Monday, November 30, 2015

Escape Adventure Park @ Penang

"Growing up is optional". That tagline was all it took to for me to make my way 330km north to Penang. A few photos and a chat with a friend later, the impetus to be a Big Kid got the better of me. Big Kid...that is what they call us in Escape Penang. Oh boy oh can I say no! I made my bookings immediately and off I went to a place that I do not have to grow up.
Ready for some fun and action!
Escape is a nature-themed adventure park situated in Teluk Bahang (farther up from Batu Ferringhi). This is a place you must not miss if you are an adventure seeker or a nature lover. Forget your demanding boss and meetings and be sucked into another dimension that you may not want to get out of. 
Warning! We expect all visitors to behave like KIDs.
Stressed and grumpy grown-ups will be escorted back to the real-world
Escape takes play very seriously. At the entrance, I was already greeted by a sign warning me that if I don't behave like a KID, I will be banished. Through its cashless payment system, it  flushes the thought of money out of you too. Every visitor is given a wristband which grants entry and also allows visitors to store cash in credit form to buy food and drinks without having to fiddle with your wallet.
Wrist band grants your access and lets you store cash in credit form
What to bring to Escape:

1. GLOVES! (Whether they are leather, plastic or cloth, you will thank these gloves as they protect your hands while you grab the ropes tight. Your adventure will be much more enjoyable without the blisters due to friction against the ropes )
2. Sport shoes
3. Clothes that you can sweat and get dirty in (long pants if you want to protect yourself more but there is nothing wrong with shorts)
4. No outside food and drinks allowed (but they do have a food court where buy food and drinks)

Monkey Business
Monkey Business is their most popular attraction. The sight of these suspended trails at the entrance is exactly what I envisioned an adventure would be. The architecture of hanging routes beckoned me to enter quickly. 
3 levels of suspension at Monkey Business
All trails here are suspended at 3 different levels with the higher ones being more difficult. The hanging paths are made irregular and sometimes imbalance on purpose. The Monkey Business takes advantage of height and instability to heighten the experience. 
It is amazing to see people hanging above each other with utmost safety
My advice is not to look down when you wobble through the trails. These courses are high above ground and stability is discounted. The trust on the harness gave courage to take my next step forward (people in the queue also made me shy for hanging too long). Harness here are of quality and serviced regularly so you won't go wrong investing some faith in them.
Go Bananas! An extension of Monkey Business out at the carpark area
Hug a banana!
Photo credits to Escape
I became ambitious and started straight with the 3rd level but the easier route. The vertigo made my heart shrink and I was screaming all the way but I moved in a progressive trend. The thrill was certainly present making you fear yet encouraged to finish the trail. 
Me through the highly suspended routes

Flying Lemur
Another attraction that you must not miss is the Flying Lemur (Flying Fox). Be patient with the long queue because it will be rewarding. The flying sensation is overloaded with awesomeness. Although suspended above ground, this ride is a relaxing and fun one. Experience breezing through the green canopies of the forest through a rope from one end to another. It is a little speedy but comfortable enough for me to appreciate the surroundings.
Flying Lemur is relaxing and fun
Photo credits to Escape
Do remember to GRAB the rope at the end of the line. Failure to do so made me bounce right off the pad during landing and sprung back to the middle of the path. If that happens to you, fret not as the Escape crew will skillfully make the challenges look like a piece of cake and rescue you. 
Everyone is all smiles on this ride
Photo credits to Escape
Atan's Leap
Jumping down the Atan's Leap was my  victorious trophy that week. There are 2 levels- 13m and 20m. My leap was accidentally more triumphant when the 13m level which I intend to jump from was opportunely closed, leaving me no choice but to leap from 20m.

Anxiety built up when I was queuing. There were many reasons for me to back out from the line (eg. heart attack) but there was something that told me to stay on and scare the life out of me. 
Putting on the safety harness
At the jumping line, I swear I felt my heart stop. When the jump master instructed me to leap, I was paralyzed, cemented to the platform and was very reluctant. So this is what it feels like when people jump from buildings. It takes A LOT of courage and a lot of disappointment in life to take that one irreversible step. Just a few things that ran through my mind when I was at the brink.
Midway up the 20m tower
Back to my fun-intended jump. Standing at the threshold, adrenaline fueled my body. There was a mixture of disbelief and eagerness. When I finally took the plunge, the power of free fall arrested every fiber of my being!

