Tag Archives: Malaysia

Exploring East Borneo : Day 3

Gaya Street Fair

Got up late and grabbed quick breakfast at Fong Ip. It’s Day 3 of my East Borneo Experience and I decided to spend the first half of the day immersing myself in Gaya Street’s Sunday Fair.

Gaya Street was already bustling with the mid morning crowd; the fair officially opens at 6:00 am and commences at 1:00pm. From previous research, Gaya St. used to be name Bond St. and for more than a hundred years, has been known as one of the main business areas in Kota Kinabalu with mostly family-owned businesses being passed on, generation to generation.

Masjid Bandaraya

After some kopi and Chicken Curry Paratha at Old Town White Coffee by then end of Gaya Street, I got a cab to take me to the City Mosque, Masjid Bandaraya also known as the the “Floating Mosque”.

Garama River Cruise & Firefly Tour

By 1:00 pm, the tour bus for the river cruise picked me up and off we went on a 2 hour drive to the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu.

Spotted: Long-tail Macaques by the river

I didn't have a telephoto lens so I couldn't take shots up close myself.

The river cruise took us to see Proboscis Monkeys in the wild and witness fireflies lighting up the darkness of the Garama river as twilight faded into night.


Ending the cruise with a hearty dinner, I found myself back in the city after 2 hours and capped the day with a visit to the city’s night market in Kampung Air.

Exploring East Borneo: Day 1

My First Night in the City


inally, the time came for this Vacacionista to witness the wonders of East Borneo, mainly in Sabah State. I’ve been preparing for this trip since April and thought it would be a great way to celebrate my birthday too.

The flight to Kota Kinabalu was a bearable 2 hours from the Philippine capital, Manila. Although, the air time is short, the delay with the flight was exhausting. Still, I got to BKI in one piece. So after checking into Bunibon Lodge on Jalan Dewan at about 9pm, armed with a map and giddy determination, I immediately set out to tick off the first couple of items on my itinerary even if I only had a couple more hours before midnight.

First stop for the night had to be dinner and randomly choosing among the many restaurants around the Gaya Street area, I went to have my fill of Kuching Laksa.

Next, my wandering feet took me to Kota Kinabalu Night Market by the waterfront, the city’s seafood haven, where I just had to have a taste of the grilled stingray with sambal sauce on recommendation from Daniel of Ahbing.com . The place was still packed with diners even late into the night.

Following this, I walked towards KK Waterfront where I lost my bearings and decided to ride a cab to take me to Jesselton Point, Signal Hill Observatory and the Atkinson Clock Tower. The ride to all three destinations by taxi was RM30.00. I was fortunate to have picked a cab whose driver was a Filipino from Zamboanga, so he knew how to speak Bisaya too. Manong Hamid narrated how he moved to Malaysia back in the late 70s to escape from the Martial Law and how he’s made Sabah his home following that. There are a lot of Filipino settlers in Malaysia mostly from the Visayas and Mindanao regions. This is is mostly owed to the close proximity between the Philippines and Malaysian Borneo.

My first meal in KK: Kuching Laksa

The KK Night Market by the waterfront is packed with locals and tourists alike

The market offers a wide variety of seafood and the best part is that it's relatively inexpensive (RM10 - 20) per serve

Sambal sauce and grilled fish have a different kind of mouth-watering chemistry together

Remembering gradeschool geography lessons about land bridges in Southeast Asia, it made sense that Filipinos would have Malay features how both the Filipino and Malay language would have similar-sounding words  for example,  “lalaki” in Tagalog and “lelaki”  in Malay means “Male” for both languages.

We drove through the city and made our first stop at Jesselton Point where I got that “old town” feel of the city. I noticed the locals by the waterfront bars chatting and laughing the night away while the sea breeze gently rocked the vessels at the dock.

The Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal entrance

locals come by here to chill out with friends and family

Shortly, I went to see a view of the city at night at the Signal Hill Observatory and to see the Atkinson Clock Tower on a bluff by the same road. The Atkinson Clock Tower is one of the prominent landmarks in Kota Kinabalu being the only surviving structure from the destruction of the city (then known as Jesselton town) during World War II.

Night view of Kota Kinabalu from the Signal Hill Observatory vantage point

The Atkinson Clock Tower: standing proud since World War II

Right before Cinderella’s hour, I had my first taste of the famous Borneo White Coffee at the the Coffee Shop by Borneo Backpackers hostel then made it back to the lodge to prep for the next day.