Category Archives: Kota Kinabalu

Borneo International Marathon 2013 10km personal report

My first ever official running event after leaving high school in 1994. Borneo International Marathon was successfully held yesterday in Kota Kinabalu, after it was postponed from the actual date on 5th May because of Malaysia’s 13th General Election. It was a very lively event, the organizers were fabulous. They did a very excellent task of handling the event professionally.

As it was my first ever event, there were few issues that I think I would like to mentioned, in which maybe a good information for those who planned to run in next year’s event.

First and foremost, as I am a Muslim, prayer room (surau) is one of the priority. Stadium Likas where the event was held has a prayer room. So it will not be an issue for 10km and half marathon runners, as both events starts after the early morning (subuh) prayer. Only for full marathoners, they may have to have a slight detour from the main road to Kota Kinabalu mosque to pray. As the event starts at 3.00 am in the morning, by the time they reached near the mosque, they can have their prayer.

I came very early, at 4.30 am last Sunday, although my event started at 6.15 am, just to familiarized things around. It’s a good way of not panicking around if you arrive late at the starting line.

Sponsors were also good. Drinks on the water stations, ice cream at the stadium, free flow of MILO were abundant.

The only glitch that I think that could be improved next year was the shuttle bus that feeds the runners back to their hotel. Although the bus picking them up from the hotel was punctual, buses picking the back to the hotels were not that punctual.

The volunteers were also very cheerful, traffic police and cyclist really helps the runners to run in a safer condition.


So, what next for me? I am targeting for full marathon next year. 4th May 2014 Borneo International Marathon. I would like to run the course less than 5 hours.

If you want to know how did I do yesterday, check out my run profile from Garmin Connect. I run with Garmin Forerunner 210, as my Runkeeper app failed on me.

Eco Village Challenge trail run in Kota Kinabalu

For hardcore trail runners, nature lovers and charity seekers – this event maybe suitable for you. Habitat For Humanity Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu Sabah affiliate will be organizing its first Eco Village Challenge on the 1st September 2013, to raise funds for families in Sabah in need of decent homes.

Eco Village Challenge

The day-long Charity Run is 15-km route inside a beautiful and pristine nature reserved called Kasalagan Park in Kampung Natai which includes tour around Kampung Borombon and Kampung Bongkud.

Teams of four, will have an extensive back-to-nature adventure experience as they visit three kampungs (villages) where they will take part in three native sports, traverse seven rivers and streams, a waterfall and trek through jungle trails, valleys and ridges.

The journey is a salute to the traditional community practice of villagers traveling long distances to visit another village to celebrate together the important occasions such as religious festivals and weddings.

Non-existence of roads in these three villages is a great privilege for the Eco Village Challenge to link them using these villagers’ existing trails.

In order to participate, you need a group of 4 people, (at least one male and one female). The entry fee is RM1,200 ($400 USD) for Malaysians and RM2,000 ($665 USD) for non-Malaysians. The entry fee includes a free t-shirt, water, and support along the run.

Prizes will be awarded for the fastest teams!

1st place – RM$5,000

2nd place – RM$3,000

3rd place – RM$2,000

There is only room for 50 teams, so head to Kota Kinabalu’s website to register today!


Kota Kinabalu backpackers list (as of August 2008)

Whooaaaa…. When I started this website and blog about Kinabalu 3 years ago, there were only about 8 backpackers / travelers lodges around Kota Kinabalu. I put a booking page for the lodges through Hostelbookers, in which received quite a number of visitors who booked their stay through the booking system.

I did an update on the page in 17th November 2006, in which I added another 13 hostels to it, to give more options for travelers to choose the place that they think is best for them.

Yesterday I went to Sabah Tourism office to look for any new updates on Sabah’s tourism industry and found out that they have an update list of backpackers for the whole Sabah. With the number that they presented, it seems that Sabah is a “heaven for backpackers”!

According to the resource, there are now 23 registered backpackers lodges here inside the Kota Kinabalu city center. The number does not include non-star, 1 & 2 star rated hotels that are abundant here apparently. All the lodges are situated around 5-20 minutes walk to all the major important places (like banks, bus station, ferry station, market and shopping complexes), in which you don’t have to worry too much on the transportation.

I will try to list the backpackers in Kota Kinabalu according to the area that the lodges are situated:

Australia Place
Lucy’s Homestay
Tropicana Lodge
Traveller’s Light Lodge Backpacker
Kinabalu Backpackers
Borneo Backpackers Sdn. Bhd.

