Kota Kinabalu Part 1

My first day in Kota Kinabalu was uneventful . I arrived in the afternoon with not much to do. So the first thing I did was check-in at my hotel. The way I choose hotels is easy, I just pick the most affordable hostel with the highest reviews. Simple right? I book hostels through Hostelworld and hotels through Agoda. As a rookie backpacker, I booked two different hotels fort my entire stay in Kota Kinabalu. The first night I stayed in Masada Backpacker. Masada Backpacker is a small hostel where fellow travelers can run into each other and talk about their travels. It was my first time traveling solo so there was some uneasiness being around strangers, let alone foreign strangers. The staff was friendly and can speak good English so communicating was not much of a problem.

I chose the basic 5 bed male dorm which costs MYR 31.50 (roughly P440). The room was ok for sleeping in, the bathrooms were clean. Honestly, I didn't know what to do during my first day in Kota Kinabalu since the only thing I knew about the place was it was a heavily disputed territorial dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia, which Malaysia eventually won. I decided to wander around the city for the sake of wandering.

It had KFC and other Western restaurants. It resembled home because of the look of the people, I've often been mistaken as a local. They also had their own tiangge type malls wherein stalls that sold everything from DVDs, cell phones, shoes (fake and real), clothes, and whatnot. The thing I've noticed was how cheap the food was compared to the Philippines. Food that costs around P50 is more than enough to reach a full stomach. As my day came to a close, I confirmed my booking for Mari-Mari Cultural Village for the next day.    

After an uneventful first day, I was ready to immerse myself into the culture of Sabah. My first destination was the Mari-Mari Cultural Village which literally meant "come, come" it was like a greeting to the native Borneo people who lived there. The ticket to the village costs MYR 150 (roughly P2,000) which includes van transfers from the hotel to the village and back, guides, entrance fees, and lunch. The ride from the hotel to the village lasted somewhere around 1-2 hours. I was with the guide, a Filipino family, and a European couple.

As the tour went underway, I first noticed that the houses, costumes, and way of life was very similar to the Philippines.

Even the houses used nipa


Cooking like a local

Being one with the locals as I try to attempt one of their rituals.

Trying the blow dart


Doesn't that dance look familiar? Tinikling anyone?


Another round of Tinikling...


Oh you foreigners you trying a native dance!

Posing with the locals
Even the dances were very Filipino. The native dance was Tinikling but was called differently by the Sabah people. Mari-Mari Cultural Village was educational and worth the trip.

After the 3 hour Mari-Mari Cultural Village, I still had plenty of time to spare. I checked out of Masada Backpacker and headed to my next hotel for the next 2 nights. I moved to a seemingly posher part of Kota Kinabalu in One Borneo. I stayed in Tune Hotel for the next 2 nights. The entire stay cost me $42.20 (roughly P1,700).

Anyway, there was still a lot of time left before my second day in Kota Kinabalu came to a close. So I decided to visit some places to go to courtesy of travel sites and forums. I was completely clueless on how to travel around Kota Kinabalu that led to high costs in transportation. I ended up taking cabs most of the time which I regretted. Cabs one way cost somewhere between MYR 20-30.

Here are some of the sights I got to see after my trip to Mari-Mari:

Floating Mosque

Mall near my hotel in One Borneo

Sabah Tower
After a fateful 2nd night I decided to return to my hotel room and just chill and relax. I looked around the mall for something to do because I'm not really a night person that likes to go clubbing although there were bars, and clubs around One Borneo for those who want to have fun. I actually decided to watch a movie that was yet to show at home at that time, the movie was Total Recall. I saw that movie just so I could see what it was like to watch a movie in that country.

Total Recall

Yehey for promos! Cheap food in McDonald's

Imperialism in Kota Kinabalu thanks to McDonald's (insert sarcasm here)
That concludes my second day in Kota Kinabalu. 


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