Friday, July 31, 2015

The Beauty of Borneo: Part I, Kota Kinabalu

Borneo is a large and complex island, not least because it’s comprised of three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s the third largest island in the world and, as such, you could spend months exploring the beaches, mountains and rainforests that cover this magical place. But to really appreciate the beauty of Borneo, explore it region by region, starting with Sabah.

Sabah is one of two Malaysian states on Borneo, and visitors often choose to base themselves in one of two cities within the state: Kota Kinbalu in the west or Sandakan in the east.

Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is quickly becoming a sprawling tourist hub, but if you look hard enough, you can still find some of the beauty that makes Sabah special. This compact town is best explored on foot, and you’ll soon find that Jesselton Point Harbour forms the centre of all that is good about Kota Kinabalu, or ‘KK’, as it’s known.

Located at one end of the tourist strip, Jesselton Point is the best place in KK to go for fresh seafood cooked in an authentic fashion. Restaurants on the jetty have their catches of the day on display and the fishing boats responsible for the delectable displays bob in the harbour only a few feet away.

The selection all depends on what’s been caught, but expect gigantic prawns and crustaceans as well as grouper and other local fish. There’s also a range of preparation options, with sweet coconut battered prawns and chili-seared fish being local favourites.

If you’re spending a couple of days in KK, a tour of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is an absolute must. TARN is a collection of five islands located just off the coast of KK, offering some of the world-class diving and snorkeling that has made Borneo famous. And at only 20 minutes off the coast of KK and incredibly cheap and easy to access, there’s no excuse to miss these islands.

Tourist boats heading to TARN depart from Jesselton Point Harbour and most operators will offer the option to visit three islands over the course of a day: Sapi, Manukan and Mamutik. If you want to visit all three islands, which I highly recommend, get to Jesselton Pier before 9am, as the ferry tickets sell fast and there are limited number of multi-island tickets. If you want to visit only two islands, arrive well before 10am.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Beauty of Borneo: Part I, Kota Kinabalu