The Perfect Pick Me Up
Best way to beat Monday Blues? Yeoh Siew Hoon recommends taking a break in Kota Kinabalu
The best way to beat the Monday blues is to get on a flight to Kota Kinabalu
If you google “Monday blues” – it being a Monday as I write this – you’ll find articles recommending various cures. But in my book, they all got it wrong. The best way to beat the Monday blues is to get on a flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, as I did seven days ago.
First of all, Monday’s a good day to fly as fares are generally lower, I am told by friends working for budget airlines. And if you return mid-week, the fares are just as attractive.
I planned a sneaky Monday to Wednesday getaway – just enough time to goof off work without feeling too guilty, and leaving Thursday and Friday free to actually get some work done.
It’s the perfect setup for busy bees who, thanks to technology, find themselves even busier. Have you found, for instance, that our tech-savvy society now expects instant responses due to improved connectivity? If you don’t reply immediately, people think you are either unwell or rude.
Kota Kinabalu is great for a short break because the airport is merely 10 minutes away from my favourite playground, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa. Hop into a cab and you are by the sea in no time. Where else can you do that?
I was out of the airport in a jiffy – no lines at immigration (another reason to travel on a Monday) – and we headed to a new café my friend insisted that I simply must try.
The café, founded by a 20-something girl and her partner, is bright and cheerful. I admire the courage and enterprise of young entrepreneurs. She spent time with us, explaining how to make the perfect laksa, the eatery’s signature dish.
Food is serious business in Kota Kinabalu – as it is everywhere in Malaysia – and over the last few years, new cafes and restaurants have popped up all over the city, offering a range of international fare.
But local food is still my favourite, especially the tom yum noodles at Taman Hilltop. It’s a variation on the Thai-style tom yum with a slight milky flavour. You choose the toppings – I like the fish slices – and a good side dish to order is the pan-fried homemade fish cakes. Seafood is a must in Kota Kinabalu and the crab with salted eggs are a must-try – sinfully delightful.
Sabah has the biggest variety of noodles in Malaysia. I’ve been so many times and still haven’t tried them all. From Tuaran to Beaufort to Sandakan, every province has their signature noodle style. The last time I ordered Pan Mee at a food court, I was asked which noodles I wanted, and the waiter reeled off at least six different types.
Aside from food, a quick break in Kota Kinabalu involves a visit to my favourite massage place, the Kugong Therapy Centre. If you are after a relaxing massage, this is not the place. But if you want intense therapy and can endure pain, I highly recommend it. You will walk out floating on air.
I also like visiting the central market, which is filled with produce from different regions in Sabah. Avocados are the size of giant grapefruits and there are sweet juicy pineapples and a plethora of varieties of banana, chilli and ginger flower.
Needless to say, these all ended up in a box, along with several kilos of fresh seafood, which travelled back to Singapore with me as cargo. A week later, I am still enjoying the flavours of Sabah. It’s like I never left.