Monday, May 11, 2015

Gaya Street Sunday Market (Part 1) @ Kota Kinabalu [Sabah, EastMalaysia, Borneo Island]

One key advantage of staying at Jesselton Hotel was its immediate proximity to Gaya Street Sunday Market; the above photograph, taken right outside the hotel's lobby, shall provide an accurate depiction of how close we were!

The popular weekend market didn't take up the entire Gaya Street (originally known as Bond Street) but it still measured about 350 meters with spillovers to the arterial streets.  

190 photographs - that's the amount of pictures i have in the folder and there's no way i would upload all of them in one single posting! It would be too tiring for me! 

I would keep things short and sweet to the best of my capability and i think it would be best to prepare yourself for a photo entry as i doubt i can articulate, in detail, for every single photo! 

For example, a bracelet with crystal beads shall remain as it is. I have no idea where the crystal beads originate from although it did feel rather heavy.

Wooden plaques with Arabic wordings; i have quite a number of close Muslim friends and would have loved to purchase this for them except for one good reason. I don't read Arabic and am afraid i would buy the wrong thing!

Flowery shirts - i used to have a similar one in dark blue that was, at one time, my favourite shirt for almost a year. Now that i am older, i don't think i would want to catch myself wearing one.

Organic herbal tea and handmade soaps - in case you are wondering, as i was, the orang utans have no bearing in the making of the herbal tea and soaps and was placed there to emphasise the origin of the items; made in Borneo Island.

Tattoo Henna - i had a tour mate who was so obsessed with the temporary tattoo; she was asking the tour guide if there's any place in Kota Kinabalu (KK) that sells the plant-based ink.

Beside foreigners like myself, the Sunday market was equally popular with the locals and this can be seen from the products that were sold. Tell me, which sane traveller would buy a spade tool when he /she is overseas!?

Saw these superbly adorable tees and didn't hesitate to buy for my niece and nephew at RM 15 apiece. Actually, they can be found in quite a few locations within the market but quality could differ.

For quality wear, look out for the label that said "North Borneo".

Non mechanical foot massager.

Initially, i thought the green cakes were pandan-flavoured but it turned out to be horlick-flavoured. The bad thing about travelling in small group (two in my case) is that there are lesser people to share the food (and fats).

Glass accessories.

Some stalls didn't even have a structural stall with just a mat laid out on the floor to display their wares. Hm... i don't understand why there was a sign for new year offer when it was already April.

More clothes, flowery if i may add.

Wood roasted Arabica coffee powder! I should have purchased a kilogram (at RM 28) for my dad although i didn't remember smelling the perking wafts of coffee aroma.

I wouldn't buy any raw eggs too when i am travelling. They should be real i think even though the packing method was quite unconventional.

Herbs; some of them have funny sounding names like "hit won't die", "sweet urine grass" (guess it is for diabetic patients) and one known as Siti Fatimah!

Those residing in Malaysia and Singapore would be aware of this herb known as Tongkat Ali, renowned in Malaysia for its aphrodisiac properties!  RM 8.00 sounded quite cheap! Only problem was how to identify its genuinity.

Think the open-mouth monkey thingy was an ash tray.

Coming to the first of three intersections; this particular one had a fountain where people can sit around, in the hot sun. At least it's better than not having anywhere else to take a breather. If you are lucky, you may even be blessed with the occasional spills from the fountain.

Key Chains and they cost only RM 10 for 8 pieces! I didn't buy any as i had planned for a visit to the Handicraft Market which was said to be the place to buy souvenirs!

Grab yourself a pair of sunglasses to keep off the glare from the powerful sunlight!

Knowing my mum, she would not hesitate buying raw sweet potatoes and corns back to Singapore! Actually i would too; i do remember lugging back seven ears of corns from Cameron Highlands.

Sepak takraw balls, straw hats and i am scratching my head at the longish item; is that a traditional fish holder? Those that can be placed in water and act as a holder while you continue to wait patiently for your next catch.

Most noticeable was the Sabah Tea! There was a 3-in-1 milk tea version that tasted really delicious but i didn't buy any as the price was tagged at almost S$10 a pack!

Caps and sunglasses - perfect combination for one to wear on a sunny day.

More souvenirs - if you are buying a lot, you can still bargain! Do choose carefully as some of the key chains have faded markings.

Kuih Cincin - don't be turned off by their unappetising dry appearance; they actually taste rather good.

Kitchen ware; once again, this would be Mum's playground. Have i ever shared that she went looking around for a wooden spatula once when she was overseas?!

Buddhist figurines for sale.

Fake snakes - do you know that i have a severe phobia of snakes and when i was younger, i could not even bear to lay my eyes on rubber snakes!? Things have improved somewhat; i dare to play with rubber snakes now. Hahaha.

Baskets of interesting trinkets; moon stones, rings made from shells, brass and even yak bone.

