Kota Kinabalu – Mount Kinabalu (Day 1 – 4)

When Sarip was a kid, Ayah Mod showed him a pix of him climbing up Mount Kinabalu. He’ll tell Sarip stories of how he spent the night at Sayat-Sayat Hut and the conditions he faced. Naturally as a kid trying to impress, Sarip was adamant he will go up there one day.

And (naturally) year after year after year, the intention to fulfill that wish never materialized. And year after year Sarip will angan angan again and again…

…until a few weeks ago. He actually did go up there. Alone. By himself some more! Ok not all the way, but to the summit nevertheless! And here is the cerita dongeng. A bit long. So yeah. But it’s kind of a big deal. For him. :/

Sarip’s and Ain’s plan to action terror to head to Mount K was actually blocked along the way ‘cos both did not know what to do and how to get the permit by themselves. So naturally, being the typical malas nak mampos action terror Singapore tourist, they engaged an agent – X-trekkers.

Everything was going smoothly. The staff were very helpful and friendly. Received merchandise discounts. Even signed up for Walk-The-Torq! Everything was jolly well good, until a cousin of Sarip whom he should have contacted told him he could give Sarip a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge discount if he had informed him earlier. [So, if there are any of you interested to go up there, do inform Sarip so he can hook it up for you. Go up by Eastern Plateau some more oi!]

Day 1

Anyways, realising Sarip’ve wasted a ton of money for keeping up the business of the agency [and still trying to figure out how to survive this trip after only a few sessions of "exercise"], we packed off to KK on Saturday, June the 22nd from Senai. Ah yes, the live of frugal travel…

In case you didn’t know – like us – the trip to Senai takes off from Kotaraya Terminal and costs RM 8. Journey takes about 1 hour.

The flight was supposed to take off at 6, but apparently we stood like idiots in the queue for god knows how long. Sarip thinks the air marshalls want to secure the area because of jakun people like us who never stepped on the runway before, lah. :>

Anyways, while on flight Sarip saw something funneh.

Now, if Sarip is a blind-fool tourist he might’ve think he’s heading to the wrong destination. Since when is Penang on the eastern side of Messia? Tch tch. P.S. Mr Fernandez, if you can contact to a certain kenny after he wrote about the nasi lemak on yer flight, please call me too, can? Ayam all ears.

So the flight took us about 2 hours plus plus. Grab a cab kedebak kedebuk for RM 20 and head towards Akinabalu Youth Hostel @ Jalan Gaya. Nice, comfy, affordable. But the guests macam ada sikit sombong and talam dua muka type. But itsa ok, ‘cos immediately we head out to explore KK since the next morning we’ll be heading out to Park HQ.

Now Sarip doesn’t know about you, but KK is one weird place. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see a KFC eatery. Guessed they like their chicken much there. And knowingly the tourists that we are, we head out to the wet market where they sell the seafood and stuff and facing the South China Sea.

Sarip (still) does not know about you, but he thinks the wet market is a wee bit dodgy late at night. He does not know what to eat and the prices were way off! But itsa ok, he just want to let the night away and can’t wait to head to Park HQ the next morning.

Day 2

The next morning, Sarip was awoken by this weird man shouting repeatedly about rat’s vermin. Now here’s a thing about this hostel. The walls were super light so you can hear conversations from the ground floor even if you are 3 storeys high. In the middle of the day. So, yeah.

Turns out the weekly Sunday Market @ Jalan Gaya was in full swing. Lots of people. Lots of repeated items on sale. Basically your typical Sunday fare. But the rabbits and kittens are waaaayy cute. Pity them to be trapped in cages though.

Sarip could not be bothered much. He’s more concerned about his snacks for the trip. And he needs his chocolates. He needs his Snickers. And it turns out, horrors of horrors, THERE IS NOT A SINGLE STORE IN KK THAT SELLS SNICKERS BARS. This is turning out to be from Kinabalu to KNNabalu man.

And to make things worse, money changers are always closed! WTH! It’s lucky that there’s one in Wisma Merdeka. Perky one too.

And the debut of yours truly.

And the debut of yours truly.

So that’s the store if you are ever looking for one.

Anyway, a certain Mr Johnathan, Sarip thinks, from City Park Lodge picked us up to head to Park HQ. Now this uncle told us of a somewhat new destination that Sabah has to offer - The Meliau Basin. Rugged, tough, beautiful and way expensive. Damnits.

