Join Fazlin on her journey to Kota Kinbalu!
I had the chance to visit Kota Kinabalu on a work trip early last year and the city had breathtaking views of the coasts, the city landscape, the night market, the uniquely designed city mosque, the naval base and those are just some examples. The city’s main road is basically a stretch along a huge bay and I was told there are traditional longboat races and beach water activities on the weekends. A blend of several different nationalities reside here and people speak Malay, Indonesian and Filipino. The aptly named Filipino market is one the best places to buy fresh seafood, cooked food and handicrafts in the city. Despite being a Malaysian myself, my visit to Kota Kinabalu feels like visiting another country. The language and culture is distinct from the West Malaysian and the locals’ demeanor seemed more relaxed and easy.
The night I stayed in KK, I had a really bad headache at the hotel and I didn’t have any medicine with me. At 3 o’clock in the morning I could not take it anymore and asked the hotel reception for paracetamol and unfortunately, they didn’t have any. I decided to leave my room to find a seven eleven or any 24/7 hour convenient stores and luckily for me, there was one just next to the hotel. Despite being in the city center at 3 o’clock in the morning, I felt quite safe as there were still people and late night workers mingling about.
Really, you can get the best of both worlds in KK: from traditional and bizarre items (e.g. weird looking dried fish and freeze dried durian fruit flesh), to Big Apple Donuts and Starbucks. The city is a mix of modernity and nature. Some of the outer roads are still quite notorious for encounters with crocodiles. Yet, the traffic could rival any big cities during rush hour. I was stuck in traffic for a good 40 minutes for a trip that should take 15 minutes on a good day.
Most tourists who come to KK will proceed to the scuba diving spots or the National Park, which is the home to the 4,095m-high Mount Kinabalu. Unfortunately for me, I was on a work trip and I had only a couple of evenings to spend sightseeing in KK. Nevertheless I took advantage of the free evenings to walk along the promenade, tried some local food at the night market, shopped for souvenirs at the quaint little shops and wished I had more time to explore the city.
KK is mostly known as a tourist destination, but it is a booming city and more people are coming here to stay long term. It is a beautiful place with nice people, cheap and convenient. One thing for sure, I would definitely come back one day and bring my family to enjoy the other attractions as well.