Southeast Asia Island kingdoms

Mount Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is a very small town on the northern, Malaysian, point of Borneo. Our hostel is really dingy, fortunately we’re only staying the night before heading up the nearby Mount Kinabalu (4096.2 m high). Our guide is a cheerful little guy called Fazely and it actually seems like we’ll have fantastic weather, just like we did in Brunei.Beautiful, isn't it? The trail up to the hostel where we’ll spend the night before going up to the top to see the sunrise is 6 km long and it’s up, up, up all the way. The lower parts are very lush and there’s lots to look at, not at all like mount Fuji which only has volcanic sand wherever you look. Keep a lookout for pitcher plants which are numerous along the path, an especially big one is at around the 4.5 km marker.

The path is very well maintained with lots of stairs and good railings. Looking at the trail map I figured that we probably needn’t stop at all the rest stops on the way up. Boy was I wrong…Still smiling You are more or less exhausted every time you reach a stop and grateful for the pause. We stop for our pack lunch at two thirds up and the squirrels have a field day with our fruit peels. Reaching the hostel takes us about 6.5 h (normal time is apparently 5-6 hours…) and we’re greeted with an awesome dinner; tons to choose from and very prepared! There’s a balcony to sit at that has a stupendous view, but it’s already packed of course. The rooms are okay as well, but the bathroom only has cold water (not that surprising, considering we’re more than 3200 m over sea level). We turn in early since we’re due to start climbing the remaining 2.7 km again at 2:30 am.

It’s a bit nippy now, but since my ascent of mount Fuji I’ve learned my lesson and am appropriately dressed. Since it’s pitch dark we all have headlamps now and you have to watch your step as it’s pretty slippery at places.Reflection It starts out as yesterday with more stairs, but after a while we go above the treeline and it gets a bit steep. There are ropes to hold on to though, but since you can’t see much it’s a bit scary since you can’t see how steep it is. The final one and a half kilometer levels out a bit but since you are pretty tired it’s still tough going, Jen also feels rather queasy since she had too much breakfast and we have to stop a lot for her to almost throw up. As you approach the peak it’s pretty steep again, but since you’re pretty psyched for it to be over at this point it’s not very bad. We find a nice spot and sit down and wait for the sunrise. We’ve timed it pretty well and don’t have to wait long. After the obligatory top photo with the sign we begin our descent.

MountaineersGoing down from the top you realize just how gorgeous a mountain this is! It actually has a whole bunch of pinnacles, all at around 4000 meters and walking over the top plateau you see most of them in all their glory. I’m sorry Fuji-san, but mount Kinabalu has you beat on every count. The walk down is very pleasant and certainly worth all that effort going up. Back down at the hostel we get a second, equally good, breakfast before grabbing our stuff to go down the remaining 6 kilometers. Back in Kota Kinabalu we’re recommended to go down to the fish market for dinner, it’s very authentic and we get some very nice, fresh, squid and some grilled fish.

We wake up with predictably terrible DOMS and hobble around for some final sight-seeing of the town (there really isn’t much to see here). I do get my hands on a jersey for the local football team Sabah FC, which is pretty neat. That’s about all we have time for though, before having to catch the flight down to Bali, Indonesia.

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