I love Kota Kinabalu, I love this city's people

I love Kota Kinabalu, I love this city’s people.

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. It was hard to sleep with all the stray dogs crying throughout the night. I wondered what they were thinking. Why were they crying in the middle of the night? I wondered if something sad had happened to them.



Dogs have hearts. And that too, a mother and her four puppies. They were so cute. They were born probably not more than 5 months ago. Also, Muslim prayers start at about 5:30 in the morning, so I couldn’t help but wake up when I heard their voices. When I tried to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t leave the puppies lying there, so I took pictures of them.



Nevertheless, it was a really cool night because the house is made of bamboo and the wind comes through the tubes.



It was so cold at night, I had to wear long pants and a coat. I thought to myself, “I definitely don’t need an air conditioner”.



Going to breakfast with an uncle in the village

When I went out for dinner with Uncle last night, I promised him that we would go out for breakfast together tomorrow morning around 8:00 a.m., so I go out at 8:00 a.m. Uncle was there! So we get into a very old Malaysian car and we leave the village.



First stop: vast rice paddies

One of the most famous and beautiful places in Kota Belud is Rice Field, where you can see rice paddies all over the place, and you can also see magnificent mountains from there, which is very beautiful. Owner of the village took me there.



Many times he would stop the car on the way to take pictures or video and he would take pictures of me too. I felt he is a really kind owner.



Even though it was 8:00 in the morning, it was already about 30 degrees Celsius and really extremely hot.



But where the road was open, I sat down and had my picture taken with the mountains in the background. Thank you so much for being so selfish with me.



Then we decided to have mie goreng for breakfast

After the rice field, Uncle took me to a small food stall. There, I ordered mie goreng. My first mie goreng was very tasty. It was almost like Japanese fried noodles, but with a thicker flavor. It was a delicious breakfast at a small restaurant in the middle of the foothills of the mountain. Some of the neighbors came over and asked the uncle a lot of questions like, “What country is he from?” Everyone was so friendly and I didn’t feel like I was in danger at all.



When we were eating, I was talking about owner’s hometown and asking him about whether or not there were stalls like this when he was little. Uncle is probably about 65 years old, so I think that there probably were no food stalls when he was little. I think he has experienced the colonial period, which is also really amazing. That’s why he can speak English. Because Malaysia was occupied by the British and the Japanese and was a colony, surprisingly.



Back in the village, I took a nap and checked out a little after 11:00

After returning to the village, I took a nap. Because I couldn’t sleep much today, probably because I am not feeling well, and I think I can’t even get into a deep sleep. Besides, I have a sore throat and a runny nose. Maybe that’s why my body was still tired. It was very hot, but I managed to sleep inside the bamboo house, then I packed my stuff and asked my uncle to call me a cab.



I was grateful that even in such a rural area, cabs would come. The price was 10 ringgit (300 yen). Yesterday, I was too lucky; another uncle who runs a hostel helped me and took me to the village. Today, the uncle who owns the hostel called a cab for me and I was able to return to Kota Belud.

At the end of the ride, I gave him my business card with a thank-you message on the back. Then we shook hands and said goodbye.



From Kota Belud to Kota Kinabalu

The cab guy was really nice too, he was wearing a Muslim hat, and he apparently knew the bus stop, he took me all the way to the bus stop, honked his horn, told them to give this boy a ride, and even gave me some money exchange.
I thought he was really kind.

It was an hour and a half, but I was looking at the scenery and thinking about many things in my mind, and before I knew it, we were there. I think this kind of time is really important. After all, it is only when you start looking at your inner self that you can change. Facing yourself is incredibly important. I am glad I was able to do that, even if only a little.


Finally, check-in at the new hostel

Upon arrival, I walk to a cafe and did some tasks there. I was dealing with revisions to a project, or implementing a custom post type using WordPress. Then, after 3pm, I walked to the hostel where I will be staying today and checked in. Today’s hostel is very nice and very energetic. However, the location is very far from the center of the city, so it was a bit of a walk.

I packed up my stuff, grabbed my computer, and decided to go to the seafood market. There, I thought I wanted to eat that fried rice again.



Arrive at the seafood market with Wayn

I was excited to go there today, wondering if he would be there. But the rest of the waiters remembered me, and the lady who made my fried rice remembered me too. I looked at the menu and wondered what I should order, and I saw nasi kampung, which translates to “village”. So I thought, “What is village food? “ I asked him about it, and he told me it was fried rice with dried fish, which Kota Kinabalu is famous for. I showed them a picture of the fried rice I had had at this restaurant recently, and since it was called Seafood, I ordered it. The combination of Coca-Cola and fried rice was really great.



As I was eating my fried rice, Wayn came over to say hi and here he was. That made me happy. He always tries his best to bring in customers. But he is super shy. Really shy person. But really friendly. So it was like I was really wondering what kind of MBTI he is.

He said his English was not good, so I told him, “Your English is better than most Japanese,” and he burst out laughing lol. But it is true.

So I enjoyed my conversation with him. Apparently, he is the owner and captain of the restaurant. That surprised me. He joked that he is Captain America, but I didn’t think he was the captain. So he brought me some fried bananas and sweet potatoes and gave me a free glass of purple juice with syrup added to it. He also discounted my fried rice from 10 ringgit to only 8 ringgit.



Truly it was an incredible experience. I had never had such an experience before in Malaysia, or rather abroad. I have been ripped off before because I was Japanese, but despite being Japanese, he offered it to me for free. It makes you wonder what his beautiful heart is all about. It was a truly wonderful feeling and I was so grateful.

