Bustling street markets are always so full of surprises and a chance at speed-reading the local way of life. I'm talking about authentic, unadulterated markets that have sprung up from the people's needs and not something assembled for tourists.
Gaya Street Sunday Market is one such "natural", community-centric market that provides a fascinating insight into local agriculture, ventures and most delightful of all, the Sabahan culture. I had a brief face-time with this market that is open only on Sundays till 1pm and my general impression is that it is a place for...
|Sold as pets, not as meat. There's quite a thriving pet trade at the street market.
Personally, I find the ample presence of pet stalls a distinguishing feature of this endearing street market and worth pawing through for a visit!
GETTING TO GAYA STREET SUNDAY MARKET
The well-known weekly market is at Kota Kinabalu's historic core so it is not difficult to get to as most tourist establishments huddle that area. From what I saw, there are quite a number of hotels close by and not too far from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.
|There are several access points to Gaya Street Sunday Market but this roundabout with a pair of cranes seem to be the favourite entrance to get it.
We were stuck in our minivan for quite a while before being released from the jam to begin our exploration of this local weekend spectacle!
Hold on to Your Eyeballs, There's a Lot to See!
How much you enjoy a place really depends on the breadth of your interest. On the surface, Gaya Street Sunday Market comes across as any other local Malaysian pasar malam (night market) brimming with identical stalls hawking knick-knacks, produce and snacks but look closer and something unique quickly comes into focus.
|For some reason, dreamcatchers, which are of North American origin, are a thing here. Perhaps the Sabahans are dreamers.
|A lively mix of locals and foreigners filled the corridors created by pointy blue tents.
|My heart turned to ice-cream on a hot day looking at this one. If only I could bring you home!
|My heart turned to wax of a burning candle. It's crying inside for this helpless kitty inside a rusty cage that's rather small for it. If only I could bring you home too.
|The makeshift "stall" where the puppies and caged cat were being sold.
|Further down the street, a bigger pet seller displays a litter of sleepy puppies. Everyone wants to pet and get a picture of the cute furballs.
|I wonder if they have been drugged or just sleepy from the morning heat. Now, that's how the upward-facing dog yoga pose should look like. LOL.
|Gaya Street Sunday Market is a bad place for me to come to. I just want to bring all of them home!
|Took quite some determination to pluck myself away from the furry ones and scale up on the aquatic pets on sale. Such a variety of watery species!
|Scenes at the market. The coconut monkey heads look unnerving and creepy though.
|The thing that says "Sabah" is the iconic Rafflesia Flower (a.k.a. corpse lily and the largest single flower in the world) that calls this region home.
|Do you fancy a dreamcatcher or stuffed turtle keychain? :)
|Came across this stall with a delectable spread of confectioneries. Except that they are all fakes!
|Such details went into making the fake food that they look better than the real thing! Glad to eat them all up with my eyes and don't have to worry about waistline.
|Large collection of exotic seashells on sale although I'm pretty sure they cannot be brought out of the country. Buy at your own risk of flouting local prohibitions.
|Read online that this eatery serves the best laksa in Kota Kinabalu but we were short on time and stomach space so didn't get to try. Perhaps next trip.
|A chat with the local stallholders though, I was recommended to try the laksa at Kedai Kopi Kinabalu instead as this is the one locals prefer. The coffeeshop where the laksa stall is is just off a side street of the market.
|Time was limited so I didn't try the laksa here. Hopefully when I get to visit Kota Kinabalu again, I can find out for myself why this stall hold the locals spellbound.
|Looks like antelope horns but they are actually a local snack wrapped in some kind of leaf. Again, my tastebuds had to wait for a future trip to sample its flavour.
|Keropok (fried crackers and tidbits) galore!
|Freshly ground Sabah high mountain coffee. The roast was very aromatic.
|Very friendly uncle selling natural herbs that are used in traditional remedies.
|Fruit tree saplings are also quite a thing here. Being an urbanite, this was a rare chance for me to get acquainted with how the plants of my favourite fruits look like.
|Nature is a commodity at Gaya Street Sunday Market.
|Huge hibiscus the size of dinner plates when they are in full bloom.
|I'm going bananas!
|The guavas here look like they go to the gym. Huge and meaty!
|The avocados too. They were larger than what I'm used to back in Singapore and had question marks what fruit this is until I took a closer look.
|Baby gods, I mean gourds.
|If I am a fruit bat, this is my heaven!
|The name of these crimson fruits reflects my hope of finding one. Heh heh...But they taste rather sour. One of the aspects of love perhaps. Hopefully eat liao can find a lifetime partner!
But I was wrong and pleasantly surprised by what I encountered here. My heart smiled because of the genuine friendliness of the locals and my eyes widened at the incredulity of nature!
Supersized Nature at Kinabalu Park
Pekan Nabalu and the Mountain of Love
Milking the Mooments of a Highland Holiday at Desa Dairy Farm