Maiden Voyage (Herbie Hancock)

Our maiden voyage to East Malaysia was interesting to say the least, although I couldn’t help but feel that we needed a longer stay to fully experience the culture there. We booked a 3-nights stay in Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, that basically faces the hub of activities within the city area and spend most of our time shopping, eating and venturing to whatever tourist attractions there are possible within the limited time that we had. Forgivable for a first trip but I have already in mind a list of things that I must do on future trips to Kota Kinabalu.

Now that I have been absolved of whatever forced climbing by the military, ascending Mount Kinabalu finally looks tempting. So is exploring the deeper side of the capital, like visiting the monsopiad headhunters and touching the vile-smelling rafflesia. I could only listen with envy how my reservist mate recounted his own experience staying with a tribe in Sarawak and joined them hunting for food and slept in a longhouse on stilts directly above a crocodile-infested river. Call me a Robinson Crusoe-wannabe for all I care but I do appreciate the wild life if it’s not forcibly shoved down my throat.

And now back to real life.

Due to conflicting schedules, we could only settle for the Gaya Street Sunday Market instead of embarking on North Borneo Railway’s 4-hours steam train ride. Frankly, I find the market to be a glorified pasar malam. It’s long, that’s for sure, but apart from pathetic-looking animals put up for sale and the occasional interesting street characters, you can find almost the same in other Malaysian states. While Fadelinah went crazy over the crystals and pearls, I walked away from the place with 3 T-shirts … as always.

The hotel we stayed in is very conveniently located within walking distances to popular day and night markets, shopping centres, restaurants and street food eateries. Service was impeccable, except for that Caucasian porter who stood out like a sore thumb among the local staff. He’s probably a management trainee made to start out from the bottom. I could tell from his forced smile. The hotel we’ll probably stay in the next time around would be Sutera Harbour Resort, where we spent a few hours at raiding the Hi Tea buffet inside Cafe Boleh and watching the city’s famous sunset from. Nexus Resort Karambunai is just too far away to be convenient.

Taxi rides are not metered and one pays generally RM10 for short trips within the city and RM25 for longer ones to the airport or 1 Borneo HyperMall. The latter currently the biggest shopping centre in East Malaysia, with Mercure, Novotel and Tune hotels flanking it. One thing I realise about the taxi drivers or the locals for that matter, that they’re generally an honest lot and would have a conversation only when you start it. Simply put … decent people.

I guess whenever one lands in a place near the ocean, seafood tends to be the staple throughout the stay. We had a lot of it. Right from the delicious lobster at Port View Seafood Village to the burned-to-a-crisp garoupa at a stall behind the Filipino Market. Definitely a must-visit judging from the number of locals and tourists dining there.

And on our last day in Kota Kinabalu, we took a speedboat ride from Jesselton Point to Pulau Manukan. Supposedly the most popular within the group of islands in front of the city but it was such a disappointing sight. The numerous dead corals washed up ashore made for a painful walk and the water isn’t exactly Redang standard. Besides, there were simply too many people that made it look like Singapore’s East Coast. The only decent snorkelling that can be done seems to be near the jetty, provided the staff don’t see and tell you to climb back up. Will definitely skip Pulau Manukan and visit the other more secluded islands the next time.

I guess that about sums up our first trip to Kota Kinabalu. And I’m still pissed at not being able to hang with my homies, the proboscis monkeys and orangutans. Never mind … another one added to the list of things left undone in Kota Kinabalu. More trips need to be planned it seems.

~ by blackcadillac73 on March 21, 2009.

2 Responses to “Maiden Voyage (Herbie Hancock)”

  1. Lamri – just to let you know, I’m reading I’m reading!
    Just that we were away last weekend and then when we got back, Divya fell really ill.
    Good that you guys had such a good break – all of you deserve it 🙂

  2. Hope Divya’s better now. The flu bug’s making its rounds these days, I got it a few days back and still reeling from it.

    The short holiday was a good break for us. It could have been longer though.

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