40 responses

  1. "
    Stuart
    March 3, 2011

    I have not come across a place like this where it seems so easy to mix with locals. Looks like a giant canteen! Great stuff as always mate.

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2011

      It’s very easy Stuart, people will just sit down next to you. Though it’s better just to say hello, as not everyone speaks English

  2. "
    ciki
    March 3, 2011

    LOL, the great thing is that you don’t need to be a barter expert to survive the night markets in Sabah/Malaysia. Great advice on slinking close to a local and just pointing out the same thing they order. The great thing about our markets is that they hardly cheat you on price and for fruits, the prices are normally clearly displayed for all to see. Great photos dave!

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2011

      Night Markets are no problem. Though electronics markets I notice a huge difference. I got a price (sticker) that was really high for a simple sensor pump, and just brushed it off. The lady dropped the price by 50% straight away.

      Strange how all the fruit is priced??? That’s a rare thing to see

  3. "
    Liv
    March 3, 2011

    Brava, Dave. Few dare to break away from the crowd, and step outside their comfort zone. I’m glad you’ve chosen to highlight (very gently, I thought) some common traveler behaviours.

    I’d balk at a US$5 meal too, in Borneo. I’d complain mightily if a simple bowl of noodle soup was anymore than RM3.00 (though I do start grumbling at the RM2.50 mark because I remember having a bowl for RM1.80 max). It’s gotta to be one special bowl if it’s priced any more than that!

    Have you considered a local’s take on tourism in their town? I’ve always wondered how the majority feel about having these strange looking folks hanging about their town. I know I was disconcerted when I first began noticing Westerners in my hometown, and being cheesed off when some very lovely historic buildings were taken over by tacky souvenir shops.

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2011

      Thanks Liv. I could have been harsher about the tourist group … there’s a good chance I’m letting it all build up!!

      Very much agree about the prices you quoted. There are more tourist eating in Italian restaurants over here than in the night market it seems. Let alone the local markets. I understand some people just come here for a break, but the fact that there are so many international restaurants here says something.

      Yes, I will do something about a locals take on tourism, a very good idea! I’ve tried in the past, but the problem is one usually gets an auto reply geared towards not causing offence. Usually something to do with “it’s good for business” or “it’s our place, and we are proud to show it off”. However, I will plan something quite different to highlight this subject matter. It’s quite a few weeks off yet. Hopefully you’ll still be around here to read it by then!

  4. "
    wandering educators
    March 3, 2011

    i am SO hungry now. it’s so sad that the tourists don’t really SEE the locals. it makes a world of difference…

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2011

      It really is easy Jessie. All they have to do is sit down at the big table you saw in the photo and the local people will sit down next to you! It’s that easy! But so many just go in groups and couples and don’t feel comfortable sharing table.

  5. "
    Anna’s World
    March 3, 2011

    Great insight into a night market. And the food looks great. I think these are tips you can use anywhere in the world where you are visit. Very good advice!

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2011

      Thanks Anna. Yes, these tips stand by many a market around the world!

  6. "
    Jason
    March 3, 2011

    Come on Dave, you could have cracked out a quick rendition of Bette Midlers ‘Wind beneath my wings’ before leaving the Karaoke bar.

    I love a good night market but always seem to gorge myself on to many fried delights, with eyes always bigger than my stomach.

    The final tip you gave about standing next to a local and watching them pay, before ordering is one of the most important things any new traveler should learn. It’s hard for the vendor to overcharge you once you’ve witnessed the local price, although some will try.

    Liked the black and white image. I reckon B&W always look best with a busy scene.

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2011

      Ha, Jason, trust me there’s someone singing a very loud version of Hotel California on my left side as I write this.

      No matter the food at the night markets, I still get a craving for those deep fried things too. Especially murtabak, no idea why!

      I really like black & white photos, markets I think can look well with them. Likewise if those neon signs are just to bright for color!

  7. "
    Organizare Petreceri
    March 3, 2011

    These dishes look absolutely awesome. Thanks for posting this great article. And I also have to thank you for sharing these amazing tips about the night market. Very useful indeed.

  8. "
    Craig
    March 3, 2011

    Ugh. Not my choice of meal company: scared, complaining greenhorns.

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 4, 2011

      Yer, but it was that or Karaoke. Better to perform human testing on them and claim one’s theory is correct :)

  9. "
    Erin
    March 3, 2011

    Great post! We definitely missed out when we were in KK last year. We ended up way down away from town because we were doing a weekend escape. We just didn’t realize how that escape really was!

    Since there’s an new direct flight between Taipei and KK, we plan to come back again this year and do some diving and more exploring — and definitely check out the night markets!

    Talking about the price on a bowl of noodles makes me think of an article I read recently in Taiwan (which does have tons of cheap priced night market food) that we hold claim to the most expensive bowl of beef noodles (a local specialty) in the world! Apparently, there is a restaurant in Taipei that serves $324 beef noodles! Needless to say, foodie or not, husband said absolutely no on trying that one. LOL

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 4, 2011

      Ha, $324 for beef noodles, I don’t blame your husband for saying no on that one LOL. If you go to KK, then for sure the city center is actually pretty nice. Certainly for SEA it’s very peaceful, well administrated etc. The night market is certainly good fun if you are into lots of food.

      There’s also some diving and snorkeling just 15 mins aways from the port on a couple of islands. So yep, lots to do for you return! Most importantly, no expensive noodles around!

