Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kota Kinabalu

I'm now here in Kota Kinabalu for the first time ever, together with the wife and kid for a short break. The return flight for the three of us cost all of RM299, courtesy of Air Asia. Imagine before this, the same trip would have cost us more than three times what we paid before Air Asia came into the picture. If not for the sharp increase in the price of fuel, the trip would have been even cheaper!

We checked into Magellan Sutera Harbour (yes, I know, it's not cheap) and to our consternation, for the price we are paying, it's definitely not worth the money. The looks, views and the general condition of the hotel is pretty good. However, the service response and other "little" things like malfunctioning door access cards (walking to and fro the room and the reception to get it fixed) and leaking taps dampens the experience somewhat.

The city's taxi service however, leaves much to be desired. A short 10 minutes trip from the hotel to Jalan Gaya costed RM10. Another short very short trip from Jalan Gaya to Wisma Sedco costed RM6. We paid the fares without complaining, knowing that it was still overpriced within an acceptable range. But the return trip from Ocean Restaurant, next to Wisma Sedco back to the hotel with a really short detour to 7-Eleven left us RM17 poorer!

Highlight of the day for me? Spent an hour or so in Borneo Books 2 in Wisma Merdeka, browsing through books on all aspects of Borneo, but ending up suckering myself into purchasing 2 "antique" hardcover books absolutely unrelated to Borneo. One was a 1948 4th reprint of the Oxford University Handbook (1932) and the other was a 1899 edition of Oxford University History of Magdalen College previously owned by a Leslie Ernest Sutton who was an Emeritus Fellow with the college. Yes, you can say that they burnt the pockets a little, but I was quite pleased with the little finds. ;) And I had a fruitful chat with the shop owner as well, Stephen Sutton (yes, Leslie's son) who ended up migrating and settling to this part of the world due to his academic interest in tropical plants and insects.

A colleague of mine said 5 days 4 nights was a little excessive for Kota Kinabalu, but having looked through all that we wanted to do this afternoon, there actually wasn't enough time. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that we can't "pack" the itinerary with a 2 year old. ;)

We obviously won't be hiking up Mount Kinabalu, not with the kid and my aging (and creaking) knees. But we'll be spending the day at the Kinabalu Park and Poring Hot Springs for most of tomorrow. Should be fun! ;)
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