Kota Kinabalu: Sabah’s Capital City-A A +A
Saturday, October 6, 2012
KOTA KINABALU, or “KK” as it is popularly known, is set between lush tropical hills and the South China Sea in Borneo. It is the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia, and a resort-city of exciting contrasts – vibrant, serene and hassle-free, with modern infrastructures and attractions.
KK traces its beginnings to 1881, as a tiny British settlement named ‘Jesselton’ after Sir Charles Jessel, the Vice-Chairman of the British North Borneo Chartered Company. In 1968, ‘Jesselton’ was renamed ‘Kota Kinabalu’, for the majestic Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, at 4,095.2 m (13,435 ft). Post-war reconstruction of the capital saw major changes to its skyline, coastline and land area. Most of KK is built on reclaimed land.
The JCI ASEAN board (Rey is a member) held their meeting in KK. A welcome buffet dinner was served upon the delegates’ arrival, then a breakfast and board meeting the next morning. Lunch and the launching of the JCI Senate ASEAN Foundation were held at the SHANGRI-LA ARU RESORT.
After lunch, a personalized City Tour was hosted by Yeo Wei and Mimi. We stopped at JESSELTON HOTEL which has the distinction of being KK’s oldest hotel. The SABAH TOURISM BUILDING was constructed in 1916 and one of only three buildings still standing after Allied bombings at the end of World War II. Fully restored, and declared a heritage building, it now serves as a Tourism Information Centre. AUSTRALIA PLACE was where the Australian soldiers camped when they landed in JESSELTON in 1945. This is now a quiet street of print shops, the downtown Police Station, and a popular back-packers hostel. The ATKINSON CLOCK TOWER was built in 1905 (now a heritage building) as a memorial of Francis George Atkinson who was the First District Officer of KK. SABAH MUSEUM’s main building resembles a Rungus Longhouse. A view of KK, the South China Sea and outlying islands can be seen at the SIGNAL HILL VIEWDECK. After dinner, everyone enjoyed karaoke-singing at the bar.
I took a city tour the next day, stopping at TUN MUSTAPHA TOWER (formerly Sabah Foundation Building) - a magnificent building and one of only 4 hanging structures in the world with a glass façade; the KK CITY MOSQUE - built on a man-made lagoon, which creates a feeling that the mosque is floating above the water; PUH TOH TZE TEMPLE - a Buddhist Temple with traditional Chinese roofing and structure (Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy stands at the main entrance of the temple).
KK is a jewel-of-a-find that can outshine the rest because of its proximity to the Philippines. Go and discover for yourself!
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 06, 2012.