Magnificent Mount Rinjani – Part 2

After a good breakfast, we started to descend to the crater lake at 8 am. Much to our surprise, the descent was quite difficult as well  because of the loose rocks. This could be quite a challenge for weak knees. At some point, we were also trekking through beds of wild edelweiss on flatter ground. The mist was thick and it somewhat felt like we were walking in heaven. After 3 hours of descent, we finally reached Segara Anak crater lake.

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The lake is approximately 2,000 meters above sea level and about 200 meters deep. Near the lake is a beautiful waterfall. It is amazing that just beside the cold rushing water is a pool of natural hot spring. After going for more than 24 hours without a shower, a dip in the hot spring was most gratifying. The water temperature was 37.5°C, which was just nice for a hot, relaxing dip.



As we walked back to our camp by the lake, lunch was ready for us. Soon, we were on our way up to the second crater rim, Plawangan Senaru. The trek was no easy feat either. The first half of the 3-hour ascent was a constant uphill trudge, but manageable even with my 5 kg backpack. Every time I felt tired and needed to catch my breath, I’d just have to turn back and watch the awesome view of the caldera. And my mind would be refreshed and motivated again.

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The second half of the ascent was a different ball game altogether. It was rock climbing all the way until we reached the crater rim. Some parts were quite dangerous and required both hands and legs to push ourselves up. At this point, Ady had been very kind to carry my backpack for me as it would have taken us ages to reach if I had to carry it myself.

We reached the Plawangan Senaru campsite just before 5 pm. At 2,641 meters and on the opposite side of the caldera from the Sembalun campsite earlier, we are now able to see Gunung Baru, a new volcano that had just erupted in 2010, standing in the midst of the crater lake. It was truly a magnificent view. As a photo enthusiast, I couldn’t stop clicking my camera – sideways, upwards and downwards. I had lugged my heavy dSLR all the way up the mountains and down the valley for this view. Fortunately, it did not disappoint me.

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That night, it rained heavily and our tents swayed in the strong winds. I feared they would be blown away. We woke up the next day in one piece, although none of us sleep well on both nights. According to medical experts, when at high altitude, we tend to wake up intermittently throughout the night as our body’s way of reminding us to breathe.

On day 3, we had our last breakfast in the mountains and quickly started off down to Senaru. This time, the descent was much easier than the last descent to the crater lake. The first half saw us trekking through an open trail, surrounded by beautiful green grass and a view of the horizon. It wasn’t long before the trail led us through the tropical rainforest with mossy trees and roots. We stopped for an hour for lunch at Pos Extra (1,165 meters), then continued descending for about 45 minutes until we reached the Senaru Gate signboard. From there, it was another 20 minutes of leisure walking to the final exit where our transport was waiting for us.

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We reached the exit point at 1.45 pm and that marked the end of our memorable adventure to Mount Rinjani.


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I’d say that trekking the Mount Rinjani is definitely not for the faint-hearted nor beginners. It is also highly recommended to do the 4 days/3 nights package for a complete Rinjani experience.

Although I’m quite disappointed about not reaching the summit, I’m quite glad we decided to skip it. I don’t think we’d be able to fully enjoy the whole experience if we had done the summit in such a short time. So would I return to Mount Rinjani someday? Definitely! But it’d be just for the summit the next time.

crater lake - pano


Magnificent Mount Rinjani – Part 1

As you might have read in my previous blog, this Mount Rinjani trip has been in the 2013 pipeline since November last year. As time drew closer to the trip, I didn’t exactly train like how I did when preparing for Mount Kinabalu. For one thing, I didn’t do as many hikes in a week this time, but I did other types of training. I ran once a week & swam 2-3 times a week. On top of that, I was more physiologically prepared this time around. To avoid my knees hurting in the middle of the trek, I had been taking glucosamine religiously everyday for the past 2 months. Also I visited a physiotherapist who taught me some exercises to strengthen the muscles around my knees, which I had been practicing everyday too. Then I’ve also been building my body’s immune system by taking the Chinese herbs, Pak Chan, 2-3 times a month, to avoid falling sick after the trip. All I can say is, it all paid off. Phew! 🙂

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Mount Rinjani is an active volcano situated in Lombok & the second highest mountain in Indonesia outside the Irian Jaya. The summit may only stand at 3,726 metres (a little short of Mount Kinabalu) but she demands triple the stamina, physical endurance & mental strength to whoever that wishes to conquer her. However if you dare take the challenge, she promises an array of breathtaking sceneries from the start to the end of the journey.

