Thursday, 19 April 2012

Beach Kota Kinabalu April 19th 2012

Kota Kinabalu Beach

Sifting through the plethora of tourist leaflets and pamphlets collected at the airport, there seems plenty of tours and activities - mostly nature based, from marine life to jungle life, and the ultimate challenge, climbing mount Kinabalu. That's a tough trek, according to folk who have have done it! Takes about 15 hours up and down, over 2 days usually, and costs upwards of 600 RM. I probably won't do it, still having the Penang Hill aftermath  fresh in mind! But the treks on the lower slopes could be interesting.

Nice people at reception, even nicer of then to honour 18RM, just under £4 per night for the room as arranged over a few emails. Xplorer backpackers Is the place, right in the centre of downtown, so not a bad deal as things stand today. Just remains to assess whether there are any alcoholic nocturnal creatures in situ!

Got up late, so missed out on the breakfast, but no matter since looking around the place it's brimming with food. Yep, as is typical throughout Malaysia there is an abundance of good, cheap food here, so breakfast is some of mamma's fried noodles with a helping of sweet and sour sauce. Scrutinising the free tourist map, I could hike north towards the jetty, maybe get a boat to the nearby island, or trek south towards the airport, which coincidentally has the only  beach next to the runway according to the map - airport it is!

The Airport is quite close as planes are taking off over the town frequently. Perhaps deceptively close, but we'll see how far it really is, as the hike begins along the coastal road. Nice blue sea, but with garbage floating around, and quite a lot of it. Touts are on the waterfront selling boat trips to the nearby islands starting at a whopping 100 RM. I've read blogs where people have taken these trips for much less, so no thanks Mr. Another plane going over, looks like an Air Asia. There's a hive of activity here, plenty of people milling around in Wellington boots! Men wheeling sacks of ice to containers. It's the fish market, and what a place. All sorts of fish - colours and varieties I havn't seen at any market before now. Everything from little blue fish to big yellow fish, Tuna and sharks.

There's no architectural heritage around here, in the downtown area. Looks like its all been swept away in favour of concrete blocks, a few glass plazas and condominiums. I did notice a collection of scenes from old time Kinabalu on a wall, can't remember exactly where right now, if I find it again will take a few snaps. All roads run parallel to the waterfront with perpendicular side streets creating a grid system, so getting lost and confused isn't difficult since it all looks the same. Blocks that create precincts and courtyards, but which one is Xplorers, I'll figure it out later, but for now onwards and Southwards, towards the beach, and airport. Over a river, looks rather grim in there, garbage and quite smelly. A path alongside the river, less smelly now and signs of some wildlife. Those lizards again but smaller versions, perhaps native to Borneo. Gone before I can say "lizard". Further along and an area of mudflats, not to mention a bit of methane in the air. Fiddler crabs, herons and egrets make up the action here. The birds poking at the crabs as they tread diligently across the mud. And just across the bay is a cluster of dwellings on stilts. A community of Wooden houses, the only sign of any heritage in Kota Kinabalu.

Almost on the beach!
This is turning out to be a long hike. Planes seem to be getting closer though, so maybe not to far to go. About an hour to reach the northern end of the runway, which runs parallel to the beach road. Another 25 minutes and there's the beach at last. It's a big beach, but it's a quiet beach at first look. Don't see much activity at all, but next stop is a drink and rest for a few minutes. A bricked terrace with wooden seats and tables under a few palms outside the only place selling anything to eat or drink. Quite a pleasant spot, sipping coffee under palms and watching planes land on the runway that is almost on the beach, or so it seems from here. A walk towards that runway along an empty beach. No swimmers, just the occasional local paddling. Doesn't look polluted but there is some rather Smelly water  flowing out here, maybe the locals have it sussed. Shame because it's a nice beach, just the minimal amount of garbage - the odd bottle, crisp packet, thats all. Scenic with Islands in the distance and towering hills behind too. Just 10 minutes and I'm at the runway, opposite Terminal 1. Security around here is rather lax with big holes in the wooden fence, big enough for me to crawl through - I don't of course, but I can get some rather nice photos.

Rattle Bus
Time I was heading back and it might be a good idea to find a bus. Dark clouds are rolling down from the hills behind, spits and spots of rain, not much at the moment thankfully. Hiking back to the cafe, there is a bus I am told, red and white. A rattle trap, no doubt about it! But it gets me back to the town as the heavens open and another tropical afternoon downpour. And opposite the bus station is a shopping mall, which usually means a food court. Yep, on the 4th floor is a food court with lots of variety as always, and cheap. A rather nice Chicken in hoi sin with a hint of orange, plenty of rice and a bowl of soup all for 5 RM, about £1.10.

Getting back to base is actually easier than anticipated. It's dark, but at least the rain had stopped. Second roundabout (has a dolphin statue), turn right then third left and just look for the precinct around there. Yep, there it is, just as I had left it! Free water, coffee, tea, TV with English content and it's cool at night too. The humidity dissipates after sundown, it's a really nice climate here, and no mossies yet! And no sign of any British, European and American alcoholics, well not yet, it's probably a bit too early.

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