Monday, February 07, 2011

Things to do in Kota Kinabalu

Last night we were fairly shell-shocked after the return trip from the wetlands, so to relax I put on Shutter Island, not realising it would produce yelp after yelp of fear from my fiancee, and snort after snort of disgust from me at the sub-Angel Heart rubbish that was being spewed forth. Since it was 1 a.m. before the film concluded, we woke up this morning feeling a little groggy and stunned, and so ended up looking for something to do in Kota Kinabalu.

Unfortunately, there really isn't much to do in Kota Kinabalu. Particularly not on a rainy Monday just after Chinese New Year. We'd already walked up a hill and looked out at the town, and we'd visited every one of the malls here, and the Green Connection, and gone back to all the malls again, and again, but there's no beach in town to hang out at, just the pier at Jesselton Point where you can buy a sarong and watch noisy motorboats head out to the islands.

Yes, you could go to an island. But that immediately suggests that the best thing to do in Kota Kinabalu is to leave Kota Kinabalu, which didn't help. We sat in our hotel room and played the 'wait and see how long it will take the hotel to deliver our laundry' game, which turned out to be 22 hours after they said it would be, we walked down Jalan Gaya in search of the restaurants recommended in the Lonely Planet (all long since gone), and we went to the Cock & Bull, a pub-restaurant by Jesselton Point that has surprisingly good food, despite looking from the outside like a large shed for containing drunk Australian backpackers.

Then again, this is the off-season. Perhaps in the summer it will be filled to the rafters with drunk Australian backpackers. And drunk New Zealand backpackers too. I'm not the kind of guy who focusses on just one nationality for my ire.

We went back to the hotel room. It continued to rain outside; we watched Nowhere To Hide, an execrable made-for-tv movie. Well, more like a made-for-nobody-to-watch movie. Then we walked to the post office (which is shut from 4:30, so we walked back to the hotel room, and then, finding that existence too drab to bear for a moment longer, went to the Suria Sabah mall and sat in the bookshop for a couple of hours, where I tried to read every "... for Dummies" title I could find, along with The Dragon With A Girl Tattoo, which unfortunately pastiches The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo so well as to be practically unreadable itself. Which is an achievement, of sorts.

Once we'd made it through that excitement, we descended through the Suria Sabah mall. As well as having been built on gargantuan scale to no good purpose (unless you think it's good to build an enormous shopping mall that contains hardly any shops and is only good at blocking the view from the observation point on Signal Hill), the architect put all the down escalators at one end of the building, as far as possible from where all the shop units that are open. I suppose we should be grateful for the exercise opportunity that we have been blessed with, but when all you want to do is get out and go back to your vaguely depressing hotel room, it's hard to be all that thankful.

As with yesterday, we ended up at Little Italy, an Italian restaurant in the ground floor of the Capital Hotel. I think we've now had at least four meals in this place in the last three days, partly because I don't fancy schlepping to the other end of Kota Kinabalu and hunting for a place that serves vegetarian food as well as chicken and beef, and partly because it was going to be tiresome to go to the Choice Halal North & South Indian restaurant which is next door in the other direction, beause the main choice seems to be exactly when and what the waiter will choose to tell you is not available from the menu.

So in summary, the things to do in Kota Kinabalu are:

go somewhere else,
go to the mall and eat doughnuts,
go to your room.

Evidently I've got to remember to avoid visiting resort towns in the off-season.


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