Why I love Kota Kinabalu

  1. Amazing people

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This city is fairly new with a lot of high rises and shopping malls, especially the last thing. Something that, in it self, does not interest me in the slightest. But through Couchsurfing I have met some new friends who have made this city into my home, a place I love and a place where I would like to come back to. Their hospitality is inexhaustible, spending time with- and energy for any traveler who asks for it. The couchsurf community here in KK is so big and tight that there is always someone to meet, something to do and someone to hang out with.

I was in KK with Chinese New Year (CNY)  which meant that the entire city was filled with Chinese tourists and red lanterns for decoration. CNY reminded me a lot of how we in Europe celebrate Christmas. It is a holiday to spend with family, there are decorations everywhere, markets pop up with food and entertainment, everything closes, you give your relatives presents, food is important,…
I spend CNY with my lovely couchsurfing host. I had been staying with him for almost a week while other surfers came and went. In the good CNY tradition, we cleaned up the apartment, got rid of all the dust. Later that night we had noodles and some Chinese tea with our small and recently formed family of locals and travelers alike. We might not have known each other for long but it was a heart warming moment.

 

2. Amazing sunsets

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The sky is on fire, the sun is setting, it’s beautiful. I am sitting on a beach, the beach. There is only one in KK but it has the best sunset … In the world. Well, maybe not the best in the world but it is damned close. We had to walk a  bit down the shore to get away of the over enthusiastic Chinese tourists. No one is swimming, almost everyone is taking selfies. But all of this does not take away from the amazing spectacle that is going on high above our heads. The sky seems to be closer than in any other place  in the world I have ever been.

3. Amazing food

img_20170204_133142(This is the only food picture I took….)

Good food is easy to find in KK. Malaysian people love food and eating so you can find restaurants on every street corner.  My favourite place to go for lunch was this food court above the covered day market at the water front. You can look around at the different stands and have your pick. For four Ringit you get rice and 3 different side dishes. The Filipino market a little bit further down the water front is great for a fried snack in the evening.
In some of the many Chinese restaurants you can find the steamed buns with sweet or savory filling. It is something I had never seen in Europe and absolutely worth a try.
At night when the little food stalls pop up everywhere it is paramount to have a walk around and try all the little different dishes and sweet delights.

Sadly going out for beers is, compared to food and accommodation, quite expensive. From almost 30 Ringit for a pint at the fancy Waterfront bars and clubs to 6 Ringit in the small Chinese restaurants, you kind of have to look for the dirty ones.

4. A good place to start discovering Sabah

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KK is a good home base to see all the wonderful things Sabah has to offer. You can easily reach the Kinabalu National park and the Poring Hot springs or make a trip to the Tip of Borneo. Buses run to the other big cities of Sabah and one goes all the way to Kuching in Sarawak.

Kudat:

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One Saturday a bunch of us, couchsurf hosts and travelers, drove down to Kudat, which is about a 3 hour drive and near the Tip of Borneo. Close to the town is a beach, it is a beautiful beach, only about 200m long and cut off by rocky cliffs on both sides. There is a little restaurant where you can have delicious noodles and rent a tent. I stayed two nights on this little piece of paradise. It was a wonderful weekend with a private beach party and bonfire, a beautiful sunset, some ocean swimming, a jungle walk, sleeping under the stars and puppies.

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KK you have been wonderful to me! 

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