03: Malaysia > Sabah > Kota Kinabalu Walkabout

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Our journey starts one fine evening at KLIA on 11/01/07, as AirAsia’s AK5120 (Boeing 737-300, reg. 9M-AAG) lines up along Runway 32R, some 30min late.
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And 2.5hrs later, we arrive at a constuction site … errrr … the hurriedly-completed Terminal 2 of Kota Kinabalu International (BKI), to catch the start of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.
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Working on the ramp 24/7.
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Well at least, the all-important baggage system works. 😀
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The next morning, breakfast time. The ubiquitous local fare, yellow rice with fish, is being gingerly attempted.
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Followed by a morning walk towards Kota Kinabalu (KK) old town centre to the north, which I fondly call ‘Jesselton’. 🙂
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We pass by what looks like a coconut centre, where cocounuts and all manners of coconut products are sold. Still early and most stalls are shut, otherwise I’d have searched for a coconut-burger!
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An old market looks like being attached to the imposing Le Meridien, while behind me …
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… a well-heeled lady commuter arrives by boat.
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Not far away, fresh sea critters, dead and alive, arrive by the boat-loads.
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And soon, we arrive at a famous KK institution, the Handicraft Market, better know as the Philippines Market, a bazaar hawking a hodge-podge of things that ladies would normally love, shipped from the Philippines I suppose.
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Inside, stalls are tightly packed, with aisle just wide enough for a person to shuffle along.
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But it’s like Alladin’s Cave of Treasure!
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I sorta like this cute bike, complete with rubber tyres and working pedals and chains. In fact, it’s a working bike, and a really tiny chap can just hop onto it and ride away.
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And we bump into a fellow Kelantanese, who hails from just across the river from my own village in Kelantan (see previous STORY). Well, he’s now more than 1,000 miles from home, but that’s not uncommon for the Kelantanese.
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Feeling a tad bored, I pop outside just in time to catch this Blue-cladded Jesseltonian hurrying along. Only found in this part of Borneo.
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Next to the Philippines Market, we have the Dried Sea Critters Market.
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Uh-huh? No funny jokes allowed here.
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More of the stuff.
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And behind the market, you can get your fresh dried seafood, if there’s such a thing.
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Again, no funny jokes here.
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Remnants of some unlucky sharks.
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The usual suspects.img_4220.JPG

Next door is the Fruit Market – rambutans, mangosteens, mangoes, papayas, pomelos, chempedaks, …
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… oranges, durians, and the curiously-named tarap, the reddish, big hairy fruits hanging from the poles. We’ll revisit tarap later, only found in the jungles of Borneo.
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After the Fruit Market, we come to the Main Market, selling foodstuff and groceries, and behind this market is the very interesting Fish Market. Sited at the sea, fresh seafood is landed here for immediate sale.
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Throughout the day, boats come here to unload their ocean catches, and straight to the market. How fresh can you get?
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Inside, it’s spick and span, well, almost.
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Slabs of tuna meat on sale …
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The Tuna Man.
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The Prawn Lady.
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At MYR10 a kg, these fresh sea prawns are a real bargain. After a prawn feast, better not check your cholesterol level.
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From the Fish Market and the Main Market, it’s only a stone’s throw away to the jetty where commuters catch their boats to Pulau Gaya, home of several packed villages. It is a lovely spot, for watching people, boats, birds …
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… and approaching planes.
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A Dragonair Airbus A320 (reg. B-HSK), on a direct flight from HKG, approaches BKI. As KK gains popularity as an eco-tourism site, more and more direct flights from abroad are mounted.
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Passengers pile into a small boat. There are life-vests stowed underneath the seats, but nobody seems to be bothered. Overloading looks like a real risk here.
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Once it’s a full house (plus a bit more), the boat leaves for Pulau Gaya at high speed, at MYR1.50 per person per trip. I’m tempted to try it, but the thought of being the only one wearing the bright yellow life-vest in the crowd turns me off. 😐
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Nearby a private boat gets ready to leave. No need for a jetty, the hole in the fence will do nicely to move the goods. And just tie the boat anywhere convenient.
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A couple of guys still finding time to catch fish.
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A govt maritime dept boat is moored nearby.
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More people come and leave. The boat rides have been a vital lifeline connecting Pulau Gaya and KK for generations.
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Almost noon, and today being a Friday, it’s time to go to the mosque for Friday prayer, and we decide to go to the very photogenic State Mosque .
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Choice scripts from the Holy Quran adorn the huge fat pillars in gold. Completed in 1975 at the then princely sum of MYR15mil, this place is an icon of Sabah, and in particular KK.
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Close-up of one of the scripts.
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After prayer, we decide to call it a day. Tomorrow we are going for an adventure – driving the KK-Ranau-Tambunan-KK loop. That’d be fun, especially in this horrid weather. 😀

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