People often say that traveling abroad without someone else can be quite a challenge, especially if you are there to discover the local culture. However, I am pleased to share with you that even though I was alone on my trip, the whole trip to Kota Kinabalu went smoothly and I was able to enjoy it in my own way.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Kota Kinabalu.
Welcome to Sabah! Malaysia is located on the spectacular tropical island of Borneo. Sabah is a land of stimulating natural landscapes, lush ancient tropical rainforest, vibrant coral reefs and mysterious ethnic beliefs. Yes, I had a 3 days 2 nights trip in Kota Kinabalu last February! It was my first visit to Sabah and what a nice experience it was! I had some unforgettable first hand memories that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Sabah.
I loved visiting the islands and shopping at the various outlet stores in downtown Kota Kinabalu. I also had the chance to immerse myself with the natives and the tourists. I was quite surprised to know that many Filipinos live there, but it is indeed a good thing for me as I could just freely communicate with them in my native language.
Moreover, eating the local food there was also commendable. Some of them were strange, but most were mouth-watering. Originally I had planned to include trekking in Mount Kinabalu in my itinerary but my fear is eating me because it is one of the highest mountains in South East Asia so it is definitely quite high and I was too afraid no one would tell me right away could help if something bad or dangerous would happen to me because I was traveling alone but anyway my escapade went like this.
On my first day I had my city tour and it was enjoyable. I walked around near my accommodation and saw several places of interest with great appreciation. I then hired a taxi for me to reach more distant attractions and learn about their culture. I visited Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, Suria Sabah, Philippine market, Gaya Street Market, Tun Mustapha Tower, Intersection Insights, Seafood Port and Legacy Square. I also saw Atkinson Clock Tower and Swordfish Statue as I wandered around. I took lots of pictures for my family and friends to see, even if they weren’t physically with me that day.
At exactly 5pm I was then looking for Toscani’s Wine & Dine Cafe at Waterfront, as I read many good reviews that it offers delicious food, pleasant atmosphere, nice view of the bay and the amazing sunset. It certainly didn’t let me down as all the food I ordered was really tasty such as their seafood pizza, baked potatoes with cheese jacket and steak in wine. The waiters were also very attentive so for me it was quite fantastic.
The next day I decided to go snorkeling on different islands and the great thing was that I joined a group of vacationers in their boat, so it didn’t really cost me a fortune. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a water park that includes Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik, and Pulau Sulug. All of these islands are just a ten to fifteen minute boat ride from Jesselton Point, the ferry harbor where you can charter a boat to the islands.
First we went to Mamutik Island, as it is the closest and smallest of the five islands of the park. It is very popular for its proximity and is an ideal setting to embrace tranquility. Then we left for the second location of the day, Manukan Island. As the boat just landed in the landmass, the school of fish welcomed us. I then rushed to get off the ship, as I was excited to take pictures of the sea creatures while someone was feeding them. The little paradise was really tempting for me to explore more.
The third stop was the island of Sapi. On arrival in Sapi I still joined the group and enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch served buffet style directly on the beach of the island, and after being alone I roamed the island without restrictions and found the best place to rest. After filling our stomachs with the fresh and tasty food and relaxing, we moved on to the next adventure of the group which is fishing.
The boat owner then started the engine, had the staff and pointed the way to a quiet spot known as the fishing hub. He then prepared the necessary materials such as the rods, bait and hooks for us to get started. Since some of us were beginners, he explained the procedures how to do it through gestures as he didn’t speak good English. As I could remember it wasn’t a big deal as we fully understood what he wanted us to do and luckily I caught two small fish.
After an hour of fishing we decided to go back to the mainland and not visit the other islands because we were already too tired. Overall, the island hopping package was a bit expensive for a solo traveler, but I’ve never regretted using it because the experience was worth it. I met some cool people and had endless laughs with them that you couldn’t buy. Although they have different nationalities, beliefs and personalities, it never became an obstacle for us to understand each other. So, when you plan to go to Kota Kinabalu, never miss island hopping in your itinerary.
For my last day in Kota Kinabalu, I went to several shops to buy some souvenirs and treats that I could take to the Philippines. I think it was funny visiting different stalls and comparing which ones were the cheaper deals. I think I was also improving my negotiation skills during my trip.
Finally, I’m ready to go. Overall, I think I’ve only explored 60% or less of what Sabah has to offer. My experience was really great and fantastic. And while there are many seafood restaurants, the cheap ones frequented by the locals are just too far to reach on foot. And did I mention that the taxi drivers in Kota Kinabalu don’t turn on the meter? (You have to be smart about haggling for a good price!).
Life is an exploration. Spread your wings and fly as far as you can!
About the writer
I am Geraldine R. Codizar from Cebu, Philippines. I have been an ESL teacher for over five years now. I am 26 years old and my ultimate dream is to travel to different places not only to see the hidden beauty that lies in each place but also to meet the locals and appreciate more the real essence of our existence . I enjoy immersing myself in anonymous settings as it is quite challenging and rewarding. I want to enter the competition because I want my parents to have the opportunity to be with me and also for them to know that life is a great adventure even at their age.
THIS IS A REGISTRATION FOR THE 1ST ANNIVERSARY TRAVEL WRITING COMPETITION OF TWO MONKEY TRAVEL GROUP