Thursday, March 17, 2016

DAiLYSHAZanigansAbroad - Mt. Kinabalu and Kota Kinabalu

The pain Mount Kinabalu inflicted on us is second to none on this trip so far. As we write this post we are attempting to drain the lactic acid from our legs by stretching them above the head posts in our upgraded room at Le Hotel. This will definitely be a climb to remember, this is how it went…

After a flying visit to Kota Kinabalu to drop off our bags at our hotel we packed a small bag and headed towards the bus station to go to Mt. Kinabalu.

Like most other places in Asia we had to go from mini bus to minibus to find out what drivers were going where and ended up getting in a taxi with a Malaysian couple in the end as no buses seemed to be moving in any direction! The two hour trip only cost us €8 so the budget wasn’t blown thankfully!

After paying our park and climbing fees at the park office, (most complicated process ever!), we set off on what we thought was a 1km walk to our hostel.

It turned into a much longer walk, up and down dirt tracks towards the forest but we were well impressed when we finally reached Kinabalu Mountain Lodge as it turned out to be retreat accommodation.

We had a delicious vegetarian salad for lunch and ate it on the balcony looking out over the mountain - it was such a stunning view. We then chilled out for the rest of the day reading and snoozing as wifi was non-existent!

At dinner we met a few people who had climbed the mountain that day and they put the serious fear in us about how cold it was going to be at the peak. We put gloves, hats and scarfs on our list to buy the following morning!

After a very bad nights sleep due to a freezing dorm room and a snoring man we wearily got up for breakfast and headed to the park for 8am to meet our guide Johnny. Once everything was in order we set off to climb Southeast Asia’s highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, standing at 4,095.2m above sea level!

The first days climb wasn’t too bad, we took it slow and steady and stopped a few times to acclimatise and refuel. We made it to the Laban Rata Stayhouse after four hours climbing at 1pm. We had a bite to eat looking out over the mountain and watching the clouds come down which was pretty cool and then went up to our dorm for a nap before dinner.

The food was really good and there was plenty of it. After going up for her second helping of noodles, Kym overheard a woman in the seat behind her ag caint as Gaeilge. (‘Talking in Irish’ – for our international followers!)

She was speaking to her friend about the overly flamboyant couple at the table opposite! When Kym turned around to confirm that it was Irish that she was speaking, Erica and Tracy, as we soon came to know them by, said “are we caught?!” Kym said, “you are indeed!” and the Irish banter and chat started from there. It was the first time we had heard people speaking in Irish since we left the green isle!

We chatted to Tracy and Erika for a good while after that and even made plans to meet for a drink in Nancy’s in July when Tracy is back visiting family for the summer as she is from Caherdavin in Limerick but living full time in Singapore as is Erika. It’s a small world!

We all went to bed at 8am in the hope of getting a few hours sleep and set our alarms for 2.30am, just enough time to eat a quick breakfast and start the second climb at 3am in order to reach Low’s Peak for sunrise. This part of the climb was really tough due to the altitude, the fact that we were climbing an incredibly steep mountain in the dark and it was absolutely freezing every time we stopped to take a break.

All of that aside though, it was such an incredible experience. We hiked for two hours under the stars following the line of head torches up the mountain. When we passed through the checkpoint at the halfway stage we saw a shooting star, the sky was so clear we knew it was going to be a beautiful sunrise but we had another difficult climb ahead of us to the peak.

With our amazing guide, Johnny, we finally summited at 6am and took a spot on the peak to watch the sunrise- it was incredible. The fluffy white clouds then formed ahead of us and made a fabulous back drop to our photos! It felt like we were walking and sitting on the clouds!