Friday, September 16 (Malaysian Independence Day) – Kota Kinabalu

After a great night’s sleep, we were among the first at the breakfast buffet. Nice spread and attentive service. After breakfast we strolled along the harbour-front and past a vast market area, enjoying watching the local commerce. It was already getting hot! I went for an early swim. I had the pool to myself.
Then we met up with the group for a city tour with our guide, Walter. We visited the former government building, which is a hanging building structure. Apparently its cables are unable to support the weight of modern office equipment so most of the offices have moved elsewhere. It’s a very interesting –looking place though. We all posed in some Orangutan photo-op things, and our wonderful driver repaired the bus’s AC which was on the futz. From there, we proceeded to the City Mosque, a beautiful building, surrounded by a pool of water. It has a blue dome and minarets and is truly impressive. Our next stop was a Chinese Hindu Temple, also very beautiful. There were some lovely gardens around it. The rest of the group also saw some smaller shrines but we had lost track and didn’t find them. Final stop of the morning was at a very interesting museum. We saw local tribal costumes and saw how they were made, as well as touring a traditional village.
Since this is Borneo – head-hunters land – the village included a “skull hut”. Our guide explained that the head-hunting originated with the villagers defending themselves against pirates. Apparently a head also formed part of most bridal prices. Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a delicious thin-crust, garlic-free, pizza. We checked in with the Intrepids lounging by the pool, but we were on a mission to find a source of potassium and had heard that the nearby shopping centre had everything. We wandered there for an hour or so – very crowded. A wide variety of shops, mostly small, from tailors to food stalls, Body Shop and Guardian Drugs. A huge “superstore” that was like a dollar store on steroids. Then it was time to relax and cool off for a while. Dinner was a Chinese meal, with unusual food and lots of good conversation and laughter. Back at the hotel, some folks went to the café for dessert, some to the bar, and others to their rooms to prepare for tomorrow’s early departure.
At about 10:15 we heard fireworks from our hotel room and realized that we had a perfect view from our window. It was a great show, that brought people onto the street below to watch. Super ending for Independence Day.(Click the show below for large view)

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