Around Kota Kinabalu
Arguably the most popular place to stay within the backpacking community–Borneo Backpacker is strategically situated right smack in the middle of the city, everything is almost just a kembot away (oh well, Kota Kinabalu is just the size of Makati, so everything is really a cigarette butt flick from where you’re standing). I love everything about the hostel, the common room, the free internet, free quick breakfast and the staff who helped us all the way.
We booked a dorm room with 10 beds and as always, Monette is the only rose among the Venus flytraps. Although we made a wrong decision on getting the upper bunk because right after the Kinabalu climb, getting onto the bed became a painstaking challenge. Getting up the ladder took a lot of time, effort and ganda points, and just when you reach the upper bunk, that’s when you’d realize that you left the toiletries in the shower room, PERFECT!
Although we are not liking the idea of the two flight of stair cases going up to the hostel lobby considering the painful assault that we had to brave after a Mt. Kinabalu.
We tried several restaurants within the area. Just like in most parts of Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu is home to a fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. There are fireworks of flavorful explosions in each food corner in the city. Predominantly seafood, but a parade of noodle, savory toppings and all sorts dumplings can also be found in most unassuming restaurants, and it comes in a backpacker friendly price.
Just downstairs of our hostel is a history inspired nook, with a collection of world war II photos of Sabah and historical memorabilia, the place’s rustic feel lured us on our first night in the city. They serve Nasi Lemak at MYR 8.
We tried the curry house along Jalan Gaya, a block away from our hostel. This is a typical Indian fast food, where you can take everything buffet style at MYR 7.00. This place is similar to the one where Thana took us when we were in KL. The best way to do it is to just mix everything together, forget about complementing flavors, just grab your plate and dive in. Just make sure to ask which one is too hot and spicy if you’re a sissy and picky foodie like Monette. And be ready with the glass of water, just in case (Which I learned the hard way).
The flaky, buttery, freshly cooked and slapped (yes, they slap them) Roti is available at MYR 2.
Right across the street is a 24 hour, always busy Fong Ip Cafe. An open air Chinese fast food restaurant that serves noodle, rice meals, western breakfast and of course, their popular dumplings. They are also known for their drinks like Lemon iced tea, sugar cane juice and Iced Tea Tarik (MYR 2.00). This is where we kept on coming back, it was a good deal at MYR 6 up. Make sure to try the stewed tofu and the squid/fish ball looking… thing.
There are also seafood restaurants near the ports, but us being island creatures didn’t even bothered trying. It will be like Korean tourist eating kimchi in a foreign land. It is a must try if you are really into sea food or if your food pyramid consists mainly of corn, potato or McDo meals. In our case, we opted grabbing a cup of our usual fix right across the strip, we sat there while we quietly agonized on every throb of our aching muscles.