Best Holiday Ever! Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu Sunset
Kota Kinabalu sunset

Who knew that Kota Kinabalu would be one of the most special places I would ever visit? The week spent in the city famously referred to by locals and travelers alike as “KK” has been one of the most enjoyable in recent memory, thanks to the charm of the place itself, its people, and the company of someone who would eventually claim a special place in my heart (perhaps, my heart itself).

Thanks to the peak travel season in the Philippines in the summer, especially during and right after Easter/Holy Week, everything cost nearly twice as much, particularly airfare and hotel. And so on top of wanting to avoid crowds, this only encouraged us to consider other destinations in Southeast Asia.

Thus, upon recommendations on the Web and from friends alike, we decided on KK, a convenient, tourist-friendly, and very affordable destination. Kota Kinabalu is this little nook on the northwest coast of Sabah, Malaysia, facing the South China sea. Whilst it was one of the more popular gateways to Malaysia, Borneo or the rest of Southeast Asia, KK after Easter was not teeming with too many tourist. We were informed by locals that the city did host a considerable number of visitors a few weeks prior, so I guess the timing for our holiday was just right. Continue reading “Best Holiday Ever! Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu”

Malaysia 2010 Part 2: Buildings, infrastructure and signage

Malaysia’s infrastructure and road networks are pretty impressive, and because much of the country is “seismically stable,” its capital, Kuala Lumpur, enjoys having taller, larger buildings. Suffice it to say that its skyscrapers dwarf those tiny things in Manila masquerading as towers.


When they’re not driving at 100 kph on their fine highways, Kuala Lumpur residents are stuck in rush-hour traffic. Notice the lush greenery in the background, however. It’s as if all the city’s highways are lined with rain forests.

Putrajaya is a city that’s still pretty much under construction. Being planned as the administrative centre of Malaysia, it is host to the site of key government buildings, such as those of the justice ministry, finance ministry, and the residence of the country’s Prime Minister. The best way to get around Putrajaya for sightseeing is by taxi and van rentals. Forget about trying to walk around the place; while everywhere is picturesque, the city is infernally hot.

The Putrajaya Convention centre’s roof looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. The structure looks formidable up close.

The Prime Minister’s building

The Ministry of Justice Building… I think.

I believe this is a telecoms company’s building.
Peace is possible, it is.

They just know how to build beautiful bridges. This district in Putrajaya showcases a number of awe-inspiring bridges that are a mix of good engineering and modern design. Just look at the angles on this structure.

Seri Saujana Bridge’s steel girders, up close


I saw the signs 

 


 Public display of affection is generally frowned upon. You can’t make out at this park in a KL suburb.

These dress codes are strictly followed in mosques, unlike those dress codes posted on Catholic and denominational churches in RP.

 Malaysia is a fine country 🙂 You can bring, but not consume, food and drinks in public vehicles.

 Don’t hassle the bus driver by giving large notes and expecting him to give your change ASAP. He’s driving at 100 kph.

If you don’t line up early enough for tickets at Petronas, this message will welcome you. Be there before 8 or 9, to be safe.


Queuing up at the ladies’ loos.

No, I’m not!

ablution n. A washing or cleansing of the body, especially as part of a religious rite. (Answers.com)

UPDATED: Malaysia 2010 Part 1–Romancing Petronas, haggling for scarves, and engaging in much debauchery

It was a great four-day frantic tour of Kuala Lumpur, Putra Jaya, Genting Highlands, and Selangor in Malaysia, and the newly opened Universal Studios on Sentosa Island in Singapore with badminton friends. I’m still too tired to be coherent, so I’m only posting photos of the trip that used up much of my energy but I would most likely take again if or when given the chance. It’s been years since I went on a trip with the Titans, and I’m crossing my fingers that we’d have more of this again…though I hope in a less frenetic fashion.

