Kota Kinabalu is known for its glorious beaches and majestic mountains. After all, Kota Kinabalu is home to Mount Kinabalu, the 20th most prominent mountain in the world. I have heard of friends going to Kota Kinabalu to trek, dive, and do all sorts of adventure and this is probably what drew me to the place. However, as I spent my 3 days here, I realized there is so much more to hate. Yes, hate!
Hate Reason #1: Kota Kinabalu serves the freshest seafood that you can’t help but binge eat!
This is something to loath if you are on a diet. I have never seen humongous lobsters in my life! The best place to try these seafood out would be at Sedco Complex’s Seri Selera Kampung Ayer. They have the freshest, biggest, and the widest variation of shellfish, shrimp, and fish! My favorite (aside from the lobster which is a given) would be the Tiger Prawn. I hated every moment as I was munching it because I was worrying about my weight and my shrimp allergies! Yet, this opportunity is too good to miss! I wolfed on the food and shushed my conscience shut! Carpe Diem!
Seri Selera Kampung Ayer is a little bit on the pricey end, though. If you would like to try cheaper (but same quality!) options, you can head to the Night Market next to the Filipino Market and Le Meridien! Rumor has it that they used to sell exotic food there such as Pangolins and Sea Turtles. Thank goodness they no longer do this!
Hate Reason #2: Kota Kinabalu has the whitest, white-sand beaches and the deepest cerulean waters that you cannot just visit one beach! Talk about moving from one place to another!
It just gets to you! You never would want to leave! If you are like me who absolutely adores lounging by the beach, I swear, you’ll find your paradise here! This is not even exaggerating! Do not miss going on an island hopping trip in Kota Kinabalu. NEVER! The Tunku Abdul Rahman Park has islands that only exists in tourism books and probably your best, pleasantly feverish, dreams!
Our first stop was Sapi Island. We were given a life vest and snorkel gear and were left to enjoy the sea…that we did! After a few crazy shots, we explored the vast underwater garden. We saw a number of Sea Urchins and a collection of fishes of different sizes and colors. It was a whole new world under the sea!
We soon went to Manukan Island which looks like a mini Maldives. There were luxurious hotels and an appealing array of food stalls. You can relax on the shore and enjoy the sun with your pina colada!
Last stop is Mamutik Island which is fairly different from the first 2 islands. The calm and peaceful atmosphere is best in the late afternoons. There are also lots of water activities you can enjoy here such as Scuba Doo or underwater scooter, Parasailing, and Banana Boat rides! We regret not being able to do all these stuff there since we were running out of time and were scheduled to go to another tourist spot. BOO-HOO!
Hate Reason #3: Kota Kinabalu residents are friendly, caring, and hospitable, that it doesn’t make you miss home!
Kuya Andy from Island Hop Express! Salamat po!
Most of the time, if you are in a tourist spot, people tend to be greedy and all about the ka-ching. Here in Kota Kinabalu, we met people who sincerely would wish you well and have a good time! We met Kuya Andy. He is a Filipino who lived in Kota Kinabalu most of his life. He owns Island Hop Express (head to COUNTER 10!!!) in Jesselton Point and while most of the travel agencies offer their tour packages at 180 RM to 250 RM, he offers his tours for as low as 50 RM! He even went his way and fixed our schedule so we can have another tour and see the Proboscis Monkeys and Fireflies! He took care of everything. He even sent us off to ride the van going to the Klias River.
Our van driver, Machai (to book van tours, you can reach out through his FB page), is very considerate and friendly. He talked to us throughout the whole trip and made sure we enjoyed every second of it. He shared his experiences visiting the places we were going to and made recommendations on which places to visit the next time we happen to end up at Kota Kinabalu again. You would feel that it’s not your usual lip service since he runs a business. The sincerity in connecting is there, believe it or not!
Sir Machai made our trip fun!
We also met Baloo-the Uber Driver who brought us to Tanjung Aru. He told us beautiful stories about the Kota Kinabalu Sunset and how he left his corporate job just to enjoy time with his wife.
And we can never ever forget Mr. Lee Thien Fook! He is the owner and the mind behind Signal Hill Eco Farm! During our visit, he was very hospitable and even served us the MOST delicious BANGUS that I have ever tasted! This is not an exaggeration! He grew it in his own farm and was bred organically. We also met his wife who has the warmest smile among all we have met in Kota Kinabalu!
The amazing Mr. Lee Thien Fook
The missus wearing the friendliest smile in all of KK ❤
I have never loved Bangus so much!
Hate Reason #4: If you are an insomniac, their top of the line–not to mention, exquisite– coffee variations, will do you no good.
Have you heard of Malaysian White Coffee? If you are raving about it, then that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We found a souvenir store in Suria Sabah Mall called BR and Toys which sells a wide range of coffee choices! From your regular array of Ipoh White Coffee to the more exotic Kopi Luwak (from civet poop!), you will definitely suffer a period of pleasant insomniac nights! Why pleasant? If you are in paradise, why is there a need to sleep anyway?
Steven was an amazing Sales person! He gave us what we needed, not what’s expensive!
What really got me was their Durian Coffee. Other people would abhor the smell of the fruit but I tell you: Kota Kinabalu’s Durian Coffee is a must-experience! While I do not expect much from airport coffee shops, when I ordered Durian Coffee at Cafe de Jesselton Kopitiam, my faith was turned about. The aroma filled the place and I was even sort-of proud to have ordered it (LOL). It was a good experience to my senses!
Durian Coffee love
Even Kota Kinabalu’s basic coffee is not-so! Every night we would go out of our homestay just to have coffee at Wong Kok Restaurant. The place is like an old eatery but their Kopi-O and Kopi-C is anything but ordinary!
Hate Reason #5: Kota Kinabalu is home to many animals and plants species that you have probably never heard of. Sucks to be you.
Proboscis Monkey photos because they are so hard to spot!
I knew that the Rafflesia (only the world’s largest bloom!) can be found in the mountains of Kota Kinabalu. What I did not know is that you can also find the Villose Pitcher Plant, the Sun Bear, Pangolin, the Slow Loris, and the Proboscis Monkey here! During our last day in Kota Kinabalu, I didn’t let the chance pass to see the Proboscis Monkey in Kota Belud and also take the Firefly River cruise. I was comforted by the idea that industrialization has not taken wildlife completely. There are places like Kota Kinabalu that preserves and co-exists with their flora and fauna harmoniously!
Us–scanning the forest for the rare sight of Proboscis Monkeys!
So with all that being said, do I REALLY, REALLY hate Kota Kinabalu? The answer is still YES. I am so frustrated that I cannot stay longer. 3 days was not enough to digest and absorb this paradise and all it’s beauty. I hate Kota Kinabalu because it made me miss the days I had there now that I am back home in the Philippines…and in so much passionate ire, I vow to come back and stay longer!