BLOG: City by the sea, but a mountain's namesake

Kota Kinabalu Travel Blog

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Kota Kinabalu is set in an unbeatable position ... from the air, you can see coral reefs and islands surrounding it. We spent our first day on a day trip to one of five islands off the city in an area called Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. We chose Manukan Island. As we hopped off the boat after a 20 minute ride from the city, we couldn't believe our eyes with the varieties of fish visible from the jetty. More colours than the rainbow! Unfortunately the jetty area appeared to be a no-snorkelling zone and other parts around the island wasn't as rich in marine life. However with patience we still managed to see more than what we've ever seen in all our trips to the Pacific Islands.

KK like Sandakan has a bit of an illegal immigrant problem, mainly from the Philippines. Litter is a problem in the city. Squatter dwellings over some coral reefs also cause a flotilla of debris in some bays.

A friend David took us up to foothills of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in SE Asia, about the height of Mount Cook in NZ. As it had rained recently, we could see cascading waterfalls among the greenery. Stopped for lunch in a little town as David conducted his business trip and got Kimball a cheap haircut (NZD4) in a tiny place ... one of his best ever ... I think we place too much emphasis in the Western world on qualified professional certified this and that (eg. hairdresser).

Stopped in a hotspring for a swim and explored a butterly park. Also walked along a Canopy Walk for the first time ... this is essentially a series of ladders with planks placed on them and suspended by ropes at the forest canopy level ... some 40 metres above the ground. Pretty freaky when you look down. Had a first time appreciation for what we learnt in school about how the rainforest has three layers of different vegetation.

The trip was very enjoyable and would have been expensive or difficult to organise by ourselves. It certainly was a nice addition to seeing it from the plane ... thanks to the advice of friends as to which side of the aircraft to sit on, and the effort of our travel agent.

We also visited some amazing hotels and resorts. The Nexus is perfectly geared for serious golfers and is what I'd call 6 stars! The Sutera Harbour private development consists of a marina (the size of the Auckland's America's Cup area), 2 stunning hotels, and two golf clubs. The marina has provided a much better habitat that nature ... the water was simply ALIVE with fish as we walked around it just before sunset. Where else in the world can you see marine life in a marine IN THE CITY!!! No wonder people come to Sabah's islands further afield for diving ... they must be even better.

And on to my favourite subject, FOOD. Eating in Sabah is much more expensive than in other parts of Malaysia or Borneo. A typical meal would cost NZD2 in Kuching but is around NZD3 in KK.


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