And promise she did.


So together with Sharon & Fairuz, we arrived at Lombok International Airport on 7th June morning on Air Asia’s direct flight from Kuala Lumpur. Our guide, Ady, greeted us at the airport & took us on an hour drive to Senggigi for lunch. We proceeded to Sembalun after lunch, which was another 3 hours drive away. Here, we stayed a night at Lembah Rinjani, a budget hotel at the foothill, before starting our trek the next morning. At Sembalun, we were already at 1,150 metres above sea level. It was raining when we reached, making the night chilly at around 20 degrees Celsius.

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Lembah Rinjani

The next day, it rained again before we started our trek. So much for a dry season in June! Nevertheless, we went ahead as scheduled & started off from Sembalun Lawang at 8.15am. We were well prepared with our raincoats, though little did we expect that we’d need them at such an early stage. The first half of the day was an easy stroll along the open plains. We walked pass a few herds of grazing cows and the view of the volcanic range along the way was most captivating. We stopped for lunch at around 11am. At that time, the rain had also stopped & it was all bright & sunny. Our guide & porters cooked us a hearty meal, much to our delight. In fact, every meal we had throughout the journey was actually quite appetizing & delicious.


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We continued the 2nd half of our trek at around 1pm. Then it rained again. This time, it was much heavier and lasted for about 2 hours. We got our raincoats out again but our shoes were completely soaked, as water gushed down the trails. I’d admit that the rain did break our spirits a little, and to top that, the trails turned much steeper with narrow steps (Wikitravel reported that the uphill gradient was about 50 degrees), marking the final 3 hours a pretty tough cookie. We finally reached the Plawangan Sembalun campsite at about 5pm, which wasn’t too bad. That was probably the average time it’d take a normal hiker too – 7 hours, excluding lunch break.

Lo & behold, the view that greeted us at the campsite completely took our breaths away. It was a spectacular view of the caldera, which is partially filled by the crater lake known as Segara Anak, surrounded by the volcanic range. One word – awesome!

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Our porters had quickly set up the tents for us for the night. The most amusing part was the temporary toilet. Basically they dug a hole in the ground and set up a square-ish tent made of fabric as cover. Initially, as a first time camper, I was quite squeamish about the whole toilet business. After awhile, practice makes perfect, aiming the hole got better & going to the toilet seems less of a task. The eecky part is pooing on top of other people’s poo in the hole. But thank God this temporary toilet was only for our group, i.e. 3 of us. 😉

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The temporary toilet

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Our tents

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The Plawangan Sembalun crater rim, where we camped on the first night, stood at 2,639 metres altitude with the temperature dropping to below 10 degrees Celsius at night. As we laid on our backs gazing at the pitch dark sky painted with gazillion of stars & shivering to the freezing night, we caught glimpses of at least 3 or 4 shooting stars. It was around this time also that our guide, Ady, came to have a little chat with us on our programme for the next day. It seemed that our 3 days/2 nights package will need to cram the summit, lake AND the 2nd crater rim (Plawangan Senaru) into 1 day or 12 hours of trek, which may be quite challenging for average hikers like us.

Basically the trek to the summit starts at around 2.30am. The ascent typically takes 3 hours, in time to catch the sun rise at the peak, and another 1.5 hours to descend. This is the most difficult part of the whole trek that requires a good level of stamina, because the loose volcanic gravel will cause one to slip a step backwards for every 2 steps forward. Descending is another challenge, where most people would slip & fall, and some will have their pants torn during the fall.

He also warned us that there could be a possibility that we might need to forgo the lake & 2nd crater rim if we return from the summit later than 11am. So after a long discussion among ourselves, we decided that we were probably not conditioned enough to do 12 hours of trek in a day, as we had never done anything longer than 8 hours before. What’s more, the climb to the summit may already consume a big chunk of our energy for the rest of the day. Besides, if we don’t make it on time back from the summit, we will also lose out on the lake, hot spring & the view at Senaru crater rim, which was supposedly more stunning than at the summit. Therefore we decided unanimously to skip the summit this time around.

To be continued….

Panoramic view of Plawangan Sembalun crater rim

Panoramic view of Plawangan Sembalun crater rim


After sleeping over it for a night, I finally decided the next morning to buy the Groupon for an outdoor boot camp.