The drive from KK to Park HQ took about 2 hours. After some blur as ever Sarip moment for registration, we head to D’Villa Lodge for the night’s stay. About 10 minutes drive away. Nothing much. Cold. Really cold. Heater not working properly. Friendly aunty and at last decent food. Facing the opposite side of Mount K. But at least have to the chance to do some HDR.

Ok lah not bad. And as always, Ain will want to act adventurous and she wants to WALK outside of the lodge. And we walked and walked and saw a spot at the waaaayy end of the road thinking a huge puff of fluffy clouds are “trapped”. Only to realise that it’s just some huge smokes someone had burned. Tch. And a dog followed us all the way back. Yes. I think it wants to play with us.

Anyway, while having dinner, we met Alan. Looks like a vegabond, but as always when you are on trips, a couple of lights can break the ice. Funny guy. Just came back from Sipadan. Lost a ton of stuffs. And ankle was bleeding like mad and he still didn’t realise it. Had just one sock. Everyone was freezing like mad and he just wore a couple of t-shirts. My MAN. [Met him on the summit the next day with those same clothes and did it in only 2 hours. Even his guide looked bewildered. My MAN.]

And then we continued watching Jangan Lupa Lirik! And Russia ousting Holland.

Day 3

Ah yes, The Day. We set off to Mesilau Gate after a good breakfast. Reached about 8ish. Passed by Kundasang. Beautiful views.

Once reached, registered, paid the permit [RM100], looked for guide and weighed the bags [RM 8 per kilo]. Quite a good deal. Our guide/porter looks friendly. Name’s Hajie. Has a brother whose nickname is Badang and can carry 50 kg up the mountain. But we’re grateful he’s The Man.

Ah, but before the start of the trip must. take. picture. at. the. signboard.

We set off @ 9 AM. God knows what time we’ll reach Laban Rata.

The first 1 km, the steps are already killing the unfit Sarip. Not even reaching the first checkpoint, his ankles were already causing problems. Only an hour after that did he reach it. And a view to behold. Not served justice by the pix. Even after tons of photoshopping.

Ain was still in high spirits, unlike Sarip already swimming in his sweat.

And so we trudged on. Hajie said for the next km or so, it’ll be mostly downhill, so that’s kind of a relieve for us.

We reached the Bambu Hut after the 2nd hour. Not bad. Sort of. Oh, and there’s a waterfall too!

Hour 3 and we past by Nephentes Hut. Seems easy peasy so far. By this time, Hajie was hanging around with his buddies and let us to go ahead on our own first.

And then there’s the Kipuyut bridge.

So far so good. All downhill for the past hour and a half. And then the hell starts. Those steps are meant for giants, not for an unfit Mat! No wonder Hajie let us to go first.

At this point of the trip, Sarip keeps cursing himself why oh why did he sign up for this. Macam takde kerja lain menyusahkan diri sendiri! But because nak step macho, he still pursues on. And amazingly, he even wants to pose for pictures. Now when was the last time he wants to take photos of himself!

Almost 5 km in and still no sight of the famous-while-in-sec-school-pitcher-plant-fascination. Until Hajie taps me on the shoulder, “There.”

Sarip’s first thoughts – he didn’t know it can be red in colour. Bummer.

Anyhoos, the hell steps are done and we reached Lompoyok Hut. Now, we’ve been drinking the untreated water from pipes at all the previous huts. By now, water is kapoosh and lo and behold, no pipe in sight at Lompoyok! Alamak! How like that!

Luckily a nice uncle from Johor passed us some. I just hope he didn’t hit me on the head because of Pedra Branca.

But another photo op!

Before we set off for this trip, our ambitious us packed so much food in the itenary. Tuna lah, bread lah, nuts lah, apa apa lah thinking we are going to eat them all. After all, we are famous to be huge gluttons. But we are so tired, so malas, so can’t be bothered that we eat whatever strength we can get hold on to. And thus a new snack was born. Introducing…chocolate with bread!

By this time, the weather was starting to show its pms. The wind blows chills and everybody started to don their warm clothings. And the plants are starting to look weirder too.

The 5 km checkpoint came soon after. Downhill all the way. Hands beginning to numb. And mind thinking of just going back and contemplating still why don’t we just have a normal “holiday”.

Fortunately, we reached the junction of Mesilau and Timpohon Trail soon after.

And time for some fooling around.

From here onwards, the trail of Mesilau and Timpohon combines to one to head to Laban Rata. Thinking step terror that we had passed the “more difficult” trail and can conquer this last stretch easily, Sarip had to eat major humble pie. First stretch, the steps to Villosa Hut.

