Malaysia: Kota Kinabalu

Malaysia is a taste of paradise to me. Great weather, beautiful beaches and delicious cuisine. It was nice to get some sun and just relax on the beach not worrying about anything. The welcoming culture of locals and affordability of this place definitely left nice feelings so I had known back then I would definitely come back for more 🙂

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I haven’t been to such a busy place of Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, I wanted more of a “couch-potato” holiday, so I went to Kota-Kinabalu. I didn’t do much reading or researching thinking I could just go with the flow.  Luckily, I met a couple who were on the same flight with me to China and who has been to KK. The information about booked tours did not sound much like a relaxation (yep, in my case it was lounging on the beach being roasted by the sun!)

As I had constraints – time and money –  I just decided to visit different islands.

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Kota Kinabalu is a quite small town. It is only about 10-15 mins drive from the airport. By the way, the taxis are ok, only 30 Malaysian Ringgit and you can buy tickets at the desk opposite the arrivals. I really appreciated that people were not trying to get into your face all the time and rip you off.

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There isn’t much to do around the town. There are few shopping malls like Wisma Sabbah (quite affordable). A big market which is called  Handy craft or Filippino market which operates from 9am till 6pm. Mainly food and souvenirs are sold there.

At 6 pm opens the Night market – food market where you can try local traditional cuisine with fresh seafood. As I’m a huge fan of Malaysian cuisine (which I tried for the first time in Wellington), I was so impatient to try it! You just walk around and choose what sort of fish or any other sea food you’d like to try and they cook it right there for you! This was an amazing experience!!! I paid only 7 MYR for the filling and “yummy as” dish.  The market is near the waterfront and if you walk to the waterfront near the dolphin statue, you’ll easily find it.

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The majority of Malaysian population is Muslim. Being in a small twon that has not been spoiled by tourism completely, I felt like I should have respected the local values. Simply, (opinion) do not wear super short skirts and mini tops to walk around the town.

I traveled to Manukan island by the boat. Just walk to the pier and buy a ticket. The boats depart several times a day and come back usually at about 4 pm as it starts rain heavily. In the morning the weather is back to normal – the sun is shining bright, the fresh wind is blowing, the sky is azure, the sea is turquoise and, of course, the white sand on the beach of various islands.

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The island was nice and so quiet… You can lay down with your eyes closed and listen to the sea breeze, waves, thinking about eternity. The water was truly fantastic – clear and warm I could spot some ocean colourful fishes. I asked them to say Nemo I said hi! 😀 Watch out for the colars when walking along the shore!

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If you get hungry, you can easily find some affordable food on the island, so there is no need to carry a huge bag of food.. but still it’s better to bring some water.

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I went for a walk around the island but besides jungles there was nothing except…another charming view 🙂

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Another day, another island – Sapi island. To be honest, I didn’t really like it. It’s popular for its snorkeling and diving but I did none of them because I’m a really bad swimmer. It was crowded and dirtier than Manukan. It was quite small and I met some weird animals. Beware of cheeky monkeys coming from the jungle to steal stuff from your bags!

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To get to the airport, walk past Australian place to the bus tickets kiosk. The ticket is only 5 MYR.

I stayed at the hostel (Gaya Lodge) which was close to everything so I could just walk. It was a great value for money  (75 MYR for 3 nights and breakfast (toasts with jam and tea/coffee), pretty clean and  staff was extremely friendly.

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I really liked Malaysia and it was super sad to leave it and go back to cold winter  😦 But it definitely left warm memories in my heart and I’d love to come back one day. Huge respect to people there because most of them speak English, and if they don’t, they understand you and try to help you. Obviously, it was a little piece of summer for me between two winters.

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