Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah. I used the city as a base to explore the nature surrounding the city.

Upon arrival at the city’s lost cost airline terminal (it seems that Air Asia always flies to the less convenient terminal), I was told that there is no schedule for the airport bus or minivan. I would probably have to wait at least 30 minutes. Luckily, a local man guided me to the nearest town, a 15-minute walk away, to catch the more frequent bus. I always feel very grateful for the locals who show me the way, for without them, I would be hopelessly lost! By the way, it is always more fun and exciting to figure out public transportation in less developed countries (especially from the airport) as one gets to observe locals that way. Taking a taxi would be too easy and too expensive!

Close to the city is Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea. The area around the Kinabalu is filled with mountains and valleys, very pristine indeed. This again is not what I would expect if someone mentioned “Malaysia.”

I spent a day snorkeling by Manukan island, part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a 20-minute ferry from Kota Kinabalu. This was my first visit to a beach in Southeast Asia, as I had been “beached out” after Australia! While my visit was a nice getaway from the city, I was not too impressed with this national park. Despite observing some coral and schools of colorful fish, I was disappointed with the amount of garbage floating in the sea. I was snorkeling through plastic bags at some moments! I wonder where the RM10 admission fee is going towards…

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