For some, the best part about travelling is experiencing life in a new and different city. I have been lucky enough to spend a number of weekends exploring the heart of the Sabah region of Borneo: Kota Kinabalu. If you ever find yourself in KK, here are some of my recommendations of what to do.
By far my favourite way to spend a weekend in KK is visiting the islands. With boats as cheap as £5 it’s easy to have an idyllic day by the sea for £10. Beaches of pale sand, turquoise sea and palm trees. Not too expensive for a day in paradise. Sunbathing doesn’t seem to be that big a thing here so, as a row of white girls in bikinis, we became the tourist attraction on the island of Sapi last week but it was nice to have our own paparazzi. Aside from sunbathing, the islands are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving with such a variety of fish everywhere you look. However the most exciting thing to do out here on the islands of KK has got to be the world’s longest island-island zip wire. Flying over the ocean from jungle to jungle is a memory to last a lifetime and again reasonably cheap. These islands truly are the most beautiful way to spend a day in KK.
However it’s not always fit weather to spend a day lying on the beach. On rainy days, the various malls here in KK are a much better plan. With cinemas, a whole range of shops and the most incredible icecream kiosk known to man (Let’s Roll in Centre Point in case you were wondering) it is possible to spend a whole day in the mall here. It’s quite a surreal experience being pretty much the only whites in a massive shopping centre but the wifi is typically excellent and you can get your phone screen fixed for a very decent price.
As in any city, there are some amazing places to eat here in KK if you know where to look. For those wishing for more homely food, I could tell you exactly where to go for Nando’s, Pizza Hut and some excellent burgers. For more local cuisine, head to the waterfront for some beautiful views and food. From our current home of Lodge 58, we tend to venture all the way next door for freshly blended juices and smoothies from Fruto for breakfast and all the way across the road to Mad Ben for burgers, pizzas or tacos for dinner. But the good food isn’t just limited to our doorstep. Here in KK you could easily spend a whole day trying out all the local icecream parlours and kiosks. A day well spent in my opinion.
As the sun goes down here in KK, the markets come out. Streets busy with cars during the day become loaded with knock-off watches and second hand tshirts at night. Outdoor bars open for business with live bands or salsa competitions. However the main difference with nights here and nights in England is not the entertainment or the shopping opportunities, it’s the heat. Even as the night reaches midnight, temperatures can still be as high as 30 degrees Celsius. There’s not all that much of a drinking culture here however we have discovered a decent bar with live entertainment from our favourite local girl band, a photographer with a Polaroid camera and barmen who set things on fire. Quite a change from the usual crew at E11evns back home.
Life here is just different I suppose. I wouldn’t say that it was any better or worse than being in London or Paris. KK is just a pretty standard city. I’m missing the culture which lines the streets of Cusco and the architecture of Barcelona but every minute spent here in KK is a minute more to my bank of memories and experiences. It is the memory of these beaches and night markets which will make me jealous of my past self as I sit in lectures or power through a 24 hour library session. It is these memories that will make me itch to get travelling again. Even if this trip isn’t always exactly as I’d like, I just have to remember that any travel is far more exciting than being at home. As much as I miss my friends, family and flute, I’ll have those for the rest of my life but youth passes. You’re only young once and I wish to travel as much as I can when I still can. I’m making memories for my retirement.
Anyway, it’s off to the island camp for me tomorrow. No wifi and limit electricity for the next fortnight. I’ll let you know how it all goes when I return to the fabulous KK.
I’ll keep you posted,