Why Tanjung Aru Beach in Malaysia has the most phenomenal sunset in the world

Tanjung Aru Beach in Kota Kinabalu, the most phenomenal sunset in the world (or at least SE Asia)? Here me out. I have good reason for this gushing statement that puts this humble location on a pedestal.

One must think of Tanjung Aru Beach in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, as a backdrop to your own fabulous photo shoot. This is where people go to embody Tyra Banks and strike a pose.

Every evening hundreds of tourists gather on the shores of this city beach in north Borneo, not just simply to take photographs of the fabulous sunset, no. The women here take it to a whole other level.

Beach shorts  and flip flops? Bah! The unofficial dresscode here is flowing maxi dresses in bright colours, statement jewelery and cute sandals.

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I was at Tanjung Aru Beach in November during a two month trip around SE Asia. I had been there all day and hadn’t seen a single soul until about 4pm when the area started coming to life. It began with kite, fruit and toy sellers setting up stalls, the cooks at the market firing up their barbecues and then the people trickled in.

I noticed some women pass by me wearing high wedges and glamorous dresses and I thought, that’s a bit much for the beach – I mean it’s Malaysia not the Cote d’Azur. Next thing I knew a whole flock of women had strutted onto the sands and were posing like peacocks. I had never seen anything like it. Suddenly the people became more awe-inspiring than the sunset! lol!

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By the time the sky turned yellow the whole beach was packed with hundreds of women contorted into all kinds of positions determined to get that perfect shot to show all their friends back home, so I had to get in amongst it! I took pictures of them and they took pictures of me. We smized, gave blue steel and worked it for the cameras – Tyra Banks would have been proud of us all 😉

I literally vogued my way through the crowds all the way along the beach.

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The sunset beach photo was obviously not something these girls did spontaneously. Evidence that this was a well thought-out operation included groups of girls wearing matching dresses, the well-rehearsed poses they did and yes, some even brought along professional photographers!

So you see. It’s not just the sunset that makes for an amazing view. It’s how the people react to it that takes it from something beautiful to something extraordinary. I swear. Never again will I take a beach sunset lightly.

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I decided to try out a few of the popular poses myself!

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One must finger frame the sun.

 

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One must do a yoga-style pose.

 

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And by the time the best moment of the sunset had arrived the posers disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.

I’m all excited about the Luminale 2016 light exhibition all over Frankfurt this week

Abena at the bar

I only heard about this light/art at night event while I was scrolling through Meetup.com checking out who and what was happening in Frankfurt. I saw a photography group were meeting up at Luminale 2016 and as always were ready to welcome newbies so I signed up and charged my cam.

When I checked out the website (click here) for the event I was pretty overwhelmed with the sheer amount of exhibits around the city. The programme was over 100 pages!

The event kicked off on march 14 and, as is happens I had to send my apologies to the photography lot because (Lord only knows how this happened) the train was late and then cancelled! For those of you who know Germans and Germany, lateness is just not an option so I was totally baffled while standing, freezing me bits off at the station.

I was also meeting some new buddies, who were very understanding. One was also running late… Obviously this friend was not German 😉

I digress! ..The light show.

Luminale 2016 is a city-wide light exhibition, on until March 18, when as soon as it gets dark the whole city comes alive with light and sound art installations, projections and interactive art at various different venues.

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I made another video! I think this is a slight improvement on the last one but still, I have a long way to go….. 😉

We wondered into the Trianon Light Show near Taunusanlage S-bahn.

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In the S-bahn station we found a hologram of grafitti and artistic lighting.

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After a while I was mesmorized by all of the city lights. There was something magical in the air.

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Red light district

Even the red light district became art.

Indulge in very naughty treats at a German Xmas market.

Yay! It’s Christmas Market time in Germany and that means time to spoil yourself rotten.

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If you are going to the markets this season you absolutely have to try these yummy snacks and drinks.

 

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Ladies and gentlemen (not boys and girls) let me introduce to you my new favourite tipple of the festive season….gluhwein!