The video of my jump. Pardon the scream. My sense of adventure is verified!

Jungle Swinger
Jungle Swinger is an opportunity for me to experience what they always say "full swing". Who knew a simple rope that connects only you and the tree can bring so much pleasure! 
The apprehension before the swing. Again, trust the rope!
Trust the rope. Release the grudge in you and just go for a carefree fling! It made me say "whee!" like a kid. But there is a bigger swing that awaits...see the Kite Flyer below. 
Say "whee" like a kid

Tubby Racer
Do yourselves a favour and go on the Tubby Racer. Satisfaction and fun is guaranteed. Rest assured that this ride is not scary and does not put any courage to test. I was amazed by how a super slippery surface is created by using prickled mats. 
Visitors have to drag their tubes up the slope
The ride became even sweeter when I had to earn my ride. Visitors have to drag their tubes up the hill themselves before reaping the fun. Slide and spin down the hill in a rapid fashion. Everyone appeared smiling when they landed at the bottom. 
Everyone landed with a smile

Gecko Tower
Put your prowess to the test by climbing the Gecko Tower. This attraction helps you relive your childhood times when you discovered that grills and gates are great climbing structures. This time, no one will ask you to come down with a rotan. Climb quickly and press the buzzer at the top to see how much time you take for added competitive fun. 
Climb and climb and no one will ask you to come down with a rotan

The trapeze has always been a wonder in circuses and shows. Be an acrobat by swinging from one handle to another. There will be coaches to pre-empt you of what to do before you make the grip and just let her rip!
Be your own acrobat and run the show!

Kite Flyer
Suspense is redefined with Kite Flyer. The three huge cranes made a statement that this is no simple attraction. As if flying on a kite, you and your partner will be pulled to a hair-raising height before you pull the tugger to launch yourself into a lower parabolic other words, a swing. Experience free fall, vertigo and excitement all at the same time on this gigantic swing 30m off the ground. 
Being pulled before the launch
Pull the tugger to launch yourself into a swing of your lifetime
Photo credits to Escape

The record for the longest time taken to escape the maze is 45 minutes. Yet, the person did not opt to be rescued and persevered to find his way out on his own. Another alternative to persistence is good sense of direction or sheer instinct towards sunlight! 
Maze house

Go Ape
Go Ape is situated at the very end of the 6 hectare park. Many people missed this attraction like how I nearly did. Find your way up the tree on these sturdy rock climbing studs. Remember to ring the bell to announce your success! 
Rock climbing on a tree

Jumping Jack
As I went through the adult attractions, lets visit games for the little ones. Jump your heart out with Jumping Jack. Transfer your daily stress to this springy platform and you will get a high that I could only envy. This is because the maximum weight for players is 50kg :( 
Trampoline treat

Discovery Dig (Junior)
Get your kids scrutinizing earth for gold nuggets at the Discovery Dig. Get rewarded with a medal if you manage to find a certain amount of gold.
Children meticulously searching for gold
Proud kid showing off his medal

Zoom Bug (Junior)
The Zoom Bug is a great way to warm up your kid for the adventures that is hosted in the park. Situated at the entrance, your child will be zooming into happiness in no time. 
Keep your kiddo active with Zoom Bug
Photo credits to Escape

Monkey School (Junior)
Do not let your little ones miss out on the fun the adults are having. Monkey School is the mini version of Monkey Business. Toddlers can have their fare share of suspended routes at a cute height. 

Serambi School (Junior)
Start them young about environment and nature through green programs like the Serambi School. Being a nature park, it is only right to have an educational section to promote love for Mother Earth. This attraction has to be pre-booked before your visit.  

