Travel Postcard: 48 hours in chilled out Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Fri Nov 2, 2012 4:02am EDT
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By Niluksi Koswanage

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia (Reuters) - A traveller's first stop in Borneo, the world's third largest island, should be Kota Kinabalu.

It's the capital of Malaysia's Sabah state, with nearby islands and forests, scrumptious seafood, tribal cultures and a history of Japanese rule during World War II.

Yet this coastal city often gets ignored as most travellers make a beeline to Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia's tallest mountain at 4,095 metres (13,435 ft). So stop by KK, as the locals call it, for a relaxed 48 hours after the trek from Borneo's rooftop.


530 p.m. - Start your weekend with a pretty spectacular sunset in KK, a seaside city also seen as the gateway to Sabah's steamy jungles and tropical islands. If you just won the lottery, head to Sutera Harbour Resort and charter a luxury yacht for a sunset cruise with fine dining and champagne.

Or keep it simple and head over to Tanjung Aru beach with the locals and toast the sunset with an avocado shake. If you are feeling adventurous, try hinava -- a dish of raw fish mixed with bird's eye chilli, lime, grated ginger and salted bitter gourd -- at nearby Grace Point food court. This is a favourite of the Kadazandusun people, whose tribes used to dominate Sabah.

7 p.m. - Time for a southern Filipino seafood barbecue at the KK night market on Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens. Much of the seafood is caught and grilled by Filipino fishermen who either legally or illegally moved to Sabah for a better life.

Just head to one of long tables piled with seafood and point to what you want. As you wait for the stingray or prawns to be grilled, mix your own dipping sauce from lime, chilli paste, salt and sugar. Best served with hot rice.   Continued...