June 17, 2013

[Kota Kinabalu Travel Series] Shopping and Souvenirs to Buy

Traveling is not complete without shopping!

And I intentionally made this entry the last of my Kota Kinabalu travel series. You can read the rest of the stories here, and a quick guide here. 

Our tourist guide admits that shopping is not the main attraction that Kota Kinabalu is offering to its visitors, but that doesn't mean they do not have anything to offer. From gadgets store that offer cheap stuff, to specialty shops, outlet stores and chocolate factory, they have it in Kota Kinabalu. 

Kompleks Karamunsing

The Kompleks Karamunsing is like a Greenhills Shopping Center in Manila. There are stalls that sell really cheap gadgets, clothes and knick knacks. You can also find Forex Center here that offers good rates. 

Click Read More to know the places to go and things to buy..

Bata store. 
Bata means kid Filipino. 
I wonder if it has the same meaning in Malaysia
but this store sells items for kids. ;)

A quick view of the shopping center. 

I found a good souvenir shop here that sells items like shirts, frames, key chains and postcards. The center has also brand outlets (like Giordano), ang even fast food chains - KFC is the most popular. 

Suriah Sabah

The Suriah Sabah is what I can call a high-end mall in Kota Kinabalu. It is situated near the hotel where we would supposedly stay. It has outlet stores like Mango, Skin Food, GNC, Tony Moly, etc. 

Marjorie and I found a treasure in this mall in the name of Brands Outlet. It is like an outlet store that carries different brands of clothing at really cheap prices (from 10 RMB). 

Check this out. It reminds me of the malls in Manila. 

We also found a grocery store which sells local and imported products. You will never feel home-sick. We found some good stuff like nuts, white coffee and local snacks. Unfortunately for me, while I was at the counter, I was surprised that my wallet was missing. I was supposed to charge my purchases using a credit card, but they only accept card for purchases more than 60 RMB. My intention is to dispose my RMB bills so I decided not to proceed with my purchases. I felt so stupid thinking I lost my wallet when I found it in my other bag back in the hotel. Bop me.  

Here's Marj and I exploring the aisles. 

Fanta! I missed!

The Cocoa Boutique

This is one place that you should never miss to see! Think of designer chocolates in different flavors, shapes and sizes. You can even try to make very own. 

The Cocoa Boutique has a lot of interesting chocolate flavors to offer like their most Chili Chocolate, and fruits filled chocolates like Durian.

I like the taste and kick of Chili Chocolate, but I prefer to buy something that will be a lot more interesting to my colleagues. I bought these Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. I love that they have these as Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf no longer sells this kind of chocolate.

 And so I shopped! 

If you buy more chocolate packs, they would even 
put them in this fancy box. 

I mentioned about my money boo boo in this blog post. Here is the story.. I didn't have any money in my wallet when I traveled from Manila to Kota Kinabalu. I was hoping to withdraw money from the airport but Terminal 4 doesn't have ATM machine. How unfortunate - so I just counted on my credit cards. 

When I was about to pay for my purchases in Cocoa Boutique, it appeared that they had issues connecting to the bank. Blame the phone line. I wish they can do manual transactions and do card verification over the phone (something that we did before when I was handling a store and we didn't have credit card terminal yet). But I couldn't blame them. It could be the heavy rain that day. 

The store do accept foreign currencies (Philippine Peso and US Dollar) but of course, exchange rates can be crazy. They accept Php20 = 1 RMB (which should only be around Php13ish). So blogger friend, John was rich enough that day to pay for my purchases in Peso (thank you John!). Upon doing the math, I realized I lost around Php600 for that exchange rate. Lesson: always make sure you have money when traveling. Do not just rely on credit cards - even if your accounts are current, terminal connections can bring you down. 

The good thing is, I was able to use my credit cards for more shopping in Kota Kinabalu. 

During our last night, expect that we had a hard time packing our bags. We were planning to go to the Sunday Market, but I felt that I had bound with time and I hate the idea of running after the call time. So we decided to stay in the hotel. 

I wanted to try how good their Eggs Ben 
so I requested for one. 
Took a while for it to be served as they 
prepared the hollandaise sauce from scratch. 

It was indeed a good morning!
With John, Raffy, Iris, Earth and Marj.

Then it was time to explore the Pacific Sutera Hotel.
You can read my initial review here

The hotel is near the beach front 
and I can imagine myself reading a book here and 
enjoying a cold drink.

Look how beautiful..

... the pool is!

Marj and I took a dip and we hated that it was cut short as
we needed to go back to pack and check out! 

It was indeed a wonderful tour!  On our way to the airport (which is a good 10 minute ride). Our tour guide and host hosted another surprise for us. He collected our business cards and he asked Sir Jim to pick one winner - they already said that the long legs got it. But I was awaiting for the final announcement. 

When Sir Jim said the name starts with R, and then a u, and a t.. I screamed and went down to claim my prize as he threatened it would be forfeited if I didn't stand up.

I was worried there would be some sort of dare as Felix asked me to read the note first - and here's what the note says:

Wohooo!! Looks like I will need to pack my bag again and book a flight to Kota Kinabalu!

Shopping didn't stop while waiting for our flight back to Manila. I noticed though that most of the items in the airport are double the price from the malls/grocery store. There is a duty-free shop, but it sells limited items - mostly perfume and chocolates. 

My suggested pasalubong list from Kota Kinabalu:

  • White Coffee (sells around 14 RMB per pack in grocery stores)
  • Chocolates from Cocoa Boutique (the store has promo of buy 10 packs for only 100 RMB - original price of chocolates mostly at 18RMB)
  • Scarves 
  • Beaded Necklace (you can buy from the Mari-Mari Cultural Village)

This was my bag and luggage.
I know it was just a 2 days, 1 night affair, but
that's the way I am. I left with only 9 kilos
of stuff and went back with 18 kilos. ;)
That's a heavy memory to bring home.

Thank you to our wonderful tour guides for 
driving us around the beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu!

Thank you Ms. Jen for the fun trip! 

Thank you Team Kota for the chance to get to know each of you
and for the wonderful pictures and memories!

 Thank you to Fleshman Hillard for making me a part of this! Yey!

I hope you find this travel series helpful. I think this is the only travel series that I got to document and complete in my blog (aside from my Hong Kong trip). You can read about my previous travels here

I will see you on my next trip!

Photo Credits: Raffy Pedrajita of for taking beautiful pictures of our trip.

Read my other Kota Kinabalu blog posts: 

Zest Air Flew Us to Kota Kinabalu
Pacific Sutera Hotel: Our Home in Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu: Quick Guide: What to Know, What to Do, Where to Eat
Borneo Reef World Underwater Experience
A Tribal Experience in Mari Mari Cultural Village

Thank you once again to Zest Air, Sabah Tourism Board, Malaysia Tourism Board and Fleishman Hillard for flying us to Kota Kinabalu and letting us experience this awesome trip!

** Planning to go to Kota Kinabalu? Fly through Zest Air from Manila to Kota Kinabalu - flight schedule every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday -  check out Zest Air and Air Asia sites. I might catch you on the same flight! Who knows, I might go back!

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