It was a chance draw, I had heard that Borneo was nice, but as Aldous Huxley once said “To travel is to find out everyone is wrong about other countries”. And after last year of having Christmas day on my own in Egypt, I thought this year we should get the family together and have Christmas overseas, Yaayyy!
So we all packed our bags, got on our flights and arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo to realize it’s really not the nicest city in the world. However, there may not be all too much to see and do in the capital city of Sabah in Borneo but there certainly are some extraordinary things to see just outside of it.
For example we checked out southeast Asia’s highest mountain, Mt. Kinabalu which also has a very rich history regarding the Australian Holocaust, where 95% of the prisoners of war inhumanly died in “The death March” From Sandakan to Mt Kinabalu.
Wanting to hike Mt. Kinabalu, we had left it too late as you need to book in advance for it takes 2 days and one night to climb. Although, hiking Mt. Kinabalu is also the world toughest race, the winner amazingly climbed to the top (4095m) in about 2 hours, now that’s one fit human!
Hiking the Pandanus trail around Mt Kinabalu
There too are some beautiful islands only a 15 min boat ride from the KK harbor. Two of which my brother and I scuba dived around an incredibly stunning one we visited for Christmas day named Gayana Island, where we had lunch at the Bung Raya Resort that boasted their own private cove.
Borneo is rather cheap just like all Asian countries and you won’t need to spend all that much here. My dad was so surprised not just because my sister footed the bill for one of our dinners but that for our 6 meals it cost us less than AUD$20. The average price for a Nasi Goreng or Mei Goreng (the standard traditional meal) is anywhere between 5–15 RM (Malaysian Ringgit) and a 1.5L bottle of water is about 1-2.5 RM.
Overlooking the city of Kota Kinabalu
When it comes to budget accommodation I am unaware of the prices as I stayed in a hotel with the family this time around. But chatting to other travellers in KK, the hostels are pretty decent, both cleanliness and price wise, you can check out their prices here.
If you are to pay a visit to Kota Kinabalu you won’t need much more than 3-5 days to see it all. Including Mt Kinabalu, the Australian memorial, Gayana Island and the whole of the city as it’s quite small and can be covered on foot in one day.
The Atkinson Clock Tower is the oldest standing structure in KK
There are food markets by the waters edge open every day starting at 5am and each Sunday there are street markets on Gaya Street or just click here for a link to the map