Kota Kinabalu: market down as a nice town!
Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
33Trip End Ongoing
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With all its hidden treasures and plentiful markets (as well as all the mobile phone shops you could wish for!?) you could easily waste the day walking around looking at stuff that you didn't need to buy and then buying it.
The sunsets here were also some of the best we've seen, really golden and we always made sure to go down to the harbour front to catch it setting everyday.
On our first flight into KK from Bali we were welcomed with Korean couples all dressed in matching clothes - very odd! We have seen this before in Australia with the Romeo and Juliet lovers but never queues of couples all dressed the same as their partner, right down to the same shoes and make of clothing!
A real treat was the wet market which we came across on our first day in the city. We don't think may tourists go here as the locals were dumbfounded and watched us walk all around the slippery, smelly stalls, calling out to us and asking our names as we did so. One local took a complete shining to Tom and kept on shaking his hand (eew slimey fish hands - I refused to hold them until he washed!). As we've found in most of the parts of Asia the locals love to chat with you but their conversation can be a little limited as to what they understand. Tom can always have a longer conversation with the men than me as he just talks about football - they just go through naming random footballers although we've still not met anyone who has actually heard of Jason Chewins!
At night the area next to the wet market turned into a seafood bbq market for the locals to go for dinner. They offered a wide range of seafood including plate-sized tiger prawns, sting rays, squid and lots of other fish which Tom felt the need to try as much of as he could!
Dave and Jen were due to arrive on our second day and after consulting the map we decided to go and meet them at the airport, and to save a little money we thought it would be a good idea to walk there - big mistake! The map was all out of proportion and what looked like a 30-45 minute walk went well into 2 hours! We were talking to locals on the way who would ask us where we were going (as we walked along the motorway!). When we told them they would all look in surprise and say "wow, airport... long long way!" Yes, we know that now!
We celebrated Dave's '30 something' birthday with a trip to the Mamutik Island which is well-known for snorkelling and, since he received a snorkel set as a present it seemed perfect! Jen also has an waterproof camera which she hadn't yet put to the test. Ooh I was so excited - underwater photography...
The reef life at Mamutik was good and I spent nearly the whole time in the water, as Jen let me have a go with her camera so you find yourself following fish around trying to get a great photo, and now I really want one! There were a lot of clown fish (Nemo) here but they don't like to stay still so getting a photo was a little tricky, there were also lots of other very colourful fish, too many to name!
Eventually we had to leave the island as a thunderstorm was heading our way and we still had a 20 minute boat ride to get back - didn't fancy this much in the storm! Although this did mean that the only thing left to do when we got back was celebrate Dave's birthday with beer, beer and more beer (and curry)!
The Gaya Sunday Market was another highlight of this already charming city, with its normal handicraft stalls mixing together cats and dogs in the smallest of cages, fish being sold in plastic bags (just like the funfairs!), water-starved terrapins, 'holy stalls' selling religious tack and then of course the odd little man selling some sort of liquid in an unmarked bottle! (he was surprisely popular!)
After our whirlwind trip to Brunei we came back to KK during the Harvest Festival - we both expected to have to go to the shop and buy some tinned tomatoes or a can of spam but things were done a little differently here!
The harvest festival was held in a field with lots of girls dressed in beautiful costumes ready to perform a dance for all the waiting locals (and a few tourists). After waiting for the music to finally begin which took about an hour to start the girls danced for about 10 minutes! A rehearsal was needed one thinks, although the dancing was lovely and the girls were so excited - so it worth it in the end (And Tom and Dave were happy - number 1 spot in the 'National Hotties' list confirmed apparently!).
we had some farewell drinks and said our last goodbyes, this became a little emotional on Kate's part (the big wuss!). Oh bless her - it was lovely to meet and travel with them and I'm sure we will all meet up again one day soon.