After 26 hours of non-stop travelling, 3 “breakfasts”, hours of interrupted sleep intermingled with random TV shows, we finally arrive in the lovely city of Kota Kinabalu (KK). But please allow me take a detour to discuss my trip here. Firstly, when we landed in Hong Kong, we were nicely greeted with Asian food galore. We were really excited about having a nice Chinese breakfast. Unfortunately, others were also thinking the same thing and the place was a sea of people, with no where to sit and long line ups. Welcome to Asia! The other unfortunate thing was the food here was a lot more expensive than I expected. I understand the weak Canadian dollar is partly the reason but given food in Asia should be super cheap, I was disappointed. Secondly, despite airplane food being airplane food, I was quite content that I had rice, fried noodles and cup noodles throughout my flight. Something about these comfort food items made my journey more bearable.
Back in KK, we head off to our first stop – lunch with the family at City Mall. The traffic was crazy as I remembered KK to be. It was good I already had regular food intake during my trip here so I was not super hungry. We finally arrive at the “5 star Hainanese Chicken Rice” restaurant and ordered a table full of delicious BBQ duck, BBQ pork, chicken, tofu stews, and local greens. I especially liked the fried egg and shrimp dish where the egg tasted like tempera. Of course I had to enjoy this tasty food with a refreshing cup of iced Kit Chai (local plum and lime drink). After some haggling (I had help – I didn’t actually haggle – my achilles heel), I got a phone case for my new phone before we left the mall to face some more traffic – yay!
We arrive at Aaron’s Grandpa’s house with a very nice surprise. As a “newly-wed” (I know it’s been a while but this trip is basically a continuation of our wedding), we were supposed to have a “new room”, so the family had redecorated and refurnished one of the rooms just for our stay! It was so beautiful and it was even in our wedding theme colour! The main lead for this project was one of Aaron’s aunts who works in the hotel industry and is into interior design and it definitely shows! It was also so nice to finally have the chance to shower and freshen up after hours of travelling.
It was the Winter Solstice today and in the lunar calendar, this is a very important day. It’s even more important than Chinese New Year, apparently, for family to get together and celebrate. And of course, celebration means a big feast, so we are again greeted with plates of good food including more chicken and BBQ duck, fish, local greens, and a delicious braised pig feet. To end it all off, we had some local pineapple which was, as expected, crisp and sweet. After dinner, the adults just enjoyed some time catching up and playing gin rummy and the kids played. Me, being a child at heart, hung out mostly with the kids. There was a toddler amongst the group and it was so nice to see the older children watching out for him. Growing up with few (i.e. one) siblings/cousins around me, it was very different to see the interaction between the children here. After one of Aaron’s cousins showed up with some more food – roti canai, which of course I had to have some, my eyes were starting to feel super heavy and it was time to retire for the night.