Malaysia Monday: 6 Days in Kota Kinabalu Part II

8 Sep

After a long hiatus, we’re back! To refresh your memory, we’ve already spent 3.5 days in George Town, Penang and covered local eating options, selfie sticks, and a retro railroad on the first 3 days in Kota Kinabalu. Today, we’re talking near-death experiences on Southeast Asia’s largest mountain, how to survive in a Borneo jungle, and free pedicures.

Day 4: Mt Kinabalu National Park


Thanks to for the awesome photo!


Mount Kinabalu is the main attraction in Kota Kinabalu and the highest peak in the Malay Archipelago. Some people spend 2 days and 1 night fighting altitude sickness, extreme conditions, and exhaustion to climb to the summit…. JetSet and I did not do that. Instead, the amazing staff at Eden54 arranged a day trip for us with Only in Borneo. Our tour guide, Mark, picked us up at the hotel around 8 am and we took the ~90 minute drive from KK to Mount Kinabalu national park.

Our first stop on the tour was a beautiful vantage point of the mountain. JetSet and I asked another tourist to take our photo. When we stood nicely next to each other smiling, he pulled his face away from the camera and said, “Aren’t you going to pose?” So we did:


But then that wasn’t enough–“Do something!” he said. So we did what just about everyone else around us was doing:peacesigns

And then we finally gave him what he really wanted and acted a complete and total fool:jumpIn addition to this beautiful scenery (note the peaks behind us if you can take your eyes off the two complete messes pictured above), there is also a market and a few restaurants. The market was actually one of the most unique ones I saw–not the run-of-the-mill t-shirt places we had seen elsewhere in KK.

After the vantage point, we headed to the Botanical Gardens


These were very cool- lots of plants I had never seen before. Here it was actually really helpful to have a tour guide–Mark pointed out cool things and gave us some advice about what to eat and what to avoid if we were ever stranded in a Borneo jungle. Naked and Afraid, here we come!

Through the Botanical Gardens we went, and on to the Canopy Walk. Now, a note here: I am not really afraid of heights, but I am VERY afraid of being suspended in heights (as in: I can go to the top of tall buildings, but you won’t catch me on a tightrope between them). When I was in Ghana 5 years ago, I did the Canopy Walk and I think my heart is still recovering from INTENSE tachycardia. So I almost chickened out this time around, but then I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t die and, if I did, it would be on an awesome trip to Malaysia with my dear brother on the island of Borneo–what a way to go! So I took a deep breath and walked across that damn thing!


I sang “Sitaram” (that chant you hear in almost every yoga class), and took it slow. I gave zero effs when a 9-year-old behind me yelled, “What’s wrong with that lady that she can’t go any faster?” This is what I looked like after the first quarter mile:


About half-way through, I turned around to JetSet running across that thing like it was the East River Park. Whatever–I am not afraid of bees and he is.mikewalkAfter my brush we death,  we got back on the bus and headed to Poring Hot Springs. For those who may travel to Malaysia and think these might be worth it: they are not. They’re small and gross and it’s already 100% humidity every day in Borneo–why get into more hot water? I don’t understand. Anyway, connected to the springs are lovely trails, with a 10 minute hike to a small waterfall and a 30-45 minute hike to a large one. The paths are seriously Fern Gully-esque.

ferngullyAnd at the small waterfall, there is a relaxing spa opportunity–you can put your feet in cool, refreshing water and have fish eat the dead skin off! I find these things utterly repulsive, but JetSet has always wanted to try it, so he was thrilled to find the a naturally-occuring chance. He did not report feeling like a Kardashian.


We definitely thought this day trip was worth it–all these little stops were several miles up and down major foothills, so we wouldn’t have been able to get to all of this without renting a car. Only in Borneo were easy and organized, and Mark added some hilarity to the day, which is the added bonus of tour guides if you ask me. The lunch included was at a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t any better or worse than a sit-down Chinese place in America, but if you’re interested in healthy food I’d bring a snack. All in all- Only in Borneo’s Mt Kinabalu day trip was a good choice!

Next week: Indiana Jones-style bike trips, JetSet’s insatiable love of pork, and the time I almost cried over a big ol’ fish (provided I find the damn flash drive with all my pictures–pray for me!).





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