In January 2015, my son Navindd, and I climbed Mt Kinabalu. I thought this would be great for bonding as well as planting a seed for the love of travel and the outdoors. It is certainly a trying effort for an old fella like me to carry on with this type of activity. Well, perhaps one more time!
My bookings for the climb were all organised by Lay Yong, my sister-in-law, including accommodation in Mersilau (Alan’s (nieces’ husband) parents place), whom I had not met before. Sabah Parks had privatised the bookings for the climb. Apart from issuing permits ( cost RM30) and organising guides, all bookings are handled by Sutera Sanctuary. Naturally the cost had increased, now about RM480.
Mt Kinabalu, part of the Crocker Range, is the highest peak at 4095m in South East Asia on the island of Borneo in Sabah, Malaysia. We arrived at Kota Kinabalu, in short called KK, just past midday in stormy and rainy weather. Tropical rain bucketed down and views of the surrounding hill and mountains were obscured. A taxi was pre-arranged to take us to Kundasang. Some roads turned to streams with fast flowing water. Carefully our driver negotiated these treacherous metal roads. The drive became more challenging as we hit the mountain roads towards Kundasang, the closest town to Kinabalu Park.
We arrived at Kundasang after three hours, around 3pm. The driver stopped at a row of stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables. The air was thick with cool mist. Visibility was poor. The ladies, however, were colourful and cheerful. The weather improved dramatically as we approached Kundasang town. I remembered it as a small village market on my first foray here. Now, it is a decent town surrounded by agriculture cultivation. Lay Yong, my sister-in-law, had organised a friend to pick Navindd and I and stay for the night. At 2000m above sea level, the quaint town is cool and has a temperate climate. The local population are mainly of Kadazan – Dusun origin and a small Chinese population. It is a lovely place just to enjoy the surrounding and climate. Its proximity to Kinabalu National Park makes it a tempting place to visit.
Thomas and his, rather cheery, son Albert waited for us. I immediately got a liking to them although we have just met. Through winding narrow roads, roadside shops and farms, we arrived at their home in Mersilau. Home, is under the gaze of a hazy silhouette of the unique formation of Mt Kinabalu. On the opposite side, a forested valley. I could live here, I thought. After settling in with a hot drink, Albert took us to the Park HQ, the gateway into the mountain, to sign in for the following day’s planned climb. It rained. Local buses and transportations arrived and departed from here. Accommodations and restaurants are all found here as well. All the bookings were checked by Sutera staff, required fees paid and a guide organised by the Park’s staff. It was around 5.30pm. Darkness came early in the mountains. After a hot meal, we went to sleep quite early in anticipation of the ardours climb the following day. I wanted to be well prepared this time around. However, having a month holidaying in China before arriving here is not quite what I had in mind. I was apprehensive.