Kota Kinabalu – Day 3: October 29, 2007

Did I say Sabahans are affable people? During the bloggers meet at Shamrock Irish Bar the previous evening, Wei Chuen asked if Wuan and I had anything planned for the next morning. We did not and he invited us to have breakfast with him. He came to pick us up from the hotel and had to wait for a while as we overslept.

Somewhere in Kota Kinabalu
Somewhere in Kota Kinabalu. Seamless road and walkway.

We went to this modern-day kopitiam that serves the usual fare that such shops offer. I would have loved to try some of the signature dishes but because of my low-protein and low-everything-else diet, I settled for toasts while Wuan had nasi lemak. Eating has become such a boring event for me now, even when travelling. What I liked most was the accessibility of the place. The road and the entrance to the complex was seamless. If only the rest of Kota Kinabalu were like that.

Wuan, Wei Chuen and Peter Tan
Wuan, Wei Chuen and Peter Tan at The Pacific Sutera.

Just after lunch, Rosalynn took us to the Filipino Market. Wuan wanted to get handicrafts. That place smells! I gather that the open space beside the handicraft market is a fish market and a place where fishing boats land their catch. Fortunately when we were there, the place had already been cleaned up.

Inside the Filipino Market
Inside the Filipino Market.

While Wuan and Rosalynn shopped along the narrow aisles of the market, I explored the surrounding areas a little. There was no shade outside. The midday sun was bearing down on me but the salty sea breeze was cooling enough to keep me comfortable. Finally, I got my wish of smelling the salty sea breeze! I know I am weird.

Seafront outside the Filipino Market
Women fishing at the seafront outside the Filipino Market.

Kota Kinabalu is not an accessible city, especially the shopping complexes. Even the one and only accessible toilet in one of the complexes was out of order. Luckily, I went there not to visit these places. I can imagine how difficult it is for the disabled people there to move around. That was one of the reasons why I did not see many disabled people out and about.

Seafront outside the Filipino Market
Fishing boats at the seafront outside the Filipino Market.

Rosalynn invited us to visit her apartment after picking up the Justin and Sabrina from school. As hers is a walk-up apartment, I waited at the poolside while Wuan went up. I was beginning to enjoy the serenity of the place, broken occasionally by low-flying aircrafts, when it began to rain. It rained and rained and rained. If I could, I would have played in the rain. My wheelchair cushion was not up to it unless I fancy forking out RM500 for another piece. The rain only turned into a heavy drizzle 90 minutes later.

The Pacific Sutera
The Pacific Sutera at night.

Rosalynn and the kids had dinner with us. It was a farewell dinner as we were leaving the next day. Boleh Café has a very nice buffet spread. I could not help but cheat on my diet – well, just a little. It was still early after dinner. Wuan and I went on a walkabout around the hotel grounds. The glow of light reflected on coconut trees, the sounds of lapping waves and the surroundings created an extremely romantic atmosphere. We looked at each other and knew that we would be making another trip to this paradise again.

Kota Kinabalu – Day 2 Part 1: October 28, 2007

The Magellan Sutera
View of The Magellan Sutera from Boleh Cafe.

The Pacific Sutera’s Boleh Café serves a scrumptious spread of buffet breakfast. There were Asian, Continental and Western fare to tickle every taste bud there is. Our hunger was thoroughly satiated by the time we were through. I cannot recall the last time I had such a heavy breakfast as my first meal of the day is usually lunch.

Beautifully landscaped garden at The Pacific Sutera
Beautifully landscaped garden at The Pacific Sutera.

The landscape of the hotel was unique especially with its Oriental-themed lily pond overlooking the sea. It was drizzling but that did not deter us from traipsing all over the grounds and generally enjoying the sights, photo opportunities and the salty smell of the clammy sea breeze.

Swimming pool of The Pacific Sutera looking out to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
Swimming pool of The Pacific Sutera looking out to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
In the distance are Sulug, Mamutik and Manukan islands.

We did not have anything planned for our trip to Kota Kinabalu except the bloggers meet that Dee had organised later in the evening. Over dinner the previous evening, Nico suggested that we visit the zoo after breakfast. That was one of the more accessible places in Kota Kinabalu. I have never been to a zoo before and was eager to see with my own eyes the legendary proboscis monkeys of Sabah. I first read about the proboscis monkeys from The Adventures of Tintin when I was in primary school. I actually wondered if that weird creature with its prominent nose really existed back then.

Asian Elephant at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park
Asian Elephant at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

Nico drove while I took the passenger seat. Wuan, Rosalynn, Justin and Sabrina crammed into the backseat. A short distance from the resort was a colony of stilt houses similar to those around the clan jetties in Penang. The road to the zoo huddled reclaimed coastline in some stretches on one side and gave us a view of the relatively unspoilt beauty of Kota Kinabalu on the other.

Malayan Sun Bear
Malayan Sun Bear.

The zoo is known as the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. The aviaries housed talkative mynahs, owls, noisy parrots, showy peafowls, hornbills and emus. There were also an endangered clouded leopard that that looked miserable in an enclosure, elephants swaying like Stevie Wonder, tigers with huge paws, sun bears lazing in the afternoon heat, playful orang utans and bashful proboscis monkeys.

Malayan Tiger
Malayan Tiger.

It was a fascinating experience. That was my first time visiting a wildlife park like this save for the mini zoo that the Penang Botanical Gardens once ran thirty years ago. I told myself that I was going to make Wuan take me to Zoo Negara when we got back to Kuala Lumpur. Just as we were about to leave, the wind picked up and a deluge followed. We thanked our lucky stars for making it just in the nick of time.

Orang utan
Orang utan.

Outside the proboscis monkey enclosure
Monkeying around outside the proboscis monkey enclosure.

Proboscis monkeys
Proboscis monkeys. The largest one is the patriarch of the troop.

Kota Kinbalu – Day 1: October 27, 2007

Sunset over Kota Kinabalu
Sunset over Kota Kinabalu.

Running away to a destination that I have never been to before can be as nerve-racking as it can be exciting. The main concern is accessibility. Throwing caution to the wind, Wuan and I decided to go to Kota Kinabalu not knowing if it was convenient for a wheelchair user like me. Surely there are people in a condition similar to mine there. Moreover, Wuan’s sister Rosalynn and her family, and our good friend Dee are staying there.

The Pacific Sutera Kota Kinabalu
The Pacific Sutera, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

The moment we made landfall over Sabah, I already liked the place. There were wide expanses of green stretching as far as our eyes could see. The land was relatively undeveloped as compared to Penang or Kuala Lumpur. There were no tall buildings. It was indeed a pleasant change of landscape. I figured that this city the other side of the South China Sea would be more laid back without all the hustle and bustle.

Our room at The Pacific Sutera
Our room.
Photo by Wuan.

Rosalynn picked us up from the airport and drove us to The Pacific Sutera. Nico was waiting for us at the hotel when we arrived. Our stay there was a wedding gift from both of them. Thank you to you two. The twin bedded room was cosy. After freshening up, Rosalynn took us on a tour of the hotel grounds. The sun was setting then. It was an overwhelming sight especially when we were so near to the sea watching the ochre sky together with the sound of waves lapping rhythmically at the shore. We planned to catch the sunset again tomorrow. Nico and Rosalynn later treated us to dinner at the Silk Garden – a Chinese restaurant at the hotel serving Sichuan fare.