Hello travelers from all around the world 😀 So yeah, it doesn’t meant you need to carry a backpack, travel form one place to another to be called a traveler because all of us are born to be travelers ! Travelers of life 🙂 Moving on day by day, and each step made will never be a waste, even if its a fall, it’ll just make you grow stronger. So, Life is About Travel and Travel is about Life too eh? Alright, cut the old long grandmother philosophy, here now, before i share my very first backpacking experience, I’ll love to express my greatest appreciation towards Vivian and Danny for their invitation to write on their traveling blog ❤
Now, the story I’ll be sharing will be my solo trip to Sabah, specifically Kota Kinabalu. It was a 5D 4N ‘runaway’ (22.11.2012- 26.11.2012) where 2D 1N ( 23.11.2012- 24.11.2012) spent to conquer the highest point of Malaysia- Low’s peak of Mt.Kinabalu (4095.2 m). Yes, a runaway i call it. In short, its an escape I needed much to release my agony out of disappointment and a broken heart. I left my cell phone behind, didn’t wish to be reached. It’s like a revenge for being taken for granted. Moroever, it was the period of time where many would realize my existence because it was my birthday that week. No one actually knew where i was, not even my family. [Very selfish of me…well, was very heart broken back then..but through this journey, i realised my absence to them was actually an absence of them to me, and how much im surrounded by their love and care which got me appreciate them more]. Meanwhile at the same time, I desperately need myself to feel alive again, to know I am strong enough to stand on my own feet and live my life. That’s why i’ve chosen a place where i can reach closest to the sun, that’s why i went solo and that’s why i did not throw a grand 21st year old party bash, being everyone’s princess. And so, that’s the beginning of journey by the little red backpacker :B
Day 1- 22.11.12(Thursday)
Left kampar (Ipoh) to KL sentral by ETS train and took Skybus to LCCT airport. It is very convenient since there’s trip to LCCT every half an hour from KL sentral and you can actually book along with the air ticket from air asia which is much cheaper- RM 7.70 instead of RM 10. The journey to LCCT from KL sentral took around 1 hour.
Flight time- 7.20 pm.
P/s: I have flight phobia, I’m afraid of heights and speed. Well, sticking earphones with music definitely helps a lot, i would have faint if i hear the airplane accelerating ~_~. “You found me” by the fray was playing while im between the clouds and tears keep rolling. I felt forced to let go, I actually felt sad to have leave people around. But now I know, its not about letting go, its about embracing your love for your love ones and feel the happiness in them of choices they’ve made. And yeah, every time the song plays now, it’ll bring me back to the clouds and glittering lights of the city.
Touch down to KK -10.15pm ( approx 2.5 hrs journey)
No more public bus by this time so i had no choice but to pay for a taxi which cost me RM 30. It’s actually more expensive than my night stay in the backpackers lodge.I made a booking for a dorm room without aircond at Borneo Backpackers which located at Kota Kinabalu’s city center it was only RM 20 per night, very nice, convenient, clean and worth the stay!
Day 2- 23.11,2012
Woke up 6am the next day and got totally shock. The sky was bright as if it was 7 am in Penisular Malaysia. Had a piece of toast and head to the bus station nearby which takes less than 10 minutes walk. Now there’s a few choices of transport to make your way to Kinabalu Park Headquarters to get your mountain guide and permit for the climb.
Minibus that’ll cost around RM 20- pros: cheap, cons: driver will start the journey only when the minibus is full, which could take hours?
Private cars– can share the fare among other passengers. I was offered RM 40 to start the journey on the spot with another lady. But I thought it was double than my initial budget so I lingered a little while. Was very lucky that another guy passenger approach and we started the journey. I got my ride for RM 20 =D ! Probably the driver know that I was local so yeah. Initially I was mistaken to have come from Hong Kong *lol. Driver was a friendly, local kadazandusun. Scenery was amazing throughout the whole journey.
Here is a clear view of the Mountain I was about to climb
And here I am , Kinabalu park at 8 ++ am , it was an hour plus journey getting here from KK. Entrance fee was supposed to be RM 3, but there were no one there to collect from me. Luck perhaps? Haha. Headed to Sutera Sanctuary Lodge lobby located just right beside the entrance and confirmed my climb plus a night stay at Laban Rata. It is advisable to make booking earlier as there were limited beds up there for climbers. I made my booking 3 weeks before for a 2D1N climb. I guess I was lucky again to get myself a place as I’ve actually came across that booking shall be made 6 months before the climb and they only allow booking for 3D2N. It was very difficult to make booking online without going through a tour agent that cost a BOOM. Hence, I emailed personally to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (firstname.lastname@example.org) as they were the main management who manage the climbs. I even find it hard to get this email address. Luck was really on my side and I got it from a forum after hours of research.
