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Published: April 20th 2018
Hello Halo Hostel, Kota Kinabalu Wednesday 18th
So far on this trip, travel arrangements have not exactly gone to plan. We decided to treat ourselves to a taxi ride to the airport rather than struggling on a busy bus with the rucksacks. We booked a taxi to pick us up from the D’Oriental Hotel in Petaling at 10.30 a.m. By 10.45 a.m. we decided it wasn’t going to show so asked the guy at reception if he could get us another one. The girl on reception the day before had ‘forgotten’ to book it, although she told us the night before that it was all confirmed!!! We should have taken the bus! We got another taxi at 11.000 a.m. which was OK.
The Air Asia flight was noisy, crammed and dry; no alcohol. We could have done with something to wash down the spicy chicken and pasta meal, which was served with mineral water. On arrival at Kota Kinabalu airport in Sabah, Borneo, we had a second transport hiccup. The hostel minibus didn’t show up either. The driver was ill. By the time we discovered this the bus queues had lengthened, the taxi
prices were high but a phone call to the hostel got us a GRAB taxi (UBER) at a third of the normal taxi price and even less than the hostel minibus. So although we arrived an hour later than expected at 7 p.m. it didn’t spoil our evening. We would not allow it to do so! We later discovered that the GRAB car was the same price as the bus, so GRAB is the way to go; we have downloaded the app and shall grab a ride this way in future.
Another little disappointment was our room. It was windowless. Actually, it was more like a cupboard than a bedroom. However, the air con was effective and the shower powerful. We couldn’t change rooms because there were no others with a window available; most of the rooms here at the Halo Hostel are windowless and our cupboard is a “deluxe double” with own bathroom and air con! We were told that it might be possible to change to a slightly biggerroom with a window the next day. Wow! Such extravagance, another deluxe £15 room but one with a window! We know how to go backpacking in style;
We always get a good view!!!
and I am the one who insists on a balcony suite on cruise ships, claiming that I couldn’t possibly cope with an inside cabin!
Wednesday evening was spent exploring the local area. We visited the Filipino night market, a tourist attraction; very quiet, very few tourists here at the moment. Had a good meal out albeit a ‘dry’ one. We ended up in the hostel lobby with a few cans of beer purchased from the local 7 eleven.
Today was to be a sightseeing day. From what we had seen so far, we knew that KK would be an interesting city to stroll around awaiting exploration. The scenery as we flew in was quite spectacular, wooded islands, sandy beaches and harbours. We survived our night in the windowless cupboard, in fact we slept really well! Halo Hostel is far more appealing this morning. The included breakfast was great and we moved to a slightly bigger room with a window! We washed out our undies and hung them on our little travel line in the bathroom, then headed two doors along to the laundry with the rest
of our washing, jeans, t-shirts etc. cost just 17 ringgit, about £3.11. l Hsel sf mrlgh nng.
So far since arriving in Malaysia we have seen few European tourists and few tourists of our age. Apart from two young English lads on the plane from KL to KK, we were the only other non-Asian passengers. Here in the Halo Hostel there was just one English girl, travelling solo, when we arrived; we have her room that she vacated this morning! The room, still small, has a bed which is just a big mattress supported on wooden pallets. It is remarkably comfortable! The Hallo is a bit scruffy but very clean and the staff are delightful. Everyone is very friendly, including all of our fellow backpackers, mostly Chinese, Japanese and Korean and Malay.
Despite the heat, we walked for most of the day all around this lovely little city. At Jesselton Point we purchased ferry tickets for next week, Friday 27th
April, to take us to Pulau Labuan (Labuan Island) which is a Malaysian territory just off the coast of Brunei. We loved Jesselton, fishing boats chugging in and out of the harbour having ploughed
back and forth across the South China Sea, tourists coming and going, some wet and tired after snorkelling trips to the islands (our turn for that next week when we return from the jungle) and best of all a bar selling alcohol!!! First we have seen. A few eateries sell beer but alcohol is a real rarity in this predominantly Muslim country. We sat at Jesselton Point in 34 degrees heat, John with a beer in an iced glass, myself with a large mojito and simply enjoyed; it was nectar. Oh yes!!! Another monitor was surely in order before lunch, hence a very late lunch.
KK is a real mixture of luxury hotels (Hilton, Hyatt and Mercure for example), and shopping malls full of designer shops (shopping is the national as time) which afford a striking contrast to stilt houses full of illegal Filipino immigrants close to the nearest offshore islands and the shabby central area where the cheap hostels are, where we are. Regarding immigrants, a very sad site greeted us on Wednesday morning when we arrived at KL airport to fly here: there was a wagon full of immigrants either arrested on arrival or being
deported, we are not sure but probably the latter. It was shocking to see men and women herded together in a cage with big chains and padlocks locking them in.
Our late lunch was another cheap but delicious success, Pineapple Nasi Goring with lovely fruit drinks. OK it isn’t quite like having a nice cold white Sauvignon or Rueda, but Calamari juice is really delicious. It is lime on crushed ice flavoured with dried sour plums. I had that and John had orange, mango juice and coconut milk. After more walking back via the fish market, we got back to the Halo at around 7p.m.where our laundry had been delivered and then decided to unpack! After moving rooms this morning we didn’t bother, just eager to get out and about. Maybe tomorrow we shall have a lie in!
Another sightseeing day and another chance to really appreciate Kota Kinabalu. It is a sedate city, where drivers are patient and considerate, people smile and take their time; very chilled. In Sabah all religions are celebrated, despite being a predominantly Muslim country, so Christmas, Chinese New Year and
Brit, Australian and Malay
Divali, for example, are all festivals to celebrate and to party (albeit with fruit juice)! Religious diversity is considered a strength of the community.
We found another bar! This is only the second one we have seen in the whole city! I ordered a gin and tonic with ice and lemon. The lovely young barman said “Sorry, we have run out of gin”. Those old colonial types would not have coped today! An empty bottle of Bombay Sapphire adorned the counter for show! Ah bless! So I had a vodka and tonic but couldn’t taste the tiny amount of alcohol poured in to the glass! We had thought of buying a bottle of gin to take to the jungle, but at £66 for a bottle of Gordon we decided not to bother; just keep drinking the juice and eating the delicious food! Anyway, the barman was lovely. The people here are very special. A lovely quote from the wall of this bar, as follows…..
“LIFE IS A BIG CANVAS. THROW ALL THE PAINT ON IF YOU CAN”
Tot: 2.375s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 22; qc: 97; dbt: 0.0729s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
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