Kota Kinabalu by Herman (2006)
 

En bref : Kota Kinabalu (autrefois Jesselton) est la capitale du Sabah. La ville est située sur la côte ouest et profit d’une location unique, entre la Mer de la chine du sud et les forêts humides du Sabah. Quelques 400,000 habitants y résident, dont une grande partie des chinois, malais, et bajau, avec une plutôt généreuse portion d’anciens « gitans de la mer », comme les suluk, iaka’an, bisaya, tausug et autres ethnies des Philippines. Kota Kinabalu a été déclarée « une ville des grandes stations de vacances » en 2006. .

 

Histoire

Les origines de la ville de Kota Kinabalu (ou KK, comme nous l’appelons généralement) remontent à l’ère des anglais qui s’installèrent en 1881 sur l’île de Gaya, au large de la ville présente. Ce n’était qu’un poste commerçant, le centre administratif des anglais étant Sandakan. En 1898 Mat Salleh, un rebelle pirate attaqua le poste et le brûlât, et les anglais furent forcés de renégocier avec le Sultan de Brunei pour pouvoir s’installer sur la terre ferme. Le sultan, qui alors régnait sur le nord de Bornéo leur loua les terres en face de l’île de Gaya, un site dont peu est connu mais parait-il qu’il y avait une source d’eau douce et un hameau de pécheurs dans lequel les bajau et autres ethnies de la mer – les anciens gitans de la mer – se réfugiaient de temps à autre. Leurs habitations principales étaient cependant sur les îles au large de la ville présente, aujourd’hui le parc national Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Les anglais établirent Jesselton en 1899, après les négociations avec le Sultan de Brunei. Un nouveau poste commerçant et une petite ville naquirent, appelée dans la mémoire de Sir Charles Jessel, un des premiers directeurs de la British North Borneo Chartered Company en charge de l’exploitation de North Borneo (Bornéo septentrional). La ville grandit rapidement due à la récente complétion du chemin de fer qui liait l’intérieur du Sabah, et ses plantations de tabac et caoutchouc avec la côte. Aussitôt des commerçants chinois s’installèrent, mais Sandakan demeurait la ville principale de North Borneo.

Pendant la seconde guerre mondiale Jesselton fut occupée, comme le reste de Sabah et de Bornéo en général. Vers la fin de la guerre des Alliés bombardèrent Jesselton, et les japonais brûlèrent ce qui restait. La ville fut rasée complètement, facilité par le fait qu’elle était construite en grande partie en bois et bambou, avec des toitures en feuilles de palmier. Seulement l’ancienne poste et imprimerie, aujourd’hui le centre d’information pour touristes, survit, ainsi qu’un horloger, le Atkinson Tower.

Confronté avec l’impossibilité de reconstruire le pays dévasté par la guerre, la British North Borneo Chartered Company céda tous droits à la couronne anglaise en 1946, et Sabah devint une colonie. C’est à ce moment la que Jesselton devint la capitale de la nouvelle colonie, car Sandakan fut également complètement détruit pendant la guerre.

Lorsque Sabah joignit la Fédération de la Malaisie en 1963 Jesselton resta la capitale et aussitôt connut une période de développement rapide, toujours très visible dans l’aspect de la ville aujourd’hui. Jesselton devint Kota Kinabalu en 1967.

Aujourd’hui KK est une cité moderne et cosmopolite, encore plus depuis sa promotion de municipalité en ville le 2 février 2000! Des lois récentes obligèrent les propriétaires des immeubles de repeindre les façades, et de nettoyer les cours et les alentours et le « centre historique » de KK resplendit maintenant dans le charme des années 70, avec des centres commerciaux modernes d’architecture plus imaginée au bords de la ville.

