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Friday, 10 March 2006

Holidays Electives at Kota Kinabalu =P

The best week of my life. That explains how i felt bout our electives in Kota Kinabalu. =)

So.. for our electives, i've decided to go mountain climbing, together with 18 other batchmates. Climb Mt Kinabalu to be exact. Had never climbed any mountain before, so i thought it might be fun to try it out. I couldn't be more right.

Thursday, 2nd March 2006 - Arrival at Kota Kinabalu
Left Vista at around 8.45am for our flight from KLIA to KK which departs at 11.10am. Flight was delayed for half an hour, only reached KK at 2pm something. Was on the same flight as Shao Yang, Paul, Yun, Chia Huan, Sidney, Fish, Alvin and Teck Seng. Vincent, Tai Jih and Yeap were on an earlier flight at 9am, while Chee Mei, Jem, Ivy, Chui Han, Chee Liang, Hooi Theng and Kong Fui were on an evening flight.

Reached KK, took taxi to Ruby Hotel which gonna be our home until we go to Kinabalu Park. The inn wasn't as bad as i thought it'd be.. what with Yeap saying keeping expenses to minimum and all. Me, Paul, Vincent and Jem took one room for ourselves. Nothing planned for the rest of the day, because the evening flight only reached at night. Went for a walk around the closest shopping complex, Centre Point with Chia Huan and Paul. Centre Point is like.. big. As Chia Huan put it, a part of it is like Sungei Wang, a part KLCC and another part MidValley haha. There's Nike, Adidas, Sox World, Levi's, you name it.. it got all kinds of shops JB doesn't even have. Gotta admit it's better than any of JB's shopping complexes ^^. After the rest checked in we had dinner at a seafood restaurant called.. erm, Kam Boh Seafood Restaurant or something like that, opposite Ruby Hotel.

Celebrated Chee Liang's birthday at night ^^.

Friday, 3rd March 2006 - White Water Rafting!
Woke up early in the morning, took a bus to Beaufort, then a train to Padas River. Around 2 and a half hours just to reach the place we gonna raft ^^. Me got onto the same boat as Jem, Ivy, Chee Mei, Paul, Vincent and a Japanese couple. We started out on calm water.. and then things start to get rough ^^. Our guide, Janggut Man (lol.. they called him that) told us there'll be calm water alternating between the rapids. Well, thank god for that.. we wouldn't want to be stuck in rapids all the way to the ending point =/

The first few rapids was ok, we managed to keep our boat from capsizing. Then the biggest, baddest, roughest rapids came (forgot what it's called.. it's the 4th out of 6 according to Ivy's blog). Swear i could see the wave more than a metre right above us, just a second before all of us got thrown overboard. Lol.. it was quite an experience.. i was trying so hard to breathe but everytime i do, a wave will come gushing down on me. As Chee Mei puts it, we only have exactly 1 sec to breathe, no more, then we've to hold our breathe till the wave passes by. That few seconds we're in the rapids.. i swear i thought i could've drown coz i hardly get to breathe. And erm.. the river water is tasteless ^^.

All of us survived thankfully.. only 2 managed to get back onto our own boat. The rest of us were 'rescued' by Chia Huan's boat. At the last rapids, Jem was asked to sit at the front of the boat, legs dangling in the river water while the rest of us crowd at the back. Haha.. and he dutifully did just that even though he had motion sickness halfway thru. Too bad he didn't fall into the river again =P

Man.. 110 bucks for that, but it was well worth the experience =)

Sat train back to Beaufort, then bus back to KK city. Stopped by Tanjung Aru beach for a while, and drank a big coconut that had so much water inside, i was full before i even had dinner. Went to Centre Point to buy some energy bars and chocolates, then dinner at Burger King. BK was actually halfway closing, but the staff was so nice, they reopened the counters just for us to have our dinner (it was just 10pm and every shop there was already closed O.o). After dinner went to watch Final Destination 3 .. erm, it was ok la, i didn't watch the previous 2 movies. Just that it's too unreal lor.. how can so many coincidences happen at the same time -.-"

Saturday, 4th March 2006 - Arrival at Kinabalu Park
Went shopping for gloves in the morning. Couldn't find any suitable one besides the 'pro' gloves. Ended up 45 bucks poorer, in exchange for a pair of 'pro' gloves i doubt i gonna use anytime soon after this. Sigh, well at least it's still perfectly intact after the climb.

