Friday, February 26, 2016

Kiki Roams - Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Weird Things Found at the Sunday Market and Island Hopping

Kota Kinabalu (KK) has an early morning market every Sunday. It starts setting up around 6:30 a.m. and by 7:00 a.m. everything is in full swing. As far as markets go, this one is quite small and sells soaps, lots of trinkets and souvenirs (t-shirts, key chains, postcards, etc.), gardening equipment, and fresh food (mostly fruits).

There’s a small section of the market (lines up with the bird statue down the street) that sells ready made foods like banana leaf steamed rice with chicken, curry puffs, sweets, and other noodle dishes. We loaded up on spring rolls, curry puffs, bananas, and steamed rice/chicken for our lunches for our island hopping later in the afternoon.

As for the market, unless you had the intention to buy some specific (in our case, our lunch), it is definitely one you can skip. I didn’t buy anything other  than a a few items for lunch. There isn’t much of interest other than one stall that was selling breast milk soap. Yeah, like human breast milk soap – I asked in case this was an unusual translation for “goat milk soap” or something of the like.

Island Hopping

One of the big draws of KK are three small islands that are about a 20-30 minute boat ride from shore that boast sandy beaches and good snorkelling.

From Jesselton Point, you can buy boat tickets to get to the islands. We paid 33 MYR/person (about $11 CDN) for boat travel to visit two islands. From the main terminal, there are 50 of so companies to choose from – all tickets were the same price so we just chose the company that had the shortest line up.

Sapi Island

First up: Sapi Island. This is a very tiny island that gets overcrowded quite quickly by tourists and snorkelling/scuba diving tours. We took the 8:00 a.m. jetty, knowing about the overcrowding, and we only had to share the island with a few people. This is great, because the main sandy beach is only about 50 feet. Unfortunately, when we got there the beach was closed to the public due to the two red flags that were flying.

The islands have a coloured-coded flag system regarding the quality of the beaches. For example, purple flags mean “caution – marine pests present” (i.e.: jellyfish) and two red flags means “high danger – beach closed to public”. Of course, they did not tell us this when we booked our boat tickets.

Not to be deterred, we walked a few minutes over a very rocky area (good shoes are needed – flip flops not recommended) and eventually found ourselves on a quite stretch of sandy beach which was open for swimming. You will need to sign a waiver form as there are no lifeguards on duty here.