The city’s diversity in some ways belies its British background.
Modern-day KK can trace its history back to colonial occupation starting in 1881 by the British, whose first outpost was on the adjacent island of Gaya.
A fair number of expats, especially from Australia, live here, too.
The state of Sabah alone has at least 30 ethnic groups.
Ten feet behind the tents, weatherworn fishermen stood on their boats looking over the sale of their day’s bounty.
The dry goods section in the connected Philippine market was an olfactory overload.
It’s no wonder that so many of KK’s restaurants have the word “fusion” on their menu.
Residents mostly speak Malay, though almost everyone speaks some English, too. Women in hijab (or head scarves) or black niqabs (a veil that covers all but the wearer’s eyes) shop alongside Western and local women in tight miniskirts; men, many having driven six hours from nearby Brunei, in white robes and kaffiyehs (a common Middle Eastern scarf) stroll along the flip-flop- and cargo-short-clad backpackers.
The driver dropped me off at the Central Market downtown.
Inside one tent were crammed smoky grills laden with chicken kebabs and fish.