I booked a hotel through http://www.agoda.com/ and chose Switz Paradise Hotel. This was the first time I booked through Agoda. I usually book at http://www.asiatravel.com/. So far so good, booking at Agoda was a breeze.
Kota Kinabalu City, Sabah, Malaysia
I arrived at Kota Kinabalu pass 7pm. Unlike Hong Kong or Singapore, where you can ride an MRT in the airport, there's no option here but to ride an airport taxi or walk until you reach outside the airport and catch a bus. The taxi will bring you to the city center for 30 ringgits, which is fair IMO. I was able to check in Switz Paradise Hotel. Upon settling my stuff in my room, I was surprised that for a budget hotel, they have wifi in my room, And by the way speaking of budget, this hotel's standard room costs 88 ringgits per night. Of course, the hotel offered the very basic of necessities like towels, complimentary bottled waters and a soap - which means you have to buy or bring your toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo.My hotel is inside the Asia City Mall
After settling in, I decided to go out to get some dinner, the place that I stayed in was very near other commercial areas like Warisan Square, Centerpoint Sabah Mall and Waterefront Bars. Western fastfood chains are readily available. Outside the hotel you could already see Mcdonalds across the street. I was surprised with the shops that I found like Quicksilver which is cheaper as compared in Manila. There a couple of outlet stores but were already closed. And then of course, I immediately smiled when I saw Starbucks and bought a tumbler of Malaysia which I collect for 38 Ringgit. I also ordered a Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato for 13.80 Ringgit. The tumbler's a bit expensive compared to the ones I have bought from other countries, but hey, price is not an issue for a collector. It was raining a that time, so I couldn't go to the Waterfront and stroll, but there a couple of interesting bars there.
Walking by the waterfront early morning let's you discover the city center more intimately.
The beach is clean, and the white sands are ok - not coarse. But if course, my bench mark was always Boracay sands, but this is pretty close. The scenery reminds me of Anawangin without the lagoon and with amenities. Why? Because the beach has pine trees!!! I snorkled a couple of time and roamed the island and then I headed back to the mainland around 11pm. After that, I took a rest and decided to shop at Center Point Sabah. They have the basic brands like Giordano (bought a shirt there with "Malaysia" on its print). But I was surprised thT the Factory Outlet Shop (FOS) sells branded items very cheap. I bought 3 GAP, 2 Zara and 1 Old Navy shirt for 70 ringgit or about 1000 pesos - imagine that!!! My budget was fully unprepared for this, so I decided to use my swipey card. After that, I decided to watch Kung Fu Panda 2. There's a cinema in the mall. To my surprise, the ticket prices for a 2d and 3d films are 7 ringgit and 15 ringgit respectively - very cheap compared to the cinemas here in Manila. Coincidentally, Kung Fu Panda features one Malaysian artist, Michelle Yeoh, so the movie was jampacked and well received by fellow Malaysians. I was so tired that day, that I decided to sleep pass 8pm.
Palau Manukan, part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
So the next day, I woke up early and decided ate at Mcdonalds Api-api branch before heading our for city tour and do some photowalk. But then last minute, I decided to go back to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and visit another island - Palau Mamuntik. So I went back to Jesselton, but this time I took a bus from Warisan Square. It was a good 10 minute ride. So I went on paying the island trip, tariff and terminal fees. And spent the whole day just snorkeling. I actually find Palau Mamuntik the better beach and snorkeling area compared to Palau Manukan. The island is pretty small, but common amenities are also available - changing rooms, toilets, cafeteria. If you decide to eat buffet lunch, yo need to pay 45 ringgit, but if your on a budget, they have cheap meals at the cafe, all less than 10 ringgit. It was also on this island that I found a big monitor lizards and fishes swimming at you when you snorkel. I also met new friends here, I Chinese Family, an Australian couple, and an American Backpacker - call that UN. I stayed until 3pm and then decided to go back to the main island. I just went to the mall adjacent to Jesselton point which is Suria Sabah. They have upscale stores and Reject shops. I ate at the food court which provides a good view of Palau Gaya!!! A came back at the hotel around 5pm and slept the early evening.
The last day, I decided to take an early walk and go to the observatory. It was my last day, so I decided to stroll the city. Going uphill is an attraction by itself, by I wouldn't recommend to those who don't like walking at all. The first pit stop is Atksinson's Clock Tower. Its the oldest clock tower in Kota Kinabalu and a historical relic. So I stopped and clicked some photos. And then I went uphill to go the observatory. Upon reaching the observatory, you can clearly see the whole Kota Kinabalu City and a couple of islands within the Tunku Abdul Raman Marine Park. I would recommend that you go here between 6am to8am, the temperature is ok! And then now it's time for me to check out, but my flight is at 6pm, so I decided to leave my bags at the counter and run a quick souvenir shopping at Center Point Sabah and Warisan Square.
Old Atkinson's Clock Tower
some of the malls and commercial complexes in KK City
There were still a lot of activities I've missed, especially hiking Mt. Kinabalu and visiting the other island - enough reason for me to go back to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.