Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

My wanderlust to unravel the beautiful beaches here in the Philippines sets me to another track. I had this opportunity to visit Kota Kinabalu City, Malaysia - the nature resort city in Asia. Thanks to the low-cost Air Asia flights for making this trip possible!

Kota Kinabalu (KK) is a 2-hour flight from Clark, Philippines. It is the capital of Sabah, Malaysia, located on the northern part of Borneo Island. Neighboring countries within Borneo are Brunei and Indonesia. KK is populated with Malaysians, Muslims, Chinese, and Filipinos. Since it was the Ramadan month when we visited there, the city is peaceful and hassle-free (without traffic!). Roads are all one-way drive and the vehicles were set-up with a right-hand steering wheel. Malaysian locals usually have their private cars; major public transportation are buses for those who prefer cheap fares and taxis with expensive flagdown rate of 10 malaysian ringgit = 140 Philippine pesos.

Ramadan Food Festival is the major city attraction during the month of August. The city streets are flooded with stalls offering various meals and delicacies. As expected, most foods are Muslim cuisines with strong curry aroma but chinese foods are also available. Cost of average meal ranges from 5-10 malaysian ringgits = 90-150 Philippine pesos. Their great taste Borneo coffee is one of the must try in KK.

The highlight among the tourist attractions in KK is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park - "a marine park which is a cluster of islands comprising Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug, all only 10 - 20 minute speedboat ride from the city of KK. The five islands of the Marine Park are characterized by shallow waters, sumptuous coral gardens and all boast splendid white sandy beaches".[]

Most of the foreigners are Europeans, Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. The KK beaches are convergence of our 2 major Philippine beaches: Palawan and Zambales beaches. Most islands have pine trees and the beach is ideal for snorkling and diving; colorful fishes are visible even on the shallow part of the water. Great rock formation also adds to the beauty of the place.

Large geckos (4-5 feet) can  also be seen on one of the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Museum on shells and skeletons of sea creatures are the add-on attractions of the park. Overall, KK is recommendable for beach lovers who want to enjoy nature at the most convenient time.

Sample Itinerary c/o Katie Buenaobra Itinerary KK

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