Time for a new country, a new adventure! We arrived in the middle of the night in Kota Kinabalu. We reserved some bunk beds in a new hostel in town and the owners were waiting for us at the airport (for free!). What a nice feeling too know that someone was expecting us! (we arrived in the middle of the night!)
We had a beautiful sleep in nice beds with thick matrasses, clean sheets, a choice between a hard and soft pillow,… The place felt very welcoming and we stayed quit a long time in KK, just because the hostel was so nice and the owners (Ryan and Sarah) so accommodating and friendly. The second evening we suggested to cook spaghetti and everybody who wanted could join. We were so happy to have a nice spaghetti and to cook our own meal. Certainly because it is not common to have a shared kitchen in the hostels in SEA. Ryan cooked for us as well to return the favor the day after! Faloe is certainly one of these places where you walk in as a guest and leave as a friend. A huge shoutout and thanks to Ryan and Sarah!! (not the end of the Faloe hostel’s story!)
There was not much to see in town, except a lot of fancy and less fancy shopping malls but also some very interesting fish and fruit markets. The fish markets opens in the evening, when the fishermen come back from their boats with loads of fish, lobsters, shrimps, sea snales,… You can pick a fish or kind of seafood yourself that you would like to have grilled and add your preferable spices.
In the shopping mall we HAD to search for a new rain jacket because the ones we took with us, were clearly not waterproof (thanks for the advice UNIQLO #nooot). It was quit a challenge to find rain jackets which we thought was odd, on an island with a rainforest and obviously lots of rain. In the end we found some (expensive) rain jackets and we were ready to roll! First stop: Kinabalu National Park.
We stayed in a simple accommodation, Kinabalu mountain lodge. After a good nights sleep we left to hike in the national park. We would’ve loved to climb the mountain, the highest one in SEA, but it was too expensive! Plus you had to book it at least 3 months up front. What a bummer… We didn’t have this info and apparently a lot of other backpackers had the same problem! During our trip through Malaysian Borneo we noticed that you actually had to arrange a lot up front if you want a guarantee for a specific tour or spot. Not really a place where you can just show up and do something, so actually not so suitable for the backpacking trip we are doing.
We asked the rangers up front if there were any paths closed, but he guaranteed everything was walkable. We started the day with the longest hike possible, more then 5 km. The walk was okay but we were not very impressed by all the big tubes on the path that you had to climb over or pass by. It definitely ruined the views on this trail. It is world heritage so we expected more. From the end of the trail we could do another short hike to get a nice view of the mountain and the waterfall, but you can already guess, the path was closed. We tried to find a nice viewpoint but it was all in all a bit disappointing. We walked back to the entrance and were looking forward to take some nice other routes, but the ones we preferred were all closed. It was a nice day of hiking but we weren’t impressed by the way they maintained the paths. We do think and heard that the hike to the peak is absolutely breath taking when you have nice weather. If you have the money and made your arrangements in time, there is no doubt you will love the climb to the peak!
FALOE hostel (Kota Kinabalu): New and very homely! Perfect place to spend some nights while discovering KK. The owners will make sure you feel at home in KK!
Kinabalu mountain lodge: Very basic but beautiful lodge just 2km from the main entrance gate of Kinabula NP. Loved the quietness and the porch to hang out.