I had a fun and exciting five day trip to the Malaysian state of Sabah… besides getting sunburnt, bruised, bitten, & picking up an unrelenting stomach virus. ???
…so here’s how that all went down. ?
We left my friend Hariz’s place in Brunei on Friday morning, Nov 18 and set out on the 6-7 hour road trip to Kota Kinabalu, the coastal capital city of Sabah, known for its bustling markets, modern boardwalk, beaches and waterfront.
The three of us (Hariz, his friend Nabil and I) arrived at our apartment there right before the sunset that evening:
The next day, we got up early and went to the waterfront. After buying some cheap food at the local market, we took a boat to the nearby islands of Sapi & Manukan.
Once we got off the boat, we enjoyed lunch on the beach before going snorkeling. I wasn’t able to take photos while underwater, but there were so many beautiful and colorful fish all around! ???
After we’d had enough of snorkeling and relaxing on the beach, we headed back to Kota Kinabalu. I was convinced into trying a full body massage, followed by “cupping”:
“Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.”
I enjoyed the massage, but I’m still not entirely sure that the cupping was effective. It DID make my back look strangely bruised, though:
To be fair, my friend Hariz’s back was way less bruised than mine, and it was his third time doing it. The staff there said that I had a lot of air inside of me, lol… maybe I did… who knows! ?
After that, we went and had dinner at a really tasty restaurant called Welcome Seafood. However, it certainly wasn’t very hygienic there (which seemed the norm in Malaysia anyway), so I’m thinking it might be where I acquired my stomach illness. ?
Once we’d finished eating, we walked a bit through a nearby mall before going back to our apartment. I noticed that a boba tea place had “fruity rojak” on their menu, and to my surprise, with random tentacle pieces inside. My friends informed me that it’s actually a quite tasty local snack:
The next day, we got to visit the Gaya Street Sunday Market.
Everything in Malaysia was already cheap for me as the US dollar is worth four Malaysian dollars, but the market was full of even more inexpensive items, like a pair of Raybans that I picked up for less than $10. (I’m pretty sure they’re not real, but they look good nonetheless!)
The following morning, Hariz drove us about an hour and a half into the jungle near to where we’d be staying, a “farmstay” in the village of Kiulu.
The house we stayed in was one of a few in the area — all the adjacent houses were owned by extended family members. Most of them hardly spoke English, so I just listened most of the time while Hariz did all the talking in Malay.
Besides just enjoying fresh food from the land, Nala’s husband took us on a really interesting (and draining!) three hour hike of the nearby rice paddies and surrounding jungle.
It wasn’t all fun & happy times for me, though. After I got back from the hike, I spent way more time in the bathroom than I would have liked (a trend which unfortunately continued for almost a week). And in Malaysia, there’s mostly just toilets in the ground, toilet paper is rare, and it’s customary to just clean yourself with water. ?
The “shower” there was also just a huge bucket of river water, which I scooped from using a small pail… definitely the most basic way I’ve ever washed myself!
And at night, I was bitten all over by mosquitoes and random insects. Having no A/C (except a wall fan) also didn’t help.
Thankfully, it was only just for one night, and I was chomping at the bit to head back to Brunei the next morning.
In the end, I had a lot more trials & tribulations in Malaysia than I would have liked; overall, however, I had a good time, along with many interesting experiences that I won’t forget! ?
By the way, this is my first post using entirely only my phone, so I hope it turns out alright. Doing a picture-heavy post from a mobile device isn’t an easy feat, but I’m trying! ?
Stay tuned for my next post about Bali!
– Comrade Brad