Shopping in Borneo

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Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu

Shopping splurge would bring to mind our spending spree in trendy megamalls of megacities. In the far-flung Borneo Island, shopping might not sounds like running errand at home as you may consider the excessive baggage to bring back. However finding some souvenirs for your loved ones and friends while travelling is regarded as an unregrettable tradition. Therefore, some of the ‘jewels’ here are worthwhile to be taken home as remembrance and gifts. Among the popular items on wanted list of shoppers are toys, bookmarks, postcards, t-shirts, pearls, bags and books.

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Orang utan & proboscis monkey dolls at Pekan Nabalu, Sabah

Major shopping malls in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah include Suria Sabah, 1Borneo Hypermall, Wisma Merdeka and Centre Point. If you just want to zoom into souvenirs, try the local handicraft market near central market in KK, Wawasan Plaza and Star City. Examine the unique design of the locally made handicraft such as sompoton (musical instrument) and wakid (basket with straps). On Sunday morning, take a one hour brisk walk along the famous Gaya Street where hawkers and vendors put up a wide collection of items for sale including shoes, clothes, antics, decors, cakes and pets.

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Market in Serian, Sarawak

In Kuching, Sarawak, shoppers must visit the Spring and Boulevard Shopping Mall for branded goods. For souvenirs, it is best to shop at the Main Bazaar at Waterfront or the historic India Street. Bargain for popular items like batik sarong with the Iban or Orang Ulu designs, key chains, hand woven bags and post cards here. Local fruits and snacks like Kek Lapis Sarawak which is very appetizing are among the hot selling stuffs.

The prices of products are ranging from cheap to expensive, depending on materials and scarcity of the products. All in all, the price tags are still considerably cheap. Do ready for small change if you are buying small number of items and if you are buying expensive goods, credit cards are accepted especially in bigger retail outlets.
Good news for pro-environment shoppers. Malaysian retailers had started going green since 2009. In participating shops, there is a policy called No Plastic Day campaign in several states of Malaysia, including Sabah. Buyers are required to pay RM0.20 per plastic if they opt for it on designated days.
Travellers, are you ready to shop in Borneo? Here we go!
By Willie Ki
Pix: Albert Teo, Joebonaventure Matius & Susan Soong

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