Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

A First Glimpse at Kota Kinabalu: Borneo’s Major Hub

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Even though we spent the first full week of our honeymoon on the west coast of Borneo just outside of Sabah’s main city Kota Kinabalu, the majority of what little we saw of the city was by way of bumpy taxi.

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Or from the back of a bumpy boat.

kota kinabalu, borneo, malaysia, asia, tropical, travel, photography, honeymoon

You see, KK, as the locals call it, isn’t the prettiest of cities. In fact, I was surprised to find such a connected (my BlackBerry’s Internet was stronger there than in San Francisco!), bustling metropolis (there was a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf!) in a place like Borneo, an island that you might traditionally associate with such adjectives as “remote” and “rustic.”

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That doesn’t look very rustic to me.

kota kinabalu, borneo, malaysia, asia, tropical, travel, photography, honeymoon

At least it did boast all the comforts of home, you know, like a KFC on every corner, an abundance of trashy reality TV. And an odd dichotomy of shanty water villages floating just across the way from the city.

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So why were we there, I’m sure you’re wondering by now. Not the most obvious of honeymoon destinations. Well, I’ll tell you the truth: What KK lacks in culture in charm, it makes up for in incomparable surroundings in every which direction—Rasa Ria to the north, the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park to the west, the thick brush of jungle to the east—which is what brought us to the area in the first place. On our final full day in the KK area, before we flew out to the east coast, we decided to take the resort’s free ferry into town for the night, hoping to grab a bite to eat that wasn’t the frozen-then-reheated crap we’d been choking down at the resort, see a bit of the city and hit up these night markets that were (allegedly)(according to Lonely Planet)(never a credible source in my opinion) “the best in all of Southeast Asia.” Only, the torrential downpours typical of such an equatorial climate got the best of us. (And the markets? In short: Don’t waste your time.)

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The second we stepped off the ferry, Zeus got angry and hurled his lightning bolt into a cloud situated just above the city center and it dumped swimming pools full of cold, pelting rain onto us.  SVV and I quickly gave up trying to dodge the rain and, instead, waded our way through the city streets in search of palatable food (another fail). Moral of this story? Well, other than maybe use KK as merely a transit point—oh, and keep an ample supply of granola bars handy when traveling through Borneo always—I’d say don’t leave your raincoat behind in Borneo, ever, as we managed to do because there’s guaranteed to be a swift (or in our case, long and drawn out) rain shower at some point every day. Hence, why our photos of the city itself are essentially non-existent.

kota kinabalu, borneo, malaysia, asia, tropical, travel, photography, honeymoon

The good thing about rain? It does make for some incredible colors once the dust has settled.

 

COMMENTS
  • July 9, 2010

    The photo of the water villages reminds me of water world, the movie.

  • July 9, 2010

    I still can’t believe you were in Borneo…how cool!!! 🙂

    I love water shots where you can get the reflection of the sky in them. It’s just so magical looking!

  • July 9, 2010

    Well those last two shots certainly make KK worthwhile.

  • July 9, 2010

    The colors of the last two shots are just stunning.

  • July 9, 2010

    Hopefully the boat and cab weren’t the only things that were bumpy! Holla!
    (Okay, sorry, that was awkward. At least you got some lovely photos!)

  • July 9, 2010

    Awesome shots. So gorgeous!

  • July 9, 2010
    SVV

    Holla! Okay, the more I look at the billboard the more it looks like a beauty contest. You will note the string of sponsors along the bottom (rather like NASCAR) and that it’s hosted at some big event centre. 🙂 *hiccup* you said “manHuNK..” I also wonder why they haven’t taken the sign down yet.

    And in spite of the preceding monsoon, the light and energy of that night were spellbinding.

  • July 9, 2010

    Very nice! One part of the world that I’ve only skipped through, looks incredible.
    BTW, did you see this photo?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sutera_harbour_sunset.jpg
    And I never use Lonely Planet anymore, the information is always outdated or just plain wrong.

  • July 9, 2010

    I actually had the best mangoes I’ve ever had in my life in KK, bought in the market. And there was also a good Italian place in KK. Otherwise, yeah, not particularly remarkable. Actually, to be 100% honest, I found Borneo to be disappointing overall. Not terrible at all, and good at times, but just not what I expected (and not in the yay this is better than I thought kind of way). The fact that we didn’t get to dive at Tunku Abdul Rahman was a major disappointment. (We were there in peak season, and it was booked solid for months.) I can’t wait to hear about that experience, although I’ll be green with jealousy.

  • July 10, 2010
    Haidang Nguyen

    thanks for the update! : )

  • July 12, 2010

    Awww I loved KK! You can actually see my friends’ old condo in one of your photos. But yes, the “special” travel moments happen when you leave the area. Oh, I love Borneo! Can’t wait to read more about what you guys did!

  • July 12, 2010

    These photos are SO gorgeous (as always!), but I cannot stop laughing right now at “The 2nd Sabah Supermodel and Man Hunk.” MAN HUNK. HA HA HA.

  • July 13, 2010

    I love the sunset photos! The sky looks incredible. I haven’t made it to Borneo yet, but would love to go.

  • July 13, 2010

    Your shot on the pier after the rain is excellent!

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