Category Archives: Malaysia

JJ goes to Kota Kinabalu

My last few days on the Malaysia adventure took me to the northern end of Sabah and to Kota Kinabalu. After a week on a deserted island – KK felt like a metropolis. I decided I’d spend my first night focused on getting around, doing the night markets, and eating.

The lovely ladies at my guest house were nice enough to give me a map highlighting the places I wanted to hit.

IMG_5759Highlights were night market #1 , night market #2, laundry service, (needed after 5 days on an island) and the seafood markets. So many markets!

First up – some refreshment


Nothing beats fresh coconut milk straight from the source.


Tons of people everywhere and no shortage of clothes, souvenirs, and knock-off goods galore.

The main thing I was looking for was the open air fish market. It’s the largest in the city and has every type of fish imaginable. After 5 days on Mabul where they don’t serve fish it was a real treat.


The markets are divided haphazardly into several different zones where each restaurant is represented by their choice of coloured tablecloth. On recommendations from the guest house, I went for the red section.


Around the perimeter are hundreds of tanks. Basically, you take a look at what’s on offer then choose which you want and how you want it prepared. The selection runs from the standard fish, lobster, prawn, clams, etc to some pretty exotic stuff.

night markets


Exotic, like below with horseshoe crab (not for sale) and mantis shrimp. Notice the mantis shrimp are kept in individual plastic bottles. They are pretty badass. Without the separation, they would probably kill eachother or break the glass. Yes, they can easily break aquarium glass. More about them here:


They even had frog fish. Pretty ugly little guys. I didn’t choose to give them a go.


I settled on (and demolished) a large tiger prawn, 1/4 lb of standard prawns, a Singapore chilli crab, and seafood noodles. It was gluttony! Compared to Australia, a bargain too.


Though I was eating alone, I made fast friends with the Asahi lady who was nice enough to take a photo with the tall American.


Day 2

The second day was really more about adventure. To start, I checked in to the Scuba Junkies shop to see where the best options were for diving around KK. Thankfully, the shop was honest and said conditions were poor given the winds and I’d be better off staying above water. She suggested a day trip to an island off the coast of KK so off I went to Jesselton Point to grab a boat.


The boats go to a variety of islands and figuring out how to book a boat was a challenge itself. Just like the DMV, the marina was filled with people and tour operators but no one really seemed to know what was going on… myself included. After talking to a few other travellers they mentioned they were on the next boat leaving and off to Mamutik Island. Knowing nothing about the options I thought that sounded ok to me.  They helped me book a ticket and off we went.

Once on Mamutik, I left my friendly companions and  followed a trail to the less touristy part of the island. This meant a bit of  trekking through the island centre.


Nice peep view back to KK.


The trail was pretty well laid out and made for a really nice walk.

However, no one told me that huge monitor lizards lived on the island. I got to make that little discovery on my own…


I reached an impasse, as he just wanted to sit there and hiss at me rather than moving out of the sun. After a while, and some shaking of a stick, he went off on his way.


The other side of the island was a bit rocky, but still beautiful in it’s own right.


With warm crystal clear waters.


Away from the crowds I found a great spot to just lie and enjoy the sun and my book.


I even had a bit of company.

After a few hours lounging on the beach and getting burnt to a crisp, it was back to KK to shower up and get ready for a night out with my new travel buddies from the boat.

On my high recommendation, we went back to the same place from the night before. After probably a few too many Asahi’s I got a bit artistic with the leftovers.


The remnants of another chilli crab, and far too many prawns and shellfish.

After stuffing ourselves silly, it was off to El Centro for a few cheeky drinks.


Day 3

Day 3 was my last day in KK. (sad) So, with a mild hangover, I was picked up for the 30 minute drive to the Shangri La Rasa Ria resort. The resort has an orang utan reserve there where they look after a bunch of orphaned juvenile orang utans. Once they age, they are then sent on to the much larger Sepilok preserve. Here, they are then released back into the wild.

The resort is stunning, but at $300+ a night it was a bit out of my budget.


After paying my entry fee and watching a short video about orang utan rehabilitation, it was a short “Jungle Walk” to the viewing platform.


Once at the platform, they bring out some food and, after a few minutes, the baby orang utans come out to eat and play. These photos don’t do any justice to how cute these guys are.


All in, there were about 20 playing around us.


Including this super cute baby.


About 10,000 mosquito bites later I decided to spend my afternoon lounging around the property. All you need to do is act like you’re a guest. This turned out a bit easier than I imagined. For the better part of the afternoon I simply walked about, ate at the free buffet, and lounged on their private beach.


In case anyone asked, I “had just checked our of suite 342” Thankfully no-one asked : )


The wedding pavilion


I even went for a swim – with free towels provided by the resort.


After the swim, I chose to pass the afternoon reading a book and having a few cheeky beers at the beach bar. “No, that’s fine. I’ll pay cash. I just checked out of 342…” Let me say, the service was top notch! I almost feel compelled to write a positive review on TripAdvisor.

My resort day signalled the end of a fantastic trip throughout Malaysia. I was sad to go, but know I will return.

Then just the long flight back to Oz.

Until next time…