Words by Mohd Fadzrin
Photos by Hamza Delbar
10:15am: Gaya Street Market
The morning was bright and sunny as we walked through Gaya street where there was a Sunday market. We observed many things being sold from fruits, fidget spinners, to even pets that stretches all the way along Gaya Street. What was particularly interesting was that we saw many stalls selling axes, scythes and other farming equipment out in the open. One could imagine how a maniac would simply reach out to one of these and start a rampage, but I guess our fears were dulled by the sight of the machetes locked up in a well secure cage. Shortly after, we ended up in a shop well known for its buns.
Gaya Market was busy with tourists from many countries converging to see what it had in store
10:30am: Keng Wan Hing
Keng Wan Hing was the place we had our breakfast. The food was alright, but the buns was extremely delicious, and quite cheap. After having one or two of those buns, we headed out to our next stop.
Keng Wan Hing packed with people
10:50am: Signal Hill Observatory
There was an observatory, named Signal Hill, located at the side of this hill nearby and we decided to visit it. Just before the entrance, sign that said it was 250m above with this tall flight of stairs next to it. At first, we hesitated to ascend those steps due to the heat, but we ended up going for a challenge and test our stamina. The number of stairs needed to navigate through was far greater than what we expected, but alas, we made it to the top. We were thirsty and tired, all the while feeling the heat of the sun, and right in the observatory lay a sundry shop with a big logo of a popular ice cream company as if it tried to tease us. The view was spectacular. One could see the entirety of the city of Kota Kinabalu up here. We took pictures including the mandatory selfie while having a well deserved cold drink.
The view of Kota Kinabalu from Signal Hill
11:00am: Walked to Istana
During the Heritage Walk in our first day, we remembered the Istana or Palace of Sabah. Since we still had free time before our flight, we decided to go all the way up to the top of the hill to visit the palace. The path was a bit confusing at first, but we managed to get to the top, only to discover that the place was off limits. We decided to take an Uber back to our hostel.
The entrance to the palace
12:30pm: Went back to Masada played snakes and ladders
We played snakes and ladders in Masada Backpackers before we head out again. Once everyone had done their thing, we set out again.
1:00pm: Restoran Seri Sempelang
Feeling hungry, what a better way to fill our stomachs than with some Indonesian food! Our journey brought us to this small restaurant called Seri Sempelang. All but one of us ordered some soto ayam whilst Franklin ordered sup tulang, a dish he missed eating at Ranau Town. The food was good though a bit too much on the peppery side. Once the last drop of soup was consumed, we started to wander out again into the unknown.
2:00pm: Went to Shell Plaza to D’Place Kinabalu
The Shell Plaza, what turned out to be this very urban looking building that seemed out of place as compared to the other buildings near its vicinity, had a little secret in it. It was a restaurant called D’Place Kinabalu. A restaurant serving Kadazandusun cuisine, which included the dreaded butod larvae. One of us, Norman, jokingly asked if it he could eat it. Out came out this menu from one of the waiters, showing a section dedicated to these creepy crawlies. Two things stood out for us, the first one was this pizza with the butod larvae as toppings, the other was this thing called the butod challenge, where one had to eat these insects alive. Three of us, Norman, Tuck, and I took up the challenge, thinking it would be an interesting experience, and indeed it was.
3:15pm: Mamak coffee session
Just before the journey to the airport, a bunch of us went out for coffee at a nearby mamak stall. We reflected a lot on the things we had done in our trip so far. It was nice to talk about what we had felt and experienced, sharing new perspective on things, all over a nice cup of coffee.
4:00pm: Back to Kota Kinabalu International Airport
We packed our bags, checked our items, and finally checked out of Masada Backpackers. Once we reached the airport, we exchanged our goodbyes to our faithful guides, shaking hands with them. It was hard for us to part ways with them. We will be eternally grateful to them for showing us Sabah for what it truly is. Without them, we would have never had the experience Sabah the way we did. Nonetheless, the trip has reached its conclusion, and being the last day, we had to unfortunately part ways but with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
All of us back safely on this side of Malaysia
Whatever happens in between life and death only matters in the fleeting existence of mankind.