KOTA KINABALU

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My best intentions and blogging efforts for this year seemed to have already failed, with massive intervals between posts. To make up for the gap I am about to clog your newsfeed with posts about my current exotic location. Trash and Aesthetics is currently abroad. I am midway through my month long-stay in Malaysia Truly Asia.

This trip came about through a university commitment, which allowed me to take advantage of cheap flights and spend weekends visiting different parts of the country, as well as Kuala Lumpur where I have been based. The First weekend here I visited a university friend, Fay in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. I flew into Sabah’s little tin shack terminal at 12am and was picked up by Fay and taken for the best Lechon Kawali (Crispy Pork) in town. I doubt this Filipino restaurant would make it into most guidebook recommendations, (which I’m sure is a relief for the locals), but when in Sabah, you must visit this place. Decorated like a tiki shack with lots of shell accessories from wind chimes to ‘Jesus Loves You’ signs and offering buckets of beer for only 10r, ‘Tambayan Filipino’ is well worth the negotiated taxi ride. After the restaurant we spent the rest of the now morning in the extremely generous hospitality of Sabah locals, drinking whisky and orange juice (not a local delicacy, but instead a consequence of running out of original alternatives) to the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday we ventured via speedboat to the Islands. Whilst waiting at the harbour we bought breakfast. Breakfast in Sabah does not fall into the same food types that I’m used to for breakfast. In the West we favor muesli over mussels but when in Sabah, do as they do in Sabah. When you visit be sure to order the following dishes – fried seafood kueh teow (with flat noodles), pineapple fried rice (your choice of meat) and fried oyster mee hoon (with vermicelli noodles).

There are so many islands you can access from KK. The area also boasts some of the best diving spots in Asia. Due to time restrictions, we spent the most of our time on Pulau Sapi Island, which is the end point for the longest zip line in South East Asia, which is runs between Sapi and another Island… need I say more. The islands have yet to be developed with only basic facilities, which adds to their charm and makes them ideal for a zip line and beer or two on the beach.

Saturday evening I experienced more of Sabah’s generous hospitality with Fay’s Mum and partner (Aunty Rose and Uncle Kong) taking us for seafood. I don’t think I have eaten REAL seafood before eating like this. ‘Welcome Restaurant’ I do believe has been made aware to the tourist route and for good reasons. The restaurant comes across similarly to a pet shop with lots of tanks with doomed sea creatures soon to be seafood. The word fresh takes on a whole new meaning. To order you are able to choose which and what you would like. After dinner I got to experience another first, clubbing in Asia. ‘Plutonic’ which is located in Times Square (which to me just looked like a giant shopping centre) was a haze of beer towers (literally a tower of beer roughly about three jugs in quantity), shots and a flaming Lamborghini. After, Fay took me to experience Borneo’s version of a Dirty Kebab. When you too find yourself in this situation find a busy street stall and order the following – roti telur (eggy flatbread), roti kaya (sweet bread), soto (Malaysian soupy noodles, egg, and chicken/ beef) and maggi goreng.

For my final day in KK, you guessed it, involved yet more eating. After a stroll down the main Sunday market, which I found slightly traumatic due to the variety of “pets” able to be purchased. We had dim sums in a beautiful street stall just off the market’s street, that could also cater as a museum with photos, maps and newspaper cuttings of Borneo’s history covering the walls. Then after a quick stop at the town’s lookout, we concluded with another Sabah specialty, Ngiu Chap (beef noodles). Then enjoyed more beer and one final sunset before getting on my flight.

As I had only two days in Sabah I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to explore outside of KK. There is so much more to be discovered here. I definitely would not have discovered any of the amazing places I did experience however, if it hadn’t been for Fay and her family and friends. I feel like I got a brief peek at what its like to be a local in KK for the weekend and can’t wait to go back.

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