Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Lowcost airlines open gates to find new treasures.

Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Sabah, Malaysia is a short two-hour flight via budget airline Air Asia from the Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Clark Airbase, Pampanga. Short flight, but not quite easy. Air Asia only flies out from Clark, so that in itself is kinda out of the way if you're from Manila. Second, the taxes from that airport amount to something around Php 2,500 per person. Ghastly. Third, the airline only allows for free-seating, which can only translate to a messy elbow-bumping, face-smacking scenario for us harried Filipinos. Also, meals or snacks don't come complimentary so either you stuff yourself silly prior the flight, or shell out bucks to buy what food is offered in the airline carts. Fifth, you can't really expect much from a budget airline's fly-in fly-out route, so there's hardly enough time to clean up the garbage and tidy up the seats from the previous flight, and this is evident in the not-so clean leather seats with remnants of candy wrappers tucked in the creases. So if you're that particular, bring out the wet wipes and smother on some much-needed cleanliness in that leather seat you elbow-bumped for.

Upon arrival, a nice, clean and modern airport welcomes travelers and tourists. A delightful change from that of Clark's. Cabs are easy to come by once you step out of the terminal, that's if you don't already have your hotel's pick-up service waiting on you, signboard in hand. KK Airport isn't too far away from the city center, give it 15 minutes and you're bound to be in your hotel already, given of course that your hotel of choice is just in the main city.

KK is an all too-familiar city for Southeast Asian dwellers, or at least for us Filipinos. The city is reminiscent of Malate, Manila, or even Davao (or so we've heard) with its old town charm and busy streets. The city center is small, so everything is in walking distance which makes the city even more lovable.

KK locals start their weekend habits with a morning visit to one or two (or three!) of the city’s string of street markets. Check-in in any hotel or tourist lodge and you’re bound to be just a stone’s throw away from any lively street market.

asia city morning market


Asia City’s small open market starts your morning off with warm Malaysian smiles inviting curious on-lookers to try their local rice cakes and colorful pastries. Some stalls seem to be family-run as mother-daughter, father-son teams operate their small weekend morning businesses. Food is mostly offered in Asia City’s Market as the stalls are vibrantly alive with rainbow colored pastries, delicious smelling buns and tempting breads, fresh vegetables and fruits, and fresh fruit shake stands. A few booths sparkle with locally produced trinkets, accessories and straw hats.

Asia City delights

Gaya Street right near Jessleton Hotel holds the Gaya Sunday Street Market where the street is closed off to vehicular traffic and opens its welcoming arms to enthusiastic and raring pedestrian shoppers. Gaya is a loooooooong street where it holds all sorts of scents, sights and stimulants. From domestic pets like cats, gerbils and turtles to vibrant artworks of batik fabrics and hand painted masks, more trinkets and accessories, potted flora and fauna, more food and even more food, to the usual designer rip-offs like watches, wallets and sunglasses.

KK is a great place to go food tripping that it deserves a whole other blog post (naturally!). Although the city is not the type one would get lost in with the hopes of a great find, it still plays host to an array of dining choices. Easy to fall in love with, this bay city is a great place to relax over some tea or coffee in quaint little corners. Places and establishments like Warisam Square across the Waterfront Esplanade area is best for this afternoon or evening delight. However be warned that commercial capitalists like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf have already taken over KK. Nonetheless an easy walk around the area will bring you to find those charming local cafes.

The City Mosque, which was built to give the impression that it was floating above the waters of Likas Bay, is a splendid sight to see in the evening. We hear that it's much more gorgeous during sunset as the vibrant shades of the sun reflect on the calm and sprawling man-made lagoon, giving the viewers a majestic and commanding display of colors which only glorifies the grandeur of the Mosque itself.


Hamin Lodge is the perfect place to stay for the budget traveler who seeks sanctuary in accommodations. Newly opened, this boutique lodge offers room options, like queen-size beds for couples, to bunk beds for friends to dormitory type rooms for backpackers. Some rooms have their own toilet and bath while a common T&B is located in each floor.

coconuts see no speak no lamps

With a wonderful sense of style and close attention to detail, Hamin has turned itself into a welcoming oasis from the busy local life surrounding it. And just like its character, the people from Hamin Lodge are simply the best. They will accommodate questions, requests and even give favor to their guests. Prior to departure, exchange of emails and initial deposits went by like a breeze. One rule of thumb we have come to understand based from past travels is that, speedy and accommodating responses are a great sign of service. Hamin easily passed with flying colors.

seated chimes
Hamin's balcony

triptayo KK was done last April 27 - May 1, 2007
more photos here and here

1 comment:

THE ANiTOKiD said...

Thanks for dropping by my site, bro! And i just discovered that you got a multiply site too! Galing! A ton of pics and I even read your writings! Grabe mga adventures mo bro! I particularly like the culture thing, e.g., our very own karpinteros and their smell compared to the nasty odors of other people in la-la land! Galing! And i kid you not!