I still remember the last boot camp session I went to not too long ago. That was an indoor trial class…and I literally died! I didn’t like it at all. There was a mix of beginners & advanced trainees…so imagine people like me who was struggling to do even one push up and the girl beside was already doing like 10! Well, it wasn’t exactly motivating to be training to with people much better than you, you know what I mean? On top of that, my whole body ached so badly after that for the next 4-5 days…even walking up the step at the lobby of my apartment was a painful effort. No kidding.

So why wanna go through the torture again, you asked?  Hmm…OK I must say that despite all the pain, it was a very good workout. It practically worked every part of the body. Also most importantly, I have a goal to achieve – to lose 3 kg by end of the year (some sorta bet I had with 2 other friends) AND to fit nicely into my bikini again for my diving trip at the end of this year too. 😀 Oh OK, so that’s 2 goals. 😉

So when I saw this Groupon offer, which was for the Rebel Boot Camp at only RM48 instead of RM299 for a month, I thought, why not? It’s a very good deal…and it’s outdoor…and it seemed like a superb way to reach that 2 goals of mine. So I started the first class last week.

412783_10150801111507913_1556653319_oHow did it go? Well, since it’s the end of the year, it’s also the wettest season of the year. And the best part is, the show must still go on. So first class was last Tuesday evening at the Central Park (opposite 1 Utama)…it started to rain as we started to do the warm ups…and barely 20 mins into the session, there came the lightning. So the class was halted. Then we went for the 2nd class on Thursday evening. This time the heavens poured even more buckets down…but no lightning, so we continued the whole session until the end…in the rain…soaking wet. We were divided into 2 groups to partner each other…we did 2 mins of push ups, sit ups & grunts continuously, ran 10 rounds around the lake in the park (which they said was equivalent to 2km…but it sure felt longer than that)…and a mini competition where everyone had to keep at a plank position while the last person in line runs to the front continuously until one of the groups reached the end. Gosh, that was really painful!

By the end of the day, I was totally covered in dirt & dripping with mud…good thing I brought a t-shirt to change. My arms hurt for awhile, though they weren’t nearly as bad as the first boot camp I went to.

Then they had a replacement class last Saturday at 7am. I went for that one too. Although it didn’t rain that morning, it did rain the night before & therefore the field was equally wet & muddy. But it felt really good to workout in the morning while the air was fresh & nice. Oh and we got to play with ropes last Saturday too. 😀

202703_10151074724356009_1251386184_oAll in all, I actually enjoyed this outdoor boot camp much much more than the indoor one. In fact, I thought the trainers were pretty good & fun too, at least they were more motivating than dictating. And this is definitely more fun than working out in the gym…also in the gym you need lots of discipline to work every part of your body…unless you have a personal trainer. This, on the other hand, is a do-or-die. Once the session starts, there’s no excuse…nowhere to run. 😉

Anyway these guys are the Rebel Boot Camp, you can check out their website or Facebook page. 🙂

Oh btw, the photos weren’t taken by me, obviously…I’ve stolen them from their Facebook page. Haha.

Go Eco, Go Cycling in Bali

Company announced that my division’s regional meeting this year will be held in Bali. As usual, I decided to extend a few days on my own, this time I went 2 days earlier (i.e. arrived on Fri night for the weekends). So I had the whole of Sat on my own. My initial plan was to go diving…contacted a few dive centres there…spoke to a few diver friends…then decided that 1 day is not worth the travelling time & money to do it. Then there was a lot of ding dong-ing on what else to do…googled, emailed, called…activities on the list – surfing, sightseeing to the lakes around Bedugul, cycling, hiking, back to diving…everything just didn’t seem right. Until the day before I flew off, I was still ‘activity-less’ for Sat, so I looked at the list again & decided to do more research on the cycling tour, which ranked one of the top things to do in Bali on TripAdvisor. I brushed it off earlier because it sounded a bit touristy and from past experience with the island-hopping thingy in Phuket, I learned that tours designed for westerners are ‘not really that great’. They get excited over small things…like seeing monkeys. So I was quite hesitant about the cycling tour at first. So I searched for more reviews on it, especially by Asians, and finally I read a Malaysian who reviewed the Bali Eco Cycling Tour & said that it was good & worth it. OK, so I wrote to them on Thurs late evening. Within minutes, they replied to say that they could accommodate me for Sat. And the price was pretty reasonable too (around RM110 per pax), everything inclusive. So I confirmed & we made arrangements. All done. Finally. Within minutes. Woohoo!!!!!