I applaud the intention of Escape for making this adventure park so nature-based. Everything here is inspired by nature. It reminds us of the rudiments of living when we are so carried away by materialism. 
On a simple tree swing
Food court
Taking a breather

Assorted Games and Activities
Happiness is derived from the environment itself. Here, they adopt the kampung (village) surrounding for a relaxing and laid-back atmosphere. Simplicity of Mother Nature wins the heart of the young and old. Traditional games are preserved and still proving their appeal among the modern generation. 
Temporary tattoo drawing and games shop
Try your hand on the Diabolo yoyo
Sepak takraw 
A countryside setting
Do you still remember how to play Guli (Marbles)?
My first time walking on stilts. Not as easy as it looks!
Rolling on balak
Live geese co-exist well with visitors
Earn your coconut drink by climbing up one in 7 seconds! Gain also an Escape Passport (annual pass for unlimited entries worth RM320) for free if you manage to climb the other coconut tree (Coco Climb) in 12 seconds.
Climb this coconut tree in 7 seconds and get a coconut drink FREE
Coco Climb- Get to the top of this tree for a free Escape Passport
When you are there, remember to pay attention to its nature themed designs. They are creatively built with raw materials which create great backdrops or props. In fact, I cannot remember anything in the park that is not photo-worthy.
Uniquely designed basin 
Rustic set up 
In my opinion, Escape lives up to my expectation as a nature themed adventure park. The essence of 
Mother Nature and the human's need to play come together here. During my visit, my social media addiction was disrupted. All I did with my phone was take photographs. The dedication towards preserving nature was thoroughly displayed through how the attractions were engineered to not hurt the trees although they were used as pillars. 
A path surrounded by lush vegetation
Good job to Escape for leading its continuous nature campaign by example! It emanates a concentrated sense of awareness about preserving nature. The best part is that it is all in the name of fun and play.
Nature loving person
Before you leave, get your favourite traditional toy like the gasing (top) or grab an Escape t-shirt as a momento at the souvenir shop

Catch Rapid Penang bus no. 101 or 102 to Escape and claim your bus fare at the entrance. 
So it is free transportation from the city to the wonderland!
This initiative is to help reduce global warming and traffic jams.

Opens on Tuesday- Sunday and Monday if it is a holiday
9am to 6pm
Ticket counter closes at 4.30pm

Admission Fee
Future Kid (0-3 yrs old) Free
Junior Kid (4-12 yrs old) RM50
Big Kid (13-60) RM72
Super Kid (61-100+) Free

Escape Penang
828, Jalan Teluk Bahang,
11050 Penang
Tel: +60 4 8811106

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Staycation in Labuan (Part 4/4)- What to Eat in Labuan

Food has always been a part of the adventure in my travels. While taking advantage of duty-free spirits I, of course, did not forget to be involved in the abundance of seafood that entitles the island to its name, the Pearl of South China Sea. I had 2 dinner opportunities, chosen through top-notch recommendation that exposed me to some seafood galore in Labuan. 

Victoria's Brasserie BBQ Buffet @ Dorsett Grand Labuan
Good food and ambiance come hand in hand at the Victoria's Brasserie at Dorsett Grand Labuan. Dorsett's buffet theme changes daily and we happen to land at the BBQ theme.
BBQ dinner by the pool

To me, freshness of seafood is best testified through unseasoned cooking. Intrinsic flavours and sweetness of the seafood were unmasked. I relished in the succulent flesh of prawn, squid and lobster, sucking savoury juice from the crustaceans till my table piled with shells.
Raw seafod to be bbqed
The BBQ station
Cannot get enough of the slipper lobsters
Other than seafood, the buffet has a generous spread of dishes that will just make you fickle which to start with. The roasted whole lamb brought joy with its juicy meat accompanied with cranberry sauce.
Roasted whole lamb
Besides lamb, there is roasted rib eye done to an irresistible pink. The tender and gamy meat imprinted its taste in my mind until now.
Roasted rib eye
Cold platter was definitely in the list with fresh oysters, prawns and mussels to be eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice or just on its own.
Fresh cold platter
An assortment of cold platter
Stylishly presented appetizers
Other dishes just as delicious
I found coffee lamb and other scrumptious dishes that say a lot about Dorsetts effort to maintain the quality of the buffet. The Japanese counter offers free flow sashimi, sliced right in front of your eyes and tenpanyaki sizzled to your liking.
Coffee lamb
Japanese counter offers free fow sashimi
We were not only entertained by food but also live singing by lovely song birds with powerful vocals. I guess that helped our digestion as I went for countless rounds. Truely, that night was a dinner that had every aspect taken care off even our pockets. Price was reasonable for what we enjoyed and the quality of food offered. 
Live singing for our ears while we enjoyed our dinner
Chocolate fountain for some fun sweets
Beautifully garnished desserts
Coconut pudding 
Raspberry sorbet presented on a hand-shaped ice

