Adventure

Mount Kinabalu Day 2

Day 2

The chalet was so comfortable some team mates thought it was fine to just stay there and relax. No way would I allow that… haha…

Don’t you want to stay here…? Romantic morning…

Cosy Living Room

TV (not LCD but on the mountains, this is luxury already). Fireplace (anyone really uses it?)

Dining area

Basic kitchen with mini fridge, coffee, tea, sugar, creamer, kettle, glasses and mugs.

2 bunk beds

2 single beds in another room. Hair dryer provided. Use the hair dryer to warm the blankets at night before sleep, as the weather at the headquarters are reaaaaaaally cold. In total, each room holds 4 pax.

Full range of toiletries are provided so not to worry if you did not bring any.

We took the bus to Balsam Buffet Restaurant for breakfast. It was buffet style, with mains like nasi lemak and fried noodles, toast, bread, fruit, eggs, roti prata, porridge, juices etc. In terms of mountain climbing, this has to be 5 star luxuries. After eating, we collect our packed lunch, which was in a brown paper bag. Some teammates can’t stop complaining about its bulkiness.

We collected our tags. Off we go. Do not lose your tag as it will be checked now and then. It makes a nice souvenir too. I really like the caption. In diving terms, it is “Leave nothing but bubbles.” Taking photographs are ok, but take care of the marine life. Some marine life are too fragile to take the flashes from a camera repeatedly, for example pygmy seahorse. Off topic..

There are two routes to reach the summit from the headquarters at around 1800m: Timpohon or Mesilau. The latter is the tougher and longer route (8km), takes about 1-2hours longer, requires some hiking experience, but promises better flora and fauna along the way.

I was not sure about how my team would fare. For most, it was their first mountain, and I was worried it might be too ambitious for them. But in order not to disappoint people on this probable adventure, I went ahead. I planned a training schedule which some have sparsely participated, so I crossed my fingers. Guessed that they would perhaps be too tired to check out the flowers and insects on Mesilau. Moreover, they opted for the below..

I guess what people want is just an easier path for an adventure of a lifetime, a bucket list to fulfil. But if you are the adventurous kind and would like to do more technical climbing, go for Mesilau. I personally feel Timpohon is pretty easy. It really is climbing stairs (a lot of it though). I run about 3-4 times a week, hike/trek about 1-2 times monthly. Another friend who would also be able to do Mesilau at ease is a seasoned trekker, but she decided to do Timpohon for the reasons I stated. She’s really sweet. U know your body best. So think carefully as it is a path of no return. LOL.

You can also choose to take a different route when u come down, but they were too tired to think by then.

Our guide briefed us through the route, rest stops and our climbing plan. Off we go for today’s 6km climb to Laban Rata guesthouse at 3272m, where we would stay for the night. 2 of us were to climb additional 100-200m to Panar Laban hut due to lack of beds.

All of us were excited to embark on the journey.

Soon after we started, I feel the effects of thin air on the high altitude.

Timpohon is easy enough, as it only required u to keep climbing stairs. The route is well marked and maintained. There is not a lot of climbing skills involved. But still, one has to be fit enough or at least trained for stamina and climbing stairs. Otherwise, it will be hell of a time, as it did for some of my teammates.

In the beginning, we can already see the difference between mates who trained climbing stairs with me and those who didn’t. I will be posting the training schedule for reference for people interested. Those who did not do any training, be prepared to stop every few steps (yes few steps..) and take a breather.

At every hut (pondok), there is a toilet, garbage bin, benches, probably water (but not potable – u may want to bring some filters or chlorine tablets), and a Mt KK trail map. Have your own sanitizer, tissue or wet tissue after using the toilet as the taps might not work.

The distance between each hut is around 500m-1km, and there will be distance markers along the way indicating how far you have travelled.

Layang Layang hut, slightly before 4km, is the “mid-point: mark for lunch.

Mystery solved. In case u were wondering what’s inside our brown bags.

Sandwich was horribly dry, with super thin & tasteless ham, egg, cheese fillings, but an apple is always welcoming. It is my favourite food on any hiking trip. Biodegradable, crunchy, nutritious, thirst-quenching, filling, and it keeps u more awake than caffeine (go read up more on that). I probably would prepare my own meal if I did my surgery before the trip. This looks rubbish to me now! lol.

Some of my teammates were just happy to rid the bulky packed lunch, even though they were not hungry.

