While much of KK can seem a little washed out, there is one spot to visit if you're seeking color. Right on Kota Kinabalu's waterfront sits the town market. Where in a few hours crowds of locals and tourists will be dining on fried noodles and grilled squid at Kota Kinabalu's night market, a gentle trade takes place as people wander among the stalls, picking up a few ingredients here and there.
While some vendors sell fresh fruit, and others trade in lemongrass and chili, the big draw here is incredibly fresh seafood, pulled right off of boats as they pull up to land. There are fish, in orange, silver, and turqouise blue; piles of fat prawns; and beautiful crabs and lobsters, their claws held firm in rubberbands.
And if any of it looks tempting, remember to return in the evening for a dinner at the Filipino barbecue. Those same prawns could show up on your plate.