June 14

Climbing Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia

Getting to KK from Brunei is best done by catching a ferry to Labuan Island and then another to mainland Malaysia, either straight to KK or via Menumbok and a bus to KK which is what we had to do.

KK doen’t have good value hostels, but if you look thoroughly you will find a few new hotels for the same price: 65MR. Most of them are managed by chineese, and because of the good value they deteriorate quickly but appear again soon after. With accomodation sorted out my next task was to prepare the climb to Mount Kinabalu, but alas my wisdom tooth hadn’t had its last word.

I had to look for a dentist again and was confirmed that extraction was needed, which meant complete rest for a few days. I was not happy. But i had’t had my last word either. We made a flight reservation to Manila (Philippines) for 2 days later and I decided to climb as much as I coul the following day.

Thus off I went to the dentist, having previously confirmed a visit to Dr Wong’s clinic. Clean, with accredited European degrees and many customers it appeared to be a good option. One hour later I had one tooth less and a short clip of the extraction which I will post soon.

Doing exactly what I was told not to doI proceeded with my initial plan and woke up at 6:30 am to catch a bus to Kinabalu mountain. Liza would not join me this time- too much exercise.

The bus slowly and noisly makes it way there, allowing better views of the mountain as you get closer. By the time it drops you at the park headquarters you are at an altitude of about 1200m. I paid the mandatory fees for what I wanted to do (trek mid mountain and request permission once there to proceed further for better pics) and began the hike.

KK is usually climnbed in 2 days, stoping first at Laban Rata for a rest and waking up at 1 am the following day to reach the summit by sunrise. About 150 ppl of all ages climb the mountain every day, so you might assume that is it not a difficult climb. Technically speaking this is true, but you need some cardio resistance to make it to the top slowly, a lot if you want to do it quickly.

About 30 min into my hike I was already sweating more than what I ever had in that amount of time, and I am not kidding. My daypack was soaking and the small water bottle I had brought was very tempting. I would only be able to use my Nikon D90 once I reached my destination because there are to many trees to be able to take any pics before.

I slowed down my pace a bit but was still quicker than the rest of the hikers-I had less than 4 hours to do what people usually do in 6-10 hours.

Long story short, I accomplished my goal. I was allowed permission to walk beyond where my fee allowed me to and made it to the 3000m point. The temperature at that altitude had droped to about 10-15 degrees C, and the clouds were skidding along the mountain’s side.

A few pictures later I had to make my way back down, not without mixed feelings because I would not make it to the top- eventhough I was merely 1000 m away from base camp. I would not do what I had come to KK for, and had made a big effort to reach that place; thankfully my dentlat surgery was holding on but there was no way I could continue, plus the last bus would leave at 5 pm.

And so I did. The  way down is also very tiring, and  I wll admit that I got dizzy at the bottom when I crouched to take a picture. I then realized I had done all this exercise without breakfast or lunch, during a dental surgery recovery day, and with only a small water bottle.

I  slowly walked to the park store and bought a Kit Kat and some Gatorade, then reached the junction where the bus would take me back to KK. Satisfied yet exhausted I made my way to KK chit-chatting with Emma, a friendly british girl who was travelling for a few months as well. Once in the city I headed straight to a cheap stall to get some food and made it back to the hotel, where Liza did not look half as tired as I did.

On the way up
On the way up


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  1. Sorry to hear that you failed to reach the peak..there is always next time. The pic of you in front of the mountain reminded me of my own climb years ago. A trully amazing and unforgetable experience. Hope to climb it again in next few years..

  2. congrats..u did well, climbing the mountain after a dental surgery & without any brunch..i had to try twice to reach the peak of the mountain lol.. 🙂

    1. But you reached the peak! I never did…couldn’t, but someday I hope I will. Congrats for you…I’m sure it was a memorable experience!


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