Friday, May 22, 2015

KK Handicraft Centre (Formerly Known as the Filipino Market) @ Sabah [East Malaysia, Borneo Island]

The handicraft centre in Kota Kinabalu (KK) was extremely easy to find as it was just next to the Central Market i covered a few days ago!

It was broken up into a few sections and i was initially under the impression the handicraft centre was separate from the Filipino market which was very much talked about online; turned out the latter was a former name.

I honestly think this tree species should be planted in Singapore as it provided a damn good shade in hot weather! Anyway, the few ladies under the shade seemed to be selling traditional medicine. Legitimate or not, you make your own judgment.

Do look out for the roaming chickens and stay out of their way! They did look as if they have mastered martial arts and could successfully deliver a painful kick anyone who tries to catch them! Other than that, i think they would make for a delicious, healthy fried chicken given their lean muscles. 

The first section was fruits; which didn't generate much interest from us as we just walked from Central Market where there was an abundance of them.

Quickening our pace to pull ourselves away from enthusiastic fruit sellers, we came upon the next section that would have been a paradise for my dearest mum.

Dried foodstuff! Of course we can get them in Singapore although the prices back home can be exorbitant as Singapore, no matter how developed, imports most items.

Sea cucumbers never appeal to me but mum loves the taste and texture! Known as ginseng from the sea, it was said to be extremely nutritious and can command up to a few thousand dollars (S$) a kilogram.

Since i didn't know how to "choose", i had a valid excuse not to buy any!

Looking like normal tree branches, i was wondering if these "kayu tas" were canes used to discipline naughty children. I googled on the name and interestingly, it was known as the "staff of mountain god" and although primarily used to ward off wild animals, it was said to have legendary properties. For more information, click here.

I went to the handicraft centre on two different days and for Sunday, there was a temporary market right behind the "official" handicraft centre building. Nothing of interest and i doubt many of you would be keen to purchase the clothing.

The same place on a Tuesday.

Past the temporary market would be an area locals and tourists alike would traverse, mainly at night for the cool sea breeze; the food section!

For someone who loves to eat, i am careful when it comes to overseas dining as my gut is extremely sensitive and the worst thing to happen on travels is to get sick, as i did on my Maldives trip.

Nothing was ingested from any of the food stalls as i was uncomfortable about the hygiene conditions. The foul smell of rotten fishes and drain water permeated the environment, making it even more difficult for me to enjoy the food.

Connected to the cooked food section was another fresh fruit & vegetables section; frankly, it was getting a bit boring for me as things sold were generally the same. Maybe the rent here, compared to Central Market, was cheaper.

A more permanent structure; "persatuan penjaja bumiputera pantai barat sabah pasar buah-buahan tempatan" is translated to "bumiputera traders association Sabah 's west coast local fruit market"! Don't we all love google!?

Again, nothing exciting.

Except for the "dry corals" which almost made Singapore their home! Alex was about to purchase a few and i had to warn him they served no purpose, difficult to clean and were experts in collecting dust!

Okay, we are finally going to talk about the handicraft centre which was in fact smacked somewhat in the middle of what we have gone through so far and faced the main road. 

First thing that caught our attention; the row of male seamsters. As this wasn't a big scale clothing market, i did wonder why they were here and if you notice, all were male! 

Using old school sewing machines, it didn't appear that business was roaring and most of them were happy chit chatting with one another, with relaxing trails of cigarette smoke accompanying their conversation.

Entering the narrow yet tidy corridors of the "official" handicraft centre! 

True to its name, you can find loads of handicrafts and souvenirs even though you would find it hard to get your hands on a decent sized one for display given the restricted space allocated to each stall.

Most were just small knick knacks (tee shirts, bags, key chains, magnets, ornamental displays etc); many of which could be found at the Sunday Market

For key chains, they have better designs with sturdier quality. For that, be prepared to fork almost double the prices of what you can find in the Sunday Market. Owners were friendly though and i believe you could bargain for better pricing.

Who in the right mind would carry this out on the streets?! I think it was made of real toad skin that was leatherised and then made into a sling purse. 

Those into pearls can also find a wide variety at the handicraft centre, in different colours. 

More pictures of the handicraft centre. In all, i wasn't impressed and could not help comparing it to the handicraft centre we used to have in Singapore, where Chinatown Point is. Most importantly, things sold there were homogeneous and stalls seldom differed from one another. 


A stone throw from Central Market

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


  1. Anonymous4:37 PM

    Responsible travel is about respect for the destinations we visit, including its communities, culture, and environment. Stop comparing the place you visit to Singapore. We don't want to know about it. Whiny!

    1. I do agree with you; respect about the places i visit just like i respect the content by other bloggers. To draw comparison is common on paper, on web and even over a verbal discussion.

      I prefer this over that. I think i like Lijiang rather than Beijing; shopping in Singapore is a disappointment compared to Bangkok etc. How's that even disrespectful?

      Moreover, it's my personal blog space and i decide what i want to write. Period. :)

    2. To be fair, people visit blogs to gain a deeper understanding of a blogger's personal view about a place of interest.

      And how i plan my itineraries when i want to travel to these places of interests is via research of various sources including personal blogs of individuals sharing their thoughts and views; instead of just relying on tourism websites which only describes the place in commercial terms to put them in a better light.

      I honestly do not think this blog is whiny; because i would want to know what can a person expect when he or she visits the place as compared to other places, including their home country. And i would want to have insights on how different it is, as compared to Singapore, or other places.