Jalan Gaya (Gaya Street) & Jalan Pantai
North Borneo Cabin
Planet Kinabalu Backpackers
X-Plorer Backpackers
Summer Lodge
Red Palm Hostel
Akinabalu Youth Hostel
Stay-In Lodge
Globetrotters Lodge
Asia Adventure Lodge
The Beach Lodge
Trekkers Lodge

Bandaran Berjaya
Velvet Lodge & Lounge

Sadong Jaya/Karamunsing Warehouse
Borneo Rafflesia Lodge
Borneo Global Backpackers
(These 2 lodges are the furthermost place to stay from the city center. You may have to walk 20-30 minutes from there to get to the heart of Kota Kinabalu city)

Asia City
Hamin Lodge

Kampung Ayer
Borneo Adventure Center & Lodge

Hotel Kota Jaya & Backpackers
Step-In Lodge Sdn. Bhd.

You can book your hostel here:
*Make sure you choose “Malaysia” as the country and “Kota Kinabalu” as the city. It will open in a new window.

Kota Kinabalu travel destination photos by Julian

First of all, I would like to thank Ruhaizad for inviting me to become the first guest blogger in his Kinabalu Blog. I am honoured that he thought about me when he wanted to initiate this guest blogger in his blog. Most of you may not know that I have actually won a quiz about Mount Kinabalu some months back. In fact I just wanted to try my luck and little that I know I managed to win it.

I enjoyed reading this blog as it gives many information about Mount Kinabalu which you can’t find anywhere else. Anyway, I am invited to talk about travel places from anywhere in the world, however I shall start by promoting Sabah’s travel destinations.

Sunset at Tanjung Aru Beach

If you do not know, Sabah has one of the most beautiful sunset. Most of the time, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset from any shores of Sabah. I would of course recommend you Tanjung Aru Beach as well as the beaches along Nexus Karambunai and Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort. Apart from the beaches, you can also enjoy a good sunset at other locations like in the Kota Kinabalu City Centre as shown in the photo below.

Dusk at Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu

Another local attraction that most people have yet to visit is the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.


Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is located about 15 kilometres from the city centre and would take you about 20 minutes to drive there. It is along the Old Penampang-Papar Road. The wildlife park was recently opened to the public and features animals like tigers, elephants, sun bear, orang utan and many more.

Main entrance of Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Ideally, you would need to spend about two hours at the park if you take your time to enjoy the wildlife. Either an early morning or a late afternoon would be best as it won’t be too hot. The park opens daily from 9am until 5.30pm.

Sun bear at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

The park usually attracts quite a bit of crowd during weekends as you can see parents bring their children as well as tourists. On weekends the park also offers elephant rides and other activities.

You may check out my previous post about Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and more pictures here and here.

Julian & familyJulian is a guest blogger from Julian and Morin’s Photoblog. He is an IT-savvy Daddy who works in the hospitality industry in the field of Information Technology while Morin is a stay at home Mummy taking care of Raelynne full time.

10 ways to save your money backpacking in Kota Kinabalu

  1. Travel with somebody else. You may need to use the service from local tour and travel operator maybe once in a while, and most of the time, the budget package that they have is quoted for 2 pax (or a couple). If you are a solo traveler, there will be a 30-50% surcharge for you, and that is almost a standard practice to cover the expanses. If you want to save more, travel with more.
  2. Stay in one of the backpackers/travelers lodge inside the city center. There are more than 10 backpackers/travelers lodges here in Kota Kinabalu city center, and staying in one of the lodges, will cut your cost of moving around. By staying in the city center, you can easily get access to almost all the important places by foot. And it will be easier to get help if you are lost.
  3. Board a low cost carrier. The most popular way to get to Sabah is by air. Boarding a low cost carrier is one of the way to cut your travel cost. Airasia is the sole provider for Malaysian low cost carrier (as at the moment FAX is currently not that reliable). Airasia serve most of the capital cities around South East Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, Philippine and Indonesia. While boarding the flight will cut your cost, you still have to pay ‘some price’ for it. Free sitting, flight delays and small seats and legroom are the common complaints by the passengers.
  4. Sabah Tourism BuildingGet your free travel information from the government. It can be really difficult for you to choose the perfect travel operator for your activities, as there are so many around Kota Kinabalu. Why not head to Sabah Tourism Building at Jalan Gaya, in the city center. It is a Sabah State Government information center for travelers and tourist, where you can get free brochures and information from their information counter.
  5. Use public transport. While renting a car or 4WD may be a good idea (provided that you are familiar with the road here and have an updated map), the best way to travel in Sabah is still the public transport. However, you must carefully choose a suitable transport for you, especially if you plan to travel to Sandakan and Tawau. Some of the buses are really not comfortable, especially if you are 6′ tall!
  6. Eat seafood once in a while. While uncooked seafood is considered cheap in Kota Kinabalu, the seafood restaurants around town serves first class services, which might put a hole in your pocket. And careful with the spices. You might end up purging away your entire trip…
  7. Bring your own first aid kit. Lomotil, Imodium, Brufen and Charcoal tablets can be very useful during your difficult time. It might save you some money from spending it for a medical treatment. Oh, consider anti-malarial tablet also…
  8. Bargain up to 50% discount if you are shopping for souvenirs at the Filipino Market. Filipino Market is the best place to look for local handicraft souvenirs to take back home. Most of the traders will put the price tag almost double, purposely for the more ‘wealthy’ foreign tourist. And surprisingly, most of the time they tend to agree with the price tag for the item. There are 106 traders inside the Filipino market. Find the one that can give you the best price.
  9. Use a prepaid phone calling card. While internet connection and internet cafes are easy spot in Kota Kinabalu, it is a different story anywhere else. If you are heading to some adventurous travel where there are no mobile phone coverage, using a prepaid calling card with a public phone can save you a lot of money. For example, iTalk calling card from TM. You can get a really special rate calling overseas. Handy communication tools for emergency too.
  10. Use cash. While credit card is an easy way to pay for something you like, you have to bear in mind the interest generated. Debit card is not widely use here, so having enough cash is a better way to not get into trouble, especially if you are away in a place where barter trade is still practice…