2D1N Mt. Kinabalu Climb cost me RM 342 which is inclusive of :
-1 night accommodation at Laban Rata
This doesn’t include guide fee (RM 128 –to be shared by at most 3 person), transport to Timpohon gate were you start the climb (RM 16.50) and certificate (RM10). I bought myself a raincoat as suggested by the guide (RM 5). There are quite a few routes to be choosen for the climb. Mesilau gate is located at the other side of Kpark HQ and it was 2 KM extra than timpohon gate. There’s also climbing via ferrata which is much more challenging.
After confirming the night stay and got my coupons for the 5 meals, I headed the building next door to manage my climb and get myself a mountain guide. And again, I’m lucky enough to have met Jing, another solo traveler to share the guide fee =)
There’s a portal service for our backpack that cost RM 8 per kG. So I thought it was a little bit too costly and I din’t prepare any extra small backpack to put necessary stuffs. So I’ve decided to carry the 6 kg red backpack by my own.
All set and ready to go ! It takes around 15 minutes to arrive Timpohon gate from Kinabalu Park headquarters.
With the experience of running a half marathon, 1 km of hiking definitely feels like 10 km of running. The air was thin and my backpack was pulling my shoulders down. I needed to stop and catch my breath for every 3 to 5 steps made on the muddy stairs. Legs wasn’t sore, my shoulders was. Well, you’ll know when you’ve completed each kilometer because there’s a pondok to rest, refill your bottle with unsterilize mountain h2o and a functional toilet to use. Was just too tired to note down how long I took to hike 1 KM.
Pondok Kandis was the landmark of finishing the first km. Followed by Pondok Ubah, Pondok Lowii ,Pondok Mempening, Pondok Layang-layang and Pondok Villosa. It took 6 KM to reach Laban Rata rest house where I will rest for the night and continue to the summit at 2 am next day. Food is important as you reach every pondok. Remember to get yourself ready with chocolate bars and isotonic drink . Ahhh yeah, SSL have provided packed breakfast which was one of the 5 meals included. Collected it before the climb at K.Park HQ. There were 2 hard boil eggs, 6 pieces of sandwich, 1 apple and 1 banana. Definitely replenished my depleted glucose during hiking! Climbers were all supportive to each other during the climb, each and everyone who passed by, ascent or descent would definitely greet and give encouragement. I just love how harmonized we can be when all of us are towards the same direction and goal, its such a great blessing.
I arrived the great Laban Rata at 4.45 pm which meant I spent 5.30 hrs to hike 6 km and I can say its 100 times harder than running a marathon. However it is of accomplishing something arduous like this that help you oversee your inner capability. Do you have the courage to discover yourself?
I can never forget how it feels like standing above the clouds =’) so peaceful so calm. Just by looking back at the pictures I took. Boof ! you could feel your neurotransmitters all fired up again.
The buffet dinner starts at 5.30 pm. God knows how I looked like when I arrived Laban Rata. I literally felt like I was flying after putting my backpack down. So light all of the sudden. Food is precious up there. They were carried by the ninjas of Mt.Kinabalu. A few of them passed by me on my way up. They had the entire gas tong on their back, tray of eggs, hundreds of apples, and they were like flying and hoping up to Laban Rata.
The dorms in Laban Rata were separated among genders and there were 4 beds in one room. I wasn’t able to take a bath because the water heater was spoiled and not fixed for years already. Trust me, the water are just a few Celsius away from reaching their freezing point. Anyway, it was very cooling up there, you won’t get sweaty at all!
Weather was great, clear and sunny with no rain. I did not have any acclimatize problem nor altitude sickness. Thou, I didn’t get to sleep at night, was just able to rest my eyes. I wondered was is the many cups of sabah tea I had while enjoying the sunset.
I’m blessed to be where I’ve been, to see of what I’ve saw.
By the way, don’t miss the chance to post a postcard through the highest mailbox in Malaysia 🙂
Day3- 24.11.2012 Happy birthday
It’s 1.30 am in the morning. Another 2.5 km to Low’s peak for the best sunrise! Put on my extra long sleeves, cute little beanie ,rented a headtorch from Laban Rata (RM 20) and the gloves borrowed from Jing. Other necessary stuffs includes bottle of water, lip balm, camera, extra scarf and a bar of snickers. I would suggest mask to be brought along to keep your respiratory system warm as the wind are extremely cold and strong.
For the first time, I felt myself able to touch the stars. They were so big and bright. Without any obstructions for the clouds( since im above them) it feels like i get to see the whole galaxy of stars up there.