The terrains were basically climbing upstairs, downstairs, upstairs… But pretty beautiful flora and fauna, terrain, views..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saw plants that look like rope, infamous pitcher jugs which trap insects, and many more.. Keep your eyes open for these beautiful things and you will never feel bored. Enjoy the journey so you would not feel tired. 🙂

It helps to know a bit of rock climbing, as this mountain is mainly rock surface.

After much enjoyment (and struggles), breathlessness, we reached today’s destination slightly behind time, around 4pm. This is it! Now I see with my own eyes… Laban Rata guesthouse with Mt KK behind.

We proceeded to the restaurant, buffet style too.While eating, our guide came with the good news that all of us will stay in a single room in Laban Rata.At this point, everybody has some kind of altitude sickness. Only one person managed to not pop any panadols.

Before going on the trip, I had considered taking altitude pills. But then again, I wanted to test my limits too. So I did not go ahead with the idea.

Dining above clouds..

Such was sunset.. (There are more beautiful pictures, but not panoramic. Pardon me for lousy photography skills that does not do the subjects/sceneries justice. I will try to improve on that.)

A few of us went down to the platform before the guesthouse to take pictures of the awesome sunset. In slippers of course… (I wore the paper slippers provided by guesthouse. We had to climb down the same rocky path down, lucky it was short enough. My toes were numbed.) We stayed until we could not bear the decreasing temperature and headed back for shower and rest.

Afterall, we were supposed to wake up around 1am tomorrow. Water was freaking cold. Since a power trip in 2009, the heater function is gone and stayed that way. I only wiped my body in the end, but it was a lot better than braving the ice cold shower. Good night..

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Mount Kinabalu Day 1

Kota Kinabalu.

At 4095m, Mount Kota Kinabalu (Mt KK) is the highest in Borneo. It is located in Sabah, which forms the Borneo with Sarawak, Brunei and parts of Indonesia.

Sabah and Sarawak are also states of Malaysia, and are known as “East Malaysia”.

Geographically, it is separated from the Malaysia (West Malaysia) most people know about, which lies on top of Singapore, by the South China Sea.

It has been one of my bucket list to-do for years. I have been hiking for years, and heard many stories about climbing this famous mountain. After climbing so many mountains and assured that Mt KK is a easy climb, even for the inexperienced, I decided to go for it.However, seems like most people who trekked with me has went before. When you have a dream, u just have to take action.

So, I went ahead to plan my own.

First, I checked out the weather. Mount Kinabalu is infamous for its almost-daily rain. The best season is said to be Mar-Apr. Hence, I started to ask around. I gathered a team who seemed keen on the challenge, without much consideration for their varied fitness levels, thinking naively that it should be an easy mountain for all. It turned out to be a mistake.

Nevertheless, the peeps took back home bittersweet memories which will be with them for life.

Standard climbing itinerary involves a 3D2N package. More on the preparation in future updates.

Day 1

We went by Airasia, which is currently the one cheapest option from Singapore. However, there was only one flight to and fro Singapore and Kota Kinabalu. Arrival time at KK would be 8, 9 pm. I feared that would make my team mates too tired for the long climb the next day. Hence, I opted to book two flights, Singapore via Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, SG-KL, then KL-KK. There are more timings to chose from KL to KK. That would give me more options in terms of arrival time at Kota Kinabalu. It turns out that the difference was only about an hour. (Also due to long waiting time for transit)

But everyone was nice and said that was a pretty good arrangement. At the airport, we were promptly fetched by a driver with my name on a big white cardboard. Off he drove us to the mid-hills, headquarters around 1800m, where we would stay for the night.

We arrived around 930pm. The chilly cold greeted us the moment the car door was opened. Immediately, one of my friends who only brought a thin sweater regretted. She didn’t realize it would be this cold. We stepped out of the car into pitch dark, and were amazed by the beautiful stars smiling back at us.

It was the most beautiful sky I had seen so far.

Living in Singapore, a brightly lit concrete jungle, I have only seen at most a sparse few stars in the sky. My eyes lingered. Too bad my iphone camera would not be able to capture its beauty.

This is it! Map of the trail we will be taking!

We were supposed to check in to dormitories. But somehow, we got an upgrade. Yeah! Each chalet can hold 4 pax maximum, so we split 3 by 3. At this time, the provided dinner were replaced with packed dinner, fried rice.

Our last meal was 3pm, so we kind of got pretty hungry. So the very plain fried rice worked well for us. I finished everything because I know I would need it for the climb tmr. One of us opted for vegetarian meal and it was merely saltier fried rice.

After late dinner, we showered and head for bed. Tomorrow will be a long day. 🙂