Happy Backpacking!

Brief history of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, The Land Below The Wind

Kota Kinabalu sunsetKota Kinabalu, or “KK” as it is popularly known, is a pleasant Borneo surprise, set between lush tropical hills and the South China Sea. It is the state capital of Sabah and a resort-city of exciting contrasts – vibrant, serene and hassle-free, with modern infrastructure and many attractions. Strategically situated less than three hours by air from East Asian capitals, KK has direct flights to/from major cities – Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Seri Begawan, Singapore, Manila, Cebu, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaoshiung, Seoul, Tokyo and Sydney. KK was granted city status on 2 February 2000. It is the eastern hub and getway to Malaysia.

KK traces its beginnings to 1881, as a tiny British settlement on Pulau Gaya, the biggest of five islands directly across the bay from present-day KK city. In 1897, rebel Mat Salleh and his men fought and burnt the island settlement. The British relocated to the mainland at Kampung Gantisan, a small fishing village. In 1899, the British named the new settlement ‘Jesselton’ after Sir Charles Jessel, the Vice-Chairman of the British North Borneo Chartered Company.

Jesselton was also known as Api-Api, which literally means, ‘fire-fire’. It was said that it derived this name from the frequent fires that occurred during festive seasons caused by flying sparks from firecrackers burning the thatched roofs and wooden structures of the shophouses. Some believe the name Api-Api may have derived from the Avicennia trees which grew abundantly along the coasts and were used for firewood (kayu api).

To liberate North Borneo from Japanese occupation during World War II, Allied Forces bombed and completely destroyed Jesselton, leaving only three colonial buildings standing. These were the elegant Sabah tourism Building at 51 Jalan Gaya, the Atkinson Clock Tower and the former Land & Survey Building. Unfortunately, the latter was burnt down in a New Years Eve Fire in 1992.

The Sikh Temple, located away from the town center, was also spared from the bombing. The high cost of re-building forces the Chartered Company to relinquish their land rights over North Borneo to the British Government. North Borneo became a British Crown Colony on 15 July 1946. At the same time, Jesselton was selected as the new capital of North Borneo, to replace Sandakan, which was also destroyed during the war.

Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu on 30 September 1968, for the majestic Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, at 4,095.2m (13,435 ft). Post-war reconstruction of the capital saw major changes to its skyline, coastline and land area. Most of KK is built on reclaimed land.

Reference: Sabah Tourism Board

Aerial view of Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu – any nice places to visit?

Aiden received an email from one of our friend who is coming with his friends for a visit to Kota Kinabalu. The email sounded like this:

4) Actually KK any other nice place to visit, shop, eat etc?

Aiden have spend half of his sleeping time last night composing the reply email. This is his reply. (I think it it better for me to share with you the email, so that you will have a rough idea if you then decided to spend your holiday here.)

4) Actually in KK, if you are staying in the City Centre and especially in the Gaya Street area, there will be a lot more stuffs to eat, that is to say, it is easier for you to search for any kind of food. Take a look into the KK Map 1, in the coordinate of B-2, you will see a Hotel, which it’s name is Jesselton. Just located opposite to the hotel, there will be a shop, which it’s name is YAU KEE , or something like that ,I can’t remember the spelling of the name. It is very famous for BAH KUT TEH, or Chinese Herbal Pork with sup in English . They normally start to do their business at around 6 to 7p.m in the evening.

