Saturday, January 14, 2017

Places Faces Blog: The land of the proboscis and little transport - Sabah, Borneo

Sabah is the one place that I didn’t feel we were able to do justice. We had heard about the beautiful scenery from many people (which didn’t disappoint) but sadly in reality it was much harder to travel round and transport relied on chance and having a fair amount of cash.

Now of course this is just our personal experience and perhaps others had more luck but without spending money on taxis, which outside of the town were a real pocket bleeder, we wouldn’t have seen many places at all.

Additionally due to the unrest on the eastern and southern coasts, even locals recommended that we didn’t visit coastal towns and islands (there are real life pirates… Not the fun ones from Disney films!).

If you are still wanting to travel to Sabah it’s worth checking out your government website to see what they say as if they don’t recommend it and you need to claim anything from your insurance, it can be made invalid.

Our new plan meant our flights to Sandakan were disregarded and instead we flew to and from Kota Kinabalu, the ‘KL’ of Bornean Malaysia. We both enjoyed this cosmopolitan city as it had some great restaurants and bars and the islands and beaches aren’t too far away.

We initially stayed a couple of nights and enjoyed a variety of food, wandered the markets and tried to run as fast as we could away from the stench of any durian!
Things to do

Tanjung Aru beach

A short taxi ride away (less than 10 ringit) is Tanjung Aru beach which is the ideal sunset spot. Despite there being some stunning (…) cargo ships on the horizon, the sunset was probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. The beach was full of locals wanting to take in the moment too but oddly no one was swimming, when we asked why we were just told that the sand wasn’t very nice!

We moseyed along the beach for hours watching the sun lower and seeing the bright colours spread across the sky. It was a real highlight of KK and is a lot more spectacular than the Signal Hill viewing platform which is nice but don’t go with too higher expectations.

Sunday market

A street market full of the typical touristy bits but also aimed at locals with clothes and home bits. It’s worth getting there mid morning as we arrived at 12.30 and things were beginning to be put away. Bought some nice nic nacs and tried some durian chocolate which was pretty vile to say the least..!

Waterside markets

There are many different markets placed on the water front and it’s easy to get lost walking between the food and craft markets. Sellers aren’t too pushy and so it’s a relaxing time just wandering around seeing all the different nic-nacs and grabbing a fresh juice (remaining hydrated in the extreme humidity seemed like a mammoth task).