Why I'm Going Back to Kota Kinabalu

Oct 12, 2011

Kota Kinabalu wasn’t initially part of the Big Trip. In fact, Kota was not on my list of places to go to. It was just a spontaneous decision by four highschool bestfriends who love traveling and who try to travel together at least once a year. There wasn’t much research involved for our almost four days stay there. We could’t do the Mt. Kinabalu climb since it has to be booked months before and it’s quite expensive. So we just booked our hostel and decided that we’ll figure out everything else once we’re there.

But after visiting the place, I found out that it has a lot to offer. 

Kota Kinabalu is a perfect place for adventure-seeking travelers. One of the adventures they offer is the Padas River whitewater rafting. There’s also Kiulu River which is cheaper and easier. But I personally think that Padas River is way more exciting and the train ride going there offers scenic views.

I’ve done intermediate whitewater rafting in CDO and it was fun. But this was way more exciting and scary (just because I don't know how to swim). More than the rafting experience, the guides who were also half-Filipinos were crazy and funny. And two people in our team were also crazy and really brave to try different stunts. They went through the ‘washing machine’ rapid off the raft and only with their vests on! 

Kota also has one of the best night markets in Asia. They serve really good food and are relatively cheap. But our favorite was their chicken wings, which they sell at only RM1.50 each. We ate more than one plate of stir-fry chicken rice and 4 chicken wings EACH on our last dinner. And people there, like most Filipinos, also eat using their hands. I also loved eating at Fong Ip Café which was only a block away from our hostel. They serve huge servings of rice and tasty varieties of tofu.

You should also go to their Sunday Market. You can buy your pasalubongs there or just shop around for food, accessories, clothes, and everything else even pets!

Kota also offers you a glimpse of the Islam culture, or at least of the local lifestlyle and culture. People are very family-oriented and they’re very relaxed. You don’t normally see people rushing or going out on parties and getting drunk. Must be because of their religion, but it’s refreshing to see people live this way. They prefer eating out together or hanging out at the beach waiting for the sunset.

We also visited two mosques. The architecture outside and inside are majestic and grand. And the solemnity inside is welcoming. It strengthens my belief that faith is personal, regardless of what religion you practice. And the people who were looking over the place welcomed us and even accompanied us around, asking if we liked the mosques.

And the people are very nice and helpful. Which made me realize that Filipinos should learn to trust strangers more. Not everyone are out there to scam you. There was this young guy who accompanied us to the bus station and made sure that we were able to find the right bus. There was this taxi driver who we thought was charging us too much, but we eventually realized that he was actually giving us a discount. There was just a confusion about the location of the place we wanted to go to.

I think there are still a lot of reasons to go back to Kota Kinabalu. Other than the Mt. Kinabalu climb, the people and food are worth going back to.

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