Highest point in Borneo
Mount Kinabalu Travel Blog› entry 32 of 44 › view all entries
After the slightly traumatic taxi drive we were relived to reach Mt Kinabalu, the highest peak in SE Asia at 4095m above sea level. The summit is displayed on post cards, company logos through out Sabah and we were looking forward to this famous view. Unfortunately the peak was shrouded in mist, the air damp and cold and the place had the air of a washed out August bank holiday in the welsh mountains.
We checked into our hotel, it was basic but due to the location was really expensive, but still less than half the price of staying inside the park. The view behind us away from the mountain was spectacular blue mountain ridges leading off in all directions, some forested some covered in farm land. The cold really did take some getting used to, we were wearing long sleeves for the first time in months.
The park is a ''Must see'' for people visiting Sabah and many tourists climb the mountain for a couple of days. Not really our scene, way too strenuous, especially when the view was already pretty good from this lower altitude. Instead we opted for a couple of days of strolling round the trails in the park head quarters region. We set off and by the time we had walked less than 1km to the park HQ we were pretty out of breath and were suprised to see the physical state of some of the people setting off to climb the mountain, these included the types who ''should never wear leggings'' and ''coronary waiting to happen'' after all our months of walking and trekking we feel pretty fit but didn’t think the mountain was something to be taken soo lightly.
We started off doing a small trail and managed to find the start only just as a thick fog had set in. As soon as we were in the forest it was as if we had entered a new world. The fog and mist muffled all sounds, the ground was a carpet of thick spongy moss and liverwort. The trees were festooned with orchids, ferns, lichens and other epiphytes, the thick leaf litter gave of a thick rich aroma as we walked over it. We felt as though we had been transported to middle earth and were in Lothlórien, we would not have been shocked if we had encountered an elf as we rounded a corner. The forest dripped and we walked through it slowly and traversed crystal clear mountain torrents and wound our way up the sides of the mountains ridges.
The park was really expensive to eat in and so we savored every morsel. Despite the bitter and very expensive taste in my mouth the view from our chair was amazing and we were entertained by raucous birds known as chestnut capped laughing thrushes as they foraged through the shrubs.
That evening we decided to have a walk at night and see what we could spot in the forest. We walked back along the river accompanied by the deep calls of leaf litter frogs who had began their nocturnal excursions.
The next day we decided to make the most of our included breakfast, a cold fry up! it really was terrible. We decided to walk of the atrocity of the breakfast and set off into the park up a pretty steep mountain ridge. It was impossible not to marvel at the vegetation, brightly coloured berries adorned the trees like christmas decorations in pink, purple, orange and blue.
The following day was bright and hot although the summit was still covered in cloud. We checked out a botanical garden, all the plants were native to the mountain, there were carnivorous pitcher plants, flowering orchids, gingers, bamboos and a multitude of outer plants we couldnt even guess at. We then got lost on yet another mountain trail, sliding in the thick clay and getting spiked by bastard rattan palms.
On the last evening we thought we would check out the mountain trail by night and encountered loads of different frogs a sticky frog its back like a polished bit of strongly grained wood, a huge fat leaf frog covered in leeches and tiny little bush frogs that shrieked loudly from the fern fronds they were calling from.
The following morning I left suzan to lie in and got up really early to see the mountain before the cloud set in. The view I was rewarded with was spectacular, we had no idea of how big the mountain was until I saw it by day. We could of spent another few days there but we were out of money.