Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Signal Hill Observatory Platform

I reckon one whole day is enough to explore Kota Kinabalu City center. A day and a half if you include Sabah Museum. We've seen much of the sights on our first visit 9 months ago, only two left we were eager to see.

Sitting on a bench, Signal Hill. Waiting for the sunset.

Morning of February 12, Shervin and I picked up my sister Gabe and Nadge from Kinabalu Daya Hotel. Before anything else, all of us needed to exchange our dollars with ringgits. It took us a while to find a money changer booth. Approaching Chinese New Year, some establishments open late and a few don't do business at all. When we did, we only exchanged a small amount for the rate wasn't good.

Next on our agenda is to head to the Sabah Parks Office, which is located along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens ('jalan' is street in Bahasa Malaysia) across the Handicraft Market. We will be pitching a tent and staying overnight on Pulau Mamutik the next day, and to do so we must secure a permit from the ranger-in-charge.

Unfortunately, it was closed when we got there. Perhaps because it was a Friday (a non-working day for Muslims) or the staff might just be on a Chinese New Year holiday.

We got worried about not being able to camp. But we couldn't do anything then, except wait until we get to Pulau Mamutik the next day so we can ask the admin.

Since the handicraft market (Pasar Filipino) is nearby, I asked Gabe and Nadge if they wanted to purchase some souvenirs. They agreed to peruse the goods. Gabe and I kept conversing in Tagalog. And because of this we easily spotted Filipino merchants (a lot of them playing Wondergirls' Nobody on repeat) - and they gave us huge discounts!

Left: Soon-to-be-mom backpacker buying baby stuff already at the Handicraft Market. Right: When in Malaysia, must eat Mee Goreng!

After shopping, we had mee goreng ('mee' means noodles, 'goreng' means fried) for lunch at Restoran Mars, also located along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens near Sabah Parks Office. RM4 for a plate good for two. We loved it! Not too greasy, and with lots of veggies. With our tummies completely satisfied, we walked back to our respective accommodations for a short afternoon nap.

The four of us met up again at 4:00 PM. This time in front of Summer Lodge, where Shervin and I were staying. We scheduled Signal Hill late afternoon so we could watch the sunset from there. The mighty sun was still high up so we decided to have an afternoon snack. We wanted to have something light, but the chicken satay (50 sen a stick) sizzling on the grill looked very inviting at Kedai Kopi Kun Hin, so we ended up ordering them with rice. We finished off our meal with glasses of insanely sweet iced coffee.

Left: Shirt sold along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens. Right: Iced coffee, our energy drink for the day.

At quarter to 5, pumped up with sugar rush, we started strolling toward The Atkinson Clock Tower. The tower was built to commemorate Kota Kinabalu's first district officer, Francis George Atkinson, who died at the early age of 28 from "Borneo Fever" (now known as Malaria). The tower was once utilized as a lighthouse. It has survived World War II aerial attacks and is now one of the oldest buildings in the city.

Atkinson Clock Tower.

How to get there? From Jalan Gaya, walk to Jalan Balai Polis (I suggest you grab a city map upon arrival at the airport). The street is called so for a reason, the police station is sitting on this street. Facing the station, the tower should be to your right. It's just 15.7 meters tall so don't look too high up. And depending on where you're standing, it's partially obscured by trees.

From the tower, a flight of (200+) stairs will lead you up the hill. You'll find a concrete road there past a dirt parking lot. To the left, uphill, is the way to the Signal Hill Observatory Platform. No need to hire a cab! A 20-minute leisurely stroll shall take you there.

At one point the road branches into two, do not turn right. We did such mistake, and ended up being chased by guard dogs of some private property. If not for Nadge who did not run away, but advanced towards the ferocious canines and kept shouting "what?!" in response to the loud barks, we couldn't have left the area alive.

A view of Kota Kinabalu City center and the sunset.

With the word 'observatory' in its name, it kinda makes it sound science-related don't you think? The platform is just a viewpoint deck, nothing more to it.

It was already getting dark at 6:30 PM, so we started our descent. The road is not lit by street lamps, and there's no sidewalk for pedestrians. Regardless of this, it's a popular path for joggers.

The annual midnight market was on that evening. We're checking it out next.


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lakwatsera de primera said...
April 27, 2010 at 7:48 PM

love the baby shirt, cuteeee.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
April 27, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Yup, sooo cute! It will still be a year before our baby gets to wear that though. Hehe.

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