I got bitten by tonnes of sandflies in the jungle, trekked barefooted and literally got stuck in mud, but readers, please go to Kota Kinabalu and other parts in Borneo. In fact, go for a Borneo trip! I know I would because there is just so much to see.
I went for a 7 day trip to Kota Kinabalu and here’s what I did and will highly recommend.
Sure Island hopping is what people dream of doing in Greece (which is also highly recommended) and the Caribbean (never been, dying to go), but there are so many beautiful islands this side of the world and people forget their existence. And it is also a cheaper option in Malaysia! I went to Pulau Tiga
where the first Survivor was filmed. It was lovely because much of the island is untouched and natural. The coral reef was rich so snorkelling and diving should definitely be on your itinerary! What’s also famous is the volcano mud pool, which is honestly quite a trek in the jungle but if you’re up for some adventure I’d say go for it! I felt fearless after going into the mud!
Other popular picks are
2. Mt Kinabalu
Whether you’re climbing it or just heading up for it’s majestic view, this is definitely the highlight of the trip. I stayed at the Kinabalu Pine Resorts which offered a perfect view of the mountain. If you want to trek up Mt Kinabalu, please ensure you’re fit as it is not for the faint hearted. And do note that to climb Mt Kinabalu, booking needs to be may way in advance (and I am talking months in advance). If you take a further drive from the Kinabalu National Park you will end up at Ranau where the you get to enjoy the Poring Hot Springs and go for a canopy walk! I really liked the canopy walk and don’t worry, it is safe. If you’re terrified of heights, I will suggest you skip this.
3. Cultural experience
In Sabah there are several ethnic communities rich with culture. A trip to the Mari Mari Cultural Village
will be quite an experience as you can have a taste of the many cultural groups. I chose instead to visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village
which concentrates on the Kadazandusun group. It was quite an enjoyable afternoon as I got a chance to go on stage and try out their cultural dance and shot a dart out this really long blowgun used traditionally for hunting!
So far, the places I have mentioned are away from the city. Within the city itself there are also things to offer. The Sunday Market on Gaya Street for starters is a good place for a nice Sunday morning walk and a place where you can find good deals. Think Portobello Market in London, but Malaysian style for Gaya Street.
The name says it all. Perfect place to chill with a glass in one hand while watching the sunset. There is a live band on Sunday which definitely completes the ambience.
How can I forget to mention food. There is so much to eat and I only have one belly! If you’re there is KK do not miss out on their seafood! My friend’s family brought me to Sedco Square which is apparently quite a tourist-friendly area. At the square you will be spoilt with options as there are so many seafood restaurants to pick from. Another restaurant I was brought to is called welcome sea food restaurant. Both is really good! If you’re there try their chilli crab as it is different from the Singapore chilli crab. And as a tourist you have to try their vegetable which is unique to Sabah. I’m not sure what it’s called but if you ask the locals they will know what you’re referring to. Apart from sea food, I had a lot of different mees. San yok mee, Kon Lou mee, Tuaran mee, Beaufort mee and the list goes on and on.. I found an article that wrote about the place I had my beaufort mee, but my best advice is, ask the locals. Locals know best about where the best mees are. Oh, and one thing worthy of mentioning, is the bak kut teh on Gaya street. It was, a-ma-zing.
So above was much of what I did on my one-week getaway in Kota Kinabalu. Feels like I didn’t do enough but I will be back. :)
PS: I was going to upload pictures, but my aperture software is failing to respond so I guess picture updates will come later.