Our trip in the summer of 2017 to Sabah, on Borneo was all about seeing family. That alone provided a perfect reason to visit, however we soon fell in love with Sabah. The family made the trip very memorable and took us to many great places, some on the typical tourist trail others not.
Here is my highlights video filmed on a Go Pro. Below you will find more details about the places featured and see some photographs too.
As you can see from the video there is much to see and do in Sabah. Our base was the city Kota Kinabalu, although sadly we didn't get to climb nearby Mount Kinabalu. Climbing it requires some preparation, especially when you compare and contrast the scale of the elevation of it at 4095m with the UK's highest peak Ben Nevis at 1345m. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a two day adventure and definitly one for a future visit.
Our journey to Kota Kinabalu was via Singapore, more about that stop-over on another travel blog. KK as everyone calls it is growing rapidly, there is building work going on everywhere in and around the city. We arrived about 9.30pm on a Tuesday night and the city was absolutely buzzing. There is a very good atmosphere in Sabah, which successfully accommodates a large number of nationalities and religions.
Sabandar Beach, Sabah
Here are some photographs of Sabandar Beach, around 45 minutes outside of city. This was such a cool place, with locals chilling out playing football as well as riding mopeds and horses along the long flat beach.
As you can see we experienced an incredible sunset. Such an amazing spot and we were the only tourists there.
Back into the city and a special mention to Yuit Cheong where we ate delicious satay. Again a benefit of being guided by locals as we would never have discovered it on our own. Leong who owns it told me that this has been in his family since the start of the last century. At the front a barbecue is producing the best satay you will ever taste and serving with bread and rice, it is very well complimented by their lime cooler.
Another Kota Kinabalu tradition is the Gaya Street Sunday market where you can get involved in some serious haggling and get a deal, or not, whilst enjoying the rich colours.
The man that you see above is Huang Poh Lo. His banner proclaims him as the world's only Indian/Chinese calligrapher. He was doing good trade producing personalised bookmarks and pictures.
Also in Kota Kinablau is the Sutera Harbour Resort (above) which we paid a quick visit too. Our next destination though can be seen on the horizon.
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
The park, named after Malaysia's first Prime Minister, consists of 5 islands, of which we visited two, Sapi and Manukan. The islands can be reached by boat from Jessleton Point Ferry Terminal.
We benefitted enormously from the services of tour guide Christopher Chia of Seamaui Borneo who organised snorkelling for us and I would highly recommend if you are visiting Borneo. I got to use my Go Pro underwater for the first time and you can see the results in the video at the top of the page. The scenery on the islands are stunning, the boat transfer, at high speed, between the islands was good fun too.
Back on the mainland and a very imposing and beautiful building is Kota Kinabalu's City Mosque.
You may have seen the monkeys in the video at the top of the page. They were at Signal Hill, when I saw them I jumped out of the car to take some photographs and video. Worryingly and by the time the car had gone to park I realised that there were a few hundred of them all with their eyes on me! Thankfully there were no problems and a chance to quickly move on to enjoy the view of the city from the nearby observatory on Signal Hill.
Heading out of Kota Kinabalu and into Tambunan. This was a chance to get out of the city and go to some places not always frequented by tourists. Our stops included the Village Centre and the newly opened Observation Tower, the latter definitely needs a 4x4 to visit.
The final stop of our day in Tambunan was the Mahua Waterfall.
You can see on the video Orang-Utangs being fed at Sepiloch Rehabilitation Centre. The reserve is in Sandakan, a short flight away form KK, although that does involve a very early start to be in time to see the Organ-utangs visit for their breakfast. There is no guarantee of course that any will come and in fact if they don't it's a sign of success, as they have been successfully rehabilitated into the wild.
After the coach tours had all left and it was a bit quieter we found that our path was blocked by this lady, who wasn't for moving! But it's her home so why should she?
Rasa Ria Resort
After some very busy day and nights in and around KK, being wonderfully looked after on our visit, we spent a few days at the Rasa Ria Resort, a great place to unwind. Here are some photographs of the beautiful resort and its grounds.
I hope that you've enjoyed reading about our visit to Sabah. A big thank-you to all the family who made us so welcome and allowed us to experience all of the amazing food, drink and places that make it such a special place. We'll be back!
Paul Saunders is a Marketing Consultant, based in Loch Lomond, working throughout Scotland and specialising in marketing, video production and photography for businesses and charities. Just for fun Paul blogs about his travels in Scotland and across the world. All photographs are available for purchase.