Formerly known as Jesselton, Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, Malaysia and located along the northwest coast of Borneo facing the South China Sea. For Filipinos, it is the nearest out-of-the-country destination from Southern Philippines.
KK is famous for Mt. Kinabalu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which gave the city its name. More than two hours away from the city proper, Kinabalu is derived from the name Aki Nabalu meaning the "revered place of the dead." That’s why the locals believe in displaying the utmost respect when climbing the mountain. Since it would usually take two days to reach the summit of the mountain, most tourists would only visit the Kinabalu Park, which is located at the foot of the mountain.
About 30 minutes away from the Kinabalu Park is the more idyllic and pastoral Desa Farm in Kundasang, Ranau. It is one of the subsidiaries of Desa Group of Companies, owned by the state government of Sabah. This is home to the well-pampered, pompous and spoiled cows that produce the freshest milk in Sabah.
The stunning floating city mosque built on a man-made lagoon is a popular pilgrim site in KK.
Another beautiful mosque could be found inside the hilly Universiti Malaysia Sabah, founded in 1994 and the largest university in Sabah.
The Boardwalk and Filipino Night Market and Seafood Stalls at the KK Waterfront is a must visit during dinner time. Make sure to order buttered shrimps and teh tarik.
There are five nearby islands - Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Sulug, Mamutik - opposite the city that composed Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. The park named in honour of Tunku Abdul Rahman (the first Prime Minister of Malaysia), is a popular weekend recreational spot for tourists, mainly for its white sand beaches and clear waters perfect for snorkeling and diving.
Though KK is naturally breathtaking, the last impression it left me was the thousands of Filipinos from Mindanao area who chose to live in Sabah to flee from the never-ending war in Southern Philippines. I hope they find peace in this land not too different from ours.