ZeYaya Travels: Yaya Meals in Kota Kinabalu

yaya meals

Hungry? Yaya meal, anyone?

There was a time where I was tapering off doing solo travel stints and was transitioning into bringing Tonie with me but she was still too everything (e.g. kulit, likot, antukin, sumpungin) that I couldn’t do it myself. So, I brought Yaya along.

So a few years back, we brought ZeYaya along on a couple of trips: one to Kota Kinabalu and one to Boracay.


yaya meal yaya meal yaya meal


ZeYaya’s first airplane ride was an international flight from Clark to Kota Kinabalu. Our plane tickets cost us $80 (all three of us, yey!) and our room cost us $75 for three nights. The whole trip was a steal. Just judging from that, I think you can deduce that we’re not high rollers.

ZeYaya’s iconic Yaya Meal in Kota Kinabalu consisted of a fried rice dinner in the middle of a open-air and smoke-filled market where she got to eat a plate of fried rice and some grilled fried chicken.


yaya meal


However, in snooty experiential travel writer talk, we refer to that as getting an affordable meal in the middle of a great shopping and dining area of the city, which overlooks the water and is in the heart of local Kota Kinabalu.


yaya meal


The other Yaya Meal she got to experience in Kota Kinabalu was a turo-turo food court experience in the basement of a small mall.


yaya meal


yaya meal

However, we saw it as widening our food experiences by tasting the different flavors of Sabah in a highly recommended area. There was Beef Rendang and Nasi Lemak and Bak Kuh Teh and Teh Tarik.

We saw it as a great reward for having finished a half-day city tour with the Happy Meal sleeping through a part of it. We also saw it as an opportunity to not pass out because it was 2pm and we haven’t had lunch yet.


yaya meal


yaya meal


ZeYaya also had a Yaya Breakfast. It was consisted of instant coffee and instant noodles that we brought in from home and fresh-ish bread from the convenience store across the street.


yaya meal


But the main thing here is her Yaya Meals were also our meals. What she had, we had. Except Tonie, she couldn’t care for spicy, uber flavorful dishes then. So if ZeYaya is going to have Nasi Goreng from a short, stocky, wooden stall in a Malaysian market, that means we were all going to eat Nasi Goreng from a short, sticky, wooden stall in a Malaysian market.


yaya meal


In fact, and this is not to give myself a space to brag here but just to justifiably emphasize that ZeYaya really is part of the family, we know that Yaya’s trip is an epic one because it’s her first and she’s the first in her family to get on a plane, let alone leave the country. That’s why we commemorated the event by giving her extra souvenir shopping money which translated into 20+ key chains, 14 bracelets, 2 small purses and 2 shirts. Most of it, she gave to her family but the shirts, she kept for herself.

I know of people who keep their help locked outside during night time. I know of people who give their help strict rations of food. I know of people who don’t give their maids any medication when they have headaches or fevers. I know of people who pay their gardeners less during the rainy season because they “didn’t have to water the plants too much.” I know of people who treat their help to a trip to a theme park but then say that “Oh, yan na ang pa-Christmas ko sa inyo ha.” I know of people who don’t let their help eat at a buffet (let’s say a wedding or a party) even though the owner won’t be paying for it. I know of people who don’t let other people give their help money even if it is a simple papasko (Christmas gift).

I know that there are people like that so the fact that there are people who request for Yaya Meals doesn’t really surprise me much. It’s just sad that they are missing out on relationships that we have with our own household help. I’m not a saint though, I do judge them for that.


yaya meal


So, here’s to the time when we went to Kota Kinabalu and we all had Yaya Meals during our entire trip.


Now, please pass the damn foie gras. Whatever that is. 

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Eileen Campos loves cheese and The Walking Dead. Currently doing a great job in post grad studies but awful with regards to ruling the universe. She also thinks that she is married to Robert Downey Jr.