Anyway, we took a bus to Kinabalu Park (1.8km asl) which takes more than 2 hours. Checked into our hostel, Grace Hostel. This time i was expecting a military-style bunkbeds as Yeap put it, but it turned out to be a really nice place. We stayed in rooms in groups of 4 and 6, and there's a clean common bathroom for girls and guys separately. There's even a common 'living room' and kitchen =). Spent the day playing '99 and a half' before going for our briefing and dinner.

Sunday, 5th March 2006 - The 6 hours climb to Laban Rata
Woke up early in the morning, 7.30am (yeah that's very early =P), had our buffet breakfast and celebrated Teck Seng's birthday! Then started our climb up to Laban Rata around 8.30am. The path up is basically just planks and rocks arranged into steps.. steps that are mostly more than 20cm high O.o . And climb the steps we did. For 6 hours. For 6 kilometres. The only way we managed to do that is by using the next pondok (resting station.. there's 7 in total) as our goal ^^.

Reached Laban Rata (3km asl) around 3pm, then we checked into our hostel, Waras Hut, a few metres below the Laban Rata base. Slept right away because we're supposed to continue our climb to the peak at 2am the next day. Woke up around 9pm and couldn't get back to sleep because it was too bloody cold (the temperature dropped a lot). Can even hear the strong winds blowing outside.. and the two layers of thick blanket wasn't helping much.

Monday, 6th March 2006 - We conquered Mt Kinabalu!
Woke up at 1am after drifting in and out of sleep. Wore everything there is to wear, me wearing one track pants and a cargo pants, one long sleeve shirt, one jacket and another jacket over it, and 2 layers of socks. Damn even with all that it didn't keep the cold out.. but at least it made it bearable ^^"

Went back to sleep with all the clothes till 2am plus, then climbed up to meet the others at higher living quarters. It was around 2.30am when we start our climb, and it was pitch dark. Couldn't see nothing without a torchlight. That's why a torchlight is a must, as they reminded us.

From Laban Rata onwards, we'll be climbing with the help of a white rope. There was a part that our footholds were only centimetres wide, and when i looked down, it was just .. blackness. Damn that was so scary, even more so when we had to stop so many times on the steep slope because the front was too slow =/.

There's only one pondok on the way to the top, the Sayat-sayat Hut. It's more like a checkpoint to check we're climbing with permission. After the Sayat-sayat Hut upwards it's just a steep slope all the way to the peak. Had to picked up my pace from here onwards to catch up with Chia Huan who was holding the motion sickness pills coz Paul was feeling lightheaded. Haha.. swear the others must have thought i was mad climbing on all fours without the help of the rope ^^".

Waited for Paul to catch up, then began the 30 seconds climb, 1 minute break to the top coz i was almost out of breath.. and it's getting harder to breathe up there with the low atmospheric pressure and all. Me and Paul caught up with Kong Fui, then i left them and pecut to the top coz it was getting close to sunrise. Managed to reach the peak at around 5.50am, 5 minutes later than planned. Thankfully it's still not sunrise yet, and we took lots of pictures up there hehe. Chia Huan even took some videos ^^.

