Monday, July 09, 2012

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Conquering Mt Kinabalu… not! (Part 1 of 2)

So, after 6 months of talking about it, a few friends and I finally made good of it and headed over to Sabah for our Mt Kinabalu (4,095.2m above sea level) mini adventure. And although we did talk about training for it, we never got to materialize that part of the talk. Hah! You can just imagine how “weak” some of us were at that point.

We’d signed up for a package with one of the local tour operators, so we were rid of all the logistics and accommodation problems – albeit a few hiccups along the way.

As we’d taken an evening flight, it was already half past eight in the evening by the time we reached Kota Kinabalu airport, and all of us were starving. With a 2-hr drive to Kinabalu Park Headquarter ahead of us, the driver was kind enough to stop over at a nearby petrol kiosk for us to stock up water supply. But as soon as the group saw a Macdonald’s right beside the kiosk, they just went crazy and straight for it. And I? Well, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat the crowd, join them. And so I did.

It was a little embarrassing at first as (1) the driver hadn’t expected this to happen since there were packed dinner at our destination and (2) he couldn’t say “no” to us eating in his vehicle since most of us were grinning from ear to ear. All he could do was politely asked for us to be careful while eating in his vehicle as he made the long drive to our destination, which we did.

It was past midnight by the time we reached our lodging for the night. But since there were packed dinner that were too good to be wasted, we gathered around in the common area and tried to finish up whatever we could, before heading off to shower and rest for the night.

Our dorm – Grace Hostels:

Unfortunately for me, I’d shared a room with the guys and it was really hard to get to sleep. There was an “orchestra” going on all night and just as I thought it was over, someone would start it all over again. I shall make a mental note to bring ear plugs the next time.

Morning came and we gradually made our way over to the Kinabalu Park HQ, where we would be having our breakfast nearby.

Taken in front of the Kinabalu Park HQ, Mt K seem so near yet so far.

Our breakfast buffet:

Our packed lunch:

Once we were done with feeding ourselves, we made our way to the HQ office to collect our identification tags, placed our barang barang onto the mini van and made our way to Timpohon Gate (which is the easier route to get to Mt K summit).

And our hike begins:

A group photo taken at one of the pit stops:
P.S: Never trust the signs. When the sign tells you that the next pit stop is only 500m away, you better start thinking it’s at least 1km away…

While we were having lunch at one of the pit stops, a bunch of squirrels gathered near us. Some of us tried feeding them eggs but they seem uninterested. Funnily enough, they were much more into nasi lemak (someone else had left it there for them):

As we continued on with our hike, the terrain got more and more challenging. So was getting used to the altitude. I didn't manage to capture the more difficult ones as my hands were busy trying to balance myself and move on. But here are some of the initial pix that would give an idea on the route we were on:

When we finally made it to Laban Rata Resthouse, it was already around 5 plus in the evening. We were considered slow. Like really slow. Even the obaasans from Korea and Japan who had started later than us, got it to the same time as we did. Sigh. Should’ve done some training before we came. Oh well.

After a quick dinner at Laban Rata, we were told that we would need to hike up another 500m up to our lodge. The problem was – it was pitch dark out there and there were no proper lit signs to direct us. So we scrambled in the dark with our torches and up a long and steep flight of wet and slippery wooden steps. When we finally made it, we have climbed a total of 3,323m, since the morning.

All of us were physically and mentally drained by then. And it didn’t help either that there was no heater in the dorm. It got worse when it started to rain and went freezing cold in the night. And because we’d sweat a lot along the way, we had no choice but to take a shower in the icy cold water. When I tried to sleep, I couldn’t. The bed was super cold and it didn’t help even when I put 3 layers of blanket over it. The blankets were equally cold. I should’ve brought my thermal wear and my ski pants and etc. Oh man! And coupled with a splitting headache, I was torn between pushing myself to go for the summit climb (remaining 1km odd) or playing it safe and stay behind in the freezing cold dorm.

The guys too were having problems of their own. Some of them kept having stomach cramps/ aches or headaches and some of them were too cold to sleep. Eventually, PC and akong went to the kitchen to hit up some water, and took the chance to warm their hands over the stove.

At 1.30am, I was woken up by PC and my roommates. My headache was still on and I wasn’t confident of doing the remaining distance, which would prove to be far more challenging than the route I’ve taken so far, so I surrendered and stayed behind in the dorm alone. I passed the outer layer of my triclimate wear and Montana gloves to PC, my boots and headlight to Zhihui (whose shoes’ soles fell apart in the earlier part of the climb and her headlight broke down just at the 11th hour).

When the group finally got back to the dorm at around 8am, they were worn out. After a quick breather, we packed our bags and once again, hiked down the steep and slippery steps to Laban Rata to have our breakfast.

Our way down to Laban Rata (the building in the 2nd pix below):

The worn out faces:

After fueling up, we gradually made our way down back to Timpohon Gate:

(a football court in the middle of nowhere)

We collected our certificates (which actually dates down the distance you’ve hiked) and got onto the mini-van and made a 2-hr drive back into the city – but not before Akong struck up a conversation with a group of Japanese Obassans at the HQ lobby, which got us all embarrassed. He had asked if they’d enjoyed the climb and if they had managed to reach the peak. And one of the old ladies said yes, although it was a difficult climb. All of us were just flabbergasted that we lost to the obaasans. You see, I’d surrendered at 3,323m, while the rest of my group surrendered at the low peak (the high peak was about 800m away). So in actual fact, none of us actually managed to conquer the summit. But the obaasans did. ARGHHHHH!!!! LOL. And then we started comforting ourselves that the obaasans were probably accustomed to the high altitude and climb in Japan and lalala~ yah… we went through a few days of denial. Haha!

(to be continued)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

张惠妹 AMeiZING Singapore Concert - Jan 2012


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