…that’s what northern Borneo, now Malaysian Borneo, was originally called by sailors back in the day, rightly obsessed with all things wind. Though not new to Borneo, I’m new to Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu (“KK”) has been my first taste of Malaysia’s interpretation of this strange island. My experiences of Indonesian Borneo were of a tumultuous island, reeling from decades of trans-migration, gold mining, logging and, more recently, oil palm plantation expansion. I remember arriving on one of the German-built ferries that ply the Indonesian waters: the sun was blocked out by the smoke, managing only a dull amber, and fires were all around. It had the feeling of a war zone.
KK, on the other hand, is a developed and pleasant coastal city. Not cramped, not too large, located by the sea, excellent and abundant food, host to a progressive society…In short, it makes for a nice jungle launchpad.
I walked up a precarious roped path behind some houses and eventually came out onto a road (the more traditional route perhaps?) The view down to KK at sunset was pretty awesome. Initially it was just me and this scraggy black dog with a tilted head. But as the sky set alight, teenagers and tourists with tripods came up to enjoy it too.