Living it up in the wild east
In Sabah, you can climb a mountain, swim with the rays and dine with head hunters
Known familiarly as KK to residents and regular visitors, Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia wouldn never make it as Malaysia's capital. But if 30 million Malaysians were ever to vote for their preferred "Action Capital", then Kota Kinabalu would surely outclass other cities by a large margin.
Nestled along the northwestern coastline of Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah State. It draws adrenaline junkies and culture buffs alike for wild weekends and action holidays, largely thanks to Sabah's natural beauty and tribal legacy.
Adrenaline junkies' playgrounds are all over Kota Kinabalu.
Take Mount Kinabalu. That's located just 80 kilometres from the city and its summit, Low's Peak, sits 4,095.2 metres above sea level. With rainforest at its foot and alpine meadows on the slopes, Mount Kinabalu wins big and small-time mountaineers for the two-day hike and climb to the top of the mountain. The very last section, which takes you 800 metres in a vertical direction, offers an extreme thrill before descending again to Low's Peak. Here, four kilometres above the South China Sea, the summit promises climbers a sensational sunrise.
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is definitely a must for the adrenaline seekers, but the direction in Sabah State doesn't always go up. Scuba junkies should go down, deep under the deep blue sea and explore the exotic marine beauty.
Sipadan and Layang Layan - with their sea turtles, manta rays, leopard sharks and colourful reefs - are world-class scuba diving sites. What many divers visiting Sabah for the first time fail to realise is that there are also some diving treasures along the west coast of Sabah and all of them are accessible by diving day trips from Kota Kinabalu. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, for example, offers pristine coral reefs and wreck diving at Pulau Tiga, Mayne Rock, Usukan Bay and Mantanani.
Culture buffs not into conquering summits or plunging into schools of fish, might be more turned on by nights in a head hunting village.
Head hunting in Borneo is, of course, long gone, but visiting the villages allows the visitor to tap into the old ways of the once-feared tribe. Traditional dances, authentic food (no head), and drinking rice wine on the longhouse floor are all part of the tribal treat.
From negotiating a vertical journey on Mount Kinabalu to going under the sea to making peace with the head hunting tribe, Kota Kinabalu offers a big dose of adrenaline with a comfortable flight from Bangkok.
IF YOU GO
Many airlines, among them AirAsia, Silkair, Jet Star Asia and Malaysia Airlines, operate daily flights from their bases to Kota Kinabalu. For up-coming events and destinations in Sabah, visit www.SabahTourism.com.