Sunday, 2 May 2010

Kinabalu - The Lowdown

"In the action lies the intention" quoted our Tuesday-nights ustaz.

It was a on holiday prior to this one that triggered the intention - a majestic view of the Kinabalu right in our path as we drove home from the Poring Hot Springs. Muni went "nak panjat, nak panjat".

But without a doubt it was my late brother-in-law who had inspired us with 3 successful climbs to his credit.

Taken in 2004

Last November, our son Amin who is based in Kota Kinabalu caught us by surprise by telephoning us from the summit.

Suitably incited, hubby promptly instructed him to make bookings for 5 people, including me (gulp), for March or April.

 Fact is (from Amin's e-mail):

"sekarang compulsory for climbers to spend 3 days 2 nights for the climb (previously boleh buat 2d1n to cut costs).

day 1 - registration. payment. check in. dinner at Kinabalu Park HQ. stay overnight
day 2 - start climbing to Laban Rata checkpoint (the base-camp I referred to)
day 3 - 3am start ascending to the summit. after sunrise start descending

meals provided
day 1 - dinner (buffet)
day 2 - breakfast (buffet), tapau for the climb (tuna and cheese sandwich, 2 boiled eggs, fried chicken, popia + 1 can 100plus + 500ml mineral water), buffet dinner at Laban Rata
day 3 - supper (before the summit climb), breakfast (before 10 am, after reaching summit) - both at laban rata, lunch at Park HQ

Effective sep 2008, only Sutera Harbour Resorts  has the 'privilege' to run the accomodation for Kinabalu climbers"
For all the above, the total charge was RM500++ per person payable upon booking.

As the day of the trip approached and became more likely, we bought our air-tickets and made bookings for hotel-rooms for the final night in Kota Kinabalu. Because of work commitments (of those who still have to work), this trip cannot be an extended holiday.

Return tickets cost RM430.50 per person (including checked-in baggage)
Hotel rooms were RM82.50 per person (twin-sharing at the Shangri-La)

(Let's see... so far that comes to about RM1,013 per person.)

We also started training our legs on hilly terrain like Broga, Tabur, and the Kiara.

I got lazy in icy Kazakhstan but the steep staircases in the villa helped maintain what little muscles I had developed.

On the day itself we drove to the airport and parked the car there for the duration of the trip. The parking fees eventually came to RM130.00 from Friday morning through Monday afternoon.

Amin had to cancel his climb as he was on compulsory tagging protocol (i.e side-kicking a senior medical officer at the OB/GYN). So we made our own way to the Kinabalu Park HQ in Kundasang.

We had to take a taxi from the airport to Inanam - this is where the terminal for long-distance buses and taxis is located. Only from there can we get transportation to the Park.

However if we had used a travel agent for this trip, then all the ground arrangements would have been included I suppose. But going on our own is all part of the adventure and we decided to take a taxi to Kundasang.

Where we had lunch at Inanam
Restoran Wan Malaysia, hehe
as per the signboard

Taxi-fare to Inanam - RM10.00 per person

 Taxi-fare to Kundasang - RM50.00 per person

Melaram in a cramped Wira

 on the 90 minute journey to the Kinabalu Park

Arriving at the Kinabalu Park there are other payments to be made:

RM3.00 per person for entry at the gate (Foreigners get charged RM10.00)
RM100.00 for a guide (RM85.00 for up to 3 persons and RM100.00 for up to 6) which works out to RM25.00 per person
Rm5.00 per person for the transportation to and from Timpohon Gate - the trail start

 We took Amin's advice and bought studded RM6.90 "kasut getah" similar to the ones normally worn by porters who daily trek up and down the mountain fully laden with supplies.

They are indeed very good - comfortable and non-slip on stone slabs and even pebbles. Also bought cheap rain-coats, caps, waist-pouches, head-lamps, batteries which all came to about RM50.00 per person.

