If you have been reading this blog in chronological order, you would have picked up on how impressed we were with Kurakura Homestay. If not, then you need to read (in order) this entry, this one, and of course this one. And then you need to book a holiday to Malaysia Borneo, stay at Kurakura Homestay, and send me a thank-you postcard that I can vent my jealous rage at.
As excited as we were to continue our adventures, we knew it was going to be hard to beat the experience shared with Liza, Lars and Froya.
For the next leg, we flew with Air Asia from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu. Standard flight, though we had to go through customs again. Because KK is in Sabah, and we were travelling from Sarawak; and because it was an International Airport; and because of something else… To be honest, I never quite knew why but it is the way it was done. Be prepared with passports when travelling from Sarawak to Sabah, and vice versa.
Going from Kurakura to KK was a bit of a culture shock. Where Kurakura was tranquil, and even Kuching had an old charm to it – KK (as it is better known) was definitely a tourist hub for Sabah. It seemed to ooze that feel of touristy-resort with islands-on-the-side. A cross between Gold Coast and Townsville – maybe a bit like Cairns (Qld, Australia). Anyway, it just smells of tourists and the price difference reflected it. As friendly as the locals were, you had the feeling off them that they were a little immune to the charm of tourism itself. Down at the esplanade markets, there is far more genuine cheer. The people there are just getting on with their day – if you want to share a few minutes with them, great. Otherwise, they’ll just move on.
There were a couple of things on our wishlist for KK – once again, mainly things that were only here. I was super-excited about the North Borneo Railway (mostly because it was so hard to organise!) while the island hopping and snorkelling were high on S & B’s list. We had considered a day trip to Mt Kinabalu National Park, but with time, suitability to kids, cost, and weather, we decided against it. If we ever return, we will probably hire a car and drive from KK to Sandakan.
There are plenty of resorts in KK; most of them even allowing you to leave the resort to see part of the city although the few we spoke to were in such a rush to return to the sanctity of their villas, it was hilarious. At the other end of the spectrum, there are also plenty of hostels with easy access to the city. As a young family, we were looking for something in between – with a comfort, affordability, and easy access to town.
We found it perfectly at Hotel Eden 54. It is located on Gaya Street, pretty much at the beginning of the biggest KK markets and within an easy few blocks of … pretty much everything.
For our first night, we decided to have S lead the exploration and find us dinner. We headed towards the sound of water and quickly found a big shopping centre that was still fairly new (read: half empty). Nevertheless, S found food in the building and we soon enjoyed a delicious fusion of Malay and Italian. S truly enjoyed taking charge for the night, and we soon recognised how much both the boys were growing with experience on our family holiday.