Night climb was exciting, I just couldn’t stop myself from looking up at the stars. Now the real climb starts upon reaching Pondok Sayat- sayat. It was way more challenging than the past 6.5 km. I nearly gave up at a point where there’s only a rope you can hold on to and could barely lay my feet parallel to the ground as there were no space to step on. There was a great inclination at the side. Was wondering how am I suppose to get down after reaching the peak. But you know what was in my mind? I was telling myself to just move on, just step cautiously and go. Doubts and fear will never bring you anywhere if you stop moving on. At times we fear of the unforeseen or the fallacious foresees that fears ourself. No one sees and no one can comprehend what is ahead. To know and to change, we’ve got to just move ahead carefully step by step, thou some falls calls an end but it’s a fall out of courage which you’ll never regret. For life, learn to not regret things that are done because each step taken, each choice made will make you grow. So why cage yourself with sorrow when you are the one who controls it? No one deserves to frown =) Just got to realize your inner strength to take charge of yourself!
There were fewer stairs and more ropes now before reaching the peak. Many of us have mistaken South peak as Low’s peak. South peak is the one printed on our RM 1 dollar note. Low’s peak is the highest peak in Malaysia, say another KM more?
I didn’t manage to catch sunrise on Low’s peak, wasn’t physically fit enough to reach on time. But I did turn and look back during breaking dawn. I can hardly use words to describe how i was feeling right there looking at such amazing phenomena.
The last few meters up was the hardest. Knees must be strong to carry your weight , eyes must be sharp to know where to step. And there I go, the highest peak of Malaysia on my 21st birthday, 4095m above sea level.
Upon decent to Laban Rata, I’m given an hour to pack up and have breakfast before heading back down to Timpohon gate. At this stage, my legs are extremely worn out. Knees felt so dislocated. But all in my mind was: I WANT TO GO HOME ! Met lots of climbers making their way up, and it was my turn to give some support I got during my ascent =D such a beautiful cycle it is right ?
I FINALLY reached Timpohon gate at 3 ++pm. Decent took around 4 + hours. You’ll appreciate the stairs and flat road so much after this journey. Waited a while for the transport back to K.park HQ. Had 30 minutes more for the buffet lunch served at Sutera Santuary Lodge and wallop like nobody’s business! Hey Its my birthday meal okay !
All fueled up and its time to think of a way back to Kota Kinabalu city. Wanted to charter a minivan with Jing, waited for quite a while at the entrance but there were none came by. There’s this couple offered us a ride for RM 25 per person but we’ve decided to get a ride back from a bunch of lecturers from Politeknik Kota Kinabalu which we’ve met at the mountain. I initially thought their bus will have pass by KK city and we just get down from there but the bus headed right back to their politeknik which was quite a distance from town. Well anyway I felt very lucky to have a chance to visit their campus. Who the hell gets to enter a politeknik on their holiday? Haha. It was a very big and beautiful campus. Neilson was one of the lecturer,so kind of him to fetch us all the way back to KK. Offered to pay him but he refused . Katanye kesian ,perempuan seorang datang. Im glad to have met numerous kind and friendly people throughout my trip.
Me and Jing headed back to Borneo backpackers since I love that lodge very much. Couldn’t describe the soreness of my thighs and the pain on my feet. But anyway, It was still bearable and Im still able to walk normally… just that going up the stairs makes me look like a grandmother. Before I call of the day, Jing showed me a pamphlet she got from the lodge common area and its about the Tamu Besar that will be held in Kota Belud next day. A once in a year big event I suppose, where we get the chance to see chiefs of the kampong riding on their nicely dressed horses, kuda Bajau they called. And so, I set it as one of my plan for the next day.
P/s : Day 4 and 5 to be continued in my next post. I’ll be sharing places I’ve visited in the city itself.
Tips and preparations to climb Mt.Kinabalu:
1) Book a 2D1N climbing package directly through SSL.
2) Snacks to fuel up lost energy. Eg: energy / chocolate bar, isotonic drink.
3) Paracetamol or Ibuprofen in case of headaches induced by altitude sickness
4) Diamox to prevent altitude sickness
5) Plenty of water is needed to rehydrate systems and this prevents chances of altitude sickness.
6) Headtorch and waterproof gloves(Important)
7) Walking stick (optional)
8) A light backpack
10) Sign up as an organ donor (Just in case)
Tips as a solo traveler:
1) Don’t fear, don’t doubt, believe what you think is right and never regret any decision made.
2) Have an inner belief for people around. Let them feel it. Look into their eyes and give your best smile. You will know who to follow and who not to.
3) Never shy to ask for directions.
4) Be friendly and talk to everyone.
5) Always remember that happiness is true only when shared.
Till then 🙂