Borneo, Sabah, Kota Kinabalu

Our stay in Borneo in 2013 was marked by some local riots in Sabah which were initiated by militias originating from Philippine islands who still have territorial claims to Sabah. Apparently, the Brits who were leaving Borneo upon its independence in early 1960s, have agreed to make Sabah one of the Malaysian states although this territory was only leased to them for certain period of time. Malaysian version of the story is different. Nevertheless, we arrived at our holiday destination which was under martial law.


After having went through the formal passport control after the domestic flight from Penang, we reached our hotel very quickly. We were staying in one of Shangri-La resorts in Kota Kinabalu (the cheaper one :-)) and we were enjoying our 7-days-stay on the island including the whole day trip to Brunei.

The resort was worth its price. Located on few hectares thus leaving enough comfort for hundreds of hotel guests, offering various food opportunities (all of them quite expensive and not always of outrageous quality, however “supplemented” by the local food court accessible within 10 minutes walking distance), several swimming pools, sport activities and the direct beach with the swimming bay isolated from jellyfishes.

The city and its surroundings

Kota Kinabalu is certainly not a place where you would spent days to explore its magic atmosphere. The buildings look tired and except of some dining options (we recommend the food court in Sedco Square where you can order fresh fish directly from aquarium) and shopping options (local market at the ocean front), there is not much to see. Smokers can buy cheaper cigarettes directly from Philippines’ smugglers who offer them at the ocean front without any fear.

The only local trip we decided to make was the river safari in the rain forest where we were expected to see proboscis monkeys. Unfortunately, proboscis monkeys are very shy and the tourists in noisy boats can rarely see them so that we had to “live” with the family of macaques playing on the trees just in front of our cameras.

Surprisingly, the flora of the rain forest in Borneo is not very spectacular because it looks very European despite its exuberance. However, closer to the sunset, it starts looking magic against the background of the colorful sky.

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