Caught a 2 or so hour flight from KL to Kota Kinabalu with Firefly (yep, I hadn’t heard of them either but randomly came across them on Google so obviously we trusted them with our lives). Touching down in Kota Kinabalu (formerly known as Jesselton – MUCH better name) we saw this AMAZING view from the aeroplane and were instantly excited about Borneo:
We got a great deal at the Meridien Hotel in the centre of town so shacked up there for a few days. There are a few markets in the surrpunding area that are pretty interesting to walk around; there’s a traditional ‘Filipino Market’/Pasar Kraftangan which was probably great a few years ago but now it’s full of souvenirs (made in China). Definitely worth walking through if you’re not claustrophobic though. The back streets of the main town are worth a walk around too; we came across a great disused building/burned down concrete box filled with fantastic graffiti (I have a little obsession with photographing graffiti). Just across the road from here is the Suria Sabah, a ‘shopping centre’ which has a fantastic French restaurant in a really hidden spot on the top floor – mighty find! Back in the town centre the Atkinson Clock Tower/Lighthouse (built in 1905) is worth a photo or two. You can walk up to Signal Hill from here to get a view of Kota Kinabalu from a height.
We also took a day trip to Sapi Island – lovely beach although we did nearly die on the boat trip back – riding high on massive ways – the dude needed a spotter out the front of the boat just to know what was out in front. Needless to say we didn’t do the beach a second day.
So you’re either supposed to climb Mt. Kinabalu or head to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre when you visit Borneo. We did neither. You have to book accommodation on the mountain months in advance – hundreds of euro for a night in a DORM too (crazy) and you need a National Park Pass which also costs a few hundred. Turns out Sepilok is a flight away from Kota Kinabalu too…so yes, we went to Borneo and didn’t see a mountain or an orangutan. Do some research! You have been warned.
Can’t wait to go back to Borneo!!