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Monday, October 1, 2012

Things to do in Kota Kinabalu

This media trip is made possible by Amazing Borneo Tours.

When i was younger, i hated the hiking trips my dad takes us when overseas. We would walk for ages with no end. I once threw a tantrum in Gold Coast, sat on the forest floor and refused to walk another step. Eventually, i got up & walked because i realised i am too big to carry and my family were disappearing in sight. I was rewarded by being able to order anything i want in the restaurant later.

Now then i've grown up, i appreciate the opportunities to be in nature. Especially when there're 50 cars queuing to enter Macritchie or East Coast Park is overwhelmed with foreign workers pitching tents.

As a Singaporean, we city dwellers didn't grow up climbing trees and today, it's much worse when 3 year olds know how to work an iPad. I'm very blessed for a Singaporean father who plan hiking holidays (amongst other activities) and i hope young parents will do the same.
In the 80s, we still could see chickens in markets here.
Today, we travel to countryside overseas for farm  animals.
Kota Kinabalu is a mere 2.5 hours flight away and there are various levels of adventure available. If you aren't into climbing Mt Kinabalu which i rate 7/10 on the adventure scale, there're alot of other activities to do!

Kiulu River Rafting
is mild. We had a granny on board, albeit a feisty Italian one. There isn't much of a scenery going down the river but it's a fun boat ride down 9km of the Kiulu River. The stream isn't as gentle as the nursery rhyme,  but it is definitely merrily merrily merrily and life is but a dream.
A grade 2 river (the fastest rapids are graded 5), we were taught simple instructions like how to sit in a raft and what to do if we fall out.
For the ones wanting a bigger thrill, you can try body rafting. I was pretty intimidated at first, but after seeing many bobbing bodies drifting down successfully, i decided to do it!
We took a long hike up-stream. The most thrilling part was getting into the fast rapids. Our bodies weren't in position yet but we were being whipped around and the rapids threatened to sweep us off our foothold. Then within 10 seconds, we're washed down to where we started.

I have white water raft in New Zealand before and the rapids there were alot faster for the adrenaline junkie me. However, what they didn't have was feeding massive fishes!
 It was a pleasant surprise when our river guide instructed us to row the boat to the bank and park. Then, we got into the river and we felt these monsters swishing around our ankles! Because the river is a protected area, no fishing is allowed thus the fishes that come to get fed are huge and numerous.
Helmet covered my eyes, excuse to not row.
Island Hopping
Popular nearby destinations for Singaporeans are Thailand or Bali. Little did we know that nearby and not as touristy is Kota Kinabalu. Malaysia has just as pristine waters with blue skies to match.
A holiday isn't complete without shopping. Gaya market is comparable with Chatuchak in Bangkok. Ok, i can't compare because i hadn't been to the latter, haha!

They sell lots of beach "produce" like sea water/ fresh water pearls, large sea shells etc. They also have their local medicinal looking things.
 Animals are not lacking. Either for you to keep as pets, farming or eating.
While you wouldn't get a huge harvest from Gaya, you'll find quirky items unique to Sabah!
Creepy frog coin pouch. I don't know if it's made from the frog's skin.
Carved from a coconut.

I almost bought this! It was SGD 250. 

I know i'll be visiting again, have yet to explore the jungle side of Sabah. I hear it's like Africa in Asia with animals like the pygmy hippos unique to Borneo and spotting wild crocodiles as you cruise down in a boat.

I compiled a video of what i did!

In Kota Kinablau, all attractions with the exception of the islands are in the outskirts of the city. Making your way to such attractions can be abit difficult, therefore book your day tours from


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