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My five day adventure in Kota Kinabalu

If a month ago, somebody would’ve asked me, “Do you see yourself going to Malaysia in the near future”, my answer would’ve been an indefinite “no” followed by thoughts of a constrained time schedule, a silent curse at the capitalist economy we live in, a buried yearning and an abrupt image of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.

But, just when you think you know what’s coming, doesn’t the world always have a surprise in store for you?

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Who would’ve thought in a few weeks’ time, I would still be plagued with the same thoughts- but while taking a stroll in a paradise for travel junkies and food lovers while I, being a direct progeny of both these lines- fell in love with this place called Kota Kinabalu.

Being a member of a group of 54 Indian bloggers who participated in the Digital Travel Influencers’ Convention organised by Travel Earth and Sabah Tourism Board- Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah and the land of rich cultural heritage, accepted me for five days.

These handful of days passed by in a flurry as all of us began to acquaint ourselves with the quaint lanes and vast forests while managing to survive the adrenaline rush of scuba diving, rafting, mountaineering and trekking (well, almost surviving in some cases) and before we knew it, Kota Kinabalu had cast a spell on all our hearts.

While I was in Europe, I got my tickets and invitation to attend the conference. I right-away got to work and got myself an eNTRI visa online from Malaysia’s Official Website for $20 which gave me a 15 day visa.

DAY 1: FLIGHTS, JUST FLIGHTS

The first day got over before I could blink. Landing in airport after my Europe trip, I took another flight via Malaysia airlines to reach Kuala Lumpur (5h30m), and then another flight to the Kota Kinabalu airport (2h45m). On my way, I saw a brief vision of the clear blue skies and lush greenery before heading to the hotel and spending the entire day checking in and unpacking.

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Avangio Hotel


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The swimming pool I couldn’t swim in!


DAY 2: TAMAZA, WATERFALLS AND FIREFLIES

Hence, began the day of happenings. After my Euro trip, the beautiful island of Sabah felt like a much needed recourse and Kota Kinabalu felt like the tucked away secret haven you escape to when you become tired of the familiar large crowds and bustling streets, yet want to stay in touch with the instruments of a modern life- its charm lied in its great nightlife and modern energy along with a beautiful harbour and its beating heart- the natives. The place had a typical vibe of “You’re not my enemy, so you’re obviously my friend” which grew onto me after I met up with local guides and natives who felt like an extended warm family.

Our tour operator was this amazing lady Alicia, who ran her tour business under the name of Avasi Borneo. Her team ensured we had a smooth journey from point A to point B. Before heading to Tamaza, we stopped over at Kedai Kopi Ban Hing for our cup of Kopi Susu followed by a light breakfast. We bought a local sim card for RM 20 to stay connected to the digital world.

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Kapi Susu


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Sabah Tourism - Kota Kinabalu - Faizan Patel - Travel.Earth

You have a big banana – TWSS


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That’s the biggest banana I have ever seen!


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Sid Maccha from MIC and our group leader


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The point from where we could see the whole of KK


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You cannot visit Sabah and not talk about its people and scenery as the impact it leaves, makes you feel like every person should have a fair experience of this. The cradle of mountains that circled the island, lush rainforests and small, happy moments like watching the fireflies in the dim moonlight- rendered us with tales to tell.

Once such memory was made in the Adventure Cultural Village of Tamaza headed by Terrence, a local guide of the region and a great friend made on the journey, who took us trekking across several rivers (and also saved me from drowning) and to a waterfall, about 1.5 hours away from Tamaza.

Having been divided into a group of 12 people, we bought time and treated our eyes with a visual feast. We spent most of our remaining time catching up with each other and having lunch by the waterfalls, and then we headed back to our base camp for Dumb Charades, and a game of Truth and Dare.

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DAY 3: RIVER RAFTING, PADDY FIELDS AND MASJID BANDARAYA

This was the day of exploration and adventures. First thing in the morning, we were taken out by our local guides and the band of 15 people made its way for our first taste of the multiple activities Kota Kinabalu had to offer. RIVER RAFTING, IT WAS! Although, most of my vivid recollection of the time now is devoid of any concrete physical experience of the time, I can still remember the exhilaration and our soaring spirits.

We later on proceeded to a beautiful landscape dotted with paddy fields in the middle of lush greenery and spent a good amount of time, soaking in the tropical heat of the exotic landscape and sightseeing the rich Kingdom of Brunei as well.

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