A work-related trip to Sabah’s capital city opens Zulkifly Ab Latif’s eyes to its many wonders

TURNING happenstance into opportunity while on a work-related trip to Sabah’s rural interior, I make a stop at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital and largest city. I am in the city for only one day before my return flight to Kuala Lumpur and although it’s a brief stay, I’m determined to make the most of it and get to know KK a little better.

My sojourn in Kota Kinabalu begins at the Promenade Hotel, a four-star hotel conveniently located within the heart of the bustling city. Sprawled out facing the South China Sea and the iconic Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, it exudes a soothing tropical ambiance and highlights Kota Kinabalu’s charm as a coastal city. The first detail that strikes me as I enter one of Promenade’s newly renovated Deluxe Suites is the magnificent sea view through the living space window. Modern and tastefully furnished, the bedroom also offers a similar sea view.

Settled and rested after checking in, the sea view has inspired me for my activity of the day — a visit to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. As I stand in the hotel’s elegant lobby, deciding whether to walk through the town centre towards the park’s jetty or take a taxi, I see other guests walking about in colourful attire suggestive of a day on the beach.

The hotel’s doorman confirms my intuition as he tells me that a visit to the marine park is a popular activity among the guests. And although the morning sun is still gentle and permissive for a town walk, I decide to take a taxi to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal for expedience’s sake.


DAY TRIP TO THE MARINE PARK

Accessible via speedboat from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is a cluster of five islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu — Gaya, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Sulug.

Island hopping and snorkelling are the main attractions of the park, with its sandy beaches, inviting crystal clear waters and thriving coral reefs able to soften the jaded heart of any weary traveller.

Visitors to the park have the option of choosing boat tickets to either all, some or one of the islands. Not wanting to feel pressed for time exploring all the islands in one swoop, I opt to visit only one of the islands, Pulau Manukan.


TOWN WALKING, A MUST-DO

The state is rich with racial and cultural diversity; Sabah has over 42 ethnic groups, each with their own unique language and dialect. One can get a glimpse of this diversity walking through the streets of Kota Kinabalu. Within walking distance from the Promenade are various sights and landmarks such as Atkinson Clock Tower, Jesselton Point, Kokol Hill, Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, Monsopiad Cultural Village, Signal Hill Observatory Platform, Sabah Art Gallery and Sabah State Museum.

Walking on foot I make my way through the city’s waterfront area towards Pasar Besar Kota Kinabalu, the city’s largest wet market. Various kinds of traditional food, crafts, grocery and trinkets are on sale, each reflecting the rich cultural diversity of Sabah’s peoples. On the uppermost floor is a large food court, where the clientele are mostly locals. It is from this vantage point that I spot an interesting sight near the water’s edge. Built next to the market is a jetty, where small and colourful fast boats ferry to and fro the villagers of nearby Pulau Gaya. Framed against a deep blue sky and the ocean, it is a sight unique only to Kota Kinabalu and a wonderful photographic opportunity.

A two-day one-night stay may sound paltry in comparison to the usual weekend or holiday travel experience, but with the many attractions and beautiful sights just within the city itself, an escape here is still satisfying if not more.


FAST FACTS

Promenade Hotel, Kota Kinabalu

No. 4, Lorong Api-Api 3, Api-Api Centre,

88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Tel: 88-265 555

Fax:88-246 666

Website: www.promenade.com.my

STAY

Promenade Deluxe Suite. A spacious suite with living area offering a wonderful sea view. Guests staying at the deluxe suites enjoy perks such as free buffet breakfast and sunset cocktail at the exclusive and more private 11th floor Promenade Club Lounge. There is an open terrace balcony here that offers another breathtaking sea view.

Other luxurious details include a nespresso machine, a free minibar and two free bottles of Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water from Tuscany, Italy.

For those travelling on business trips, the free suit pressing and shoe polishing service as well as high speed Internet will not disappoint. There are also office facilities such as computers and a fax machine on the 11th floor.

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