Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Food Hunting in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

20th November 2019 (Wednesday)

My flight to Manila was at 6:55 p.m. I planned to leave for the airport at about 3:30 p.m. and I would have to check out from the hostel by 12:00 noon. I would not want to sweat after check-out, hence I would not be exploring more of Kota Kinabalu this morning.

Just after 8:00 a.m., I went out to look for breakfast. I wanted to taste more of Sabah's Chinese food. When I saw Soon Fatt, I went to order my breakfast. I asked the waitress what were available. As usual, the dishes she mentioned were very alien to me. I did not know what they were and agreed to her recommendations.

After breakfast, I went to explore the street where I had not been the day before. I ended up at Shangri-la Hotel where I stayed 16 years ago. From there, I found Ang King Lam Coffee Shop. Only then did I realised I was having my breakfast at this famous coffee shop the day earlier. Since I was still full, I went back to the hostel for a rest.

I then went out to look for Sang Nyuk noodle. CTT told me that Sabah was famous for this noodle. On the internet, I read that Kedai Kopi Kim Hing Lee was the first coffee shop in Kota Kinabalu serving this dish. It was located at Sinsuran Complex, an area with rows of shop-houses instead of a single building complex as we would normally imagined. I went in search of it and found it.

After my mid-morning noodle, I went back to the hostel to pack before checking out at 12 noon. I wanted to have another taste of Sabah before departing. Since I had checked out, I did not want to sweat. I opted to go back to Ang King Lam Coffee Shop since it was a short walk away only. I could see the beautiful chick again. The other noodle stall was closed and I ordered Sau Nyuk noodle again. Instead of being served by the friendly girl yesterday, I was served by another waitress.

Back at the hostel, I sat at the lobby to bid for time. I went on the internet and just relax in the air-conditioned lobby. When the time came, I called a Maxim car to the airport. It was just RM8, a Ringgit cheaper than a Grab car.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Exploring Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

19th November 2019 (Tuesday)

It was in August 2003 when I first set foot in Sabah. It has been 16 years since. It was towards the end of the SARS epidemic and in order to encourage people to travel, Malaysia Airlines was offering very cheap tickets to Kota Kinabalu and other destinations in Malaysia.

The plane left Sibu Airport at 7:45 a.m. and touched down at Kota Kinabalu Airport at 8:50 a.m. I had not prepared myself well in advance for this trip, unlike what I would normally do before I visited other countries. I had only read this morning that Grab car would only pick up passengers at Pillar 5 of the airport. As I stepped out of the domestic arrival hall, I went looking for Pillar 5. I turned left and walked. Pillar 5 was near the very end of the airport building at the domestic arrival hall.

Using Grab, I called a JustGrab to Hotel Traveller, where I was putting up. The fare was RM9. After checking in, the first order of the day was to look for breakfast. Although KK Restaurant was next to Hotel Traveller, there was no hawker food, except for a chicken rice stall. I walked around the vicinity and found a noodle stall. I was looking at the menu at the stall when a waitress approached me. I ordered Sau Nyuk and she asked me the options that I would like to have, giving me the names in Cantonese. I did not understand her and she led me to the pots to show me the options. I chose the stew pork. It was really good. The pork was tender and savoury.

After having my breakfast, I decided to go to the water-front and walked north, to retrace the steps that I took 16 years ago. In particular, I wanted to go to the Filipino Market, where I hoped to have my dinner later that night, like I did then.

By 11:25 a.m., I was done with the river-front and went in search of Kedai Kopi Yee Fung, a coffee shop famed for its Laksa. Unfortunately, it was closed. I strolled around the vicinity, but could not find anything I liked. I decided to go back to the hostel and checked out KK Restaurant.

That evening, I decided to go to the evening food stalls for dinner, which I had marked as a waypoint. It was located at Jalan Kampung Air 4. There were no evening food stalls on the street as I had thought. Instead, there was a seafood restaurant. It was about 5:30 p.m. I walked into the restaurant and out the other end and to my surprise, I was at Pasar Tani Asia City. It was a Muslim food market. The hawkers were just starting to get ready to open for business.

After strolling around Pasar Tani Asia City, I decided to walk to Asquare Container Night Market for dinner. Walking along the esplanade to Asquare would be a walk down memory lane. It was not to be. The esplanade was no longer the esplanade I knew. It has been taken over by an unbroken row of restaurants and eateries, blocking out all view of the sea from the road. Tall building occupied the most strategic locations, and one walking along the road would not know the sea was right there. What a dramatic change after 16 years.

Asquare was a disappointment. Most of the stalls were closed and there were just a few patrons. I decided to walk back to the hostel. Then, seeing the Filipino Market, I decided to walk over. Instead of being replaced by modern building, it had grown many times over. I liked it. During the day, the sea front was empty and smelly. Now, it was filled with rows and rows of fish mongers selling fresh sea food and crowded with people. There were many food vendors too. Finally, I had my dinner of Mee Goreng here.