In total, the amount  forked out prior to the climb was about RM1156.00 per person.

There have been complaints about the cost to climb Mount Kinabalu being now out of reach of school or college students without sponsorship - at RM1,000 this looks to be true. Syirah should count herself lucky.

The Rock Hostel where we spent the night

To limber up for the next day's climb,  we followed the Pandanus jungle trail  up about 600metres to a look-out point.

The next morning, at the start of the real trail
Selamat Mendaki

The trail at the lower elevations are 
mainly steps cut into the dirt track

changing to stone slabs at about 4 km 
where it also begins to get really steep

and then just granite from Laban Rata at 6km

to the summit

 The trek down was easier for me who was properly rested, but hard on hubby whose hamstrings decided not to co-operate. Even Muni had to have a couple of Ponstans for pain in her thighs. The tongkats we bought at RM10.00 each before the descent turned out to be really helpful. One guy had to use two because of pain in both of his ankles.

A magnificent buffet lunch awaited us back at HQ.

As it happened to be Amin's off-day, he fetched us from the Park and drove us to our hotel in Kota Kinabalu, thus relieving us of possibly RM60.00 each for taxi-fares.

I find that Kinabalu is much easier to do than Bukit Tabur whose sheer perpendicularity gave us the fear factor to contend with when we tackled it last year. For Kinabalu though you need to be reasonably fit to make it to Laban Rata at least, otherwise you might decide to turn back even before the first kilometre as has been known to happen, according to our guide, John.

Along the way, in view of our ages we were given encouragement by fellow climbers young and old, advised to take it slow by those who were descending, and were even given the thumbs-up by one of the guides who had to wait for a youngish group of very frequent resters.
All in all, for me this little adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, somewhere along the trek upwards came the realisation that The Almighty has indeed designed us for a certain level of physical endurance and mental strength - only that oftentimes we tend not to believe we have it in ourselves. That said, I might add a disclaimer that this is not to be misconstrued as a request for any trials and tribulations from the Tester (pandai takut).

So tallying up the final costs including the tongkats and pro-rating the  parking fees at the Low-Cost terminal in KLIA, if my calculation is right, the total costs came to RM1205.00 per person, and this is the budget  package :)

Many climbers have written accounts of their climbs,   here (a series of 3) and here  are the more interesting and funny ones. 


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Zendra, Wow! I am impressed. You did it! Up and down, no problemos.
One of my regrets is I had never tried it....but I guess I was too busy wheeling and dealing then....never thought of it.

But reading your eloquent story makes me feel I have climbed.
Outstanding, mentioned before, next stop Base camp no. 2 at Gunung Everest. Ha ha.
Have a pleasant weekend, Lee.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Zendra,
Could you enquire about budget package for two cats? Or maybe we'll stay put at the HQ and concentrate on climbing up and down of the buffet table? har har har *evil thoughts*

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hi Zen, interesting account of your ‘Hills are Alive’ post. I must give it to u guys for your “Just Do It’ attitude, but the trouble with u ‘accountant’ is that u r too calculative (got keep all the receipts or not..kekeke), be like Apek lah it’s only just duit what, don’t think about it until the card statement arrived mah…hahaha, more fun that way. (Then u only get a mild cardiac arrest just then mah).

Now Muni & Syirah hear this; mum is keeping tab about how expensive it is to raise a child, so don’t forget when it’s time to pay back (+ accrued interest lah of course without saying)…muahaha.

This one for a leg up lazy Sunday;

Climb Every Mt


P/S – I guess the only downside (REAL lowdown) of this adventure is having to share the bunk beds with the 2 princesses…hahaha, it would have been fun experience to just do it on the top bunk.

Zendra-Maria said...

Hey thanks again Lee, but we did it because many others had tried and succeeded, even the 50 pluses. As for Everest's base camp - BBBBrrrrrr - we'll see, we'll see... I know what minus 25 degrees C is like :)

Zendra-Maria said...

