Words by Hannah Jambunathan
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha
4:30 AM, Monash University Malaysia.
Locked out of the offices and away from the video equipment, waiting for ‘Jimmy’ the security guard to arrive with the keys, it didn’t bode well for the rest of the trip, which hadn’t even properly begun yet.
But following the quick arrival of Jimmy and the rescuing of the video equipment, it became apparent that though the day may have started off with a slight hitch, from then on out it went on without a hiccup; as we arrived at KLIA2 in good time, checked in and boarded the plane with ease.
After taking advantage of the 3-hour plane ride by catching some valuable winks, we landed in Kota Kinabalu raring to go – and go we did, to Masada Backpackers, our base for the trip. The hostel was cosy and inviting, and after a quick break to refresh, our gang of 14 headed out for lunch.
I found my first Sabah dog on the way to lunch and was extremely excited despite the fact that said dog was rudely walking away from me
As unlikely as it may seem, we found ourselves dining at Sri Latha’s, enjoying a good old Sabahan banana leaf lunch, following which we hit the streets of KK, heading towards Merdeka Square, where we did a little *dancing* and bonded a little more while we waited for our first session to begin.
The arrival of Ms Grace Leong signaled the beginning of our Heritage Walk of KK Town, and we excitedly, fighting the heat and exhaustion, began weaving through streets of KK, listening intently as Ms Grace gave us the historical contexts behind some of the most poignant, distinguished landmarks of the city such as Australia Place, Gaya Street, Jesselton Hotel, Malaysia Monument and the North Borneo War Memorial. What a throwback it was, listening to Ms Grace referencing the British colonization, the Japanese occupation and the formation of Malaysia, having my knowledge from my Sejarah classes over 5 years ago be revisited!
Our group photo with Ms Grace Leong (bottom row, second from left), who guided us on our Heritage Walk
To end the day we all headed back out, this time to The Waterfront for dinner. We had a delicious feast of seafood, complemented with entertaining conversations, and some complaints about pesky, loud firecrackers. Though knackered, as we walk back to Masada for the night, the camaraderie is palpable. We head out of KK tomorrow for Penampang and Ranau, and if today is anything to go by, it’s going to be amazing.
Fighting off everyday evil with her “spiciness”, Hannah relishes in the notion that she is cool and swag, but you probably could not find someone with less chill than her.