I will always associate Kota Kinabalu with rains, OK may be not always, but surely till the next trip. Due to the rains we could not go island hopping on our schedule. But that gave us half a day to explore the landmarks of the city which was fun. In this post I show you Kota Kinabalu in pictures. Kota Kinabalu is also emerging as a destination for Indian weddings.
Situated by the Likas Bay, Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is an impressive structure. The construction of the mosque started in 1989 and it was opened to the public in 2000. It is surrounded by a constructed lake which adds to the charm of the place. I did not enter the premises but I ran to the outside where a crowd had gathered. It is from there you get a good picture of the mosque with its reflection. The entry to the mosque is free.
The first thing that caught my attention about the temple was its beautiful architecture. Then the color red stood out. Pillars, walls, lanterns all were red. People came in to offer prayers.
The walk around the temple will take about 20 minutes if you do it at leisure. The entry is free.
Sutera Harbor Marina is home to beautiful yachts. Space is available for rent both for long and short term. While we were waiting for our speedboat to Sapi Island, I marveled at the beauties parked there. I even marveled at a couple who were going about their business on a yacht. Their suntan was to be seen to believe!
You get out of the airport and you are at the beach in Kota Kinabalu. I took the picture from Shangri-La Tanjung Aru. While we were going to the resort our guide told us- this is beach number 3. It was number three because there were 1 and 2 before it. As someone said, what is there in a name? Call it beach 3 and it still would be stunningly beautiful. I got to know that Prince William and his family stayed at Tanjung Aru sometime back.
We stayed in the heart of the city first at Hyatt Regency and then at Le Meridien. Right across the Le Meridien is the local market for vegetables and fruits. On my last day I walked out in the morning and took a stroll. I was amazed at the variety of chili the shop displayed. They took my photo session easily in their stride. One person asked me if I would like to go island hopping to which I said I had a flight to catch in a few hours.
Mari Mari Cultural Village is an excellent place to discover about the tribes of Sabah and their customs. They have built the houses of five tribes and enact the living conditions for the tourists. It is targeted at the tourists, I was not sure how I would like it but it was a lot of fun.
Island hopping was on our agenda but the rain gods had other plans. We visited Sapi Island on the next day but you can see umbrellas were out on the beach. We still got a window of clear weather and managed to zipline on the Island to Island Coral Flyer. It was fun to zipline from Gaya Island to Sapi Island.
The Sabah State Mosque is an impressive place of worship with its golden dome and gold inlay work. Our guide John told us that all important people came here to offer the prayers. Once again we looked at it only from outside. There were a lot of cars round so I could not get a clear view from any side.
Finding a Grudwara in Kota Kinabalu was a surprise. It was not on our original itinerary. We went there because of the rain gods and in the end I am happy as I discovered a piece of India in Sabah. We met Mr. Avtar Singh on the premises who told us a bit about the history of the place. Jesselton was named Kota Kinabalu in 1963. Sikhs primarily came to Malaysia as police officers with the British in 1865. However, it is said that they were not the first Sikhs to arrive in Malaysia. The first lot came as political prisoners in early 1800. Avtar ji said that some went back to India at the time of World War II but the ones who remained got integrated into the local society.
Right behind the Gurudwara is a railway line which connects Kota Kinabalu to Tenom. It is known as Sabah State Railway. We were told that the road connection is faster so the railway line is not much in use.
This sums up my visit to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. I for sure wish to go back and explore more.
PS.The view of the city in the first picture has been clicked from the Signal Hill, the highest point of the city. Itgot its name as flags were raised on the hill as a signal to the ships arriving at Jesselton Port in earlier times.
Once again it was the weekend. With the new job it meant that the brat was right around the corner. He had two days off instead of his usual one day! Hoping against hope the sage put her feet up. All she wanted to do was day dream about her trips. Soon enough there was a knock on the door. The Sage reluctantly got up to open the door. She was not surprised to see the brat all sleepy eyed at noon. It looked like he just woke up and straight came in looking for a cup of tea. Thank God that the sage had some peace and quiet at least till the noon. For some strange she was reminiscing about the Wedding in Sabah and the stories she heard about them! There was no hope of it now.
The Brat: Good morning …
The Sage: If you say so, though it is well past noon. Good to see you awake.
The Brat: Will you like to have some tea?
The Sage: I always like to have tea.
The Brat: Then why don’t you go and make some?
The Sage: Ah the usual trap, and I fall for it always. OK I will make us a cup of tea.
The sage returns with two cups of tea.
