MOSQUES AND MUSEUMS IN KOTA KINABALU. BORNEO, MALAYSIA.

OR MEETING NEW FRIENDS AND BEING FISHY.

Alert: Don’t read this if you don’t want to read what sounds like a pissed and sarcastic and moany tourist guide. One who kinda rambles on in a disgruntled way.

I don’t ever remember having a breakfast in this visit to KK. It’s most odd as I see no mention in my journal at all. Usually ‘oh it was beautiful with soft scrambled eggs blah blah blah’ or ‘It was fucking disgusting sweet bloody noodles again’. Here however zero. So the next morning I may or may not have partaken in breakfast that was maybe unmemorable. My special trick apu was going to the local government tourist office. Get your free map and have them circle places you will be interested in. Maybe then have some breakfast? No it’s still not coming to me. Then go to your first mosque (for there are many) and have the cab wait for you will be there for five minutes if you don’t want to enter and pray. The first one was on its own lake by the sea but kind of soulless. Immaculate and crisp outside and in. They are quite strict Muslims there so they didn’t appreciate my craning my neck for a peek but you need to check the interiors are worth covering up for in the modern ones. The old ones obviously are much like churches. The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a thing of wonder and magnificence but the ones here, nah, not so much.

Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu

Next port of call their State Museum. This truly is well worth a quick cab ride for. It’s hysterical! Not being mean but it is the most bizarre museum I have ever been to and I’ve been to a lot trust me.

I got my ticket from a ticket box by the museum shop which seemed it could have more stuff than the museum itself. The place was empty as i went in. On entering the museum you are confronted with its star, a skeleton of a whale, or to be exact a Bryde’s whale. I had thought that this was some kind of Eocene Basilosaurus (technically I never thought that, just that it was a dinosaur whale of some kind.) I never thought that there was such a drama and such pride about this big skeleton.

The whale had been beached and all the local fishermen came out to keep throwing buckets of water over the poor animal until they could push it out with the tide. Sadly it did the thing they always do and came back, and finally died. Guess they either have their navigation screwed or they just want to die there. They stripped the flesh off its bones methodically after they had transported it to the museum and had to dig a deep, large pit for the flesh and organs. Then it was reassembled in it’s pride of place and is certainly a big fing.

However the displays around make for a bit of a silly looking exhibit which is a shame as it’s noble in content. They sadly have used very dated dummies to show nurses garments through history and exhibits of stiff strange surgeons doing unspeakable things to their anaesthetised patients. Bizarrely they were mostly very white and possibly from the 50’s. This job lot of scary mannequins did come in different colours but they were scandalously stereotypical, and not very PC these days over here.

The tragic look on this leopards face and its chubby paws nearly made me cry
Maybe they should have heeded the sign they placed there.

When going upstairs you reached the poor tatty natural history section which made my stomach lurch with horror. The low light mostly because they hadn’t changed lightbulbs, made for a grisly macabre scene of slaughter. I rushed from there to find something more interesting and less dusty and disturbing. Their ethnological section was rather sweet with dummies in paddy fields and getting wed and a farmer ploughing the land. There was a poster of their famous Malaysian Turali, a musical instrument played by blowing the pipe through nose instead of mouth. I wondered if a combo of this and Mongolian throat singing could be the next thing?

The Jade Dragon Wreck.

This section made up for some of the dodgier bits of the museums collection. This is their super cool find of Long Quan ceramics from around 1300. They somewhat boastfully say it’s “One of the most unique discoveries ever” Not sure about that but they had been more lavish and up to date in its display Great glazes and forms for the massive storage jars that I like especially.

Bathroom ceramic? was it really meant for that?

Feeling mean for having sniggered my way around the medical section I made an effort with the ceramics, I checked out the large tubs with that beautiful ‘jade’ glaze which they had displayed in both modern and sort of Victorian bathrooms. I doubt very much that anything so priceless could be used thus and it felt more like a branch of IKEA to be honest. Anyhow, the huge pots and their amazing dribbled glazes were indeed magnificent! Some opium pipes finished this section in case you needed a quick smoke.

Now I met a lovely girl from the Philippines which was ironic since I just came from there and we had agreed to meet up after going around the museum. This was her first time travelling alone so we hit it off as she is a bit of an anorak like me. She was lovely and also wanted to share a cab onto the State Mosque and as she had a local sim card in her phone so she had become more lovely. (I still hadn’t clued into this as I didn’t want anyone screwing with my new phone after the Cambodia trip) We were the two musketeers!

While looking at some tatty old cars I started to get separation anxiety. She seemed to have disappeared. I walked on to their village setup down a twisty path feeling more and more uneasy. I couldn’t really enjoy anything at that point I was seriously worried about getting back to my hotel.

Traditional village with an artisan busy on her mobile phone when I entered!

Off I trotted to the ‘Authentic Malay Village’. I looked at the charming raised huts over a small lake and even went up the stairs into one to see a woman immediately pick up her tools for making traditional jewellery when she notice me enter and was disturbed from messing about on her her mobile phone. That already set the tone, how could I possibly believe in this tableau now? It was ruined. I was awakened now to the fact that people in villages here all had bloody mobile phones, there was no romantic idyllic pockets of untouched simple lives it was all smoke and mirrors.

Little village over and done with now, I humped back in a disillusioned way. I had probably lost Alyana and the museum staff were an unhelpful bunch. Luckily as I was thinking of walking back I heard her call out to me. The relief was huge, I barely recognised her as it had been so long since I had seen her dammit! She neatly ordered a cab and we agreed on the State Mosque to visit next. We stood in the burning sun making arrangements for later then our Grab cab arrived and we sat in fantastic icy air until we arrived. With a cursory look around and a peak in at the beautiful water feature in the entrance, and the bits that were in the shade we decided we had given it a statutory ten minutes look and agreed to bugger off to our respective hotels to shower and siesta (don’t think I even had lunch that day) and meet later at the night fish market. See you next time there.

OVER AND OUT FROM FIRST DAY AT KK!

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