Still doing fine, but the cold is getting to him. One hour passed, and we reached Villosa Hut. By this time, Ain was practising the-vapour-coming-out-of-mouth-style-to-eksen-hisap-rokok.

It’s 5 PM and we still have not reached Laban Rata. Hajie told us we were still average on time as it normally takes about 8 – 9 hours travelling via Mesilau. There are some groups that actually reached Laban Rata @ 11 PM he told us. So that’s a relieve. :/ [Until the next day when we bumped into groups who managed to reached Villosa via Mesilau in 4 hours time. Gila!]

And so we trudged on for the last part of the stretch to Laban Rata. Kinda tough, with a lot of people struggling to reach the final steps. But the most sakit-hati-feeling was when Sarip thought he had reached Laban and so he picked up the pace and climbed the steps ala Rocky when the kahpluak datuk was actually Waras Hut. Tak waras langsung! Of all names it has to be named Waras and tricked us tak boleh angkat souls. Luckily, enough waras was still in tank for after awhile we reached Laban Rata. Yahoo!

Ok first thing to do when you reached a tourist spot is to pose jumping. Even if your knees and thighs are sore to the limit.

OK lah, one for the memories. Muka ajer cramp sikit.

Unfortunately, its a bit cloudy so no beautiful sunset there. :[

But its OK. The only thing on Sarip's mind was his tummy was hungry and he wants to eat really baaaaaaaaad. To heck with even finding the accomodation, he just want to eat and eat and eat.

By the time we finished eating, we just realised we don't know where the heck is Pendant Hut.And it's really dark.

Now here are some advises if you are thinking of signing up for Via Ferrata:-

1. Do not sign up for it [which we did but did not do] unless you are really, really confident that you can manage the next day’s climb ‘cos if you don’t reach Sayat-Sayat Hut by 8 AM, your money will be forfeited.

2. But if you want to, you have to stay at Pendant Hut, which mind-bogglingly sits on top of a steep [and Sarip means really steep] slope which is even more mind-boggling that the only route to access it is via a “mini abseil”. Looks OK, but when you have to climb and descend in darkness AND with sore legs, it’s a challenge all by itself.

3. And not surprisingly, there are not many people lodging in. In fact, we were the only ones staying put for that night. And if you are thinking since there are not many people up there, don’t assume your belongings are safe. WRONG! Sarip’s favrit cap went missing apparently after a blackout. Either that or there is a ghost who likes Blackyak Caps. KNN. Sarip’s mood was so low he can’t be arsed much for the rest of the night.

And he was not helped by the really, really cold conditions up there. No central heating and everything that we touched seems to be like ice! Luckily there were some heat packs to keep Sarip’s balls -literally- warm.

Day 4

We slept for a couple of hours and start to prepare to head to the summit around 230 AM. By the time we head down from Pendant Hut to Laban Rata, it was already approaching 3! A lot of people had started to move out.

And this was where things really start to go bad. Sarip got major AMS and every step he made was met with headaches and nausea. Difficult breathing. You get the drift. Sarip’s pace was so slow that even the grandpa managed to outpace him. Sarip hates the man-made steps! He prefers the stone and rope! And thankfully for Ain to be so supportive at this point.

It was a relief that the man-made steps were replaced by the stones and ropes. Don’t know why, but Sarip finds it is less irritating than dealing with steps. And slowly, he managed to adapt to the altitude and cold. Those heat-packs-in-the-groin-area works dar dei! Unfortunately, things started to get bad for Ain. The temperature was falling down like mad and the wind as strong as ever. She couldn’t fight the cold, coming to hypothermia even. It’s already 4 plus and we could see scores of headlights combing the edge of the summit.

We reached Sayat Sayat Hut at about 5 AM. Late by the ferrata standards. The guard was advising either we stay put there and wait till dawn breaks to go for the ferrata climb or continue climbing and risk of not reaching the hut on time. By this time, Ain was looking very pale and weak. Hajie advised that she shouldn’t continue as it’ll take another 4 hours at least to climb to the summit and return back to the hut. After much contemplating, she stayed back to the hut and Sarip continuing the trek with Hajie saying that he’ll meet him along the way.

Now here’s the funneh part. Sarip was the last person to leave Sayat Sayat Hut to continue to head to the summit. And with no guide. Apparently Hajie stayed much longer to take care of Ain. And Sarip’s all alone. Just rocks and a white rope guiding his way. Scareeeeyyyy balls. In the darkness, it looks like the Donkey’s Ears were talking to him. Felt like Frodo heading to Mount Doom without the Gay Sam.The wind was biting hard and only the howls were spoon feeding Sarip. Now to think this was the best time for some “me time” and so call acting like in the set of “into the wild”, Sarip advises don’t bother to do any self reflections. The only thing on Sarip’s mind was to head to the top and get off this bloody mountain as quickly as possible.

