i lazily started my morning at kota kinabalu. after having breakfast at mcdonald’s, i walked around api-api centre and found a small booth that offers car rentals and tours. the booth was still closed but they have pictures posted and a list of suggested itineraries for tourists. i was only interested for a city tour though visiting a nature park might be a good idea but i thought of the rain that may just ruin a leisurely walk at the park. so i called the contact number that i found with the itineraries. a woman answered my call and i inquired about the price of a city tour, she told me it was RM150 for a car and a driver/tour guide from 9am to 3pm. i was okay with the price but i think she missed the part when i told her i was going alone, she said she thought i was with two more persons. so for RM450, her offer of a six-hour city tour for three is expensively crazy, it’s just so sad that people take advantage. i thanked her for her time and i thought i’d go with the cabs and buses.
i approached two cab drivers waiting to pick up passengers infront of mcdonald’s, i asked them where the public bus station is, and one of them answered which direction i shall walk to the bus stop and the other one just stared blankly at me. i then asked the driver who spoke english if they offer city tours. he said for RM35 per hour, he can drive me around but has to tell him where i want to go. i thought for RM105 i can tour the city for three hours on a cab which is not bad for me.
these were the places i was able to see around kota kinabalu.
puh toh tze temple
sabah state mosque
kota kinabalu city mosque
atkinson clock tower
signal hill observatory platform
tanjung aru beach
tun mustapha tower
i was also able to visit the handicraft market where i met filipinos who have their own stalls and have lived in sabah for sometime and i bought some good bargains of cultured pearls. after three hours of driving around and seeing these places, the cab driver dropped me off back at api-api centre. he only asked RM100 for the cab service, i treated him for late lunch at mcdonald’s and we parted ways.
for my kota kinabalu trip, i searched the net for budget accommodations available in the area to pre-book. i had set my budget to RM100 or lower per night and i never intended to stay in hostels or backpacker inns. i have nothing against them, but i do not feel comfortable of sharing a room with strangers, or being victimized by tiny, blood hungry bedbugs and worst of all getting my personal stuff stolen. my personal safety was one of my primary concern when i was planning this trip and it was always a priority.
as you can notice, the room is spacious and clean. they even changed the linen and towels after my first night.
there is a small kitchen but around api-api centre, there are 24 hour convenience stores, a mcdonalds and a number of small restaurants. the internet was not working in the room during my stay but there were internet shops available for RM1.5 per hour. there are also malls that are just walking distance from the place.
i paid RM160 for my two night stay at this apartment. it will be hard to find a good room like this back in manila for such amount.
it was a monday when i started my trip to malaysia. my father dropped me off at the airport terminal, i then waited for a few minutes for the check-in counters to open and paid for the usual travel tax and terminal fees. the immigration officer asked about my e-ticket going back to manila, and politely asked me what my purpose is on visiting kota kinabalu. i told her i’ll just be touring around for a week in malaysia, and visiting some friends. she then questioned me if i have resigned from work – i told her no, that i’ll return to saudi in about two weeks and she can check the attached document at the last page of my passport which shows my unexpired work visa. she handed back to me my passport with a smile (i wish all immigration officers are like her!).
i took a light meal while i was waiting for my flight and when it was time, boarded the plane. the flight’s ETD was at 1555H but due to a number of planes falling in line to take off, we waited for an hour for our turn. i noticed it was drizzling outside. the pilot apologised about the delay because of ‘ traffic congestion’.
while reading the airline magazine, i saw this in one of the pages.
air travel to kota kinabalu takes about two hours. there was poor visibility at the airport when we were about to land for it was raining hard. the pilot announced that the plane might divert to labuan airport. good thing after a few more minutes the pilot informed us that we can land at kkia (kota kinabalu international airport). whew!
everything went smoothly for me at the immigration counter, then i got my passport stamped for a 30 day social visit pass. i exchanged some of my philippine peso money to malaysian ringgit at the forex booth, bought a RM10 sim card and paid RM30 taxi coupon for a driver to send me to my pre-booked accommodation where i will stay for two nights. this is how my room looks like at kota kinabalu, which i got for only RM80 a night.
it was already past nine in the evening and i was starving so i just dropped my bags in my room and looked for a place to eat. it was still raining and i found a small curry house restaurant near the place i was staying.
for RM8 ringgit that includes a grass jelly drink, this was my first malaysian meal.