This is going to sound cliché.
Stress? Too much pressure from wherever you are right now? Just want to tear up all the paper in front of you and make a wild escape to a sunset paradise, with pure beaches, soft white sand and swim in between colorful fishes in a marino world underneath the water? Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, would be your ideal destination.
As one of the less well-known costal city with all the things Koh Samui, Koh Tao, or any other Kohs can provide, Kota Kinabalu is where you can avoid all the drunken foreigners and crazy wild teenagers taking their grad trips and ruining your lovely alone time by the beach. Located on the east tip of Malaysia, cheap, direct flights can get you there everyday of the week and you can truly loosen the nerves you have been cracking for a long time.
The city is mini. Mostly are hotels and shops. But that’s not why we come here for. Taking a boat that runs all day from the port, you can easily get to any of the three gorgeous islands–Gaya, Manukan and Sapi, in the “Tunku Abdul National Park”. Plenty of good facilities can be found here with not that many people cramming the beach. Snorkeling is a must-do. With countless beautiful sea creatures only steps away from the shallow water. And one mistake I made was not bringing a waterproof bag for my camera or cell phone. Did not realize that until the Chinese family next to me took gorgeous photos and tried to show off to me.
The only that is truly annoying about this place is the pricing of alcohol. Because Malaysia has a large Muslim base, alcohol is strictly controlled and the government put up the tariffs so high that it almost seems ridiculous to buy a beer here. At least the delicious and fair-priced sea food everywhere made up to the disappointment. Tiger shrimps the size of your hand, with a special butter style cooking. The richness of the milky flavor gives the seafood an interesting but delicious twist. Crabs are so cheap here that you would regret if you did not order like 20 of them. Some random fishes that you have never seen are also available for some adventurous try-outs. At least as a Chinese like me, nothing excites me more than eating something I have never seen hahaha.
Oh did I mention? Kota Kinabalu also has one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. So next time you feel like a “beachy” but more chilled and spiritual holiday, put Sabah on your list!