Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to Borneo – Kota Kinabalu

We return to Borneo after nearly 20 years.

We last visited this Borneo some 19 years ago to attend a friend’s “naming ceremony” at his wife’s family longhouse in Bario in the Kelabit highlands. A memorable occasion with some 1000 people attending ans something we will never forget.

After the ceremony we headed off to climb Mount Kinabalu. After we reached the peak at 4200 metres above sea level at dawn we were approached film crew who asked if they could film us walking along the ridge. We agreed and thought no more of it.

Several years later As we sat in an airport somewhere in Malaysia we were watching a Malaysia Tourism promotional video. Imagine our surprise when we saw ourselves ourselves on TV!

We plan to explore parts of Borneo we had not seen before as well as revisiting a few places we had briefly skipped through. Arriving in Kota Kinabalu we really didn’t remember much of the city, probably because last time we were staying in a 5 star resort out by the beach, this time we are in somewhere much more basic right in town.

It is a nice place to stay for a few days, easy to get around, great food and safe – or so we thought! We read in the papers a few days later that on the day we arrived the town was “in lock down” due to some gang related shootings. Can’t say we even noticed!


It was nice to get back to some “normal” Malay/Indian/Chinese food after the delicious but, somewhat unusual fare of Korea. Being right by the sea, fish and seafood feature highly on the menus and we take maximum advantage of this!

Fish head curry is a favourite of the locals and is much tastier than the name implies. In the markets, salmon heads are more expensive than fillets. Back home they can’t give them away??? We are staying just yards from the seafront where the night-market, also known the Filipino market sets, up every night.

The variety of fish and seafood on offer is staggering and it really doesn’t get any fresher than this. You choose your fish or seafood and it is prepared by the cooks in any way you can think of (and some you can’t).

We visited several times and tried White Snapper, Red Snapper, Squid, Giant Prawns – barbecued in banana leaves, grilled, steamed, with sambal, soy, ginger, chilli or all of the above. You name it, they can do it.. Some of the best fish and seafood we have encountered anywhere in the world.

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