A Travellerspoint blog

Conquering Mount Kinabalu

sunny 2 °C

I just came back from climbing the highest mountain in Malaysia, Mountain Kinabalu in Sabah. This was my second attempt to climb to the highest peak of the mountain and with lots of help from my mountain guide, Mr Suhaldin who's 35, I finally made it this time. No words could express my gratitude to Din who helped and encouraged me throughout my climb to the peak. During the final 2 km of the climb, he helped carried my backpack, took my hand and guided me up all the way to the top.

My journey started when we (me, my aunt and my cousin) finally landed at Kota Kinabalu airport on 14 July 2014 after a detour to Labuan airport due to heavy rain in Kota Kinabalu airport. We landed at Kota Kinabalu airpot around 12.30pm, two hours after the original scheduled landing time. We checked into Promenade Hotel in the town area. After freshening up ourselves, we wandered around the town area shopping and eating the seafood there which was very fresh and cheap compared to those sold in Kuala Lumpur. Night time was spent unpacking and packing our clothes in preparation for our trip to the mountain.

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The following day, we began our journey to Kinabalu Park around 1pm and reached around 3.30pm. We stopped by a market along the way. A must try is their pineapple, which was so sweet and juicy….yummy. We registered ourselves at the Kinabalu Park headquarter and checked into our lodge for the night, Peak Lodge 1. The place has a hearth in the middle of the living room, a kitchen, two rooms, a bathroom and a fantastic view of the Kinabalu mountain. We attended the briefing at 6pm at the Liwagu Basement and proceeded to the Balsam Restaurant for our dinner.

I was staying in a room with my aunt and my cousin was staying in another room. We left our room door ajar to let some lights in while we were sleeping. Close to midnight, the door suddenly closed on its own and the two of us who were half asleep had this conversation. Aunt: “Think it’s the wind that closes the door”. Me: “Aunty, you just closed the window before sleeping. Where does the wind comes from?”….silent…..

Anyway, back to our climb the next morning. We headed out to the Kinabalu Park Headquarter to get our tags, sticks (rent at RM10 per stick) and met with our guide, Mr Suhaldin. We called him Din. RM11 per kg for the porter to carry our bags up. After our breakfast and getting our packed lunch, we proceeded to the start of the trail at Timpohon Gate. There was also another woman porter with us who was carrying one of our luggage. She leaded the way and we followed. The guide was behind us. The three of us started off happily along the trail around 8.30am and Din finally caught up with us at 2km after given us a head start. Around the third km, I was walking alone as I couldn’t catch up with my aunt and cousin. Luckily the guide was behind me and caught up with me once in awhile to check on me. The trail although not as much to see as Mesilau Trail but beautiful and scenic nonetheless. Along the way, I chatted with the hikers climbing down and follow others who were also on their way up to Laban Rata. I finally made it to Laban Rata around 2.30pm. My aunt and cousin reached Laban Rata around 1.15pm.

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We rested and waited at Laban Rata guesthouse until the dinner started at 4.30pm. One can of 100 plus up at Laban Rata costed RM10.50 but for the effort it took for the porters to bring the food and drinks up there, this is the money that I'm very willing to pay. After we finished our dinner, we proceeded another 200m up to our stay for the night at Panar Laban Hut 1. It was a dorm with six beds. The three of us were sharing the room with three other hikers from Denmark. The washroom was outside of the room and you could imagine us going out in the cold to relieve ourselves. Quite an experience I must say, especially if you have to go during the dark and cold windy night.

We shut out the lights at 6.30pm and try to get some sleep. However, I couldn’t slept well the whole night. The wind outside was blowing so strongly and I scared it would blew away our small little hut. We woke up at 1.30am to prepare ourselves for the final stretch of the climb to the peak.