Sunday- Passage to Thai
Monday- Italian Flavour
Tuesday-Steamboat Night
Wednesday- International Chinese Cuisine
Thursday- Taste of America
Friday- Seafood and BBQ Night
Saturday- Carvery and BBQ Night

Sunday to Thursday- RM70 nett per adult and RM49 nett per child
Friday and Saturday- RM80 nett per adult and RM56 nett per child

Victoria's Brasserie@ Dorsett Grand Labuan
462, Jalan Merdeka,
87029 Labuan
Tel: +60 87 422 000

Kg. Nagalang Seafood Restaurant
On the second night, we went to a seafood center which even its restaurant is built above sea. Kampung Nagalang serves local dishes as authentic as its name sounds. Aquariums of sea creatures greeted us and suggested that freshness is their main ingredient which, we discovered was true. 
The beautifully lit boardwalk to the restaurant
Freshness at its best
What attracted me was the list of live seafood cooking style list board. It was clear and inviting to customers.
Clear list of seafood cooking styles
Bountiful seafood to choose from

The prawns initiated our meal with an outstanding appearance. The honey melon housed salad prawns while the spoons served salted egg prawns. This dish proved the versatility of fresh prawns when it was served both sweet and salty. Flesh of prawns was bouncy with its taste clearly emerging even from the smother of mayonnaise and salted egg.
Two Flavoured Prawn- Salad prawn and salted egg prawn

Slipper lobsters succeeded the table with its shells still intact and smeared with salted egg yolk. The flesh of the slipper lobsters is quite similar to that of the mantis prawn only sweeter and juicier. Before long, the plate of crustaceans were snatched up clean.
Salted Egg Slipper Lobster

Take a breather and wash those flavours down with clam soup that is sufficiently flavoured from the clams in clear broth and spring onions.
Savoury Clam Soup

Fried silver fish arrived and brought us some fun with its crisp. The fish lets its sweetness shine through the light batter and simple seasoning. The whole fish can be eaten- even its bones. It adds a an enjoyable texture when eaten with warm soft rice.
Fried Silver Fish

Relax the palate with some vegetables. Soft greens like the stir friend mani chai with eggs was a pleasure to consume. The leaves were soft and soothing. With eggs, this dish is no underdog to me.
Stir Fried Mani Chai with Egg

I must give a thumbs up to the bamboo clam served kung po style and sprinkled with peanuts. The bamboo clams were generously huge and toothsome. Juice spurts out with every bite. I just could not get enough of those.
Kung Po Bamboo Clam

Here comes the very exquisite Chicken Fish which was most probably the one with the biggest ticket. Known for its premium quality, the flesh is indeed very dense and firm yet tender. The texture of the fish is unrivaled. Simple steaming in soy sauce is sufficient as this fish is best appreciated on its own.
Steamed Sea Chicken Fish

Crab is of course not an exception in a seafood dinner. We had ours in the all time favourite Kam Heong style which got each of us smacking our lips. The crabs were meaty and sweet. This dish definitely kept us silent and focused till the last bite.
Kam Heong Crab

Kampung Nagalang lived up to my expectation as a seafood restaurant.  My sister and I could only look at each other and nod in agreement that we made the right decision to have dinner here. It was a satisfying meal and I recommend this place to seafood lovers. Till my next post, happpy eating!
My sister and I with happy tummies

Kg. Nagalang Seafood Restaurant
Simpang Ikan Todak 24,
Tel: 017-898 3837/ 012-834 1997