His restaurant must be thriving, I thought. At the same time, I fell in love with Kota Kinabalu even more and learned how to attract people. This is what business and marketing is all about. I really learned a lot from him.

I also felt that “community” is very important, especially in a small town. There are many restaurants, but if I am going to go to a restaurant, I want to go to a restaurant where I know someone or have friends. Regardless of the taste, I want to spend my money there to support them. It was a moment when I felt that way. So I finally understood the importance of community. What he is actually doing. That is the kind of restaurant that will survive and be loved by many people in the future.

Let’s meet again in a few years! he said.

I promised him that I would definitely see him again in who knows how many years! I promised him. If I ever come to Malaysia, I will go to Kota Kinabalu. We were laughing and talking about whether I would come with my wife and children to him this time haha.

But I had something I really wanted to give him, so I decided to meet him again later.

After that, I decided to go to the post office and buy some stamps. It was only one ringgit even though it was an international stamp. Too cheap.



Buy postcards at the souvenir shop and return to the hostel

I have been looking for a souvenir shop and have been to many department stores and smal stores, but have not been able to find a postcard.

In fact, a few days ago, a handwritten postcard was sent to my family house from a hair salon, and they wrote very politely about how my hair was doing and such. That’s what makes me think that they are really good at marketing. I don’t know if they have a manual that says “send a handwritten message as a reminder to customers who don’t come for a certain period of time to capture their hearts,” but I thought it was really nice. So, since it was an opportunity, I thought I’d send one too.



So, since I couldn’t quite find the postcard in the gift shop, I asked the clerk, “Do you know where they sell postcards?” She kindly told me that they were in that building over there. I was really impressed with the kindness of the people in Kota Kinabalu.

I was able to buy the postcards without any problems and went back to the hostel.

Then, I wrote a letter to Wayn at the hostel, stamped his business card, printed his photo, and got ready.



Buy mango juice and go give a letter to Wayn

Today, I went back and forth in the center of the city, probably walking a lot. On the way to a place with many food stalls, a customer was buying a mango juice, so I decided to buy one, too.

It was 3 ringgit for a big size. Too cheap. When I ordered, I was asked, “Do you want sugar?” I replied “No, I don’t need sugar.” I asked her to let me taste it, and she said, “It really tastes like mangoes.” But when I told her that I didn’t want sugar because I didn’t want to gain weight, and she said, “Like that old lady? lol” She said playfully.

She also said that it was 3 ringgit before, and I gave her 5 ringgit and she gave me 3 ringgit back instead of 2 ringgit. In other words, it was 2 ringgit. I told her that was one ringgit too much, and she said, “Two ringgits is fine.”



So, everyone was really warm or very nice. It was unbelievable. It is true that everyone is poor, but is it because they are poor that there is so much happiness there? Does being poor = inconvenience = mutual help? I don’t think it can be summed up in such a simple way, but there are some really wonderful people out there.

I went to Wayn to give him the letter, and he had just called in a customer. So the moment he was free, I went to give him the letter. And at the end we took a picture together, hugged, and said we’ll see each other in a few years, and soon we said bye-bye.



I thought he is really shy lol. But his good nature oozed out and I was glad to have met such a wonderful person.



In fact, the moment I arrived and walked outside, I felt something different

The moment I arrived in Kota Kinabalu and walked outside, I felt it. It was, “It’s not dangerous.” It was really interesting, I felt something like that. Something special. I felt that there were no bad people in Kota Kinabalu, and that everyone was very nice. I couldn’t feel any “negative darkness” in the air. Perhaps that is the reason.

When I walked along the streets, I saw children picking things out of garbage cans and ladies begging for money.

But when I wondered if it was dangerous or not, it was not at all. That was really a surprise or a strange sensation.

Until now, I have never had a very good feeling about local people, and I have always either brushed them off or ignored them. But since coming to Kota Kinabalu, my personality has changed a little, and I feel like I am becoming more friendly and communicating with them a lot. That made me very happy. It was also a new discovery of myself. After all, “environment” is important. Really, really. I have faced this many times. I’m always obsessed with the “environment,” and the “environment” changes everything. Really, really.

When I was bullied in high school, or when I was with someone I didn’t like at a 7-Eleven, I would act like a good person, even cheating and acting like one, and I hated even talking to people.

But now, as I am on this adventure in Malaysia, I have become a person who loves to communicate. I hope I can develop this more and more.

I really think that the environment is very important. Where do you place yourself? The kindness and warmth of the people around you also have a big influence. If the people around you are all nice, you will become a nice person.



Sufi thanks again

My last day in Kota Kinabalu is over. I think that if I had not stayed at that hostel in KL, I would never have met him and I would still be staying in KL. I am very grateful to Sufi for this opportunity. This was another new “challenge” for me and I was able to “ride it out”. I never thought for a millimeter that I would be riding a bus alone into the countryside where no other tourists were.

However, I found myself in a new place, where I could feel not “danger” but “human warmth”. Besides, Wayn, whom I met at the seafood market, and the owner of the village were all places that Sufi recommended to me. I was able to meet them by going there. So I wondered if the friends of warm friends are also warm.

So I am proud of myself and at the same time countless thanks for being able to meet a super connector like him and having such a great experience by believing in him and doing what I did.

Truly, life is a wonder. Sufi, thank you so much for helping me discover something special.