Sunday, July 05, 2009

exploring kota kinabalu

June 26-29, 2009

it wasn't just humid, it was hot when we arrived at the kota kinabalu airport. the flight attendant announced a ground temperature of 30C even at past 7pm! i was a bit glad though especially when it was raining hard, even stormy when we left Manila.

we were met by guides from different hotels and resorts at the airport and most of them were Filipinos. they even lend us a phone for us to call our sundo. i didn't feel like leaving our country after all.

our sundo from the lodge came to pick us up and we dropped by the money changer to exchange our notes. please remember that they most of them don't accept 100 and 50 US dollar bills. Pesos are fine, and i made a great mistake because i exchanged our money to dollars before we left. at least i found one counter which accepted my money but she only accepted a few notes. i had to give most of my pesos as well.

Kota Kinabalu gave me different impressions. it is more like Subic, a seemingly sleepy island town. yet at some part, like near the backpackers' lodges were we stayed, it's more like Binondo even Quiapo bustling with peddlers and 24 hour restaurants serving Malay food.

it was late when we arrive so we just ate at some restaurant which was suggested by our guide from the lodge. food were dirt cheap at 6-7RM per servings (less than a hundred pesos) and they were really good. mostly because i've always loved malay food, pretty tasty and spicy too. we forgot to take pictures of our food beacuse we were so hungry already.

at the resto, we met another Filipino who offered to help us with our island tour the following day. we learned that we could just rent our own boat and tour as many islands as we can and just buy our food in the island at minimal prices as well. the boat would cost us 250 RM which is a far cry from the 130RM per head for a packaged tour! he even led us to Jesselton Point, the port where we are supposed to go for the island hopping which apparently is just a short walk from where we stayed.

off we went the following morning to the port. the sun was already scorching even at 9am!

aside from the 250 RM boat fee, here's the rest of our expenses:

6 RM each for the port tax

10 RM each for island tax (for all islands)

8-10RM each for meals

the Tunku abdul Rahman National Park is actually composed of 5 neighboring islands jsut about 10-15 minutes off Kota Kinabalu. we chose to just hop on a 3 island tour lest we'd get too exhausted.

our first stop was Mamutik Is., supposedly the smaller and lesser popular with but with the most fishes even at the shallowest part.

the white sand was soft and truly powdery even if we stayed just near the dock for our boatmen to see us at once when they come back to fetch us. we had our own piece of heaven in there. we stayed there for two hours sunbathing, bathing, feeding the fish before we moved on the next island.

the next island was manukan Is., a bit bigger with more people and more resorts and restaurants. we bought our food at some "carenderia" because it only costs us about 7RM per meal instead of the 105RM seafood buffet another restaurant also offered.

my 7RM meals consisted of sauted vegetable, chicken curry and fried fish marinated in different spices. it was so good it disappeared in a jiffy!�

then to while away the time, we just walked around, took naps, took more pictures and relaxed. we decided not to swim anymore because we were so full.

i've never been to Aanawangin but it must be a like this? fine white sand beach lined with pine tress. it's a bit odd seeing the sand littered with pine cones and needles.

our final island stop was sapi is. and oh, this must be my most favorite of them all.

it has the finest, whitest sand. it's relatively quiet with the full amenities of a resort, a cafe, public showers...aah bliss!�

too bad we had to leave already.

after heading back to our lodge we showered, rested a bit then went to 1Borneo, their newest, bissgest, most posh mall as of the moment. it's just like our local Shangrila just that they have a Vincci shoe outlet!

we just walked around the mall then looked for a place to eat before we went back home to call it a night.

but for us youngsters we walked around the city and found this nearby bar with a lot of "kids" in it and enjoyed a few tiger beers. yi-ha!

the following day was Sunday Market day! i bought just a few items because i was more amused with the sights, the sounds, the smell of market activity. it was truly exhilarating. not to mention it was so hot i had to take cover most of the time.

they sell almost everything from food, handicrafts, antiques, even pets!!!

that afternoon we then we to Monsopiad Cultural Village for some, er, culture. Monsopiad is almost 30 minutes off the city center and we went ther by taxi that cost us 100RM for a roundtrip fare. and yes, our driver is also a Filipino. the night before, we also met another Filipino driver but he offered us 140RM for the roundtrip hmmm...

taxis don't have meters here. you only have to talk it over with your driver as to how much you can give that is amenable to him as well. kinda tough huh!

but other than that, we opted to walk most of the time anyway.

Monsopiad is more like our own Mindanao village though. it showcases local Malay culture like their costumes, games, dances. the free coffee was good though, same with the wine that they offered.

we stayed there for two hours before going back to town and went shopping again hihi.

we went to Warisan Square, i bought more shoes. then we walked to the Filipino market then the Handicrafts Market, then the Night Market (yup, lotsa markets in there) before we headed home for our dinner.

we the youngsters, again, went out that night to go back to Warisan Square where we went to Vincci's again, bought some sunglasses then had coffee at Starbucks ( na miss lang!)

the following day was bye-bye day and was spent on more last minute shopping and picture talking. just as good because we had no more money already.�

yeah, Kota Kinabalu is not just for mountain climbing and trekking, it's also for beach trips, sunbathing and more shopping!�

more pics here:


  1. Wow, you guys scored on the boat fee to the islands. Even i didn't know about that! :)

    Glad you like Sapi island as much as I do.
    If you see in my FB album, there is an album of my Sapi island trip. That day when you guys went to island hopping, the weather was quite cloudy on the mainland. I was worried that you will not see the best of the island due to the weather. But i guess, you guys did.

    I still feel disappointed for not able to meet up with you.

    Oh btw, the Monsopiad Cultural Village showcasing the life of the Kadazan people..the biggest ethnic group in Sabah. Not the Malay. Just so you know. :)

  2. haha i stand corrected with that Kadazan tribe part. i remember when their staff asked how many tribes we have here in the Philippines we couldn't even answered. there's a lot of them here too!

    yeah, too bad we didn't get to meet. i realized too late that firefox doesn't work there, i couldn't open my emails. i only learned to use my explorer browser but that was on our last day already. sigh.

  3. hey, i am so glad u happy with KK during ur visit.
    i will visit your country this december.
    maybe u could suggest a cheaper place to stay and a guide...