The tamu might not seem so interesting if you just strictly go to shop for souvenirs and the like. You'll be better off observing the local culture. For example, the local people can be very simple in their outlook-you might ask one lady the price of a souvenir or fruit twice (at 30 minute intervals) and get 2 completely different answers-they simply forget you were there before and change their prices according to their perception of you which seems to change in a matter of minutes...
The fruit market is definitely one where you will come across all sorts of local fruits-do try the rambutan if it is in season-locals love the durian though I can't stand it, but when it's in season you'll smell it all right...
The main market will also sell local knives apart from souvenirs and everyday items. The best observation bit is too constantly look at the ground to avoid the cow dung.
The wet market, like any other wet markets that I’ve been to in Sabah, didn’t look clean to me. The floor was extremely wet and slippery. And if you’re very particular with smells, don’t go there!
But then again, all wet markets in Sabah (or Malaysia for that matter) are like this. Just don’t expect a clean one. We’re all used to it.
What to buy: Kota Belud wet market sells very cheap and very good crabs. That’s what they’re popular for. Unfortunately during my ‘visit’ there they had run out of crabs!
Here are my colleagues modelling/wearing the Bajau costume. The Bajau costume actually comes in different colors; green and yellow (usually worn by bridegroom), or black, or white (usually worn by the Bajau horsemen).
The long-sleeved shirt is called “badu sampit”. The trousers come in black color, and usually are tight-fitting. Both the shirt and trousers have lace trimmings sewn on them, gold in color.
The head gear is called “podong”, folded out of a one-square meter piece of “kain dastar” (Dastar cloth – Bajau handcrafted fabric). There is a flap sticking out of the podong which is called “tanjak”. This tanjak apparently reflects the buffalo horns, in which the buffalo plays a major part in their lives.
Another piece of kain dastar is used to be tied around the waist.
In Sabah, when you come across something/someone colorful, you would automatically say “This is Bajau”. Some people would take it as an offence, but most wouldn’t.
If you see a modified fast car in Kota Kinabalu with tacky colors on the interior, which complement its flashy colorful lights and other colorful accessories, automatically, the locals will say “Whoa, Bajau alert” =) or..
Someone dressed up very colorful and mismatched will definitely be called a "Bajau" in Sabah..
This all comes down to Bajau Art. Their art is a composition of patterns with lots of bright colors. You can see from their costume and home decoration, to their horse costume (!) and their makeup: they are all bright, colorful, sometimes very tacky.
Favorite thing: The nature in Kota Belud is amazing. It’s a beautiful drive here from Kota Kinabalu. Along the way you will see beautiful landscapes of rice fields with Mount Kinabalu in the background. Kota Belud is also hoarded with horses and buffaloes. In any kampung or street you go to, you will definitely see them.
I visited Kota Belud for work, not for leisure. We carried a lot of shooting equipment here i.e. movie and still cameras. As soon as we started the shoot, the locals got so enthusiastic they ALL wanted to be on screen.
The adults who were there watching us asked what the shoot was for and whether it was going to be shown on TV. Of course we said yes. And as soon as we did, MORE PEOPLE CAME ON TO THE SCREEN it was chaos!
Also, because our film crew were “orang putih” (white people) including TV host Ian Wright, everyone wanted to take a picture with them. It seemed like people from this town don’t get to see much of westerners (similar to my kampung in Membakut).
I think it’s cute =)