Additional note : My lips felt numb the day after we climbed down.. i thought they were frozen already when i was at the peak coz the wind was so bloody cold and i wasn't wearing a mask..
Special note : Paul climbed to the peak in shorts -.-"

To describe the view up there, 4095.2m above sea level, man.. nothing can describe it.. it's just so breathtaking. It's like we're on top of the whole world, and everything else is below us. The guide said we could even see Indonesia from there, but with no compass and stuff, we don't know which direction to look. We stayed there till sunrise.. and in minutes the whole mountain light up, giving us a view of what we've gone thru to reach the peak. Still couldn't believe we did it.. we got to the highest point in Southeast Asia.. ^^

After a while, the chilling wind got more unbearable, and we had to climb back down. It was around 8 Celcius at the peak, even colder with the wind blowing against us. Climbing down sounds easier than climbing up, but we were wrong. It's harder to go down a steep slope than up, really. 2km down and we reached Laban Rata at around 9am, then continue our climb down to Kinabalu Park at 11.30am. A total of 2km of steep slope to Laban Rata, and 6km of high steps to Kinabalu Park. Halfway down, our whole legs are already hurting like hell. It's because we had to reach Kinabalu Park by 4pm that we continued torturing our legs to go down. Turned out the guides were lying when they say they close the gates at 4pm -.-" . Hehe but then if they didn't say that we'd have take our own sweet time and reached the bottom by sunset =P

Stayed the night at the lodges, which was very very comfortable =). They even had Astro!

Tuesday, 7th March 2006 - Poring Hot Springs
Left in a bus to Poring Hot Springs, around half an hour from Kinabalu Park. Had lunch at Ranau halfway. The hot springs.. hmm nothing much there. First we went jungle trekking to a waterfall, then a small group of us continued on to the Bat Cave. The cave was rather small.. and full of guano ^^". After trekking we relaxed at the hot springs ^^. Felt really nice after all the climbing we did hehe..

In the evening we went back to Kota Kinabalu, and had the most expensive dinner i've ever paid out of my own pocket ^^". Seafood dinner! Hehe.. think it's my first time i tasted lobster.. my family had never ordered lobster before. We took this chance to repay Yeap too, for all the trouble he went thru, planning where to stay, what to do, book the hotels, the air tickets, everything. I think this seafood dinner barely make up all the effort he gone thru to make everything as smooth as possible. Thanks lot Yeap! You're the best group leader we can ever have! Hehe ^^

Wednesday, 8th March 2006 - Manukan Island, here we come
A little change in plans, and we ended up on Manukan Island today. Heard Jaslyn wanted to go there with us, so we just went there lor.. coz there was nothing originally planned for today. We went snorkelling for a while, then most of the others went paragliding. After they came back we played football for a while, before i joined the others snorkelling in the sea again. Hehe first time i snorkelled too.. really nice view underwater.. with all the fish and corals and stuff.. heard the others saw a 'Nemo' (clownfish), but i didn't dare to go to deep water.. still have the fear of drowning ^^"..

After getting back to KK city, we went handicraft market to hunt for souvenirs. Got myself a really nice glow-in-the-dark T-sthirt.. 25 bucks, ouch. They all pakat edi, can't get lower than that. Sigh. But at least i really liked that T-shirt =).

Nite we checked into the 5 star Sutera Harbour. Ivy and Jem flew back to JB in the evening, some of the others went to meet their friends in UMS, and me, Paul and Chee Mei walked around the resort to pass time. Waited for the others to come back, and Jaslyn to bring her birthday cake to celebrate her birthday with us ^^".

Thursday, 9th March 2006 - Goodbye, Kota Kinabalu =(
Went to the handicraft market again in the afternoon with Chia Huan, Chui Han, Chee Mei and Paul for last minute shopping. Got another 2 shirts for my 2 brothers.. another 50 bucks gone, ouch ouch >.< . Did nothing the rest of the day, all of us crammed into the only room allowed for us to stay in because we requested to check out late. My flight left at 8.05pm, and we reached KLIA at 10.30pm.

The end
7 days, 7 nights in Kota Kinabalu. 3 birthdays. 22 hours of mountain climbing. The one whole week i've really enjoyed myself. Also managed to get to know some of my batchmates whom i've never spoke to before this too. This is one week i don't mind living all over again ^^ .. many thanks to our group leader Yeap, our 'tour guide' Jaslyn, and the rest for the best company i can ever wish for. See you all in uni!

Other accounts on our KK trip:
Ivy Ang
Chui Han

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