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NeonHippy Jan 16th 2016 12:23 am

Trip to Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu is the main entry point to the state of Sabah. On arrival at the airport we were surprised to find that we had to go through immigration control and have our passports stamped as we had never left Malaysia but they did at least let us use the 'Expats' booth with our MM2H visa. Picking up the hire car was easy as it was parked ready for us right outside the exit from the arrivals hall. The drive into KK also proving to be easy as it is only a short distance and a large dual carriage way for much of the distance.

We passed one modern looking mall on the way to the hotel but did not go in. The downtown malls near are hotels were much older and filled with small independent retail outlets. Ideal for cheap trinkets and clothes although of dubious quality.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency which is attached to one such mall. Although billed as a 5 star hotel we were less than impressed by the room and service. The air conditioner control didn't function properly and just continued to keep dropping the temperature to its lowest setting. I complained after the first night and a maintenance man did try to fix it but to no avail. After unpacking al of our clothes we couldn't be bothered to move rooms and put up with it. Room service was inattentive to details such as failing to restock tea bags, creamer or shower gel on successive days. Culminating on the last morning to finding we had no towels to dry off after showering. At least housekeeping were quick to send some when we called down. The lobby area is large and impressive and outside there is a decent sized pool and bar. Not having large appetites first thing we thought the buffet breakfast would not offer good value for money and decided to eat out in the mornings. There are a number of bakeries in the area offering coffee and something to eat and we would recommend the one on the opposite corner to the HSBC Bank.

For dining in the evening, there are Chinese style restaurants at Asia City that offer a large range of fresh (still alive) fish and seafood that can be cooked to your liking. The downside to such Chinese style eating is that each dish is served as it is ready and in a party of four the food arrived in a most random order. For a livelier and more European eating g experience there is a row of bars and eateries beside the water's edge at KK Waterfront. Several of the bars had live music and you could choose to eat inside or out on the board walk next to the sea. At Toscani's we were pleased to have four starters all served together and then some while later all four main courses served together. This is an area that Penang would do well to replicate. One word of caution though, the sanitation at Waterfront leaves something to be desired and you need a strong stomach to keep eating in the 'rich aroma' that fleets by from time to time.

One reason to visit KK is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a marine park with a number f small island a short distance from the mainland. We chose to visit Manukan Island. Speedboats leave every hour on the hour during the morning from Jessleton Point. Inside the ticketing hall there are a number of stalls from different companies each wanting you to use their boat. They all charge the same fee and all leave at the same time so pick any. They return every hour on the hour during the afternoon and will ask you which boat you intend to catch. Although you can phone them and change this later if your plans change. At the island you will need to pay an additional park entrance fee. The water was very clear and warm and the coral was very close to shore so easy for snorkling. The downside was that the water is not very deep and much of the coral has been damaged. There is no feeding of the fish allowed so you don't see as many fish as I have experienced elsewhere but there is still enough variety to make the trip worthwhile. The resort on the island has facilities that are only open to residents but does allow non-residents to enjoy a drink at the bar. Beware the prices are exorbitant with a small can of tiger costing iirc rm24.

Another reason to visit KK is Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia's tallest peak. Although only a couple of hours drive from KK, allow at least three as there are several viewpoints along the way to stop and take pictures. We were fortunate to pick the day with the clearest sky for this trip, it might not be so good on a day with low cloud as there is very little else along the way to see or do.

Our final reason for travelling to Sabah was to see orangutans. The best option is probably the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre but organised trips there from KK can cost in excess of $500 each. Close by are two other options. There is a small rehabilitation centre attached to the Rasa Sayang resort just north of KK but they usually only have a small number of orphan apes being pre-staged prior to going to Sepilok and I have read that you are unlikely to see them other than at feeding time. The option we went for was Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, it is actually somewhere between a wildlife park and a zoo as some of the enclosures are quite small but you do get to see the orangutan up close and they do give out wildlife preservation messages.

All round an enjoyable trip that has something to offer most tastes.

InVinoVeritas Jan 16th 2016 6:05 am

re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu
Great trip report, NH. Thanks for sharing. Any photos?

NeonHippy Jan 16th 2016 7:03 am

re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu

Originally Posted by InVinoVeritas (Post 11839184)
Great trip report, NH. Thanks for sharing. Any photos?

Yes, I just need to get around to moving them from my camera to the pc. Give me a day or two and I will post a few.

Hovite Jan 16th 2016 10:41 pm

Re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu
NeonHippy, I am glad you had an enjoyable trip to Sabah. There is so much to do there for all tastes as you say. One of the best local attractions is the Mari Mari village, just north of Inanam. They took the delegates at the recent Commonwealth Speakers conference there. For shopping, the new Imago mall would not be out of place in any Western city. The Hyatt is a very old hotel, I recall seeing it on my first trip to Sabah in 1980. Adjacent to it is the Merdeka Mall which caters well for tourists and has many licensed money changers. Sabah is well worth a visit. But I would say that wouldn't I as it is my home.

InVinoVeritas Jan 16th 2016 10:55 pm

Re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu
Hovite, do you live in the actual city or in some of the beautiful countryside around it? Seem to remember you had a nice balcony view ;)

Hovite Jan 16th 2016 11:25 pm

Re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu
1 Attachment(s)
Well remembered InVenoVeritas. We live 4km outside Inanam and about 10Km from KK on a small estate named Kiansom Country Heights. We added the terrace to the side of the house to take advantage of the view. We get the cooler air off the mountains in the evening.

NeonHippy Jan 17th 2016 10:36 am

Re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu
a stunning view from your balcony. I am jealous. If only we had had the good sense to remember you lived near KK before we set off. A little insider knowledge would go along way.

NeonHippy Jan 17th 2016 10:41 am

Re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu
4 Attachment(s)
As requested by IVV here are some photos. Number 4 is included just for JC3 :p

JC3 Jan 18th 2016 6:18 am

Re: Trip to Kota Kinabalu

Originally Posted by NeonHippy (Post 11840119) are some photos. Number 4 is included just for JC3 :p

Thank you Neon Hippy, I'm touched.
I've got quite a pandemonium of parrots now. Mostly dead ones.


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