After being victimized by yet another seat sale, I found myself planning an unexpected trip to Kota Kinabalu. Prior to booking my ticket, I had minimal knowledge of what to expect in this tiny little coastal city southwest of the Philippines, but the really cheap airfare told my instincts to stop thinking and just go for it. And so I did.
I’ll spare you the history lesson and entice you with what Kota Kinabalu is globally known for, and that is Mount Kinabalu. Unfortunately, after the earthquake that occurred in June, this year, Kinabalu Park was shut down, which eliminated the only activity I had in my itinerary. I had to make substitutions.
Visiting different travel sites would boast the various activities that showcased the lush flora and fauna it has to offer but what I discovered in the place, previously called Jesselton, is a collection of tiny little characteristics similar to what we, Filipinos call home
7. Filipinos, Filipinos, and more Filipinos
Relying on the credibility of the local I had conversed with during my stay, I learned that Kota Kinabalu is composed of 60% Filipinos (From the far regions of Sulu to be exact). You will mistake a lot of locals for tourists and vice versa. Visit Mari-Mari Cultural Village and see for yourself! I actually made a handful of assumptions and people had mistaken me for a local countless times. Well actually, you can figure out a way to distinguish yourself easily but where’s the fun in that?
The Philippines is a place where you get front row seats to most magnificent sunsets and KK doesn’t fall far. People also come by the Marina area or the beaches in the afternoon to experience the warm tones that paint the sky come nightfall as they lounge in the endless line-up of bars and seafood restaurants. Fancy drinking a bottle or two and have a photo-op with a dramatic backdrop of silhouettes of boats and ships? Choose among the luxurious Sutera Harbour resorts or chill along the Waterfront Esplanade or the Jesselton port frequented by locals and tourists alike.
5. Shopping and Tiangges
Filipinos love love love to haggle. KK has their very own version of our well-loved shopping center, every Sunday at the Gaya Sunday Market. The variety of unique and unexpected finds, to cheaper well-loved goodies, makes it a place where shopaholic dreams are made of! The experience is extremely similar to a day in Divisoria, where you find stalls just along the streets and challenge you to get the best deals under extreme heat and nauseating crowds. And everything is dirt-cheap!