Cat, try not to get quarantined at KKIA then you'll be OK. While at Kinabalu Park HQ, try the little jungle trails, they should be OK for curious urban felines like you hehe. Be careful of snakes though, they might just like to check out what down-under sheilas taste like hehe

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, nothing wrong with my short-term memory so the figures jumped out at me as I typed. I didn't check my addition though hehe. And for prospective climbers, hopefully this gives some idea of the cost breakdown. Five-star packages are available too and they go well with ray-bans, timberland shoes, mercedes vans and presidential suites. Would you like me to book a place for you, Sir? :)

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Haiya Zen, don't lah be like that.Those r meant for the likes of Kinaba-tangan man & his little darl ZZ...hehehe.

Compared to those premier league Just Du-It crowd mentioned in Sak's post, I'm just a tiny weeny little speck of dust lah....kakaka...but I'm just as cheerful & chirpy all the same, like they say here, "Happy Little Vegemites".


Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,i was posted to East Malaysia way back in 1973 while serving in the military but was persona non-grata cos. of an incident with the authority !...however i came back from 1986 onwards for the beauty of living there(or rather here) yaa...eeerrmm, i really love the lifestyle there/here in East Malaysia. Simple yet so beautiful-lah. Guess you son will remain there for sometime too, for he knows what am talking about.
,,,am flying back to Miri next week for some Jazz Festival and Tuak session with my buddies there plus some hard sailing again. yoohohoo !!.
,,,kinabalu is just the tip of it-lah go explore the sea and jungle in East Malaysia, you will love it too. Adventures of a lifetime awaiting for all brave hearts. No kidding and its for real.

Zendra-Maria said...

Tok Uban, a jazz festival in Miri? It's not that backward lah kan?

Yup, Amin will be posted to a district hospital in Sabah after his housemanship - and he likes the idea too. Jadi orang Sabah, bah! So that means we will have opportunities to explore Sabah as you suggested.

As for Miri, that is in the agenda one of these days also.

Cheers PNG - gosh what did you do to earn that? Is Shariff Abbas your real name I wonder?

Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,indeed, Miri is more modern and up to-date than most West Malaysian can ever imagine !! Our sailing activities for sure is far superior to any marinas in the region too.
,,,Niah caves, Lambir waterfall, Forest Hotels plus Beach Hotels are one of a kind too...and the party people wow !! jazz this coming 14th to 15th May along the beachfront plus dancing geeez can't wait to be back home there. (plus Bib waiting too for her darling Sherry hihihi) for my PNG ? don't want to know about it ! (crazy times)

Capt's Longhouse said...

cont. Miri jazz festival up-dates;;;

...The fifth (5th) edition of Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) scheduled to be held at the Pavilion of the Parkcity Everly Hotel, Miri from May 14 – 15, 2010 is now moved Outdoors..great place for dancing along the beach plus drinking wine.
...This festival will be one with a difference; the magical sounds of jazz music will fill the grounds of Parkcity and we promise the two nights will be one to remember. The Pavilion will be converted to a bar where there will be music played by a live International DJ; a first for the MIJF which will surely spur up excitement among music lovers!
...Among other bands performing this time around will be the Grammy Award winner; James Cotton Blues Band (USA), Amina Figarova Sectet (Holland), Ricardo Herz (Brazil), Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder (USA), SimakDialog (Indonesia), Nobert Susemihl’s New Orleans All Stars (Denmark / Germany / USA) and Jeremy Tordjman (Switzerland).
...jazzy n crazy times is back !!hihihi

Zendra-Maria said...

14th and 15th May? Thanks for the info Capt, it will be a good time to avoid Miri then hehe... When's a good time to visit the Niah Caves. It's a national wonder every Malaysian should make a point to visit, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...


,,,you can visit the caves at anytime of the year. Its a different experience indeed, caveman mentality creeps in you while at it ! hehehe.