Day 2 – March 14, 2009 – Falling in Love with Mt. Kinabalu

Mao and I woke up around 6:00am to prepare our stuffs for our visit to the Kinabalu National Park. Ervin, the French guy was dead set on climbing the peak while we were just there to check out the park and walk around so we  wore our trekking shoes. Eamonn the Irish guy, who reminds me so much of my friend Erwin, also went with us.

Kuni, our Japanese host from Couchsurfing took us to the terminal near the city centre to catch the mini van to the Kinabalu National Park which is a world heritage site. Fare was 15MYR each. When we got in, there were only about 3 locals – most of us it seemed were headed to the park. The ride took two hours and as the van sped nearer to the park, we saw one of the summits of Kinabalu. It was amazing – mighty high and partially covered with fog. I fell in love with it and would definitely go back for its summit.

The Kinabalu National park is a World Heritage Site. We paid 15MYR each for the entrance. This pass is also valid for three days if you will be staying overnight.

This is also where climbers register if they are climbing Mt. Kinabalu – Malaysia’s highest mountain towering at 4,095 MASL.

Booking a lodge located four hours from the summit is required. It is recommended that you book at least two months in advance. There are lodges near the park entrance so even if you’re not climbing, you can stay there and savor the view. By the way, if you plan to go here, make sure you have enough Ringgit with you because the park has no money changers or ATM. The nearest ATM is about 15 minutes away by cab.

Ervin went ahead and booked a lodge near the entrance. Me, Mao, Eamonn and another guy we met – Luke from England decided to do some trekking. Luke is a fashion photographer back at his country. 

Aftter the park entrance – on your left side – there’s a small building marked Sutera Sanctuary Lodges and this is where you can ask for a map, register for the climb, book Laban Rata Lodge (the lodge located four hours from the summit) and ask for other information. The staff are so accommodating and cheerful. There are also cab drivers inside the park and you need to coordinate with their boss if you need a ride. He just walks around near the entrance and he usually approaches people to ask if they need a ride.

After securing a map, we decided to do some hiking around the park. Mao – who just got out of the hospital five days ago, bravely went with us. The rainforest reminded me of Mount Cristobal but with more established trails. There were even trail signs similar with the ones we use here – like the strings we used to tie in trees to mark the trail – the slight difference was the material and that it has some writings on it.

We found this nice wooden bridge covered with moss and this is were I slipped and fell. I fell so hard I blocked out for several seconds. When I opened my eyes, Eamonn was trying to help me get up but I couldn’t because the pain was so intense. When I fell, I hit my neck on the wood. Nevertheless, I felt so grateful that nothing seemed broken because I can still move, though it was a bit difficult.

We resumed the hike as if nothing happened. Well, I always slip anyway. It was nothing new. Hehehe! 

We hiked for about 3 hours and Mao had to retire early because he was feeling sick, cursing trekking once and for all. We went down and spent 2 hours resting while we waited for Eamonn and Luke. We stayed in the registration area and we saw the summit from afar – though we were told that it’s only one of the summits and not the highest point.

It was a good thing we were in the sanctuary of the reg area because it rained pretty hard. When Eamonn and Luke returned, they were soaked to the bone. Eamonn had a leech on his leg and Luke was laughing about his waterproof jacket which turned out to be not waterproof at all.

Travel Information:
Kota Kinabalu National Park is two hours away by bus or mini van from the KK city center. I don’t recall the name of the van terminal but it’s the one near Gaya street. The van fare was 15MYR per person – one way.

Entrance fee is at 15MYR for non-Malaysians over 18 years old.

To Book the Laban Rata Lodge – the lodge four hours from the summit, go to the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges Website.They also have an office at the national park and this is where you register if you want to climb Mt. Kinabalu. If you navigate through this site , you will find a lot of information if you want to climb Mt. Kinabalu.

And if you don't want to hike, there are helicopter rides that will get you there although you won't be able to land and experience the summit. Rates at 2,672 MYR.

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