KOTA KINABALU… A CITY OF NEW AND OLD
So we had a spare day to spend in the city of Kota Kinabalu – the largest city on the island of Borneo. What more is there to do than to get out there on foot and explore?! The following is a recount of a great day spent getting to know one of Malaysia’s eclectic city landscapes.
We kicked our day off with a visit to the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. This mosque was open to non-muslims and was very easy to get to. We donned our dupata (clothes for women) and thobe (for men) that we hired for RM10 each, just outside the entrance to the mosque. The people here were very welcoming and friendly and it was a great experience, immersing oneself in a religion that is unfamiliar to us in many ways.
After the mosque, we cruised over to check out one of Kota Kinabalu’s many modern shopping malls, the Suriah Sabah. Kota Kinabalu is an interesting city in that it traverses the two realms involving contemporary western infrastructure and old world, traditional Asian charm. On one street you will find a brand new shopping mall with Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Prada and as you take a turn, you will find a number of street vendors selling traditional malay food, surrounded by dilapidated buildings and stray dogs. It was a fascinating and enjoyable place to be. Being a couple who don’t mind a good shop (OK, really its just Jai and Kate puts up with the shopping addiction), we spent a few hours picking up some sensational bargains at many of the shops within the mega mall.
As we strolled out of the air conditioned, Louis Vuitton riddled mega shopping mall and into the searing heat, we stopped to observe some cool street art and out of curiosity, entered one of the buildings upon which the street art was adorned. We found that we had inadvertently hit the adventure, watersport, diving and tour company jackpot. This building held many offices catering to those visiting the Sabah region who wants to do any of the above. This building was called the ‘Wismah Sabah’ and we would definitely recommend giving it a visit if you are wanting to experience Borneo in a more ‘organised’ mode.
We cruised around the streets of Kota Kinabalu… taking in the sights and sounds… getting a feel of what it would be like to live here as a local… away from the mega hypermalls.
Our final stop before we flew out was the night food market. The vibe here was cool: the produce was fresh, the smells were strong, the voices were loud and the ringgits were exchanging hands in a flurry of motion.
For now it’s goodbye Kota Kinabalu – next stop: Brunei!
Are you thinking of going to Kota Kinabalu? Have questions? Ask us in the comments section below…
Have you been to Kota Kinabalu? We would love to hear your travel stories also!