Plants for the house; i like having greenery in my house and office although whatever plants that i laid my hands on have yet to suffer a good fate. Yes, even cactus.

Fridge magnets!

I am glad my family live in an apartment; if not, my mom would definitely buy the guava sapling and plant it in the garden! I might relent (and plant it at the patch of grass behind my block) provided there is a pineapple custard apple sapling!

Lo Han drink to quench your thirst in the hot weather.

Life is an ever-learning journey - i didn't know the items with feathers are dreamcatchers until recently! According to Konrad J. Kaweczynski, "Only good dreams would be allowed to filter through... Bad dreams would stay in the net, disappearing with the light of day."

Bags of snacks!

It didn't dawn on me initially that these were Chinese Yo-Yos (扯铃); i honestly was under the impression they were oversized plastic goblets!

More hats; this time, more choices for the fairer sex.

Seashells booth - have your pick among the many available; from big to small, from smooth to spiky, from white to purple and from shells to corals!

Nice wind chimes - those thinking of a beach theme for your house can consider hanging these up! Are you one of those who feel that hearing the clinking of the shells would be therapeutic? In the middle of the night, it can be quite scary!

Dead horseshoe crab that would serve as a decorative item in the house. Well, i would prefer to fork out my hard-earned money on seashells than on a horseshoe crab!

Malay words can be quite easy to guess as some of them draw references from English; Jus is juice, avocado is well avocado. Mangga is mango or jackfruit ah? *scratches my head*

Rock painting! I am in the midst of buying an apartment myself and i guess it would be good for me to start sourcing for inexpensive art piece overseas!

Honeycombs! Could not remember why there was a pail full of them although there was a possibility the stall was selling wild honey.

Handbags - Uncle style!

Sabah durians; they were about the size of my palm! Damn, i have been craving for durians and the season is coming soon! Kilkon, let's grab a few while you are here in Singapore!!

What's interesting from this stall was the poster display promoting the product line of a species of lime directly translated to leprosy lime (which was actually kaffir lime). For more info, check out

Bags of childhood memories - i count the jewel biscuits as one of the most memorable snacks when i was younger; like many kids, i would pinch off the colourful sugary tops and eat them whenever my parents weren't looking! 

With an outlook like a bird's nest, i believe this was a kind of natural sponge for your body. Note the word "believe" as i could be wrong. 

Pots of blossoming flowers! Funny I was cursed with the death touch as my dad was an accomplished gardener when we were living in the village. 

Standard Malaysian souvenirs that could be found in many states; as usual, the beautiful Petronas Twin Towers were often represented.

Had that musical vibe in you? Get the set of traditional brass drums! 

Known as Kulintang, an ancient musical instrument set that came in a row of nine brass drums (gongs) of various sizes, the two men managed to work out a melodious tune that stopped quite a number of us in our tracks. 

Even after his feeble attempt to max out the volume of his huge ass speakers, the poor music CD seller right opposite could hardly compete with real life music.

Precious stone rings - this accessory would likely diminish with the passing of the older generation. 

Aquarium tanks! Like Chatuchak Weekend Market at Bangkok, it's also common to find live animals for sale at Gaya Street Sunday Market.  

More on that on a later post. Remember, i am not going to squeeze all one hundred and ninety photographs in this post!

Not your conventional dustbin. 

Ready-to-eat Sabah rock sugar bird nest - given my affection for this sweet, supposedly nutritious product, i surprised myself by not buying a cup to try it out! :(

More handmade soaps - what attracted my attention was its sea cucumber soaps; said to be moisturizing and loved by the Japanese! 

More fruit saplings! Okay, Mangga is Mango and in this photo alone, there were seven different varieties! Even rambutans have three types! 

Sarong - define as "a garment consisting of a long piece of cloth worn wrapped round the body and tucked at the waist or under the armpits, traditionally worn in SE Asia and now also by women in the West." on

Wood products, rattan products and even bamboo products. Talking about bamboo, quite a number of friends have commented they could no longer find bamboo poles (for laundry) for sale in Singapore! Anyone knows any shop that still sells them? 

You have the live and kicking animals at the Sunday Market and you also have the dead kind; one that was stripped of all feathers. This would have failed NEA stringent hygiene assessment, especially when they were placed under direct sunlight! 

Shoes; the garments for your feet. 

Customised signboards for your office cubicle / room; quite a unique gift for family and friends although some might find it a lil bit too tacky for them. 

I am unsure what these were but i had that nagging assumption they could be bags of traditional herbs to treat minor ailments. 

However, next to the bags were baskets filled with pieces of wood! Hm... if they are indeed use as medicine, do i steep them in hot water or eat them like a biscuit? Any friends with a good grasp of Bahasa Malaysian care to advice?

For part two, click here!


Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu,
Sabah State [Borneo Island]
East Malaysia

Operating Hours
Sundays Only - 6.30 am to 1.00 pm

For the itinerary of my 7 days, 6 nights Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) trip, please click here.

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