Kota Kinabalu

I returned to Kota Kinabalu (KK)! Last time, I went just to climb Mount Kinabalu – but this time, my friend Denice & I went to explore and chill out 🙂 It’s a convenient halfway point between KL and the Philippines, and we ended up really liking this city and everything surrounding 😀

Shangri La sunset and Night Market

We both landed in the morning, tired from a flight – so of course, first we had coffee and catching up at a cute cafe 🙂


After resting a bit we went to the Shangri La on Tanjung Aru Beach. They have a sunset bar, which was apparently fully booked – but we still had snacks and drinks and saw the pretty (yet cloudy) beach sunset. The grounds were stunning and we even got to steal some of their tasty food 😛

After that we were still a little hungry so we went to the waterfront night market to try some noodles and drink some giant coconuts!

Kinabalu Park

On this day we got up early to do a day tour of Kinabalu Park! We were on the tour with two very nice families (including one with PhD parents, who were encouraging for me :P)  plus our guide.

The drive was a bit long and it was rainy in the morning, so we napped. Then we stopped in a small town where we got a quick Malaysian breakfast of nasi lemak and teh tarik and bought some fruits. Finally we reached the Poring Hot springs area. First, we did the canopy treetop walk high above the trees with pretty mountain (and plant!) views. Then, we went to the hot spring area, but we didn’t really try the small sulfur hot spring – instead, we swam in the ice cold pool 🙂 We continued on the tour and stopped at the botanic garden, learning about plants like the berries and huge pitcher plants. By the drive home, the weather had cleared up and we had a clear view of Mount Kinabalu – it made me so happy to see again and proud that I actually climbed that thing! Our last stop was Tamparuli bridge – named as a misspell of temporary, haha – in a nice rural setting.

We returned to our hotel to shower, then went out for dinner at a really good north indian place on the waterfront. 🙂

Manukan Island

The next day we ended up sleeping in a bit, then heading back to the same cute cafe. After eating way too much, we headed to Jesselton point to catch a boat to Manukan island. The boat there was really bumpy and so fast that we were literally bouncing around the boat – I thought it was super funny and it was one of those things I may have been afraid of if I had not already lived in Asia so long, lol. The island was super pretty and we just chilled on the beach, swam, and did a quick jungle trek. It was perfect and relaxing 😀

On the way back we got some groceries and stopped at a busy place for some delicious bak kut teh! Later that night we had one last hurrah and had a couple drinks on the waterfront.

Mari Mari Cultural Village

The next morning Denice had to catch a flight to Manila so we said our bittersweet goodbye. Then, I headed to the Mari Mari cultural village. Mari Mari actually means ‘come’ in Malay. 🙂 Our guide taught us about the different ethnic groups and showed us models of their different lodgings. We learned about how they make rice wine (and got samples!), about some musical instruments, making fire with bamboo, and some other activities/samples, like tapioca and henna. At the end there was a really nice traditional dance too.

This was a trip that was full but yet still relaxed and, of course, made even better by spending it with my friend…. Until next time 🙂 Cheers to many more trips, and to loving Sabah ❤





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