The Brat: So what is new? What is new on your blog?
The Sage: Instead of new, I actually wish to discuss the old, remember I went to Kota Kinabalu?
The Brat: Even I can’t forget it because of the business class travel stories you would tell everyone, (then adds under his breath) weather they wanted to listen or not!
The Sage: What do you think I am hard of hearing? However, there is another story from the trip, about the weddings in Sabah!
The Brat: Weddings in Sabah? Now what is that? (it is a rare historic moment when he looks confused but he did on the mention of weddings).
The Sage: There is a resort Shangri-la Rasa Ria which hosted a 700 guest Indian wedding from Kolkata.
The Brat: Oh boy!
The Sage: Yes it was the talk of the town! Apparently they wanted cars only for airport pickups, no vans! Getting 300 taxies in Kota Kinabalu was quite an adventure apparently! So was getting 700 people through immigration! Not to forget getting in the cargo as people cannot carry everything in luggage if they wish to attend a big fat Indian wedding.
Actually there are two Shangri-La properties one I mentioned, Rasa Ria and the other is Tanjung Aru. Both can host large Indian weddings. Then there are city hotels like the Hyatt Regency and Le Meridein which can host them on smaller scales. Apparently for the Kolkata wedding the chefs were flown for India. Hotel wedding planners can sync things with the wedding planners hired by the wedding party.
Both Rasa Ria and Tanjung Aru provide stunning outdoor venues by the beach! Everyone only needs to pray that it won’t rain! Even for that special prayers can be arranged in Sabah!
The Brat: Wow that is quite something!
The Sage: What do you think?
The Brat: What do I think about what?
The Sage: About getting married and maybe in style?
The Brat: Oh please I am too young to marry and I would rather use that money and time to go on an exotic tour! And you can’t blame me, I caught the habit of traveling from you!
The Sage: Well, I will have to admit you have a point there!
The Brat had finished his tea by now and was fidgeting in the seat, The Sage was hopeful that she could go back to her day dreaming pretty soon!
PS. The Brat and the Sage are semi-fictional characters that bear strong resemblance to my family members.
PPS. I was invited in this trip to Sabah by Silk Air and Sabah Tourism Board.
I stayed only for one night at Le Meridien Kota Kinalabu in the Sabah region of Malaysia, whereas I would have liked to stay more. The hotel is an old one, but it went through a renovation process recently. Here is an account of my extremely short stay with them.
The check in at the hotel was smooth. They asked for my passport and gave me my room key. We were checking in the evening and there was hardly any queue. The lobby was buzzing though.
If you are like me, you would like to log in to the hotel internet as soon as you reach your room! That is when the fun started. I realized that the internet was not free! I called the front desk to confirm. The young girl told me it was free for SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) members. I was obviously not a member! They said they only needed my address and email, they can enroll me immediately. Now who will not agree to become a member if it makes internet free! I am a member now! I think this is a very smart move to get people enroll with their membership program, though I am not sure how effective it would be!
The Room and the Bathroom
I had a large room, which was clean and comfortable. I had a good night’s sleep there. As most of the city hotels in Kota Kinabalu are close to the airport you can hear an occasional plane landing or taking off! But this is true of Hyatt too, where I stayed for two nights. I had an ocean facing room at Le Meridien too.
The bathroom too was large and comfortable. It had ample amenities. It had a bath tub. As I was staying for just one night I used it once. That still keeps me within my promise of using a bathtub sparingly. Out of three nights I spent in Kota Kinabalu, I used it only once.
The Swimming Pool
Le Meridien has a gorgeous swimming pool. As I was eating a lot of good food, I used it in the morning before catching the flight. It was absolutely worth it. I had the whole pool to myself, only the life guard on duty was around. One guest took a stroll for about two minutes and that was all. On that particular morning, the pool was all mine!
I had a breakfast and dinner at their buffet dining restaurant ‘Latest Recipe.’ The food was good, they have five counters serving different cuisines, one of them being Indian. You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to food here. I had a few exotic things to eat but they are part of a separate post. I am showing you only one dish here, the black bread with tomato soup. Apparently bamboo charcoal is used for the color, otherwise it tasted like a normal bread.
I walked through the club floor too. It displayed paintings for sale by the local artists. The common area was tastefully decorated.
Over all I had a pleasant stay at Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu. I also enjoyed taking a quick stroll through the local market right in front of it.
PS. My trip to Koa Kinabalu was sponsored by Silk Air in Collaboration with Sabah Tourism Board.