In between the coordinate of B-4 and B-5 , you can see an Restaurant which it’s name is SUANG TEIN in the SEDCO SQUARE area. That was a famous open air seafood restaurant before, combining with several restaurants and several other hawkers in that area, they form an open air restaurant-like food centre. To cut the long story short, it is unique.But now they have built some roof so that when it rains, people can still enjoy their meals without running here and there hiding over the rain. The price is a bit more expensive than those in those in the ordinary shop, but the food is nice, not only they serve seafood but with large kind of variety of food to be chosen, I think it does suit our Malaysian or Singaporean’s taste.

Map of Kota KinabaluIn between A-2 and B-2 , there will be a shopping center named Wisma Merdeka.
In A-3 , there will be a shopping center named KK Plaza.
In between A-4, B-4, A-5, B-5 , there is another shopping center named Centre Point. This map is a little bit outdated I would say, because just right beside the Centre Point, in between A-4 and A-5 it is showing the Mini-bus Station. Just want to let you know that KK has been developing in a moderate speed since Kota Kinabalu has been gazetted as a CITY from a former status – TOWN. So, The mini-bus station has been destroyed actually, and rebuilt with some Higher-class of Recreation shops, boutiques, restaurants, and etc… That place is now name as Warisan Square. And the Mini-bus Station has now been moved to the place in A-7..

In the coordinate of C-1, you can see the Signal Hill Observatory, that is the place where you can have a full view of the city. But please don’t go there at night, if you are not travelling by car. It will be a bit dangerous at night. In the coordinate of C-3, there is a place of interest, the Atkinson Clock Tower, that is one of the several oldest structure that has been left after the World War 2. There will be a small path where it is accessible from the bottom of the hill of where Atkinson Clock Tower is situated. And after you reach the Atkinson Clock Tower area, which is on a small hill, you can then walk to the higher place, where the Signal Hill Observatory is situated.

In B-2 , you can see that in the map, there will be a place called the Sabah Tourism Promotion Corporation or Sabah Tourism Board (STB), I will leave that to you to find out what is interesting in the City area, those people in STB is always happy to help you out.

Hope that all of this info will give you a rough idea on what you should do when you are in our city.

I believe our help that we have contributed is far more worth for what you have been asking for. So, we might need your help in the future, when we have set up a page for our previous online visitors to post a comment or testimony. Hope that you will be able to help us by that time too.

Terminal 2 Kota Kinabalu International Airport (aka LCCT)

I went to KKIA (Kota Kinabalu International Airport) today with my son, just to see the newly developed Terminal 2 airport. For your information, Terminal 2 KKIA is dedicated to “low cost carrier”, aka LCCT terminal (similar like KLIA LCCT). It is the hub for Airasia and Flysianexpress airlines.

I hereby show you 21 photos taken with my Sony DSC-S40. Not so beautiful. Plan to upgrade to Nikon D40 later.

Anyway, enjoy the photo!

Upgraded toilet - with diaper change room and for the disableKKIA HallwayYou are here!Check-in counterPress down to releaseSome brochuresTourist Information Center - Where you can get some info.Taxi/Cab booking counter. They have options to suit your budget.Airasia counter on the left, Flyasianexpress on the right. Kind of “Open Counter”.Sabah Tea ShopCafeteria on the first floorAirasia’s placeWaiting HallTenom Coffee ShopSouvenir Shop on the first floorSelamat Datang is Welcome in EnglishKKIA departure hallSomething to refer if you are lostTerminal 2 KKIATerminal 2 KKIAFrozen Seafood Shop

The biggest unedible fish in Kota Kinabalu

When you arrive in Kota Kinabalu, try to spot this fish. I will give you the direction:

Go to Hyatt Regency Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. From the main entrance of the hotel, turn right. Walk down the slope and again, turn right. Nah… now you will see the fish.

Notice the bus at the background? It’s a bus for tourist who stay in Hyatt.

Huge fish in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu City Map

UPDATE 5th December 2007: How to Get to Kinabalu Park HQ from Kota Kinabalu using Google Maps

I always got request from our fellow travelers on maps of Kota Kinabalu and Mount Kinabalu trail. Well, you can get the trail map from the website, but for Kota Kinabalu City map, I will show you here. I save the map from Google Earth, and this map will include:

  1. Sabah Tourism Building
  2. Wisma Sabah (where Sutera Sanctuary Lodge is)
  3. Atkinson Clock Tower
  4. Kota Kinabalu Jetty (Jesselton Point)
  5. Jesselton Hotel
  6. Gaya Street
  7. KK Plaza
  8. Wisma Merdeka (where Borneo Books 2 is)
  9. Jalan Pantai (Beach street)
  10. Wet market
  11. Filipino market
  12. HSBC & Standard Chartered Bank)
  13. Le Meridien Hotel
  14. Hyatt Regency Hotel
  15. Australia Place

Kota Kinabalu City Map

If you stay in one of the hostel that is suggested from my website, then it will be inside the map. All are the important places that is stated above is just a walking distance from where you stay.