Din met with us at our lodge and we started our climb to the peak at 2.30am. The journey up was dark, windy and lots of hikers at the beginning of the trail. I climbed and I rested. Climbed again and rested again. The strong wind did not make it easier for us throughout the climb. I got exhausted due to the cold and strong wind. Sometimes I was on all four just to get myself up another step. And then I saw the stretch of the trail with rope and steep stone path. I remembered staring at the trail for awhile thinking “How am I going to get up there with that rope?”. Luckily, Din was beside me reassuring me that I could do it. He took my backpack and urged me to climb. At some point of the rope climb where I felt like I couldn’t climb up another step, Din was beside me and pulled me up. I realised from my last climb in 2008 and now that these mountain guides do not even need to pull the ropes to get themselves up there. I finally reached Sayat-Sayat Hut, the last checkpoint of the climb. After resting for awhile there, I gathered all my courage and energy to proceed with the last stretch of the climb to the peak. All I can say that it was not easy with the wind blowing against me as I climbed. I climbed a few steps and stopped to rest and it continued for another kilometres or so like that. Along the way, there was another guide who took my hand and walked with me the journey up. He left me where the slopes were not too steep. I continued with my stop, rest, breathe and crawl until Din reached me. He kept urging me to go and grabbed my hand to walk with him. It was easier when he walked and pulled me along but even with his help, I also needed to stop him and let me rest awhile to catch my breath. He stopped with me and after a few minutes urged me to go again. He said not to stop for too long as it will cool the body and make it harder for me to get going again. I proceeded after his small steps and kept thinking that I will reach the peak even if I have to crawl on all four to get up there. Din was very enthusiastic about getting me to see the sunrise up there to which I replied that I was happy enough even to reach the peak without seeing the sunrise. Finally after the 8 kilometres, we saw the peak but it was another of those ‘so near yet so far’ location. Another 500m to the peak. Walked with Din and finally managed to reach the bottom of the short climb to the peak. With no more energy left, Din pulled me up to the Lows Peak. My aunt was already waving at me from a distance before I reached there. My aunt was 57 years old and she had so much stamina. My aunt reached the peak at 5am, my cousin at 5.30am and me at 5.50am. I’m so happy to finally reached the peak that all tiredness was forgotten for awhile until we needed to climb back down. Arrghh!!!

I left my camera with Din who helped took most of the scenery photos up there as we began our descent back to Panar Laban Hut. The view was absolutely amazing and breathtaking. As we were going down, I was wondering how in the world we managed to climb up all the way.

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We finally reached Panar Laban Hut around 8.30am. Packed our bags and climbed 200m to Laban Rata Guesthouse for our breakfast. After our breakfast, we continued our descent of the mountain at 9.30am. We reached Timphon Gate at 1.45pm. Went back to the headquarters to get our certificates, our remaining luggage which we stored at the headquarters, had our late lunch and proceeded to our hotel in KK town.

All along the way of the climb and after it, I reminded myself not to do this again and has almost wanted to give up at many point of the climb to the peak. If not for the help of our guide, Mr Suhaldin, I would not have reached the peak. My heartiest and most grateful thanks to him if he is reading this. However after I was back home, I ached to go and do it all over again. Maybe next time through the Mesilau trail. Am I crazy???

Posted by puileng 19.07.2014 01:01 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Macau

First thing I wanna say about this place is that is that it's hard to pay anything with a HKD1000 bill there. Hardly anyone accepts it except probably the banks and casinos there. So if you are exchanging notes hkd notes to Macau from your country, make sure you don't accept that big a bill too. Otherwise, you will end up looking for places to exchange your HKD1000 to small notes.

Overall it was an enjoyable trip with cooling weather. A lot of police presence during our trip there, making us feel a tad safe and secure. The only downside is the crowd in the city. Lots of people everywhere especially in tourist attractions area and casinos.

There was a lot of free shuttle buses from hotels, so we manage to save quite a bit on transportation using their shuttle buses to get to where we want to go.

From the airport, we took the Venetian shuttle bus to their hotel. Actually we were suppose to go to city of dreams but their shuttle bus from airport only starts operating at 11am. Anyway, the city of dreams is just opposite the venetian. The only problem is that we need to walk a much longer distance using the walkway provided instead of just walking to the opposite road. Better take the city of dreams buses next time. Their buses is purple in colour.

We deposited our luggage at city of dreams and then took another free shuttle to galaxy. And from galaxy we took free shuttles to Rua Da Cunha. This street is filled with lots of bakery, snacks and food.

Later at night, we watched an amazing performance at the house of dancing water theatre. This performance was packed with a lot of wow factor, It was a jaw dropping performance and I wouldn't mind to watch this show again.

After the performance, we took the free shuttle from city of dreams to Hotel Sintra which is on the old side of Macau. From there we walked about 15 minutes to where we will be staying, London hotel. A nice and clean hotel. Good location as well as it's on the quieter side of the town. It's actually not far from most of the tourist attractions, just need to walk abit up and downhill.

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Posted by puileng 21.01.2014 23:55 Archived in Macau Comments (0)

ChengDu China

JiuZhaiGou, Huang Long

What attracted me to this place was the place called 'JiuZhaiGou' in the itinerary. JiuZhaiGou was a really beautiful place with vivid colour ponds and lakes amidst a serene landscape. And what somehow spoilt the wonderful place is the dirty washroom and rude tourists who do not queue to get on the bus or even to use the washrooms. It was snowing when we were there, making the landscape a beautiful white for as far as the eye can see. I should count myself lucky as although there were a lot of other tourists in the area, it was still pleasant to walk around.

