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Bye-bye Borneo

Final days spent relaxing rather than climbing a mountain

sunny 30 °C
View Just a big holiday on ClareAndTom's travel map.

Our original “big trip” plan included a few days to climb Mount Kinabalu, at 4095m the highest mountain in Malaysia. However, the company that controls the mountain makes it very hard to climb independently, and organised packages were very expensive. In the end, we decided we’d climbed enough mountains on this trip already, and couldn’t be bothered with the red tape. Instead we spent our last few days in Borneo chilling out in Kota Kinabalu.

Novelty roundabouts are big in Borneo

Kota Kinabalu had some good street food stalls. Clare had several of these cendols: coconut milk drink with green jelly bits. Tom was partial to the murtabak – rather greasy pancakes with various fillings

Beautiful sunset seen from KK’s waterfront

Kota Kinabalu had a huge night market, with loads of seafood barbecue stalls alongside traders with piles of fresh produce.


Each food stall had large piles of pre-cooked fish and seafood that they reheated to order. We weren’t entirely convinced about the wisdom of this, but tucked in anyway – only slightly concerned about what the effects would be the next day.

Waiting for our dinner to be warmed up…

Seaweed was the only veg on offer – the little balls popped in your mouth with a salty taste

Within sight of Kota Kinabalu lie a number of tiny islands, a world apart from the bustle and concrete of the city. We took a boat out and spent the day lazing on the beach at Manukan island.

Approaching the islands by boat


These Bond-esque devices were called ‘Scuba-doos’ – you sit on them and are towed along under the sea, looking ridiculous. They were very popular amongst the Asian tourists

We went snorkelling and spotted this freckled porcupine fish – isn’t it cute!

It was nice and sunny on the beach, but we watched storms build over the mainland during the afternoon

For dinner we visited an enormous seafood court, genuinely the size of a sporting arena. The large seating area in the centre was surrounded with rows and rows of tanks containing every kind of marine life. It was like going to an aquarium and picking out your tea.

Just one of the many types of (probably endangered) crustacea on offer

We’d had a look around the previous night and were amazed by the huge coconut crabs we’d seen. We were intrigued by the idea of eating one of these monsters, so decided to treat ourselves to a ‘small’ one – nearly a kilo of crab!

The beast before its fate. Tom still feels a bit uneasy about having condemned it to a pan of boiling water

Enjoying the coconut crab – which was tasty, but didn’t taste like coconut

There wasn’t that much to do in KK, so it was an easy decision to return to the islands the following day. This time we paid a visit to Mamutik, and on the way were lucky enough to see the top of Mount Kinabalu behind us, poking through the clouds. We may not have climbed it but at least we saw this enormous peak.


The beach at Mamutik island



Colourful parrot fish

Waiting to return to KK

Throughout the trip we’d had many opportunities to eat chicken feet, but had always put it off. As we were about to head to the Philippines, where such treats might not have been available, we decided to take the plunge. Conclusion: much as you’d expect, not a lot of meat, rather gristly, not something we’d miss back in the UK.


Posted by ClareAndTom 15:09 Archived in Malaysia

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You went the whole way round the world to find novelty food when all along you could have found it in Tescos :)

by Giles Sims Poshboy

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