Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sabah Adventure - 1st Stop Kinabalu

Background of the trip:
Destination: Sabah, Borneo - Kinabalu, Kinabatangan, Semporna (Mabul/Sipadan), Maliau Basin in 13 days. The 3 musketeers - Yours truly, JJ and Edric. Yes I'm the flower amongst the thorns.
Trip started rather hectic, when we waited and waited for dear Edric at the checkpoint for about 30mins. Our flight departs from JB Senai airport at 920pm, but we only reached JB around 830pm. A fast taxi ride took us to the airport by about slightly after 9pm, and due to our hiking sticks, we were asked to check in our bags. Hectic repacking and we were in by about 915pm, but lo and behold, the flight was delayed slightly.
By the time we reached Borneo Backpackers (our accomo @ KK) it was after midnight and promptly went to sleep...
Next morning was spent just walking around, settling money issues, booking trips etc etc
Chanced upon this graffiti area which was rather cool!!See what see? Beh Song??
Then we made our way to Kinabalu Park by taking one of the minivan that goes to Ranau (RM20 each pax). And FYI, you just wait and wait till the van fills up...Of cos, we didn't get there after we found Edric a pair of Adiddas Kampung shoes for the climb and trek later...FYI, Addidas Kampung is a pair of rubber shoes which is pretty good for trekking and cheap too! Locals swear by it though...
After about close to 2hrs, we reached Kinabalu Park and checked in with the Park Ranger to get our permit for the 1 day climb up and down Mt Kinabalu the day after. After many referrals (please go here, find this person, he's not in, find another person etc etc), we settled with Mr Martin. Alas, we were too slow and already 3 people had signed up for the 1 day climb and the limit is 4 per day. So we were told - You guys can only go up to Laban Rata (3272m). Ok we accepted that, but deep down inside, we were devastated and devised a plan that we are sure will work to barge our way to the top. Hey! We were already there, if we don't go up, what's the point!!We checked in at D'Villa (RM30 per night) and our dorm was empty except for the 3 of us, and 1 canadian joined later at night. Settled our dinner at one of the local restaurant nearby and lights out by 9pm for an early day rise the next day.
Our day started at 6am, wolved down our breakfast and started walking to the Park. Turned out the 3 brits who took the permits stayed at the same place as us. Edric started talking about overtaking them, burning their room etc etc.
Total cost of the 1 day permit with guide was about RM464 for 3 pax. Took the van up to the starting point at Timpohon (please take the van!!! Don't try walking it) and officially started our hike at 740am with our guide Jaldi Jaidi at the back. All 6 of us started at the same time.
So it was then that we talked to our guide and privately we made our own arrangement to go all the way up despite not being given permission. Well hey, who is to stop us?? But of cos, when we were near the top, our guide started to give me the talk and asked for some extra cash for disobeying orders.....Well, anything to get to the top.
Technically, the trek is not too tough, the roads are well marked and the steps are well maintained. Then it was non-stop walking up to Laban Rata which is the rest stop. To be able to complete, one has to reach Laban Rata by 1030am and I did it by 1015am. The boys were way ahead by about 20mins.
After Laban Rata, the tougher part presented itself. Rock face where you have to climb up with ropes. And that is when you just keep counting down 100m by 100m where the end seemed sooo far awayBy about 1130am, I was at about 3600m, about 400m more to go (distance wise). Edric started to cramp and had to slow down..The view was amazing up there, sky was clear and visibility was good!The last 300 or so metre was torturous cos it's so near yet so far.. FInally by 1250pm, I made it up there! And that was when it started to change, weather wise. Rain and cold wind...Then it was pouring rain as we started to descend.. Which was bad bad bad. By the time we reached Laban Rata, it was about 215pm and soaking wet, cold and shivering...
The rain made the descend even harder as the ground was slippery, so it took really long for us to be back at square 1. And once again, we found ourselves counting down the distance once again - 2km, 1.5km, 1km, finally 500m!!So it was, at 6pm we reached back down, all 6 of us. Well, 1 of the 3 brits didnt go up to the top, so only 5 of us officially made it!Missed the public bus back to KK town, so the 6 of us chartered the van for RM35 each and made our way back to KK town. It was about 9pm when we reached, all of us starving, cold, wet and desperately in need of a HOT HOT shower! And that was when it happened - My Blackberry got electrocuted while I was trying to charge it at the hostel. There was a sudden 'Punk', lights went out, and when I walked nonchalantly back to my room, I saw everyone standing there, holding a blackened USB charger and my phone. I just stared and was totally speechless.. RIP my BB. Let's just say it sucks to not have your phone, somemore so early into the trip...
The next day, we rented a car - 1L Viva Automatic, really small white car to venture out to Kota Belud, Kudat and Tip of Borneo. RM100 for 1 day, RM18 for insurance and you don't have to fill the tank upon return!
Missed the Sunday Market at Kota Belud, so we went on to Tip of Borneo, losing our way while trying to search for the elusive coastal drive. Just so you know, there is NO coastal drive!!! The map is not accurate. The main road is the only one. We went 1 big circle trying to drive close to the coast but came back to square one.
Then it was a bumpy ride (really bumpy) in the pouring rain towards Kudat and Tip of Borneo. There was a petrol scare when we were left with about 20+km with no gas station and only 1 bar left for fuel. Luckily, we found the gas station. By then, it was 5+pm and we had to rush to the Tip of Borneo by 6pm
And we made it! It was all worth it. The 5-6hr drive. The view was amazing there!
And we waited for the sun to drop drop down the horizon...
Jumping shot once again with the orange sunSuper Mario Brothers with the lady
Yoga pose seems to blend in with the setting and atmosphere
At 7pm, we started our drive back and it took much shorter to get back to KK town. Slightly less than 4hr. Exhausted, fell asleep, in anticipation of the early morning flight to sandakan the next day...
Till the next post...

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