Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We Blog the World: What You Need To Know About Malaysia’s Borneo


Travelers seem to like to lump all of Malaysian Borneo together, but I found the states of Sabah and Sarawak—and, in particular, their capitals of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching—to be completely different.

Indeed, it’s because of all that differentiates these two cities that I hesitate to say whether Kota Kinabalu or Kuching was objectively “better.”

But I do think it’s necessary to write this post comparing and contrasting them, if only so that you can have a realistic idea of what to expect on your own trip to Borneo.


Kota Kinabalu vs. Kuching Cityscape

Kota Kinabalu is grungy—there’s no other way to put it.

In some parts of the city this works, such as in the actual city center, which almost evokes what I imagine China would be like if it were more tropical.

On the other hand, Kota Kinabalu’s city beaches, such as famed sunset spot Tanjung Aru, are downright nasty.

I didn’t feel like I was in paradise there, and really never even felt at ease. (To give credit where credit was due, however, the Kota Kinabalu city mosque was stunning.)

Kuching, on the other hand, is not only significantly cleaner and greener than Kota Kinabalu, in terms of its city-proper, but seems to blend more effortlessly into the surrounding jungle and river scenery.

I felt like I was “in” Borneo the moment I arrived in Kuching, if that makes any sense, and I certainly hadn’t felt the way in Kota Kinabalu.

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