Thursday, August 04, 2016

Beardy Backpacker: Kinabalu, Malaysia - Wet clothes and sore legs

The plane’s window gave me my first glimpse into the Borneo rainforest below. A blanket of canopy could be seen from above, with few villages and towns dotted throughout. 

The plane finally rested in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysian Borneo’s eastern state, Sabah. I would be spending a few days in the city before heading towards Malaysia’s highest peak, Mount Kinabalu.

Sadly, the cities in Borneo don’t quite have the personality or variation of those on the Malaysian Peninsular. Without much to do, I carefully treaded around the town in order to not cause any last minute injuries, and kept my exploration to a minimum.

It wasn’t long before I was packing myself in a cramped local minibus, and was driven towards Kinabalu national park and my mountain host, “Jungle Jack”.

The mountain camp was simple enough, with character added by Jack’s insatiable spirit and enthusiasm. Cheese on toast was available in plentiful supply (a luxury in Asia!), and the camp’s local puppy called “Wifi” provided company alongside the other travellers.

Despite dwarfing any other mountain nearby, it was impossible to see Mount Kinabalu through the mist and clouds that draped over the surrounding lands. Rain was a daily inevitability that you would expect and endure regardless of whether you were inside or out.

At 1500m altitude, the environment was temperate, whilst maintaining that Malaysian humidity that you would tirelessly follow you wherever you were.

However, I had finally arrived at the amazing rainforest which I had hoped to see for much of my life. Wild green growth stretched to the horizon, and the constant buzz of nature echoed in every direction. There was a sense of satisfaction of just reaching the jungle, and I’d have been happy to just wander and enjoy the scenery for my entire stay.

I was part of a group of 5 travellers hoping to traverse to the peak. This included two British women, a German called Ilka and a Norwegian called Odd. We excitedly chatted about what to expect in the coming days, which could be neatly summarised as wet clothes and sore legs.