Mountain and Sea
05.07.2004 - 10.07.2004
After a nine hour flight from Bangkok I landed in KK , Kota Kinnabalu. This is in the sabah province of Malaysia on the Malaysian Borneo which touches the Indonesian borneo. I flew Air Asia from Bangkok as I did on the rest of my trip. The flight had a stop over in johor bahru after which it flew to KK. As it was night time when I landed I was not sure about the place I would stay but then I met a local who advised me to stay at Aunt Lucy’s so thus I did. The place was cozy with a personal touch and in the centre of KK.
The next day I went around the city and what I saw was truly some form of difference in the climate of the city. KK is blessed with one of South East Asia’s tallest mountain called Mount Kinnabalu which keeps temperatures really down and it is not that humid as well. The city also has a beach which makes it truly Malaysia Microcosmically.
The city is not any other Malaysian city. The architecture as well as the composition of people are a lot different than that seen in the Western Malaysia. Aside from the people, the weather is another plus point where the hide and seek of the sun continues interspersed with cool winds and drizzles. Most of the activity seemed to be along the corniche where most of the restaurants as well as the shopping malls like Wisma Merdeka are located. The people of this city are friendly and you would probably find a satay stand in every street you visit which is as close to Malaysian as you would get.!! Just kidding.
Anyways I was in KK for one thing only and that was to climb Mt Kinnabalu. People who want to trek the mountain should know that they need to book accommodation before hand sometimes before a week as the resort and lodges run full most of the time during the high season which seems to be june-september. I booked my accommodation from Sutera Lodges, which was a dorm bed without any heating. That was the cheapest thing on offer.
The next day at 8 am I reached the base of the mountain where I would be starting the climb. I met a group of german climbers and we were supposed to be climbing the mountain together. We had to register with the parks department as well as pay for entrance which I think was 100 ringitt but I told them I was 18 so I paid only 50 ringitt.
With everything done and dusted we started your climb at around 9 am.
The initial part of the climb was very easy and mountain seems to have a very low gradient meaning the climb is not very steep. This casual climb though at some places it gets testing is what one would be doing for most of the few hours till reaching Laban Rata which was supposed to be the place where I and my group were going to spend the night over. This was at a height of 18000 feet and we reached there in the evening at 5 pm. The weather was amazing at times it would start drizzling and I came into contact with the clouds. Truly a surreal experience for me!!. The temperature was cold and without any heating we had to keep the doors to the lodge closed but a better thing was going to have dinner from the resort’s resturarant which had heated rooms. The next thing was going to bed early because we would have to start climbing for the summit at 2 am at night thus sleep was essential. At this time I should also point out that this last 3000 feet ascent was the most demanding as the climb at a lot of places gets vertical and in big steps which greatly tests people’s ability and most of the people can’t seem to go ahead because they develop cramps or altitude sickness. Fortunately for me nothing of that sort happened and I climbed on the way to the summit. Had it not been for the chocolates, nuts and juices which I had brought with me I would never have been able to climb more steps. Besides at the top it gets very very cold with constant winds blowing in one’s face thus it is best to take a good jacket along with some gloves. Our guide amram was one cheerful young kid who was climbing the mountain for who knows he lost counting!!
Waking up at 2 am was a lot of fun and getting ready in 10 minutes for the ascent was a challenge I hoped to achieve. The sights which one can get on the trail at night is a train of light coming from hikers head mouted torches which when seen from a distance looks like a group of fireflies. Its very unearthly the feeling one gets by looking down besides being creepy as you don’t see anything at night!
We had to reach the summit before the sun rose because it gets very difficult to climb once the sun is up as the rays get in one’s eyes. With a heculean effort I was able to reach the top before 5 am and then enjoy the sunrise as well as the spectacular scenery. It should also be prudent to mention that the mountain is made of granite so one has amazing views of the pinnacles in the morning sun light. Didn’t bring a camera with me so couldn’t take any photos! Our group stayed at the top till 7 in the morning before the descent as well as to catch some breadth.
I had a feeling that the descent would be a piece of cake but with a lot of drizzle falling the slopes got really slippery so we had to come down really slow. This for me was more difficult than the ascent. The mountain has small rest areas after a few hours of climbing where one can get water as well answer the call of nature. But anyways the rigorous descent down truly drained of my final energy and once I came to the bottom at 4 pm I was more like dead. Having been climbing for more than 15-16 hours my legs just gave way and for two days I could not feel my legs. This was my climb to KK. It was a lot of very good rigorous exercise but I truly think it was just incredible with each moment to be savoured. Now I can easily recall all that even after 3 years when I am writing this blog.
The next two days I lazed around the KK going for some snorkeling around the islands and the shopping malls in the evening besides I didn’t have much left in me.
After KK I made my way to sandakan for the sepilok orangutan sanctuary.