I received great help from TA in planning for this trip. I'd like to share our experience here as a note of thanks.
Our group of 8 adults and 8 children departed from S'pore on Air Asia on 13 Dec. The flight was smooth, no delays, the children experienced something new when we touched down. They walked down the stairs from the airplane (instead of aerobridge) and got a close view of the entire aeroplane! Our 2 drivers from Horizon Borneo (Vincent & Timmy) received us at the arrival hall. We headed straight for the Pacific Sutera Harbour Resort as it was already close to 8.30pm by the time we left the airport. Check-in was smooth, the only disappointment was that we could not have the 4 rooms on the same floor. Room was clean and spacious. We had our late dinner at the cafe boleh downstairs. As it was late, we were offered half price for the buffet dinner. Not a fantastic spread but good enough for the night.
Day 2: After breakfast, we went to the Sea Quest counter at the jetty located within the resort to book our island hopping package. This was one of the main reasons why we chose to stay at Pacific Sutera as it made island hopping much easier especially when we have a group of 8 children with us. We chose to go to Sapi and Manukan islands. The boat ride itself was a highlight for the kids. Rented the snorkelling masks and life vests at Sapi island as they ran out of the equipment at the Sea Quest counter. It was rather crowded, water seemed to be less clear than 3 years ago when I was there. The children had a go at snorkelling, still managed to see some beautiful fishes. Left Sapi for Manukan island after an hour. Manukan island was less crowded, most of the fishes were swimming under the wooden bridge. No feeding of fishes is allowed now. There's a open shower outside the toilet and that helped a lot! Took the boat ride back to Sutera Harbour. Headed to Harbour City for lunch, about 10mins walk from Sutera Resort (exit from the Marina part). There was a row of eateries serving western and malay food. I had the Ayam penyet and it was great! The teh halia tasted very authentic. Went back to the resort after a hearty lunch, and guess what - the children begged to go straight to the pool with the slides and waterfall! The weather was good for the evening swim and water play at the pool. We took the resort shuttle bus to the city (alighted at Centrepoint Mall) and walked (10mins easy walk) to the Ocean Seafood Restaurant next to Hotel Promenade. Started to drizzle, luckily all of us had brought our ponchos along! Fortunate that we had come on Sat, the restaurant will be closed the next day (Sunday). Better call to check before coming. You can see the wide variety of seafood in many large tanks once you walk in. Had a sumptous seafood spread: crabs, fish, crayfish....After dinner, we caught the last bus back to the resort.
Day 3: Had a quick breakfast at the hotel (more for the kids) before heading for the Gaya Sunday Market. We took 3 cabs as the shuttle bus was full for the timeslot that we wanted. Went to this Chinese eatery called Fong Yip for our proper breakfast. Some specialities include white bread with butter and durian, dim sum, curry noodle, 3-tier coffee. The boss was very friendly. He sat down and showed us how certain food should be eaten. Spent some time walking along the stalls. Weather was very hot and humid. Had a taste of the red flesh durian, unique to KK! After about 2 hours, headed for Little Italy for lunch. The seafood soup at Little Italy was great! Went for some shopping at Suria Sabah after lunch just across Little Italy. Decided to pack some food back for dinner and let the children enjoy some pool time as this was our last night at the resort. We checked out another pool this evening (there are at least 3 pools within the resoort), the one with a pool bar.
Day 4: Our drivers picked us up to bring us to Mt Kinabalu Park today. Stopped by at the handicraft place and took some great photos of Mt Kinabalu. Went further up to the visitor centre and to the Timphoon Gate. Some of the kids were inspired by the hikers returning from their hike and claimed they will like to hike up Mt KK in 2 years' time! Weather was very cooling and saw some squirrels. Reached Le Meridien (our next hotel in KK) at about 5plus in the evening. We headed for the famous Sin Kee Bak Kut Teh for dinner. Didn't expect such a crowd! The bak kut teh was truly delicious and very suitable even for children as the soup was not too peppery or strong herbal taste.
Day 5: Our drivers picked us up to go to Rasa Ria Orang Utan Sanctuary this morning. Rasa Ria is indeed a beautiful resort if you do not mind the distance away from town. Watched a short video on the rehab of the orang utans, then proceeded up a short trail (less than 10mins) to reach the viewing platform. We saw 2 orang utans. Took some great videos and photos of the young orang utans. Our next stop was the Mari Mari Cultural Village. Got to try quite a few things at the village, worth the trip. The wet weather spolit some of the fun though. Had nice warm bee hoon and chicken wings for tea at the end (included in the package).
Day 6: Had breakfast at this Chinese coffeeshop next to Le Meridien. Very nice Tuaran mee, fried bee hoon with bittergourd, fried bee tai mak, etc. We checked out the local market across the road after breakfast. So glad that we managed to find the Tarap ( a fruit unique to KK). Looks like the jackfruit. Went for a dip at the hotel pool thereafter. Our drivers picked us up at 235pm for the airport.
It was on the whole a great trip for our big group! Thanks to those who had given valuable advice on TA.