The flight to Kota Kinabalu took 1 hrs and 20 minutes.. weather fine and beautiful bright skies… since I arrived few hours earlier than the other members, I had the time to walk around and relax, had breakfast just loiter around, and read “Around the world in 80 days” while waiting. The first time I read this was at school and it became one of my favorite story ever since, so when I found the e-book version in the android market, I got excited, downloaded it and began reading to kill the time. The details and planning that Philleas Fogg portrays seems so mesmerizing.
After about 3 hours waiting… the rest of the team landed at Kinabalu Airport Terminal One…. since I landed at Terminal two, I had to take a cab to get to them, airport cab fare, of course was an exorbitantly ridiculous RM30 even though the distance is just about 1.5 KM and the drive circling the airport perimeters was just 10 minutes. I would have just waited at T2 and let them fetch me, but T2 was just too boring to wait for 3 ++ hours, there was nothing much there besides the convenient store, an eating outlet serving lunch and a KFC.
Everybody was here and the transport vehicle which was previously arranged was already waiting. Fifteen of us had to find a way to get in to the van and car, if there were no luggage, it would be a piece of cake, but, considering that each person would have an average of 2 bags each, there was a bit of, twitching and squeezing involved. The bags had to be stacked and shoved at the rear end and eventually it piled up almost to the ceiling of the Nissan 3.0 Urvan. The seating was much cramped and knees knocking on each others, but that didn’t bother us that much as every one was too excited about this trip, their spirits high and all with a jovial expression even though their journey begin one day earlier and fatigue was a little apparent on the faces.
From airport to Kinabalu Park
From the airport, straight to Kinabalu park was 2 hour 30 minutes drive, about 90Km, the winding climbing uphill road with sharp bends and corners was a drive not to be taken lightly. I could see the small road twisting and double lines as a warning sign that no overtaking is permitted. Few parts of the road, there are signs of landslides and there is one part where repair, and fixing work is still in progress – landslide had occurred maybe the previous weeks. We drove through small villages and passing by houses, with mist all around and visibility merely 600m.
Stopped for a while at Nabalu village, where there are small shops selling souvenirs, also there’s a grocery store where we can get some food and toiletries. We just bought some drinks and food for the night and the climb, everyone was eager to reach the park and check in at the lodge, as they know it’s going to be a hard and tiring for the next two days.
At 5:30 pm we arrived at the Kinabalu National Park, went on with the registration process and all necessary arrangements. There was a glitch at first as the name list in the booking did not tally with the present team, but all was settled in a short while after some corrections made. Since we were there quite late, the guides had gone home and we would have to wait until tomorrow for the briefing and all.
The staff are friendly and helpful, cold weather did not deter quality services and we were all settled in a short while. Every one excited and awed by the surroundings, it was cool with a temperature of 8 deg Celsius, and still there is more to expect later on. The weather drawback however was that the climate conditions made changing lenses frequently not appropriate, so I guess that it was a good choice for me just to bring my 24-70mm and 17-50mm. Later, I’ve decided that I would just use the 24-70mm more often and only switch to the latter if necessary. Most of us had a DSLR with us, there were many photo enthusiast on board which makes taking pictures one of the main activity among us.
With the registration completed, it was getting dark and every one was hungry, in all the excitement and hustling I realized that the last meal was somewhat 8 hours ago. Every one head for the Balsam buffet restaurant, which was also included in the package of our stay here.
The food was nice, cooked with moderate taste to accommodate most people, as I would expect for any international tourist attraction, I enjoyed the meal and eat wholeheartedly a selection of carbohydrates and proteins. Got to pack up all that energy for the climb tomorrow. Inside the restaurant, also there was a little shop, selling some basic essentials such as a walking stick, some medicine, insect repellent, muscle relief gel, balm and the sorts. The store clerk, a beautiful girl with a friendly character said that the shop closes at 9pm.
End for today
After filling up and taking few pictures at the restaurant, we head back to the van and get on the way to the rooms. The room was about 300 metres from the main office so having a car driving there was just a relief. The park area was quite large. With many accommodation for climbers. The bathrooms are shared, and equipped with water heaters, towels and other amenities provided, even got a pantry, with kitchen sink and water heater, I made a cup of coffee for myself. After taking a bath, the hot shower seems to last just a few minutes, by the time I got to my room, the cold air was already biting and I was shivering all over again. We started reorganizing our backpacks and begin preparation for tomorrow. Everyone was hoping that it would not rain in the morning as it can make the initial trekking a lot more difficult and probably dangerous.
Packing for the climb to Laban Rata, the check point for tomorrow first stage of climb. We planned out clothes for about 2 days, taking into account the clothes needed for the night climb later on. To sum things up, we would need :
- clothes for climb tomorrow (1 shirt 1 trousers)
- then a new set of clothes plus thick ones for the night climb@ stage 2 later on (used for the next stage of climb early morning)
- clothes for descent if necessary or just re-use what you had from the final stage climb.
- 2 pair shoes or slipper+shoe or rubber shoe+climbing shoe. – it’s expected to be wet on the first stage, so at the second stage, if the shoes are wet, it would be uncomfortable.
- headlight / torch-light – some guide didn’t use any lights, they must be very well verse with the trek.
- raincoat – preferably a good reliable not easy to tear raincoat..
So this clothing set-up for me is about 2 shirt 2 trousers 1 sweater 1 anorak and 2 shoes. After everything is packed and arranged, alarms set and lights off..! Good night.!