Inside the KLIA Express, which took us from KL Central Station to Putra Jaya in 20 minutes. The train was very clean, comfortable, and mighty fast.
Malaysia’s preferred mode of transportation is still driving, therefore although it has very decent railroad and subway networks, more people are going around in their compact cars. And yes, there are more compacts than your typical sedan in Malaysia; more people are driving national car brands than foreign ones, as well. 
The first impression that Malaysia gave me was that it’s infrastructure was top-notch, it’s highways were nothing but impressive. Still, because of the massive number of motorists it hosts, KL is far from being traffic-free. We got stuck for an hour in rush-hour traffic, going from Sogo mall to Petaling Jaya.
Doing cougar-y stuff at Petronas Twin Towers
The steel work on this building is very impressive.
Inside the Skybridge
 Romancing the twin towers, where works the handsomest security guard in the world. Is it time to feel cougar-y yet?

View of the park from Skybridge. It’s pretty, no?

Just below the towers is the upscale six-level mall, Suria KLCC.
Of course, Petronas is grand. It’s pretty, it’s famous, it’s fantabulous! We all know these things already. But what the ladies didn’t know was that the men who made sure that all visitors behaved as they should were just nearly as pretty as the national symbols of might that they guarded.

This guy was scanning visitors’ bags as our batch was lining up for the lift to the 41st level. I thought he would stay by his x-ray scanner, but alas, after everybody entered the lift, he got in, trying to look as if he was about to clobber any misbehaving fool within his sight. But us fools noticed he was tall, and had nice cheekbones, and nice eyes and eyelashes that stretch to out theeeeere!, and that looking stern never looked sexy. Purrr!

And then we all ended up giggling like high schoolers. And then we kept telling, whispering to each other that the man in uniform could give Piolo Pascual a run for his money (plus that he is most unlikely gay). And then we just kept looking at him. And then I couldn’t help it anymore, so I asked Rodel with his hi-tech camera to take my photo with Manong Guard. And then everybody wanted to to have their photos taken with him as well. Bah, nauna ako kay Manong Guard ha?

And then he just didn’t know what to do. Dealing with silly misbehaving women maybe wasn’t part of his “looking stern” conditioning. And then he was helpless; these cougars are fierce!

And then this sort-of smile. The poor man’s shift is 2:00 in the afternoon on weekdays.

Food, food, food and more food!

One of the highlights of the trip was food. Malaysia offers among the best fusion of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisine.  I like my food zingy, but after days of taking in unheard of flavors (and smells) that vary from hot to super hot prior to taking this trip, I began to crave for good old McDonald’s pancakes and fried chicken. Still, for a newbie, Malaysia is a flavor haven, and everything that you could buy is worth a try. I enjoyed our breakfast of spicy rice and sweet-and-spicy chicken at a stall just outside the Asia Jaya MTR station.

Nando’s on the concourse level of Suria KLCC serves good food. Too bad, the waitress that served our food was awfully rude. 

 Breakfast at Nando’s: bread, sausages, eggs, and grilled tomatoes. Not mine, though. I bought a blueberry and chocolate muffin from Starbucks to go with my usual latte. Coffee is not a popular drink in Malaysia, but they have really good milk teas.

Lamb kebab set served at a Persian restaurant at central station. The kebabs were drier than I was used to, but were super filling, no less.

I could have five of this super delish pistachio yogurt ice cream in one go.

A pork-and-tofu soup dish that went well with steamed rice. The pork used tasted like luncheon meat, but how did they know that I loved the flavor of cilantro?


Our best and biggest meal was at the buffet shabu-shabu restaurant in Selangor. Here, we were waiting for the broths to boil before adding crabs, shrimps, veggies, noodles, shomai, and seaweeds.

You need to get there as early as possible to avoid the long line. We waited for more than an hour to get a table, but the food was well worth the wait.
 


Something familiar: meatballs and fries in overflowing gravy and blueberry sauce, cheesecake, chocolate chip muffin, and bottomless cherry soda at the Ikea food court. I must have paid only RM16 for these. I’d love to go there again!

Carbonated Benadryl never tasted this refreshing! This Poly Strawberry-flavoured soda was bought at a stall in front of the mosque in Putra Jaya.

Now this, I am used to. Even their MickeyD coffee cups are prettier.

Haggling for shawls and scarves

I wasn’t planning to buy scarves, but seeing the girls going gaga over the pretty things at this old shopping district that sold modesty stuff made me lose my resolve and gave in to the colorful lovelies that were a coral pink glossy pashmina shawl and a marine and aqua blue silk scarf, all for only RM18, or roughly P200. The Pakistani stall owner was no match to our haggling charms.