Since I've taken my traveling desire to a few notches higher the past couple of years, I've learned to adjust myself when it comes to choosing a place to stay. Gone are the days when I look for comfort first, rather I ask for the price first and then whatever convenience a place of accommodation presents are only considered as bonus. I've stayed in hostels wherein the bed bugs and the giant rats becomes your friend at the end of the night. Walls made of thin plywood you could hear headboards banging next room, caused by two lovers indulging in you know what. Mostly these are the 500 pesos and below types of hostel rooms. Going to Kota Kinabalu, a few friends who have been there have already told me that it is a different case there, because there are a lot of cheap hostels that are well taken care of and offers the kind of comfort a traveler needs when he/she is on the road.
My Chinese travel blogger friend Josh and I arrived in Kota Kinabalu at around 6PM and was met with ease at the immigration in total contrast of my Hong Kong immigration experience. The officer who examined my passport was a Malaysian who speaks Tagalog fluently. He was asking me "May kilala ka dito?" (you know somebody here), "May tutuluyan na kayo dito?" (you already got a place to stay here?"), standard questions immigration officers asks to foreign visitors. It's no wonder how he can speak Tagalog fluently since there are many Filipinos by way of Jolo, Sulu living in Kota Kinabalu and others are scattered across Borneo. Well, the Eastern part of Sabah used to belong under the rule of the Sultanate of Sulu and it is until now a disputed territory between the Philippines and Malaysia.
We took a cab that costs 30 Ringgits from the airport into the city center since the bus stops plying the airport-city route by pass 6PM. It was a short cab ride into the town where we walked towards Jalan Gaya where we originally looked for Lucy's Place - another decent, comfortable cheap backpacker hostel that our friend Gael recommended to us. We were starving so we decided to eat at a corner eatery manned by kind individuals of Indian descent. We asked one of the ladies there the direction to Lucy's place and she answered us back in "Tagalog Kayo?, marunong ako Tagalog konti lang" then she went on to point out the direction to us in both English and Tagalog. After ordering Nasi Goreng and Mee Goreng (fried rice and fried noodles) we proceeded on our search for a place to stay.
Crossing the road in Malaysia was a bit confusing at first as we've taken the habit of looking first on our left. There was an instance when I saw the road being clear only to realize the incoming traffic was coming from the opposite side, good thing we weren't mowed down by a speeding Proton car. We passed by other food cafe's filled with people huddled together around their tables with their attention centered on the TV showing a football match between Malaysia and Chelsea. You can feel their passion for the sport of football, which is the same feeling we'd want to experience someday with our own Philippine football team. With the Azkals fever sweeping the country, it will very well be only a few years away for us to become as football crazy as our neighboring countries in Asia.
The score was 1-0 in favor of Chelsea but a few minutes later we heard screams of "hurrah" from the people we passed by who were watching the tv in different cafes. I figured Malaysia was able to level up the score. We saw Borneo's Backpackers from afar and decided we should check that place until we come across this small place in Gaya street called "Sensi Backpackers Hostel". That night it was being manned by a small but friendly guy named Jazz, he checked us in after showing the dorm room which consist of three double deck beds, two tables and a couch plus free wifi. The dorm rooms are all airconditioned and the separate common shower room for males and females are clean and almost new.
Since my feet are already aching on its sole, we decided to choose this place. Sensi has its own kitchen where in you can dine and for 30 MYR a night for the dormitory type of room you also get a free breakfast consisting of unlimited tasty bread, butter and fruits plus coffee all you want. On our first night there was another Malaysian guy on the dorm room with us, but on our second night a Chinese couple with two teenage boys joined us in the dorm room. The next dorm room was occupied by a bunch of female Caucasian backpackers, one of which is named Nathalie. I could only muster a "hello" when I bumped into her in the kitchen.
The next morning Tita Tupaz, a Filipina took over from Jazz and she was also very kind and hospitable making our stay there feels like being at home. The other staff is composed of an Indonesian who can also speak Tagalog and another Filipina making communicating way better because, first you wont need a Malay language or a German Translation guide book, if ever the hostel staff speaks Malay and German, both of which are cool language to learn. Anyway our stay at Sensi Backpackers Hostel added to the stress free and enjoyable brief trip to Kota Kinabalu. We took long walks around the city, get back in to take a quick shower then go out again during the night for a marvelous food trip adventure.
Sensi Backpackers Hostel
Lot No 103, 88000 Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Rates of the rooms : Per bed basis
3 double decker bedroom MYR 30.00
2 double decker bedroom MYR 30.00
Rates of the rooms : Per room basis
1 double decker and 1 queen MYR120.00
1 queen bed MYR 70.00
For reservation and availability, please email to: email@example.com