So they came to pick me up from my hotel (I stayed at Tune Hotel Kuta) on Sat at 7am. They picked up a few other people in the group too…there were an American couple, an Aussie family (dad, mom & son), and 2 Shanghainese girls. And me, of course.

First, they brought us to Kintamani for breakfast. This was my 3rd time there already, so I wasn’t exactly all that excited with the view. But it was an awesome view, really.

Then they brought us to the Luwak coffee factory. If you search on it, you’ll learn that Luwak coffee is made from the luwak (civet cat)’s poo. 🙂 And it’s not cheap at all. Then we had some coffee & tea tasting session. As I don’t drink coffee, I just took the teas. This visiting part, I thought, could have been skipped. I mean, the main thing that we signed up for was the cycling part, so we should just get on with it right after breakfast. Anyway, tours being tours, I suppose they just had to slip in at least 1 touristy site for us.

Luwak (civet cat)

Roasting coffee beans

Coffee & tea tasting session

Coffee has genders too!

After that, we went to their base to start the cycling tour. Yay, finally! 😀

So what do I have to say about it? Well, to sum it up, I think it was a very interesting experience indeed. I’m glad I ended up doing this cycling tour.

It’s something for the semi-adventurous. “Semi” because it’s still designed for tourists, you know. It’s good for people like me who haven’t cycled for more than 10 years…and for families who are looking to do some activities together too. The whole way was almost a downhill trail (so very little pedalling required). Each group consists of max 8-10 people only, with a guide in front, middle & the back. Any time when one of us stopped to take photos, the guide at the back will stop to wait. So it was good that it was quite flexible. And they even had their van following us from behind most of the time. Haha. If we had finished the water supply on our bikes, hey they had more in the van! So they made sure that everything was in control.

They brought us to the paddy fields, though I was hoping that it would be the terrace paddy fields, but they were all just the normal ones. It was still OK…managed to get some nice photos there too. They also took us into one of the family compounds & explained to us how a typical Balinese family lives, their culture & values. That, I thought was quite insightful. I learned that:

  • In a Balinese family, it’s the youngest son who will be heir to the family’s throne…unlike the Chinese, where it’s normally the eldest son.
  • Everybody must be married before they die. If they die as a single, they will perform a wedding ceremony after the person is dead…and he/she will be married to…a wood! Goodness gracious me!
  •  And a whole lot of other stuffs. 🙂

The whole cycling thingy took about 2-3 hours. We ended almost to 2pm. We had an option of continuing to do an uphill trail for the more adventurous. Initially I thought I’d do it…but by the time we ended the tour, I was hungry like crazy…and the guide asked…to do the uphill trail which will take another 45 mins, or go for lunch which will take 10 mins by van from where we were? The choice was obvious.

The lunch was pretty good. I read so much great reviews about the lunch. Well, I wouldn’t say it was fantastic but it was good. Worth the sweat & all. Haha.

All in all, the cycling tour was worth spending a day on. And I thought these guys were quite professional too. But of course if you’re an avid cyclist already, you will find this tour pretty boring. But I think if you want a customised tour just to bring your group to other parts of the island, they’re able to do that too. I found out later from my big big boss that he once took his kids on a cycling tour from Kuta all the way up north to Lovina over a course of 2 days, with a guide. So I think these guys could do this sort of stuff if you ask them to. That would be something I’d love to do the next time in Bali. 🙂

Anyways, if you’re looking for something different to do in Bali other than the usual driver bringing you sightseeing, you may want to check them out.

Bali Eco Cycling –

Breaking From The Hills

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you would’ve read about my knee & breaking from the hills.

OK, here’s the story.

First, my left knee started to pain during my descent from Mount Kinabalu. That was in April last year. Since then, it’s been fine whenever I go to Gasing Hill. However, when I went to Apek Hill, during descending, it would start to pain again. Every time, without fail. Maybe coz it’s higher & the trails are longer than Gasing. So I know that my left knee is still not fully recovered yet.

