We started Saturday off with a free walking tour. Hasif, our tour guide, was super knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The group doing the walk included other Australians, Singaporeans and a few locals from KK. We started at the Sabah Tourism Board building, built in 1918 as a goverment department building that later became the main Post Office. It’s one of three pre-war buildings that survived the Allied bombing raids in WWII.
Our walk then took us to the Pillars of Sabah. This building was one of the other buildings that survived the WWII bombings, but it was eventually destroyed by fire with only the pillars left standing. They were unable to be demolished because of their historical value, and have recently become a fascinating place for public artworks. Currently each pillar has artwork about a Bornean species that is threatened with extinction, with information about the species on a plaque on one side of the pillar and the artwork on the other sides.
Our tour then proceeded past The Jesselton Hotel. Built in 1954, the Jesselton Hotel boasts a rich history as it is Kota Kinabalu city’s first hotel built after the Second World War (WWII). Before WWII, the name Jesselton Hotel was referred to as the town’s quaint timber and tin roofed Government Rest House, located behind the city’s present Kota Kinabalu Police Station. After the war, there was total devastation which befallen Jesselton town, which Sir Herbert Ralph Hone, the Colonial Governor of Jesselton was instrumental in the rebuilding Jesselton. He encouraged a consortium of Chinese Hong Kong businessmen to invest and build Jesselton town’s first modern post-war hotel which was completed in 1954 on what was then Jesselton town’s 69 Bond Street. The consortium owners engaged architects, contractors, builders and craftsmen from Hong Kong to construct one of the city’s first modern concrete building, emulating a Hong Kong 1940’s architecture.
Next we ascended the many stairs to the Signal Hill Observatory Platform. It was important to keep looking down, as there were around five steps where a board was completely missing! We all got to the top sweaty but safe, and were able to admire the views and get a better sense of the layout of the city.
The centre of KK has the jungle-covered hills on one side, and waterfront (much of which is reclaimed land) on the other. The area in the photo above is the only section of flat land. This area, known as Australia Place, hosted the Australian Liberation Forces when they landed here after WWII.
Then it was back down the stairs and along to The Atkinson Clock Tower, the oldest standing structure in KK. This was built from Mirabau timber in 1905.
We were equally as fascinated by this fig tree! The ground was covered in figs, but apparently this species is inedible. I haven’t seen them growing directly from trunks and branches before.
Our walk then took us past one of the gates at the end of Gaya Street, one of KK’s oldest and busiest shopping/eating/market areas.
The Malaysia Monument was erected to commemorate the creation of Malaysia in 1963 through the joining of Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaya.
The North Borneo War Monument was originally built in 1923, but has been added to to commemorate the Australian Armed Forces who died defending Sabah during WWII.
Our walk then took us across to the waterfront, where we were able to check out more market stalls and sample fresh and dried fruits.
I definitely find walking tours a wonderful way to learn about a city from those who know it best. My description here barely scratches the surface. Highly recommended! By this stage it was HOT. Really hot. And humid. We found some drinks and cake, then headed back to our Air BnB to watch some Netflix (Anne with an E) then cool off further in the pool.
What a relaxing way to spend an afternoon! We tried to watch the sunset, but most of it was behind clouds.
For dinner we visited a Chinese steamboat restaurant located in the same complex as where we are staying. I find it hard to believe that we haven’t eaten this way before! Delicious food, thinly sliced, cooked in the herbal or tomato broths that were bubbling away in the middle of the table.