  10. "
    iamthewitch
    March 4, 2011

    What a nice read with some humorous lines in between! :) It looks like you’re getting very well-versed with the local language and customs! Well done! I love the peanut pancakes in your second last picture, have you tried them before? Have fun exploring Sabah and always looking forward to your (mis)adventures! :)

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 4, 2011

      Very glad you enjoyed! Can’t say I any good at Malay yet! Actually I am terrible, but a few words help out :)

      No, I’ve not seen those peanut pancakes anywhere else. So maybe this is another Sabah original?

      • "
        Liv
        March 4, 2011

        Nope, those peanut pancakes are common at markets, and I’ve seen them at some hawker centres. BUT the type varies, depending on the ethnicity of the vendor. Malay vendors favour thick doughy versions (a bit more dearer), while the Chinese vendors will make you thin crepe-like, crispy versions (cheap).

        I know them as Ampang Balik.

      • "
        The Longest Way Home
        March 5, 2011

        Good information Liv! I have to admit that I not a huge peanut fan. I don’t dislike them, in fact I like raw and roasted peanuts. But in food dishes, I tend to shy away. So I generally avoid poking too deeply into anything too peanutty.

  11. "
    Raymond
    March 5, 2011

    Great pix and great indepth article. I was in KK a few years back (I took my PADI course there) and loved gorging myself at the end of the day at that market. Yummy!

  12. "
    Ali
    March 6, 2011

    I’m going to Kota Kinabalu in October with a friend, so I’m sure we’ll check this out. Sounds like lots of fun!

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 6, 2011

      Hey Ali, it’s a lot of fun alright. Get there early if you want to take good photos! Foods great, and it’s on every night!

  13. "
    Juno
    March 6, 2011

    Wow, would you look at that! Food in South East Asia (well I only tasted part of it but still) is insainly tasty. When I think of it, it’s going to take months and months to have all those delicious cuisines.
    Night markets have some sort of power. It’s toxicated..but in a good way.

  14. "
    David Carlstedt
    March 7, 2011

    Great writing and useful information. Hope to experience Malaysia myself sometime. Looking forward to your next adventure

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 7, 2011

      Cheers, and thank you!

  15. "
    Roxanne
    March 7, 2011

    Let me tell you what my diet has consisted of recently:

    jam
    pasta
    popcorn
    jam and popcorn
    pasta and popcorn

    I have yet to try pasta and jam (thank God). And then I stopped at your website and there are these phenomenal photos of food that makes me salivate from thousands of miles away. I would say “thank you”, but I might be too envious to function.

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 7, 2011

      Ha ha. Why, why, why? Are you so isolated you only have popcorn and jam? Odd combinations! If things get to the stage of jam and pasta, I’ll send you a care package!

  16. "
    Rebecca
    March 12, 2011

    Sounds like my kind of place! And of course I’m now starving having seen all those pictures…

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      March 12, 2011

      It’s one of the best I’ve been. Really relaxed too. Not had breakfast yet, it’s making me hungry too!! 😉

  17. "
    Lisa
    October 20, 2011

    There aren’t many candid articles nor guidebooks about KK, and glad I stumbled unto yours. I’m all for cheap but great food! But as for nightlife, any alternative aside from karaoke?

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      October 20, 2011

      Thanks, glad you like it hear. Emmm, you could try down by the waterfront. There are a few non-karaoke style bars there. BED, and the Cock n Bull spring to mind as having live music or the non-traditional kind. There are also a few places open in Kota Kinabalu’s Times Square, Bars, clubs etc. It depends on the day of week. Thursday and Friday’s are usually lively.

  18. "
    syaiful
    November 23, 2011

    Great post…and such a nice travel blog too…i lived there in KK more for 5 years from 97-2001 during my high school days, such a beautiful and nice city. Have you visited the islands in front of the city?

    please keep on blogging dude, such a long but inspiring journey to find a place we called home :)

    • "
      The Longest Way Home
      November 24, 2011

      Thanks for your comment, and kind words.

      Yes, I’ve been to those islands. Weird ticketing system to get there, but relaxing once there is you pick an island not so crowded :)

  19. "
    Ver
    March 26, 2012

    Hi Dave, is the Night Market at Jln Kampung Air or is it at Jln Fuad Stephens? I’m quite fabbled. :(

    • "
      Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 26, 2012

      Hi Ver,

      It’s at Jln Tun Fuad Stephens Sinsuran. Right beside the docks 😉

      • "
        Ver
        March 26, 2012

        Thanks heaps Dave! Will head to KK soon!

  20. "
    Si Guy
    September 2, 2012

    Thanks for the post on this Dave.. I read it 30mins after checking into the Hyatt and seeing the smoke from my hotel room window. The wife and I ventured down 2hrs ago and although met by many stares rather than conversation (we are a bit of an odd couple to see round here) but was soon chatting with the stall owners over the fish. After much deliberation we decided to eat at ‘night stay’ at the far end of the first row.. wow the best squid I have ever eaten, we decided to take it easy this evening but we will return tomorrow and every night of our stay. It is a little strange to see fish to eat that would be worth £100+ in UK aquatic shops for your marine tank. I am sure we paid over the local odds but I didn’t barter due to the quality of the food. We are both photographers and this is an amazing photo opportunity, I will perhaps post on here again once I have gained more experience there.

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