Surviving Sabah Series II: Exploring the Sabah Museum & Gaya (Filipino) Market

5 teams, 4 itineraries, 3 exploration days, 2 daring souls and 1… well, 1000 Ringgit Malaysian money (PHP14,000) to scour for the most number of travel adventures with the least amount of money spent in Sabah, Malaysia. Sounds easy but a tough plan to beat.  As I proudly represented When In Manila during this leg, my gratitude and experience gained is comparable to a whirlwind in a tunnel. I did not look at this adventure with an eye like a hawk that in the end we’d forsake its true essence: To have fun! For me and my fellow writer, we wanted to bring with us back to Manila what Sabah or better known as “Land below the Wind” has to offer to be able to share with you all:)


Kota Kinabalu, often known as KK, is the capital of the Malaysian state Sabah.  It’s abundant of long, sandy beaches, tropical forests, paradise islands to the almighty Mount Kinabalu (which is 90minutes away) from the main city. Kota Kinabalu is situated on the tropical island of Borneo, which is one of the two states of East Malaysia. The location of KK is absolutely amazing; and from the airport it is just a short ride to mostly any hotel or backpacker’s inn.

Our first day at KK was hunky dory, meeting the Sabah Tourism Board Officials over a sumptuous seafood dinner. Before we hit the lights off, my fellow writer told me she is gonna be a “follower”, meaning I will stand as the leader. Being in Singapore for almost a decade, I have at least known to understand Malay language and their culture.  Not to mention that I am a wanderer, I like to travel alone and seek adventures for myself, haha.  So there, I smell no rift and sense a lot of fun to cloud over our 3 days.

I will put up an article dedicated to Sabah’s foodies at the end of the series; as well as spots you could check out when you get the chance to visit this place. Expect more photos for that..I went really trigger happeh, lol!

 Coconut pudding at its best!


Event kicked off at the Sabah Tourism Board with a short briefing from the Chairman himself, afterwards we were left on our own.  So here’s what we did, we took the bus (KK cabs are all set to flat rates, sorry, taxi metres there!)  We’re unable to spend a bomb, thus opted to take bus in KK’s scorching heat!

Have you seen or heard a chicken and a duck talking? See my partner asking the asst. bus driver for directions, hahaha!

The uncle driver who kept speaking to me in Malay and he got a shock when I answered him back in Malay, lol!

As soon as we alighted the bus, we went hunting for food! Growling tummies, can’t take it anymore! We stopped by an eatery a meter away from the museum itself. Since my partner has got no idea of what the menu items mean, she asked me to order for her.  Being responsible for my partner is much more important to me, as I don’t want her landing on a hospital bed in case she eats something that she has an allergic reaction to! I ordered Nasi Goreng Pattaya (RM6) and was glad she liked it. It’s just chicken fried rice, wrapped in fried egg.

This calls for self-service! The owner was too nice to let us in and see his mini kitchen:)

Happy tummies were then ready to explore!

Day1: Sabah State Museum & Heritage Village | Gaya (Filipino) Market


We ain’t history lovers but since we are on a limited budget, we headed to the Sabah Museum. I have always been dubious about museum exhibits as I tend to find it a real bore. But! We were welcomed with vintage cars at the entrance, some trans show happening huh?! This was built in 1985 and if you’re going to ask where the fun in that is, we don’t have any guide along, so it’s up to us to discover Sabah!

The Museum consists of the Main Building, Science and Education Centre, Heritage Village, Sabah Art Gallery and Museum of Islamic Civilization. Inside are various Galleries housing Natural History, Ceramics, Ethnography and Archaeology exhibits, among others .. Displays were well done and you need to explore all the grounds, not just one building. The distance of one place of interest to another is crazy far too! Best part would be the Heritage Village, you can check out the different houses of Sabahans up close. We felt as if we were warped into another era! This place really changed my views regarding museums.

Spotted a Mr. Bean car!


I went underneath this Brunei House.. it was frikkin’ low! But then I knew I would find something below these type of houses! See how beautiful this spot is? The sun’s rays gives it a more exquisite feel!

As I’ve mentioned, the museum was quite huge luckily there were maps to help us check if we are lost or what.  My partner has the patience to scrutinize maps, fortunately! I hate maps , argh!

I swear this chicken looks so alive in real life! Until I made a closer look and….

After climbing an endless pile of stairs, we found a place to chillax! Yes, cool breeze at last, we were tempted to dip in but we did not bring extra clothes, tsk! We cannot ride the bus wet and all right, lol.

Then we saw this guy near the exit. Wow, vintage cars upon entrance, vintage artist upon exit,  cool!

I told him we only got money left for our bus fare and he happily gave me this for FREE, yay!

When we left Sabah Museum, we took the bus again and alighted at the famous Gaya Market. Formerly known as the Bond Street, the Gaya Market features a place of local hawkers selling a wide range of items from traditional ethnic cultural souvenirs to pets and flowers. The Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market(formerly known as the Filipino Market) features vendors selling traditional handicrafts, souvenirs and foodstuff.  Must visit indeed as this place is truly colourful and you’ll find unexpected stuff from here. One thing I noticed though, there were no food stalls that was in operation this particular day.. locals said it’s better to come on a Sunday. It’s like their Sundays are more festive compared to a normal day.

KK is known for their pearls. The most famous being the Sea water pearls, so remember to bargain if you need to buy souvenirs here!

We had a blast touring the Gaya Market, too bad we can’t buy souvenirs! Hello budget! The locals were very amiable and friendly, they’re not the hardcore sellers so we enjoyed roaming around and making fun of the displays! Unfortunately when we were about to walk (yet,again) to go back to our place it was raining heavily!

In any case your zipper breaks loose, there’s a roadside alteration service, awesome right?!

I was tempted to operate the sewing machine on the spot haha! I was thinking of making a skirt with that red animal print cloth while waiting for the rain to stop, but the weather was just uncooperative. We walked back home. Soaked in the rain. Hungry. Sleepy. I was dead beat and cannot recall what happened to my partner. Until I saw her the next morning and said she bought fastfood and did not disturb me anymore. Did I strain you eyes with the photos here? This was just the first day:)  Our next adventure awaits wherein we teleport back to the times of ancient Borneo! Watch out for our hands-on experiences:)

Sabah State Museum

Jalan Bukit Istana Lama, Kota Kinabalu (4 km or about 15 minutes from the KK City Centre)

Opening hours
Daily from 9.00am – 5.00pm

Note: Picture-taking is only allowed outside the buildings.

Tel : 6 088-253199/263551
Fax : 6 088 240230
Website :
Email :


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