Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Sabah you should jump at the chance.
The last time I was in Kota kinabalu was nearly 20 years ago so when I was recently given a chance to go back I was quite excited at the thought.
Sabah is an outdoor/adventure holiday destination.
Most tourists spend a few nights in KK before heading into the interior for a spot of mountain climbing,trekking,rafting or they head to the coast for some scuba fun.
I couldn't do that as I only had a couple of days but even as a two-day break it's a good destination.
Although it's an expensive flight from KL to KK ,my ticket on MAS was RM1,600-Air Asia are about RM 800-1,000 it's well worth it for the 1,000 mile journey.
Kota Kinabalu town itself is pretty ugly,a bit smelly and lacks any sort of charm and yet for some reason, it's a very likeable place.
Although the days of colourfully dressed tribes- people wandering around town are long-gone it still has a frontier feel to it.
The town center is fairly compact, a bit run-down and grotty and easy to navigate but there are few real attractions.
Some parts of town are squatter slums and I've been told that you should keep your wits about you when wandering about.
There are quite a few street kids eager to find out what's in your pockets, these kids have been denied an education due to their somewhat shady legal status so begging and hustling is really their only opportunity.
The city is not very "wide" if you know what I mean;walk 4 or 5 blocks back from the coastal strip and you're starting to climb up into the hills.
This means that the city sprawls in a line along the coast.
For a small city there are a surprising and annoying number of new shopping malls popping-up everywhere but there doesn't seem to be enough shoppers to fill them.
I stayed at the Merridien,a rather large,impersonal and indifferent hotel on the waterfront-a  room will set you back about RM300- RM500 but there are lots of cheaper options around town.
Daytime activities are limited to hanging about by the pool or having a walk up to Signal Hill past the clock-tower to get a view of the city.There is a museum and other attractions but you need a taxi to take you there.

There is a national park offshore,about a 45 minute speedboat ride where 3 islands are accessible for diving or snorkeling and they have some nice beaches.

Kota Kinabalu is noted for it's fine seafood and there are lots of eating venues to choose from.
At night there is a strip of bars and restaurants opposite the Meridien called,rather imaginatively "The
Waterfront" a sort-of mini version of Singapore's Boat Quay/Clarke Quay  that seems to be the place to hang-out.It's pricey and full of tourists,with younger locals going out later hitting places like The Loft and Bed.
A bit more relaxed is a Bar callled Upperstar, next to The Hyatt where two big bottles of Carlsberg are sold for RM 18. Which is very good value for money.So good in fact that I had to go back again.and again.
A nice place to chill and watch the sunset....I'm just trying to work out why I like it.

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