Between moving to different camps we often spent a few nights in Kota Kinabalu (affectionately known as KK), a city found in the Sabah region of Borneo. KK is definitely a city which grows on you, first impressions could be forgiven if they were on the more cautious side, the area could come across as loud, busy, untidy and smelling of fish however, by the end of our 2 months in Borneo our trips to KK were well looked forward to. So, what was it about KK that we came to love…
The Night Market
Every night of the week a market is erected by the harbour and through the neighbouring streets. The area by the harbour specialises in food, where you can sit and have a fantastic meal for an average of RM6 (roughly £1.20). There are also tons..and tons of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, smoothies and a lot a fish. The market traders are shouting their deals, weighing and chopping the fish as you walk along, occasionally chucking water over their stock to keep them fresh – be prepared to come out with wet feet if you walk down that isle. Further towards the city the stalls sell your fake designer goods – (perfumes, bags, sunglasses etc), and rail after rail of 2nd hand clothes and shoes.
The Harbour / The Waterfront
Along here there are many bars and restaurants, alcohol isn’t cheap here so drinks were enjoyed in moderation but the views were fantastic. We found a gem of a hotel with a roof top bar/pool called Sky Blu Bar, from there you could see all over the city and across the sea to the neighbouring island. If we had the chance to go there again I’d try to get to the bar in time for the sunset.
The Shopping Centres
Great place if you love to shop, there are so many malls to choose from. Shops range from your top selling brands back to the fake goods. One mall seemed to specialise in phones and phone accessories. A couple of the malls have a cinema inside, we watched Beauty and the Beast one afternoon for the bargain price of RM13 roughly £2.60!
The Cafés and Restaurants
We found some great food places:
Lovely little coffee shop with items on the menu I’d never tried before such as a green tea latte. The venue is beautifully decorated and you feel quite at home whilst there.
Perhaps not traditional Malay food (at all) but very good food. The menu has a selection of wraps, burgers, pizzas and tacos which everyone in our group loved and believe me it’s hard to please everyone of 17 people but El Centro managed it.
Sri Latha Curry House
This place did the best curry I’ve had so far on this trip. At lunch time we got a curry which came served on a banana leaf accompanied by rice, poppadoms, pickles and vegetables for RM12 (£2.40) we also got a side roti which is served with the sauce of 2 curries for RM1.70 (32p – why wouldn’t you!?)
Step in Lodge
I couldn’t write this blog without giving Step in a special mention. Although the Wifi was bad, the rooms near the road were noisy and I think they had somehow managed to buy the worst smelling shower gel invented, we had a great time there and they deserve a medal for putting up with us. The communal area was great for watching a bit of TV and sitting on a comfy sofa or socialising whilst having ‘prinks’ (pre drinks – I’m down with the kids)
KK is a city that never sleeps! Convenient for those times you need a midnight meal, not so convenient if you’re trying to sleep in the hostel room next to the street.
We made many fun and happy memories in our time there – We’ll never forget you KK 🇲🇾