Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kota Kinabalu, naturally


As mentioned previously, I've recently returned from a somewhat unexpected visit to Malaysian Borneo, and in that previous posting I promised more material from that exciting experience. 

Here's the first instalment. You might like to follow the link above to the previous posting for some background if you missed it, but it's certainly not essential.

Kota Kinabalu (pronounced ki-na-BAH-lu) is the capital of Sabah, in north-eastern Borneo.

It is a busy - but by no means intimidating by developing nation standards - port city of around half a million.

For travellers there are two general accommodation options. You can stay in city centre, near the port, or you can stay near the airport south of the city centre. I did both at different stages.

During the trip, which started and ended at KK (to use the familiar name used by many locals) we returned partway through en route to Sarawak, and stayed in the centre, just a block from the waterfront.

Even here wildlife was quite good (even aside from the very large and presumably exotic rats which pottered about the wonderful fish market, and the gang of introduced House Crows, the only ones in Borneo, which also loiter thereabouts).

House Swifts and Glossy Swiftlets breed on buildings, and there are herons and terns in the port and various passerines in empty land nearby.

My favourite was near the airport, where I stayed at the start and end of the trip, close to the popular Tanjung Aru Beach (tanjung is a cape, and it's always abbreviated to Tg Aru), backed by extensive parklands with the unlikely name of Prince Philip Park.

I stayed at the Casuarina Hotel, cheap and pleasant and just a few minutes walk from the beach and park.

Just looking out the windows was a good introduction to the local birdlife.

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