Le vrai charme de KK se constitue de ses restaurants qui ne ferment jamais. KK est un véritable melting pot de différentes cultures et croyances, et on y trouve des Chinois et des Malais, des Bajau et des Philippins, des Javanais et d’autres Indonésiens et immigrés des pays voisins qui cherchent un avenir plus prospère, quelques indigènes et même des européens. Les restaurants à KK sont de ce fait aussi variés et ici un tour de monde gastronomique est tout à fait possible, si seulement vous avez le temps !

Momentanément KK connaît une nouvelle ère de développement rapide et d’énormes centres commerciaux sont construits au nord et au sud de la ville, et les routes sont adaptées à une circulation beaucoup plus importante avec des toboggans qui champignonnent. KK est une ville parfaitement moderne, avec des embouteillages à toute heure, avec restauration rapide et du fast food – oui, en plus de la myriade des restaurants, échoppes et marchés de nuit – banques, grandes stations de vacances et parcours de golf de renommé international. Certains disent que KK c’est une des villes du Sud-Est asiatique qui se transforme le plus rapidement, et y vivant l’on a tendance d’y croire !

KK, avec son infrastructure touristique et son aéroport international est aussi votre point de départ pour ses attractions variées – comme les parc nationaux et réserves naturelles de forêt tropicale avec une biodiversité qui compte parmi les plus riches du monde.

Places of Interest in Kota Kinabalu

Having no historical centre most of KK's attractions are nature based and lie to the north and in the close-by interior (see respective other sections) but there are some places that can be visited in and around town that don't require a day to do so:

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park - the five tropical 'paradise' islands are ideal for a relaxing day at the beach. On Pulau Manukan you find most of the activities and daily BBQs on the beach while on Pulau Mamutik daily SCUBA dives are organised. Pulau Gaya is great for trekking and the adjacent Pulau Sapi offers, just like Pulau Suluk, a quiet retreat away from the crowds but all islands tend to be well visited during week-ends and public holidays and tend to be somewhat overrun by local 'tourists'. To get to the islands you can take a shuttle boat from the KK City Jetty (at KK's northern end) or profit of the offers at the Sutera Harbour Marina or the Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort Marina.

Sabah State Museum - the second museum in Malaysia sports the largest collection of South East Asian ceramics, a small natural history selection, a ethnological part and a time tunnel; the gardens of the museum are interesting with its life-size replicas of various indigenous houses and large collection of indigenous trees and herbal plants.

Tun Mustapha (Yayasan Sabah) Tower - built in 1977 when the area there was still a swamp, signified then the heralding of a new era for Sabah and its people. It is KK's tallest building, standing 30 storeys and 122 meters high. It is a popular photo stop on each KK city tour and now that the revolving restaurant on the 18th floor has been elaborately renovated Sabah's foremost dining address.

Gaya Street Sunday Tamu (market) - every Sunday, from around 5 am to midday Gaya Street (or Jalan Gaya) is closed to traffic and becomes one long, vibrant market where you can immerse yourself in a happy Asian chaos of foods, tools, plants, souvenirs, pets and much more. Most vendors are Chinese and Bajau but if you visit the road behind Gaya Street you will meet more, local Dusuns, who sell their vegetables and other fare. At the same time there is also a market along the beach behind the 'Pusat Kfraftangan' where Bajau sell fish in all shapes and colours. And the place of the daily night market (Asia City) becomes a huge second hand market.

Daily Night Market - in Asia City you will find a daily night market where you can bargain for t-shirts and other clothes, apparel and accessories, and even some handicraft. The market opens until around 10 am.

Pusat Kraftangan or better known as the Filipino Market - along the seafront of KK you will find that a curious building catches your eye: a series of steep gabled roofs and a door underneath each. The Filipino Market! Here you find trinkets and souvenirs, mostly produced in neighbouring countires, at bargain prices. For those who are into pearls and know how to categorise them this is the place to go!

Waterfront (Anjung Samudra) - a couple of years ago the citizens of KK suddenly realised that they were sitting on the sea but the seafront was nothing but a dirty, unkempt stretch where traders liked to hawk and buyers litter... how this has changed! KK has now a modern and clean seafront where you find pubs and excellent restaurants, and the Borneo Trading Post, a souvenir shop with a twist. 