Basicall it’s hot wine with added spice. Yes, yes in the UK people glug down mulled wine too but as I explored the stalls of Rudesheim Christmas Market and the Romantic Christmas Market in Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg – both very quaint – I was impressed with the creative adaptations…ahem hot cocktails!! My favourite was an apple gluhwein with rum. For the sake of research I sampled quite a few. I tasted a hot chocolate with chocolate liqueur and rum, a red gluhwein, a white gluhwein with vodka and a blueberry gluhwein.

The weather was freezing. It was so cold I couldn’t feel my hands but after a few of these babies, I was certainly feeling a warm fuzz 😉

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Next up on my list is another boozy favourite in Germany. I can actually say I have never come across so many flavours of liqueur anywhere else in the world in comparison to the types I’ve seen and tasted here.

Tasty liquor at romantic Christmas Market in Germany

From woodruff to sour cherry. If you can think of the flavour it’s usually available.

On to sweet treats..

chocolate tools at romantic Christmas Market in Germany

Chocolate tools for the man in your life. They were so real looking, I had to try one to make sure they weren’t metal!

chocolate waffle on a stick mmm adventureswithbea

Ahh yes. Simple yet affective. I hail the person who covered a waffle in chocolate and put it on a stick.

So you may be thinking that I just went to a couple of Christmas Markets, drank booze and ate chocolate…

You’d be wrong. I also bought Ani the cat a Santa hat.

Annie in a Santa hat

Loi Krathong in Bangkok – avoid the crowds!

Loi Krathong in Bangkok was the first and last time that I had ever been stuck in a traffic jam while travelling on foot.

Sounds crazy right? I didn’t even know it was possible to get stuck in traffic when you’re walking, but it certainly is in Thailand’s capital where about eight million people live and work.

First things first. Loi Krathong Festival of Light is a must-see sight if you’re visiting Thailand in November. People all over the country let off lanterns and float little banana leaf boats on rivers, lakes and ponds. In Bangkok there are illuminated boats, in Chiang Mai Lanna style lanterns fill the sky and in Sukhothai, where the festival originates from, you can see it on a backdrop of the historical park. This year the festival starts on November 21 in Sukhothai, 22 in Chiang Mai and 23 in Bangkok.

loi krathong traffic jam  Festival of light! A wonderful sight?

Take a look at this crowd picture I took while shuffling along at a snail’s pace on a Bangkok road. That was the year when I went to the Chaophraya River to join hundreds of thousands of people in the festival tradition of floating a krathong, which is a small boat fashioned out of banana leaves and flowers, on the river. It was my first time and I was such a novice.

I did what everyone else did – took the skytrain to BTS Sapan Taksin and transfered by tourist boat to Asiatique shopping village.

Big mistake. That particular shopping village doesn’t face the river so the views were impossible to see. It was so crowded we could hardly move. I could barely see my own feet and my delicate krathong got crushed in the madness.

My friends and I decided to just get out of the crowd and find somewhere quiet to relax with a Hong Thong (Thai whisky) but everyone was trying to either come or go by tuk tuk, bus, taxi, motorbike, car and on foot.

Three hours later and we were still in the same part of the city marvelling at how we had travelled such a small distance. We squeezed down an alley heading towards the river and found a party of locals celebrating Loi Krathong, letting off sky lanterns and krathongs in a car park.

So that’s where we stayed. It was cool watching all the different styles of lantern floating in the air. I counted so many heart-shaped ones! The Thais also showed their love of Manchester United FC by letting off lanterns displaying the logo. I wrote my wish on a latern, lit it and watched my dreams disappear into the sky. Then it was time for home… I kicked myself for not wishing for a helicopter.

How to celebrate without getting stuck in a jam!

After this crazy, frustrating and pretty cool experience I  asked around to find out where is the best place to celebrate and most of my Thai friends said it was best to find a local klong (river) or park and join a community festival. The most popular suggestion was Chatuchak Park (BTS Mochit or MRT Phahon Yothin), which ironically was five minutes from where I lived at the time!

This year all of Bangkok’s 29 public parks will be open for the festival. Yes they will be crowded but no where near as bad as anywhere close to Sapan Taksin.

Also, why not book a meal at a riverside restaurant? Yes prices will be bumped up for the festival but it’s what is expected.

My top picks for riverside dining.

The roof at Sala Rattanakosin

Arun Residence

Viva Aviv The River