Sabah – land below the wind

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Climbing up Low’s Peak, May 2016, Photo Credits: L

We spent a short holiday in Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, otherwise known as the Land beneath the Wind. This is our itinerary with Beyond Adventures.

DAY 1 – KOTA KINABALU / KINABALU PARK HQ / RESORT
Nepenthes Lodge

We took SilkAir and arrived just about lunch. It was a pleasant day, the guide told us that this is a dry season. Not a peak period for the climb. Usually months of Feb to April are more popular, with July-August the peak period, because of European tourists.

Got a WIFI sim card at RM27 for 7 days. Went to Tung Fung for lunch. Bill was $166RM noodles for about 7 pax and some fish. Very good ko lo noodles.

Saw Giant megastore. We were told by the guide to buy our drinks at Nabalun which was 2 hrs away. We bought our water for the climb here. But since it was a Sunday, most stalls were closed. I’m surprised that the local guide was not aware. (He usually leads dives at Sapi and not climbs.) Suggestion is to use the toilet at the airport and buy your snacks and medication in your home county or KK town and not here.

Buy your 2 litres of water per pax in the city and have your lunch in the city.

We headed straight to the Kinabalu Park and spend a night at the foothills. Shopping can come later. Its a 2 hours drive from airport to Kinabalu Park HQ, winding road of the valleys of the Crocker Range.

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We make a brief stop at Nabalu. Good pit stop for toilets. 30ct per pax. Nabalu is a place where the local natives gather to sell local produce, fruits, home grown vegetables and handicraft souvenirs. As its a Sunday, most of the stalls are closed as the Kadazan Dusu natives are mostly Catholics and they’re in church.

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Different types of rice.

Check into Kinabalu Park – Nepenthes Lodge. The mountain air is cool and pleasant. There’s heated water in the toilet.

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When we arrived at the Base camp, the air was so refreshing. Our guide registered us and sent us to Nepenthes lodge (8 units ) where we stayed for the night.

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Flowers in front of our unit.

Cozy lodge with big rooms. Each unit has 1 master bedroom with queen size bed and a room with 2 single beds.There were five of us so we had 2 interconnecting units. There’s heated water for bathing and a lounge area with TV, hot water. We watched CNN and ate our own snacks.

Then it rained heavily at 530pm.

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Dinner at Balsam restaurant and we went to bed at 9pm. A light sweater with a beanie was sufficient. The bed comfortable.

DAY 2 – PARK HQ / TIMPOHON GATE / ASCEND MOUNT KINABALU / LABAN RATA

Laban Rata Rest House (Non-Heated Dormitory)
Breakfast at Balsam Park Restaurant. I did my carbo loading. Collect packed lunch, I left the apple and oily chicken wings and box behind. Kept the sandwich, hard boiled egg and oat biscuits.

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Proceed to the Park HQ to register for the climb.
Our mountain guides were changed 3 times, from Frederick, to Willie to Bill. We later learned that the mountain guide is not assigned by your tour agency but by the Park administration. Of course, if you are aligned with a major tour agency, you get the first pick of the mountain guides.

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We waited from 8am to 9am for our guide to show up. In the meantime, we had our bags weighed as we’d asked for 2 porters in addition to our guide. All’s well that ends well. Bill is a very pleasant young man.

Remember to wear your ID TAG at all times.
Our minivan transferred us downhill to the starting point – Timpohon Gate – where our journey and quest to the summit of Borneo’s highest mountain begins! I took 6 hrs to climb uphill, 2hrs longer than the estimated time by the tour agency.

We were told that the trek will pass by different vegetation zones from Oak and Chestnut to mossy and eventually to alpine type of vegetations.

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Arrived at 3pm and checked into Laban Rata Rest House @ 3272m 
for a buffet Dinner at Laban Rata restaurant and overnight.

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Our tiny room had 6 bunk beds, but because there were 5 of us, we had another person join us. He’s a young Taiwanese doctor who joined Amazing Borneo and signed upon his own. He joined us for dinner and we had a smashing time.
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In the ladies toilet, I had a hot shower. Towel and toilet paper was provided but not slippers. Whether you get hot water is dependent on the number of guests and on the sun since heating is by solar panel. So don’t wash your long hair, leave some hot water for others. (I didnt tell the guys so as not to gloat over their icy cold shower.)

I slept in the clothes meant for tomorrow’s climb. We slept at 7pm, some with the help of sleeping pills. We were blessed with a quiet crowd, no wild parties, no one talking beyond bed-time, just some snoring and some tossing.

DAY 3 – LOW’S PEAK / DESCEND MOUNT KINABALU / KOTA KINABALU

(02:00hrs) Wake up for early supper and depart for continuation of journey towards the summit of Mount Kinabalu.

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We were told that the journey up to the Low’s peak @4,095m will test your fitness and determination. Weather was perfect for us. But only 2 of the team made the climb. I was part of the cheerleading team and went back to sleep soundly.

More photos of Low’s Peak on my next post.

Our two team mates who made it for the climb plus the Taiwanese doctor made their descent back to Laban Rata for late breakfast and check out. My achievement was to eat 2 breakfasts in one day.

Trek down to Timpohon Gate for transfer back to the Kinabalu Park Headquarter (est. arrival 13:00hrs to 15:00hrs). I made it at 4pm. During the climb down, I wondered why I decided to leave the comfort of my home and torture my knees. A young JB boy commented to himself, no one tricked you to the climb. You tricked yourself by not doing sufficient research. Misery makes philosophers of us.

Buffet Lunch served at the Balsam restaurant in Kinabalu Park. But since I arrived at 4.10pm, no lunch for me. Thanks to quick witted friends, I got a delicious curry fish packed lunch.

Transfer back to Kota Kinabalu City to check into Promenade Hotel.

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