[Kota Kinabalu] ~ Around Town in Half-Day

A town so small everything was walkable. – 08.22.14


It was a day of a must in every trip – hours of feet abuse (yes, even in countries with unforgiving heat). What was different with this town is how I found myself in one charmingly small one it amused me that I unintentionally was at places I set out to see. There was too many “oh there it is” moments from that graffiti building to that clock tower to those markets, food plazas and drink places. Also, for someone with a terrible sense of direction (if any), it was another relief that as long as I know where the sea is (and the sea in its bigness, is quite a landmark, right?) – there is always a place to go back to whenever I find myself lost somewhere.

KK Day 1

In my attempt to quench my thirst at the airport, an immediate let-down was that it was a country wherein Coke Zero is non-existent, Coke Light precious. I was thirsty the very minute the plane set down wheels that I immediately looked for Coke Zero, which was sadly, not available in a convenience store (where’s the convenience in that, huh?). Found one in can in a Dunkin Donuts. Amusingly, it was just a freebie to their sandwiches. I was like – okay, so Coke Zero here is one of those free iced tea in food court stalls in Manila. Nonetheless, took pleasure in what is probably ‘yummiest’ Coke Zero. Next few minutes upon arrival at the hostel made me learn how it is a place where beer options are limited, unoriginal and painfully expensive. But that merits more in the succeeding sub-stories.


RockOn the Raccoon – my trip buddy!



Uncaptured but I was panicky here as I was trying to pay for check-in baggage online. Didn’t know my ticket didn’t include so I had to pay upon check-in



An ‘encounter’ with a cute kid



Because I knew I was bound to see monkeys for this trip



I love the ‘local’ feel of the airport



.. but I do not love the unpopularity of Coke Light and Zero.



My first clutter.


To counter such unhappy things though was again a jackpot find in Borneo Backpackers – a house seemingly turned into a comfortable hostel which is again in a prime location as it is nearing places where one can eat and drink. Quite a routine, I just washed my face then started walking again and in between walking let myself be robbed by those unreasonably priced beer. One was at this museum café where I was freely entertained by those college kids. I couldn’t help but feel the need to capture the moment I took their picture without permission. It was just funny because we look so alike with them it felt like I was taking stranger photos of students in UP (University of the Philippines) or something.


Not bad for a hostel. But eventually, I suspected this of having bed bugs.



Lazy RockOn.



Corner for generous travelers. (And maybe for dependents too :D)



‘Lovers’ in KK. (Hmm or maybe just travel buddies.)



This creepy ‘door’ that leads to God-knows-what.



Just so I remember



View from Borneo Backpackers



And now I just don’t remember why I took this photo :\



I intended to look for this abandoned building turned playful place. But not that soon!

~~~ 20140822_132324

I wonder if it’s the same group of people who did all this fun dirtying




Abandoned rooms.


IMG_9920Cool shades, Mr Pringles Look-Alike





Quite some space it eats up



Stupid I thought this was that historical Atkinson Tower


After a can (yes, just a can because I was on some “stingy” mode), I explored the city some more where I discovered almost everything I listed to see in town.


Manila kids.



Yes, this precious can



Oh there you are, historical tower.



Taken from the parking lot.



Is it just me or does this building look like a flask? Or maybe the expensiveness of alcohol in this town is making me see things 😀


Next stop was what would be my take-off point for the next day’s beach trip which according to travel-useful netizens would be walking distance. I believed those to be credible but to satisfy myself who just had to be sure especially because I cannot afford to be late for that trip, I felt I had to look for the port that day too. It indeed was within walking distance. I was relieved and with some greater confidence that I would not get lost the following day.


Unbusy afternoon at the port.



Reminded me of the phone booth at Ted Mosby’s apartment



Doesn’t sound right.



Another surprise meet. Hello there, giant Marlin Statue


I did more walking until I was led to this port where there are also various eat-and-drink options. Rain made me find roof in one of the restaurants where I had another previous beer while waiting for sunset. It was a cloudy day however so setting sun was not so generous in showing itself.


How many shades of grey?



Pricey beer calories.



Grey but still lovely






Passed by around 2 of these late afternoon markets on my way back to hostel



This one’s called the Pink Ladies Market (hmm or was that just Pink Market)


20140822_185743 20140822_185800 20140822_185808

Among many things I could buy, I bought these chips with fun names (and interesting flavors too!)



So this is how that pseudo-tower looks like at night!IMG_0073


Interestingly changes color too (Yes, I am that shallow with colors!)


Found this seafood place (which I obviously cannot eat at because I was alone).

Lucky I am not a seafood fan.



😦 to me. But must respect their practice.





Before I knew it, spent my night at this at what the online world again says to be a popular place among backpackers. Beer was expectedly expensive and quite a first for me to get beer cans in a bucket! There was also this group of locals (and I think some friends of the performing band) who kept on bugging me about drinking alone. Quite a let-down because again an affirmation that even abroad, some still mind when one drinks alone. They kept on telling me I look lonely and I think 2 or 3 people (in each turn) kept on attempting at small talk – not in a malicious way but I guess they were just trying to be friendly, which I did not need at the moment as I was after some quiet time. IMG_0103

BB Cafe


Band also was not as I expected because I thought it would be similar to performers in Khao San. It was more a show band though which was not the kind I like to listen to these days. (And while I was writing this, I just realized how whiny I sound :D. Well, got to stay truthful, right?)

Luckily though, just when I was about to go home, I came across this other café that I have been planning to go after good reviews online (hey, there is lot of weight I put on online reviews huh). It was a delight that they had an acoustic set that night and a bar where it looks more conducive to solo drinking. Had a few bottles before calling it a night and getting enough rest for an exciting day ahead – my first beach trip in a foreign country!

20140822_223534 20140822_225823

Yey to an acoustic set


How I got there: 

Took a plane via Air Asia and a cab to get to town proper. Cab ride cost at around Php500.

Booked a single room at Borneo Backpackers because rate is cheap but if you wish to save some more, you may avail of dorm rooms.

Best way to get around is to walk or take a cab for relatively far places. Shall post in  a later entry but had a not-so-nice experience with their bus system so I would not recommend.

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