Huang Long is another tourist attractions that we went to, a mountain more than 4000m above sea level. We took the cable car to the mid point and climb the rest of the way up. The level of air and oxygen began to thin as we went up higher making me exhausted and gave up to get to the highest point of Huang Long. I took a short cut and waited for the rest of them at a temple instead. The view was nothing short of breathtaking.
On the way down, we passed by a lot of clear water ponds some similar to those at JiuZhaiGou which were just as beautiful. It was a long way down back to the entrance at Huang Long.

It was snowing heavily even as we boarded the plane that was supposed to fly back to Chengdu that night. However in the end, we were asked to disembark the plane as the aircraft couldn't take off due to the heavy snowfall outside. As I got off the plane, I felt faint as it was quite stuffy inside the plane.

I really don't have much to write for this trip as it was all planned by the travel agency. Let the photos speak for itself...

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Posted by puileng 09.11.2013 23:21 Archived in China Comments (0)

Muar Johor

With a group of friends, we departed to Muar, the lovely hometown of a friend in Johor.

Her hometown was actually in Kundang Ulu, about 45 minutes drive from Muar town. Although having to wake up early in the morning, all of us were quite awake and chatted all the way to our destination. Our first stop for breakfast was at my friend's family coffee shop at Kundang Ulu. We had our breakfast there and went for a walk along the river just behind the shops.
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Lovely durian that we had there.
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Food, food and more food...
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Posted by puileng 01.09.2013 21:17 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur (KL) city day walk

Yes...I'm from KL, I'm born in KL, studied in KL but I've never really slow down to take a look of the beautiful landscape in Kuala Lumpur city.

And one fine day, suddenly I felt the urge to do just that. With a friend, we drove down to Kuala Lumpur for a city walk. Parking in KL was just as expensive as parking in any shopping malls in Klang Valley. We parked at Jalan Sultan and the parking fee was RM10 per day.
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Maybe next time will consider to take the Light Railway Transit (LRT) down to Central Market.

Okay, back to our city walk. From Jalan Sultan, we walked along the old shophouses to Petaling Street for our breakfast. 1012123_10..576304936_n.jpg
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There were a lot of food to eat along Jalan Sultan and Jalan Hang Lekir. Just have to do some research on the website for the famous food there before you go. We had some porridge with raw fish slices, 'chee cheong fun' (rice noodle usually eaten with sweet sauce or curry) and water chestnut drink to soothe our thirsty throat.
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From Petaling Street, Central Market is just 5 minutes walk on the opposite side of the street. Beside Central Market, there is a Kasturi Walk which you wouldn't missed it as there is a canopy in the form of a 'Wau' (A Malaysian kite with floral motifs) on top of the walk.
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Along the walk, you will see many stalls selling souvenirs. If you want more souvenirs, you can walk into the Central Market next door. Originally a wet market, Central Market is now a heritage site and houses a lot of shops and a food court on the second floor. If you are looking for souvenirs, arts and crafts, this is the place to scout for.
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Anyway, our mission for the day was to get to Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) for some photos. It was in Dataran Merdeka that the now Malaysia flag was hoisted up on 31 August 1957 signalling Malaya's independence.

At the end of Kasturi walk, we crossed the road to reach a square where some banks were located.
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From there we walked to the direction of Masjid Jamek and along the courthouse to snap some photos.
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Turning left after the courthouse, we were able to see the Dataran Merdeka not far from sight. While we were taking photos of the beuatiful 'Sultan Abdul Samad' building opposite of the Dataran Merdeka, a lot of people approached us to ask where were we from. Politely nodding and answering Malaysia, there were some that looked disbelieved at us. Maybe we should have answered China, Thailand or Japan instead :p
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Nearby Dataran Merdeka, there was a National Gallery which I would recommend a visit there. First of all, it's free, then there's a gallery that houses amazing photos of Kuala Lumpur, some models of famous buildings in KL and lastly a short video on the second floor showing the places around Kuala Lumpur. There is a souvenirs centre when you exit the gallery too. The souvenirs prices were a bit expensive if you ask me, but I really admired the detailed woodcraft on the souvenirs.
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On the way back to Jalan Sultan, we passed by some interesting buildings with unique architectural designs.
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We then went to the bus stop along Jalang Hang Kasturi to enquire about the 'Hop On Hop Off' bus tickets. The bus route covers a lot of area and is definitely worth it if I'm a tourist. But I'm NOT...and for that price, I think I can drive along that route myself. There's a free bus service in KL, the 'GoKL' buses which provide free bus services from KLCC and the Golden Triangle, Central Market and Pavillion. The bus routes covers a lot of interesting places as well. Try search for the information on their website: http://www.spad.gov.my/news-events/announcements/2012/go-kl-free-bus-service-routes

Of course we ended our city day trip with more food at Petaling Street. Not to be missed is the 'Air Mata Kuching' drink which is a famous dried longan drink, cooling after a day's walk.
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Indeed, Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful city!

Posted by puileng 05.08.2013 22:05 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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