30 Jun - 13 Jul 2011 Kota Kinabalu

Southeast Asia
Flawed-Democratic Federation of Malaysia
Malaysian Borneo
Sabah aka Land Below the Wind
Kota Kinabalu
1Borneo Hypermall
Clean and convenient budget double room with fan, air-con optional, for MYR 47.- or US$ 15.60 per night, including free shuttle service between the bus stop behind the 1Borneo Hypermall and the bus stop in-front of Warisan Square Mall in Kota Kinabalu’s city centre (c. 30  min). Professional, friendly and very helpful staff; excellent English.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Tune Hotel in Kota Kinabalu, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:


Flying with Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in a signature-red Airbus A 320-200 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA-LCCT) Sepang to Kota Kinabalu’s International Airport +6088325555, the second busiest airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, for only MYR 81.- or US$ 26.- per person, one way, all inclusive, thereafter taking the cheap Mustika bus no. 16C from the airport to Terminal Wawasan (MYR 2.- per person) and a slick city bus (MYR 1.- per person) from Terminal Wawasan to our clean and friendly Tune Hotel at 1Borneo Hypermall, a few kilometres north of Kota Kinabalu +6088 212121.

“Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”

Recuperating from our recently completed four-month backpacking trip through the Indian subcontinent (from India’s most southerly town Kanyakumari to India’s most northerly town  Kargil) and enjoying the convenient amenities of our hotel which is cocooned by the modern and posh 1Borneo Hypermall, East Malaysia's largest shopping, dining and lifestyle mall, thus (i) going (window-)shopping inside the air-conditioned, clean and glitzy consumers’ paradise of 1Borneo Hypermall +6088447777 and enjoying the relaxed Sabahan smiles of both happy customers and friendly salesladies, (ii) savouring the excellent reflexology treatment (foot reflexology for MYR 28.- or US$ 9.30) at the Feel Good Reflexology Centre +60198814357, and, last but not least, (iii) browsing the mall’s well-assorted but quite pricey a/c bookshops Times +6088485018 and Popular’s Harris +6088448268 for relevant guide books and useful maps.

Scoffing regularly in the mall’s budget eateries and favouring (i) Frederick’s delicious and reliable Chinese “economy rice” (steamed rice with fresh seafood/fish and two exotic fried veggies for MYR 4.- per meal, excellent value) at no-frills My Kitchen +60168210755, (ii) economical sushi at Sushi King +60356225200 (with a 20 % discount on sushi between 03:00 p.m. and 06:00 p.m. on weekdays), and (iii) the tried and tested, but fattening Malay fare (e.g. Laksa Melaka for MYR 6.50) at Apple CafĂ© +6088485151.

Frequenting (i) the famous Filipino Night Fish Market in Kota Kinabalu (set up at around 05:00 p.m. and open until midnight), one of the city’s signature landmarks for pescetarian foodies and the best place for pigging into BBQed fish and seafood (lobster, giant shrimp, tuna steaks, whole small tuna, grooper, red snapper, squid, skate, rows of crispy baby shrimp on skewers, prawns of all sizes, crabs of all shapes - you name it, they burn it) and (ii) the Chinese live-seafood restaurants at Kota Kinabalu’s Sedco Square (our favourite: Hua Hing Seafood +6088231668 with fragrant crabs for only MYR 16.50 per kg, yummie oyster omelettes for MYR 15.- each and a convenient set of three non-halal 330-ml cans of ice-cold Tiger beer for MYR 13.-, cheers!).

Catching up on some overdue admin work (travel blog, photos and financials), preparing our upcoming travels to Southeast Asia and buying two 60-day tourist visas for Sulawesi (requirements: one copy of the return air ticket, two photos each and MYR 170.- or US$ 56.50 per person) from the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia +6088218258 at Kota Kinabalu which issued the visas within 24 hours - friendly, fast and painless.

Taking bus no. 8A from Kota Kinabalu’s Terminal Wawasan to the countryside town Tuaran, 30 km north of Kota Kinabalu, browsing the Sunday tamu, a big open market where produce from nearby villages and valleys are offered, such as exotic Bornean jungle fruits and veggies, handicrafts, fish and seafood, traditional cakes, homegrown tobacco and home-brewed bahar (a toddy made from coconut sap mixed with a special kind of tree bark known locally as rosok which colours the sap red) and feasting on generous helpings of seafood with handmade Tuaran mee, literally known as “the noodles of Tuaran” (made from a batter of flour and egg yolk, fried in oil first, then boiled and finally fried with egg on high heat which leaves a golden crust; local vegetables such as sawi [mustard cabbage] are added in during the frying), at Liong Ten Sau’s buzzing Lok Kyun Restaurant +6088788441 in Tuaran’s town centre.

Flying with the queen-turning-jezebel of all budget carriers, Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”), in an Airbus A 320-200 from Kota Kinabalu’s flashy Terminal Two to Johor Bahru’s recently renovated Sultan Ismail International Airport +6075994500 for MYR 61.- or US$ 19.70 per person, one way, which included (i) the regular luggage up to 15 kg ("supersize" in the lingua airasia), (ii) a randomised seat allocation and (iii) the free usage of the airplane's lavatory in midair, but excluded check-in smiles, any food and drinks, and taking hereafter the friendly Handal Indah express bus (MYR 8.- per person) from the airport straight to our hotel at Danga Bay +6072352333.

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2011 Map Konni & Matt

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