The scenery from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat changes quite a bit. From Kota Belud, it's mostly rice fields. On a good day, one can take photos of golden rice fields with the mighty Mount Kinabalu in the background. Along the way, one has to drive pass (or over?) the James Brooke range, a hilly area so you can get stalled by big trucks laden with cargo. Nearer to Kudat and the coast, coconut and acacia plantations take over. The coconut trees are now being replaced by oil palm however.
Kudat may be a small town but there are several hotels here to cater to tourists and visitors. I didn't make any prior reservations, just drove into town and checked into the nearest decent hotel I could find. Paid less than RM50 for my room with AC, TV, hot shower and a queen sized bed. Cheap! I noted three major banks here, BSN, Maybank and Ambank so one shouldn't have to worry about getting to an ATM that accepts cirrus or meps cards.
After a short rest, I made my way to Simpang Mengayau but somehow ended up at Pantai Bak Bak instead LOL. Bak Bak is supposed to be a popular and well known beach but I was quite shocked at what I saw... apparently storms and strong waves have damaged a fair part of the concrete waterfront and the bridge at the northern end is totally unusable. Rubbish thrown by people then brought back in by the tide also clog up the small river here. Very unsightly.
Pantai Bak Bak, Kudat
From there I made my way to Simpang Mengayau and enjoyed the rest of my afternoon at the tip of Borneo. I'd say the bumpy ride was worth it cos the view here is just amazing. Photos of Simpang Mengayau already uploaded and shared in a separate entry, which can be found here:
The next morning, got up real early and made my way up the mountains. I had to pass by that dreaded bumpy stretch again. It was a real relief when I finally got to Kota Belud. I found the road that connects this small town to the KK-Ranau road fairly easily, thanks to my GPS. This road is very quiet, very little traffic that day. It looks fairly new, or newly sealed and was very smooth all the way. There's some very stunning views along the way too. Rolling hills and thundering white water rivers...
While I did enjoy my time at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the journey there was really uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it is the part I remember most vividly. That very bumpy stretch of road really makes me think twice about driving there again.