Take Me Higher...
Trip Start Jun 15, 2004
105Trip End Jun 15, 2005
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6.30am my alarm was set for, to catch my 9.50 flight from KL international airport, 45 miles away. I awoke to the alarm, well, an alarm - somebody else's alarm to be precise, in another room, at 8.00am - I now have 65 minutes to get to check in.
Grabbed my stuff, walked extremely fast (you cant really run with a rucksack) to the LRT station - make the train just pulling out....exit the train at KL Sentral only to find the barrier wont let me out as my tickets crumpled - after some explaining they allow me through...walk fast again to the express train...luckily just waiting so I board and we go..its 9.30 now and the super modern express train to the airport is going as fast as I can will it to go, and I make check in at 9.04 - it closes at 9.05.
I fly with airasia.com, who are the Easyjet of the east, and get me to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia Borneo, on the far east coast. Very small airport, and cadge a lift for free with a German and two Malay guys he knows - after showing me their shop, they buy me a drink for free!
Kota Kinabalu is more expensive, so opt for a dorm room - and quickly learn the top bunk is not the best option - you lose valuable floor space!
Kinabalu itself is an uninteresting town - rebuilt after World War 2, after the British first burnt it down to stop it being used by the Japanese, then bombed it after the Japanese had rebuilt! - Accordingly, it has no character whatsoever.
Did go to a really nice locals restaurant, where I chose the poor fish that was to be my dinner - he seemed really annoyed, and jumped around on the scales like he was trying to escape - he tasted great though
Wednesday 29th September 2004
Woke up late, and was annoyed with myself for leaving it too late to climb Mount Kinabalu, as it was two hours away and you needed to start mid morning at the latest.
Eventually, after wandering around town with my full rucksack, catch the bus there anyway, to stay overnight - 2 hour bus ride into the mountains, with Phil Collins karaoke VCD being played on the coach TV.
Stay in cold dorm (as we are in the mountains), with just one other guy, whilst it pours down outside
Thursday 30th September 2004
Alarm worked this time - 6.30 am, to climb Mount Kinabalu, 4092 metres high - in context, Ben Nevis is 1344m, Snowdon 1085m, or Everest at 8850m.
You have to have a guide to climb the mountain, and I had a 1-1 guide, so off we go. Mount Kinabalu doesnt need climbing equipment etc - you can walk up most of it, but it is still very hard work, over rocky, steep paths. With regular breaks, lots of water, I was quite proud to have made stage one in 4 hours 20 minutes - when the guide book says if your fit it should take 4-5 hours. I'm certainly not fit, but am fitter that when I started this round the world trip over three months ago.
Without overnight accomodation at 3300 metres, brief cloud break allows you too see the final 700 metres, which is to be climbed tomorrow, at 3am. Food is grotty up here, and its cold, and so go to bed at 7.30 in preparation for tomorrows climb.
Friday 1st October 2004
Except I was in no fit state to attempt the final climb - altitude sickness kicked in overnite, exact same symptoms as before, with my body expelling anything in my stomach by any means, and me feeling like death. Wasnt the only sufferer, and English girl who was also suffering supplied me with water, and we did have both a rat and cockroach in the dorm for entertainment whilst others climbed.
Even worse was to come, as we had to decend the mountain at 7.30 am - the same way we had ascended, which was not ideal given I was weak, didnt want to eat anything, and climbing down is even harder on your knees - an extremely gruelling four hours going down.
Then I waited at the park entrance for a bus to Sandakan (the opposite side of Sabah to Kota Kinabalu)- for none to show - and eventually gave up after two hours, determined to find somewhere nice to stay. Couldnt stay at the park - they were hosting a climbathon the following day where mad people race up the mountain, so they were fully booked - besides - I wanted a hotel!
Walk 1.5km, with a drizzle and cloud so thick that you could see only 5 metres in front of you...and find a hotel - bliss - promptly sleep, and sleep, and sleep, and sleep
Saturday 2nd October 2004
Buses pass this time...but none stop, and after 2 hours, I give up and go back the other way, back to Kota Kinabalu. Again need luxury and check in to a hotel, and sleep, and sleep, and sleep...