Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Superb KK Trip (Part II) - Mount Kinabalu

Yup, Mount Kinabalu is next. There are 2 ways to climb Mt. KK, either through Timbohan (shorter path) or Mesilau. We took the shorter path, as it had been raining the entire week. We register at Kota Kinabalu Park with Wong and gang, travel by van to Timbohan gate, get our walking stick and start hiking. Basically we need to climb to Laban Rata to stay overnight, and the journey is about 6 km. The path is well defined, with steps and rocks. The path had quite a heavy traffic, where you see people coming down every few minutes. You could see how people carry between 30-40 kg of supply while running up hill (at least walk very fast). There are rest points every 1 km, with mountain water supply and with a small covered resting place.

Mt. KK Trail Map

Gang of 4 before departure

In front of Timpohan Gate. The full squad with Wong & Gang.

It started to rain after about 1 hour of trekking, luckily we are well prepared for it. We took out our raincoat and put our food and electronic gadgets into water proof plastic bags. The ground is getting wet; we got to be extra careful. At the same time, it is getting windy and cold. At about the 5th stop, we put on our wind breaker or jacket to keep us warm. At one stage the wind was so strong that it tore my raincoat. The higher we hike the lesser the trees and the stronger the wind is. It is pretty tiring, but still manageable. Besides, the scenery is getting better as we can see the rocky mountains and green valley. The view is one of a kind, and we took quite some pictures along the way (though it was cold and raining). We reach Laban Rata about 4 hours of hiking, from 11 am to 3 p.m. The wind was extremely strong when we reach the flat land at Laban Rata, but we can't help ourselves but to take some picture and video before going into the resthouse.

After rain.

Almost there.

The 1st we ordered in the resthouse is a cup of hot Milo (they run out of hot chocolate). It cost us RM 9.50, but it is as large as 3 normal cups. Supposing everything here is more expensive, since they need to pay the locals to carry the supply up. We felt satisfied with our achievement, and had a lot of chit chatting going on about our experience for the past hours. We ordered soups as well, and it is a large bowl of soup as well (luckily 2 person is sharing one bowl, phew!). Then we felt hungry, so we each ordered a different variety of fried rice (kampung style, oriental style and something). We were shock to see the portion of the rice (I think it is for 3 person per plate, should have see that coming). We treat our mountain guide and porter lunch. After some chit chatting, we head to our room which were 5 minutes walk away, and it is EXTREMELY windy.

Don't disturb me. It is COLDDDDDD!

Our room consists of 6 beds, where they would be 2 Hong Kong girls joining us later (we are not aware of this initially). We could hear the sound of the strong wind hitting on the wooden plank and it is very cold. We put on our long pants, extra shirts, sweater and jacket (basically everything we could wear, including socks and glove). The girls carry more warmth cloth than me, especially the Long John (I started to regret). The toilet is outside, no one wanna take a bath (though heater is available), not even brush teeth. It was so cold until we have to put on our ski mask or head cover as well. Michelle was changing in the room when the 2 Hong Kong girls walk in, she forgot to lock the door. They were asking her a lot of question while she is trying to change, it is pretty funny. The 2 girls are in their 30's (I couldn't recall their name, but I recorded it somewhere in the video). They are very fit and probably used to travelling and hiking. They took the Mesilau track up and I was told there are one of the very first to climb up and reach foot hill the very next day. We slept around 7.00 p.m. as we need to wake up at 2.30 am the next day to continue the climb to the hill top. I found it extremely difficult to sleep, even with all the clothing on with blankets. It is advisable not to move when you sleep, as all the trapped heat will escape and cold breeze sip under your blanket. The environment is so hostile that I felt I could get a fever easily, luckily I didn't. Chee Hong took 6 Panadols as he felt sick. Another friend of us with Wong's group vomited. Luckily the four of us felt all right with the altitude and hostile environment.

Climbing early in the morning.

We woke up around 1.30 a.m., pack our stuff and ready ourselves for the next climb. It was so windy the entire night that all of us are worry we would not be able to make it to the top due to hostile weather. If it rains, the management would not allow us to proceed with our climb, and it would mean great disappointment. Though the weather is bad, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be. We started the climb at 2.45 am with our head torchlight on. I was assigned to carry the bag, and it did put a lot of psychological pressure on me. First 30 minutes was pretty easy but tiring. Then we reached a steep rock wall that seems pretty challenging. I thought, "If the person in front of me could make it, so could I". After quite a distance of steep wall, we reach the Sayap-Sayap checkpoint. Actually, the view around the steep wall is quite magnificent, if you would just take a moment to enjoy it while you are resting. Only bring pure chocolate or raisins at this stage, as you would not feel like eating any other energy food. I switch the bag to Mei Ru, as she seems to be the fittest person among us. The walk after the checkpoint is just fine, but we still have along way to go. It is pretty windy, some strong wind might push you a few step to the side as you walk. At this stage is more of a psychological challenge rather than a physical challenge. My light went half way through, but I didn't change the battery as the moonlight is bright enough. We use the walk and rest strategy. While resting we could see the clear sky with big stars, and some town lights from the valley. It is quite a view as well. The journey had become more and more difficult, and we need to reach the summit before 6 to catch the sunrise. We reach Low's peak about 5.30 am. It is such a small peak where everyone try to squeeze themselves around the small little sign which say 4095.2 M. We didn't get to see the sunrise as it was still pretty cloudy. The peak is so crowded that we only get to stay around 15 minutes to take pictures and video. Actually, I wasn't very amazed with the view (probably I have high hopes, or izzit the weather is not especially nice). Though the sunrise and the cloud might be of disappointment, but the rocky mountain and valley view is still pretty amazing. We took quite a number of picture as we were going down, and it is still pretty windy and cold (we have to remove our gloves when taking pictures!). Yes! I am on top of the world, or at least around Southeast Asia.

Mountain view.

Valley view.

We continue to climb down and the scenery feels different as it is much brighter now. The steep wall look much steeper at this moment. We reach Laban Rata around 8.30 am. The journey down seems more difficult than up, as we need to be extra careful and our leg hurts. We pack our stuff, have a light breakfast and start coming down around 10.30 am. Michelle and I were the last to reach at 3.00 p.m. The journey down is slow and painful. 3 of Wong's friend didn't manage to make it to the stop, so they got a 2nd class certification. We all got a full colour 1st class certification, YEAH!

The 1st class team.

We stay at the KK Park hostel, nothing fancy about this place. It had some weird water heater here as only hot water come out from it and you can't mix with cold water, thus making bathing very difficult. Plus, the temperature is around 20 degree Celsius and it was pretty cold for us. We stay a night there to rest before taking a van to return to KK town the next day. We stop half way to buy some souvenirs, and I pick up a T-shirt for myself plus 2 nice bracelet for Li Mun and Tang. We went back to Lucy's home and had quite a nice sea food dinner for the night. This is the 1st time I tasted fresh oyster, there is nothing nice about it. Also we had some nice clamps, mantis prawn, crab, fish and alike. Michelle don't eat stuff that doesn't look normal.


Travel Video

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