Waterfront (Anjung Senja) - the 'original' waterfront, which was built a year or so before Anjung Samudra. It is in front of the Promenade Hotel and offers a fine selection of halal hawker foods (mostly Malay and Javanese). At Anjung Selera along Likas Bay you will find an even wider selection of mouth watering hawker style foods. Anjung Senja and Selera only open for business in the evenings while Anjung Samudra is open throughout the day.

Restaurants - KK's real charm lies in its many restaurants, from simple kedai kopi to internationally renown theme restaurants. There are simply too many good restaurants, and too many specialities as that I could enter into details here but our feature on Foods in Kota Kinabalu might provide some mouth-watering inspiration.

Nightly Food Stalls - more food! There are various places in and around KK where nightly food stalls pop up, some offering hawker foods and some are extensions of restaurants such as Suang Tain in Asia City. Be adventurous!

Seafood - KK offers some of the freshest and best seafood in the area, being also a major export partner for seafood to Hong Kong and Singapore. Again, you might find some more inspiration in our feature Foods in Kota Kinabalu but I must mention here the Portview Restaurant, the Ocean Seafood Restaurant and Suang Tain (again), then the newly opened Atlantis Bistro and the Atlantis Seafood Restaurant, and also Kampung Nelayan Restaurant. All serve excellent seafood at unbeatable prices and the latter also offers nightly cultural performances.

Shopping Centres - Sabah's oldest mall, and by far the most vibrant and where you find just about anything you'll ever need, be it for a holiday or if you live here, is Centre Point. The other famous mall is Wisma Merdeka, located at KK's northern end. In the centre is KK Plaza and at KK's southern end is Wisma Wawasan 2020. There are another eight shopping malls under construction (March 2006) in and around KK and soon you really would have to 'shop until you drop' to visit them all. Do you really travel all the way to Sabah to go shopping?

North Borneo Steam-Train Ride - once Sabah's railway extended right to where nowadays the KK City Jetty is located (at KK's northern end), and at the moment one still can see the rail track, embedded in the concrete jetty. This was KK's first jetty, built by the English in 1900. Now the KK Railway Terminal is at Tanjung Aru, roughly opposite the airport and daily trains travel all the way to Tenom. This alone is an adventure: the rolling material dates back to the 50's and travelling in the old, open wagons, together with the locals who bring along their chicken and other fares from the market the regular train ride makes for an unforgettable experience! But every Wednesday and Saturday an old English Vulcano Steam Engine is fired up and you travel in colonial style and renovated wagons to Papar and back. This is a romantic journey not only lovers of steam engines should not miss!

Likas Bird Sanctuary - KK is Malaysia's only town with a nature reserve within its boundaries, the Likas Bird Sanctuary. Though birds are not overly active during the day and the mangrove environment is changing due to the fact that the river has been regulated (it used to move with the tides) this is a quiet retreat and a stroll over boardwalks and along the paths is very pleasant.

How to Get to KK & Accommodation

KK with its international airport is easily accessible from most international destinations via Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, or via Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan; there are plenty of hotels and resorts in and around town to suit every budget and need. 

 

for more impressions go to our gallery

KK by air

State Mosque

Famous food courts

5-star resorts in and around KK

 

Other Features on this site: Get to Know the People:

Note: while every care has been taken in compiling the above information the Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd, its authors and associates cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy, omission or alteration that may occur. Please contact us or the respective authors for further details and confirmation of facts and figures. © The Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd, 2005-2006; all rights reserved; reproduction in whole or in part without written permission strictly prohibited.

 

Back to Places Index | Back to Home Page | Deutsche Homepage | Contact Us
Discover Sabah | Experience Sabah | Taste Sabah
Tour Index | Features | Photo Gallery | Links