Due to my lack of research when we went to Kota Kinabalu, I didn’t have time to find a good hostel for us. It was a good thing that Yancy, Renz’s friend had already booked Borneo Backpackers Beach House Hostel, located near the beach for us. While the hostel wasn’t in the city center, it was a good alternative for us, especially because we were arriving pretty late at night. But the next day, we all decided to head to the city center where most of the action takes place. Despite the number of choices we had – heck we had a whole street of backpacker hostels! – we chose the one which was recommended to us by Josh Uy.
I’ve only just begun traveling and despite how people really see it as luxury and living on top of the world, it’s kind of hard to know where to go, especially if you’re not familiar with the place. This is why maps were invented, to help us navigate through places we’ve never been to. But I’m not exactly the Dora of the year. In fact, I have no idea how to tell north from west and west from south. I just know that the sun rises in the east and sometimes, I don’t even know how to tell where it rises in a place. Weird? Probably, but hey, I never said I was that good in all those geography stuff. So anyway, despite my lack of actual map skills, I’m still pretty much intrigued by maps. I have a collection of it at home. And when we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, I took a few maps before leaving the airport. And boy, was I glad to have the right one. This little baby below is the map that I used. If you look closely, it actually has tears at the sides because it’s already torn inside due to constant use (yey for me!).
Initially thinking that I’d spend more than I could on this trip (based on my experience in Kuala Lumpur), I was very determined to save money. While I must’ve underestimated the places I could go to here and I don’t think I used up all of my time as wisely as I could’ve I don’t really mind. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the first laid-back travel I’ve ever had abroad. It was a refreshing experience compared to my last backpacking trip. I took this trip on August 10 – 15, 2012. We left Clark at 4pm on August 10 and I left Kota Kinabalu at 1.40pm on August 15. That’s about 5 days and 5 nights, all in all. Here’s a complete list of my expenses in Kota Kinabalu, until I arrived in Clark Airport. Notice that even before I left the country I’d already spent around P2500? Yes, that’s how expensive our airports are.
Compared to traveling in Kuala Lumpur and West Malaysia, I have to say that Kota Kinabalu was pretty easy to maneuver around – even if you’re a newbie. We arrived in Kota Kinabalu at around 6.30pm the same day after taking quite a bumpy ride from DMIA, Clark. Yancy, Renz’s friend from Davao had already booked us for a night at the Borneo Backpackers Beach House in Tanjung Aru. Before we left Clark, it was the only thing I researched about Kota Kinabalu, so it was a good thing that it was only located a few minutes away from the airport. I thought Kota Kinabalu would be like Kuala Lumpur, busy, crowded and impossible to go around in a few days. But after just a few hours of research (during early morning, instead of working), I was done with my research about where we could go and how I could backpack the place in the cheapest way possible. If you’re like me who’s willing to do anything in order to save, you might want to try these tips:
If you asked me 4 years ago if I ever saw myself backpacking, I would’ve told you – “what the hell are you talking about?” But today, there’s really nothing else that I see for me at the moment. This is how I felt after backpacking Kota Kinabalu. For real this time. I’ve traveled alone with a backpack. Yes, but the way I did things in KK was way different than what I did in Kuala Lumpur. In Kuala Lumpur, the place is so huge and I had only less than 20 hours, I could hardly catch my breath to think and appreciate the culture. But in KK, in desperate need of rest and relaxation, I found my haven.