Before long, sunlight broke out into the sky. Ah dang. There goes Sarip’s dream of shooting the sunrise-oh-must-be-bayek-scene. He only managed to get some glimpse of the break of sunrise.

Jadilah. But it is still a long way to go even though it says that Sarip had reached the 8 KM [10 for Mercy Lauans. Heh heh.] mark.

By this time, Sarip couldn’t be arsed about wearing the gloves. Even though it’s freezing cold. Pasal mau amik gambar punya pasal. He thinks no one had ever got frostbite up there before. Or have they? Nah, picture more important.

Now apparently, Sarip thought that that was Low’s Peak. Until a lady descending down broke his heart and pointed out that’s St John’s Peak and there is another 800 m more to climb to Low’s Peak. Greaaaaaaaaaat!

And so Sarip trudgeed on along the white rope.

And still no guide!

By the time Sarip reached the foot of Low’s Peak, everyone had came, photographed and left. Leaving him and another lady with her guide in front of him. To be honest, Sarip the ever chicken willy was scared shit to death to climb all alone this far. It’s like who in the world will help him sial if he’s hurt and all! Plus, the desparation to tryyyyyyyy to reach down to Sayat Sayat Hut by 8 AM. All this rushing! It’s madness! Sarip couldn’t concentrate and take lovely pictures!

Oh, and he actually reached the peak about 7ish AM. Thankfully, the lady’s guide was kind enough to snap a pix.

Ooops. Sarip didn’t suffer for the past 22 hours to reach to the top and have his picture taken in total darkness looking like a statue. So one more time please…

OK lah, even though with that sick snigger, windstopper that suddenly looked like a bandana and chubby face. But what the heck, Sarip made it! Now it’s time to shoot trigger happy taking all the typical kinabalu summit touristy shots!

Don’t know about you, but THAT looks like someone’s hand clasping together!

South Peak that looks like a gorilla’s head guarding fort!

Huge rocks and more rocks that looked like pebbles surrounding Low’s Peak!

Unfortunately by now, the memory card screamed FULL brightly on the screen. Blardy hell. What else can go wrong! And by this time it’s already 8 AM and thus no via ferrata. Damnits.

And still no guide!

And so Sarip just headed down. Climbed for so long and stayed there for only 10 minutes. Harumph! And to think that going up was bad, going down was worse! Oh those knees…

By the time Sarip reached the 8 km route mark, Hajie suddenly pops out of nowhere. Macam ada ilmu sial. Scary mary. And then he described Kundasang town and its surroundings. And he even can point to Sarip his house from the summit. Fwah!

We reached Sayat Sayat Hut at about 8 plus. Met Ain, looking depressed not making to the top. Nehmind, next time can try again. Sarip just want to get off the mountain. Fast! And didn’t realised the route that was taken to go up. Scary mary sial!

And Laban Rata still look so far away.

Anyway, we reached Laban Rata an hour later. Rushed out of Pendant Hut, had a very sucky breakfast and quickly descend down via Timpohon Trail. Unlike Mesilau though, Timpohon was quite boring, with only steps in sight and nothing much else. We took about 5 hours to reach the Gate, and the last 100 metres of uphill stairs was a killuh if you’ve been there.

One big lesson Sarip learnt from this “expedition” – avoid stairs at all cost for the next few weeks.

Oh if you are still here, here’s a “video” sample Sarip made, konon konon inspired to do something like Heima lah. But as always tak menjadi.

Oh and in case if you still want to jenguk jenguk more pixs, head lah over kan to kampungdusun’s multiply. Promote habis habisan!

So there. Climbed. Conquered. Striked off the list of Things Must Do Before Ada Anak thing.

5 thoughts on “Kota Kinabalu – Mount Kinabalu (Day 1 – 4)

  1. oh dear…i just said no, and dropped the idea of climbing the mountain tis dec…dang, but after reading this post, the idea is haunting me again!

    and u so brave, going up and down with no guide!

  2. fau: terima kasih! aku konon2 nak buat mark “sarip dolz wuz here” kat batu batu dia, tapi liquid paper habis pasal stock terhad. sigur rios sirap very good!

    is: bukan brave beb, cuma tak mau rugi duit dah bayar nye pasal. haha! and dec rainy season liao! go during april! or august!

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