We came to Kota Kinabalu 10 days ago. Our first night in a city hotel was a nightmare. The room was so small and smelling. Both Rian and I felt in silence. What are we going to do with our 3 weeks in KK? I asked Rian “when we were in Chiang Mai, you had a turn-around. Do you think you would have another turn-around here?” He was still silent.

We went through Airbnb and found the only apartment with a pool (having a pool is our requirement) within our price range. The pictures looked very nice but after our first night we didn’t know what to expect.

The next morning, we headed to 1 Borneo Mall, where our Airbnb apartment was located. It was about 10 minutes by taxi from the city center. We met our Kota Kinabalu Airbnb host, Lisa, in the lobby. She was super nice on our first impression. She greeted us kindly and offered to help us with the bags. When we got out of the elevator, we saw an amazing apartment, spacious, clean and bright, with a fabulous mountain view. We suddenly felt from hell to heaven!

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She patiently showed us around and explained how to use a few things in the apartment (keys, stove, laundry…). I noticed that she really paid attention to details. She prepared all the kitchen and bathroom supplies that you can possibly think of (scissors, laundry soap, and the things you use in your daily life but normally not found in a hotel). There was a first aid kit, a few great books and magazines around. She wrote down all the local numbers you may need (hospital, police, tourism services…). She also introduced the things to do in KK and tours in detail.

She was so helpful that we immediately felt that we are having an amazing host. Then, Lisa offered to show us the pool – we just couldn’t believe how nice the pool, gym, playground area is. We felt so lucky to stay in such a nice apartment.


 1 Borneo

Indeed, we are super comfortable in Lisa’s apartment. It just feels like our vacation home. We have a large living room and a bedroom with two beds, which is much better than just crammed in a hotel room. I can use the nice kitchen to cook. Every morning, I can make breakfast for my family and we enjoy it together at the lovely breakfast bar. It just feels like home.

The above was just the beginning of the story. I emailed Lisa to ask if she wants to have coffee with us. She quickly replied of course, just tell me when. We did almost called her 2am in the morning because of Rian’s Halloween Scare. However, we ended up not having a coffee but spending pretty much the whole day together!

Again, she offered to show us around the city. She picked us up at our place and drove us pretty much every part of the town. She took us to the famous beach park – Tanjung Aru Beach and cultural village.

See map

She told us all the stories and cultures everywhere we went. She even took us to a western store to look for our familiar food after I mentioned I couldn’t find some western ingredients. Rian was thrilled to find Salt & Vinegar flavored Kettle Chips!

Tanjung Aru Beach Tanjung Aru Beach Playground Culture Village Kota Kinabalu

It was such a quality time we spent with Lisa. She is incredibly nice and we learned a lot from her. It is very hard to have connections with the locals when you are travelling, but today we felt that we made a friend. We really appreciate everything Lisa has done for us and we guarantee that Lisa will have a brilliant Airbnb business (she is just starting)!

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