While heading up Mount Kinabalu on Sunday, it was drizzling in the afternoon and we had to trek for three hours wearing rain coats and in fairly cold weather. During the last one kilometer to the peak, the weather was really cold and misty, coupled with strong wind. However, all of us managed to pull through and reach the Low’s peak – the purpose of the climb and the view up there was really spectacular.
Thanks to Tony, our Team Lead for this climb, who planned the trip well and engaged the right mountain guides and porters. It was like a pampered tour where we only carried the necessary items; all other luggage was carried by the porters. We all managed to reach the peak and later descent safely. The encouragement and motivational words from Tony were really helpful to ensure the trekkers maintain their focus to the peak.
Saturday 27 Aug 05 – Day 1
The Air Asia flight carrying the 12 of us touched down at the Kota Kinabalu Terminal Two airport at 10.30am. Immediately we were greeted by two van drivers (arranged by Tony) ready to take us to the National Park which was a two-hour drive from the airport.
One the way to the National Park, we could see the rain clouds were forming. On reaching the restaurant opposite the National Park at 12.30pm, it started to rain. At 2pm after lunch, we checked into the hostel in the National Park itself. It was drizzling the whole afternoon and the temperature was fairly cold.
We could not go anywhere other than loitering within the hostel building. Looking out the window admiring the rain, it reminded me of a song, Melody Fair, sung by Bee Gees about a girl looking out the window pane, watching the rain falling down. Sound sentimental and similar condition there.
Going for dinner in the evening in drizzle was a problem. At 6pm, the 12 of us have to put on the rain coats for a one-kilometer walk to the same restaurant. That was a good practice session for the group in case we have to trek in the rain next day.
We retired early to bed early preparing for the real challenge the next morning. Though it was raining the whole afternoon and evening and the temperature was cold, that could not dampen our mood to have a good climb next morning.
Sunday 28 Aug 2005 – Day 2
From the National Park to the Mesilau Gate was a one-hour van ride. At 9.10am, after the group photo session and answered natures’ calls, we were all ready to step our feet forward on the path leading us to the peak. The vegetation here was of dense forest. The path was clear and well kept. Checking at the time, it was true that the first kilometer took almost one hour. The most impressive stretch was from 2km to 2.5km markers. Due to the sloping down, the half kilometer was complete within 17 minutes instead of 30 minutes.
We packed sandwiches for lunch and we just ate whenever we felt hungry. The weather was changing from sunny to cloudy. At 1pm, fairly strong wind was blowing and it started to rain. The condition that we all wanted to avoid did actually happen. We all have to put on jackets and rain coats and continue the journey.
Trekking up Mount Kinbalu was already tough and now further compounded by the rain. Nevertheless, we pushed on. It actually spoiled my plan to take great photos along the way. During the three hours trekking, I could not take any photos.
The Mesilau trail would merge with the main path from Tembohan Gate. The vegetation from 4km onwards was much interesting to admire at. These are the ones that we do not see in the normal tropical jungle. The trees are much shorter.
Accompanying Miss Choi who experienced pain at the side of the knee, I arrived at the Laban Rata rest house at around 5.30pm. It was cold at that time. What really amazed me was that the porters and guides were playing Sepak Takraw at the clearing in front of the rest house at freezing cold temperature.
Dinner was scheduled at 6.30pm. Most of us took fried rice for the much needed carbohydrate. True to its name, the entire plate was mostly rice. A lot of chilly source was required to help in swallowing the food. We stayed in two dormitories with heaters. We all retired to bed at 8.15pm – I was having hard time sleeping immediately after dinner and at that early hour.
Monday 29 Aug 2005 – Day 3
The alarm was set off at 1.30am. Immediately, all of us woke up fully charged to take on the second stage of the climb. Breakfast was arranged by Tony and was served at 2am. At the cafeteria, other trekkers were there taking breakfast too and getting ready to go. At 2.30am, after the group photo session, again, we stepped our feet out of the warm and comfortable rest house into the dark and cold wilderness.
There were many trekkers heading to the peak at the same time. The trekkers just walk silently and shine their torchlight at the ground necessary to lead them forward. It was most pleasing to hear that Tony still maintained his instructions to the group as to what to do and gave the necessary encouragement. There were a few trekkers, after hearing Tony giving the encouragement words, actually wanted to join him for the journey.
This time, with the necessary training, I was able to tackle the rope climb with ease. I only need to hold on to the rope only at quite steep slope. Other than that, I just walked slowly up. Last year, trekking up the rope area really gave me the scare for falling down the ravine.
While passing through the Sayat-Sayat Gate, trekker was required to show the name tag to ensure every one was accounted for. Beyond this part, the wind blew quite strongly and it was very cold. ML and Kelvin were in the same group with me. At around 5.30am, we could see the ray of sunlight. Due to the cloudy weather, the sun rise was not very colourful.
At around 6am, the entire mountain top was quite misty. I heard one foreign tourist who was on his way down from the Low’s peak, commented that it was misty, cold and blew with strong wind. I was contemplating whether to proceed or to give up for the last 200 meters. Since I had reached the peak during my previous year’s attempt, I decided to abort the climb and I descended to Sayat-Sayat Gate. On meeting Tony who was accompanying a few slower trekkers in our group, after some encouragement words, I was heading to the peak again.
At 6.30am, I reached the peak and the sky was quite bright. Everyone was busy standing besides the Low’s peak sign board and started taking photos. I spent about 5 minutes at the peak and then started to descend. We took many great photos on the way down. At 8.30am, we were down at the Sayat-Sayat Gate. Going down was easier as we can use the abseiling method with the help of the rope. At 10am, most of us were back at the Laban Rata rest house.
This would be a tough day for us as we only have half hour to rest and pack our luggage as check-out time was at 10.30am. At 11am, we were on our way down. It was clear weather with blue sky and bright sunlight. Since we were not able to take photos due to the rain, we took a lot of photos on the way down. Most of us reached the base of the National Park at around 5.30pm.
At 6pm, we headed to Poring Hot Spring Resorts in two vans. It was a one-hour drive to the destination. When we reached there, it was dark. After checking in, the entire group went for dinner at a restaurant within a stone’s throw away. We were having a good time there relaying the experience for our climbs while savoring the good food.
After dinner at around 8.30pm, all of us went to the hot spring pool to dip our feet in the natural hot spring water. The planning was superb as soaking the feet in the hot spring water would help to relax the muscle which was over-used during the climb.
Tuesday 30 Aug 2005 – Day 4
Today would be the last day for the trip. At 8.30am, we went for breakfast provided by the resorts. During breakfast, Tony presented the certificates issued by the National Park to everyone while KC was busy taking photos.
After breakfast, we visited the hanging bridges which required a fair bit of walking. And it was good for recovery. All of us do not have problem going up and down the steps.
We left the resorts at 1pm and heading towards Kinabalu town. We visited the Philippine market for shopping of souvenirs. Dinner was scheduled at 6pm at the Ocean Seafood Restaurant where we were rewarded with a sumptuous seafood dinner. We left for the airport for the 8pm flight home feeling really satisfied with the entire trip.
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