Betty's parents. So, we have many (almost uncountable :-p) relatives here, and of course, we would never lack of good tour guides on this small island. We visited some of the places of interest on this small island- The Chimney, long stretch of beautiful beaches (Pancur Hitam, Layang-layang and Pohon Batu), International Campus of University Malaysia Sabah, State Mosque, the Surrender Point, Patau-patau and Bebuloh water villages, and International Sea Sport Complex.

 The Chimney, which its usage is still a mistery until today, stand 106 feet high at Tanjung Kubong (besides Labuan Bird Park). Believed to be built during the coal mining era (1847-1912), the structure contains 23,000 England imported bricks with 12 layers of foundations beneath the surface. The bird park was closed for maintainance during our visit.
Photo taken at Layang-layang Beach, backgrounded with a shrubed rock.

There is a must-visit historical place in our list- The exact surrender point of the Japanese army to the Australian army, marked the end of the 2nd World War in Borneo. The Peace Park is just a few steps away from the surrender point. Funded and maintained mainly by the Japanese Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, the park were really well maintained and served as a memorial of the war.

We took photo with Betty's father and youngest sister, Katty. The memorial stone states "Here, on the 9 Nov, 1945, the commander of the 9th division, Australian Imperial Forces, received the unconditional surrender of the 32nd Japanese Sourthern Army in North Borneo and Sarawak".
Sunset at the beach side just at another side of Surrender Point.

We went for seafood dinner with our relatives. Then, shopping for tax-free chocolate and alcoholic drinks. Can you imagine Hershey's Kisses (311g) is just around RM 15 per pack, imported Cadbury chocolate (with and without alcohol) at the price of RM 9.50 and Jolly Shandy at around RM 1.30-RM1.50? We managed to grab some imported chocs and shandy. The only shopping complex that we got in Labuan was situated in Financial Park. If you wish to get more choices, then you have to go the town area to dig from the spreaded shoplots. The prices for the tax free items were quite unified there, compared to Langkawi (we couldn't notice much different throughout the island).

Photo of Commercial Park from the ferry.

 Methanol Refinery at the outskirt of Labuan. We had the chance to take a look outside the big refinery on our way to ferry point, thanks to our cousin.

To make yourself convenient to move around, you can stay somewhere around Labuan town area (as the whole town area is accessible by foot). To move around outside the town area, such as the beaches and the Chimney,  the easiest way is by taking taxi (you can get many of them in front of the jetty) or rent a car. We seldom came across buses in this island. So, travel around with bus might not be a good idea.

For more information, you can visit Labuan Tourism Page and Government Labuan Tourism Board.