Oh What a Day!!

Kota Kinabalu Travel Blog

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View of Mt. K from a nearby local village

Today I’m off to see Mount Kinabalu and the Poring Hot Springs.  I arranged it through a perky Malay women who owns a well run company that organizes tours throughout Borneo.  She’s direct, honest and funny.  Prices in Borneo are WAY more than expected.  You can literally pay one thousand dollars for tours here.  The tour operators have a hold on the tourists here.  Its difficult to travel in Borneo and the things you come to do (park tours, rafting, scuba diving, mountain climbing) are far apart and often require a guide.  Renting a car here is possible but its not for me, and the towns aren’t close enough to ride around on motor bikes, not that you’d find bikes here anyway.  Sigh.  What to do.

Beautiful clouds hang over the mountain valley
  Do you research people, and compare prices. 

I’m on the tour with a bright and outgoing Greek couple and a pair of fabulous Aussie doctors.  We’re dropping the Aussies at Mt. K, they’re climbing it.  Most people come to Borneo to actually climb Mt. K but I can’t be bothered!  I’ve climbed a mountain in North Africa and one mountain is enough for me in this lifetime.  I’ll let others climb this one.  Usually the tour companies won’t take you to up into the park where the climbers start climbing.  Typically they drive you by the park entrance (yah I know, cheap eh).  So we get a special treat today.  The Greeks and I will take pictures of the mountain and move on.  But wait , the guide tells us that if we want we can climb the first 2 km of the mountain he can arrange it.

Stair master 101
  We think, oh what the heck and off we go.  The guide waves goodbye to us after the first 100m, says he’ll see us in a couple hours.  WHAT?  And then it starts, a series of never ending HUMONGOUS wooden stairs that have been built into the side of the mountain.  At first glance you think what a beautiful set of stairs but when you get to the top you see another set, and then another set, and then, and then….It was incredible.  It was harder to climb the stairs then to walk on a regular path.  Even with the steep climb it would have been easier to choose your own length and height of step.  These were massive steps, like doing a squat or full lunge at the gym.  Imagine doing that for 2 km straight up.  We made it though!  Sweating like the beasts we are.  My god.
This shirpa is kicking my butt!
  The whole effort was worth it and at the 2 km point we’re all thinking we could do the entire climb.  So what that it takes the entire day.  Maybe we were delirious with heat and exhaustion.

Off to the Hot Springs.  Hot water from the mountain is channeled into a series of open air “bathtubs” for people to soak in.  I was a bit turned off by all these random people soaking in the water frankly.  I’ve been to a hot spring before but this one felt weird.  Where were the showers for one thing?  Don’t they have a cleansing ritual here like most places?  Apparently not.  I wasn’t too interested in sitting in the recycled hot water of a bunch of random people.  The Greeks and I went to do a canopy tour instead.

Canopy tour
  OH MY WORD it was AMAZING!!!  It made me feel like a bird or monkey, confident and agile on top of the trees, ready to jump from place to place in search of my prey or home.  I could have stayed there all day. 

The Greeks and I go exploring after that.  We decided to take a path to a waterfall.  I lose them on the way (it seems that I walk fast) and then decide to go change into my bathing suit at one of the public washrooms.  The washroom is down a clearly unused path.  Wow I was slipping and sliding along wet jungle floor, slopping my way through the trees.  When was the last time someone walked here, certainly not in many months.  I’ve clearly taken the back road to the washroom.  Finally I change and return to the waterfall.

Kerrie's waterfall
  No one is there.  I wait for the Greeks.  They don’t show up.  Hmmmm, me alone with a waterfall.  YES!  I jump in.  I had a glorious COLD swim.  My hands press against the rock wall pushing the falling water in a thousand directions.  I laugh and laugh.  I plunge underwater letting the refreshing cold engulf me.  Could life be better?  Its Kerrie’s own private waterfall party in the Malaysian jungle.  I LOVE MY LIFE!  I jump, play, and swim to my heart’s content.  Then I climb out.  I stand alone on the rocks drying off.  It was only then that someone arrived.
Post swim
  What a site I must have been.  Lone girl in bikini standing on rocks at the base of a waterfall.  The thought made me smile. 

The Greeks arrive eventually.  They went off to a cave to explore.  By this time there are lots of people at the waterfall.  I sit back and watch the Greeks and everyone else put their feet in.  No one goes for a swim.  I smile knowing I have been given a gift - a perfect private moment to myself in a stunning landscape.  I say thank you to the world and give thanks for my blessings and all that has brought me here.

nicolecarp says:
This is one the BEST blogs I have read! Your excitement and love of life is inspiring!
Posted on: Nov 24, 2009
Vanessa_Mun_Yee says:
Sounds like a lot of fun! I am glad that you enjoy my country!
Posted on: Nov 23, 2009
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View of Mt. K from a nearby local …
View of Mt. K from a nearby local…
Beautiful clouds hang over the mou…
Beautiful clouds hang over the mo…
Stair master 101
Stair master 101
This shirpa is kicking my butt!
This shirpa is kicking my butt!
Canopy tour
Canopy tour
Kerries waterfall
Kerrie's waterfall
Post swim
Post swim
Oh, this is the biggest flower in …
Oh, this is the biggest flower in…
Beautiful plants of Borneo
Beautiful plants of Borneo
What a sight!
What a sight!
The hills of Mt. K
The hills of Mt. K
We made it!
We made it!