Then when I went skiing in Korea in Jan this year, I fell awkwardly (to be exact, my right knee was bent forward) during the 1st day of ski itself, resulting in me not being able to ski for the next 2 days, which I had already paid for. I could hardly even walk for the first week. Although I could walk normally after that, until today, my right knee still feels ‘weird’ when trying to bend at certain angle. In fact, I still can’t really squat completely. So I know that my right knee is definitely not recovered yet too. But it didn’t give any problem during hiking…so far.

So after much procrastination, I finally decided to seek professional help about my knees. So last Friday, I went to see Dr Saw (UMSC), an orthopaedic surgeon, who was recommended by my colleague. I told him about both my knees & he said that my right knee still looks swollen. Anyway here are some excerpts of our conversation:

(After examining both knees…)

Dr Saw: Actually there’s nothing that can be done about it (my knees). You just need to rest…for at least 2 weeks. 

Me: But I’ve already been having the pain for quite some time already.

Dr Saw: Yes, but have you ever rested????

Me: Errrrrrrrmmmmmm……(thinking, thinking, thinking. Hmmm, actually….that’s quite true. The week I came back from Korea, I was already playing tennis, despite my knee wasn’t well yet. :-P)

Dr Saw: So stop hiking or any sports…for a month. Then we’ll see if your knees are better. If not, then we’ll do an MRI. If the MRI shows there’s any (can’t remember the terms he used but something about something being torn inside), then I’ll have to refer you to my friend who is a sports therapist. You better take care of your knees, you know. You’re already thirty-what? But good thing you’re not overweight. Worst case scenario is you’ll need to do surgery to put a plate inside your knee, like this (he showed a model of the knee plated with some stainless steel)…you wouldn’t want that right???

Me: (Eyes & mouth opened wide…shaking my head) Nooooo….

Dr Saw: So can you do that or not? Can you rest for a month or not????

Me: Ahh…can can cannnn!!!

Hahahahaha! Real cute!

Then he also prescribed pain-killer (NSAID) & glucosamine for me…both originals. 😉

I must say, the pain-killer came in real handy because I went to Bukit Tabur the next day, and I felt nothing at all! I tell you, them pain-killers are really awesome!

So anyway, I gave myself until last Monday to do my last hikes before I call it quits…for a month. Wah, the Bukit Tabur was one helluva closure, man! (Will tell you more about it in my next blog.) I’ll also be breaking from the tennis session for awhile. Gosh! My concern is after 1 month, my fitness level is back to square one…and I’ll have to start from 0 again. Sigh. And I’ll probably grow fatter too. SIGHHH. Luckily I can still swim. And luckily swimming is my 2nd nature (to sleeping…hahaha!). So I guess I’ll be sticking to swimming for awhile.

Now I’ll have to think of what to do on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings. Like today, good thing my maid came in to clean the house, otherwise I’ll be feeling so weird to be sitting at home doing nothing. It’s funny how I got to this stage. I mean, I’d be dreading it when I had to wake up early on a weekend…and now that I have all the time in the world to sleep till I drop, hmm…suddenly it ain’t that sweet either. Apa macam ni? Hahaha.

So anyway, please pray for me that my knees will recover in a month’s time. I’ll be a good girl & rest, I promise. 🙂

Ah Pek Ah Kow

It’s Friday…so much to be done but not feeling like doing anything. Hehe. So I’m gonna blog some nonsense today. Hmm….let’s see…

Oh OK. I just thought of my last hike at Ah Pek Hill 2 weekends ago, which was most eventful. Haha…it was really cartoon, man!

First of all, I must explain to you my ‘relationship’ with Ah Pek. I first went there…maybe like…4 years ago? But I wasn’t into all these hiking thingy yet, so the 2nd time I went was a year later…and then during my training for Mount K early this year. So let’s talk about this year.

This year, I went to Ah Pek Hill almost every weekend for my training to Mount K. To be exact, maybe 5 times early this year, 2 of which I went alone…and then twice again after Mount K with Angie. The last time I went was during the Merdeka weekend. And every time I went, I would take the same trail – the one that leads from Station 1 up to Station 6, then it loops back to Station 2.

Same route. Every time. Without fail.

This time, Bryan brought a friend & it was Shaaron’s first time there. So they were all counting on me to lead the way. Easy peasy right? But guess what? Up to Station 3 and then…we got lost!

I just can’t understand it…until now. How did we get lost? I was so sure of the trail. So so so sure. Did they change something in the last 2 months? Or was I really really so blur that day? Or is my memory failing me?

As we kept walking on the wrong trail, hoping that it would lead us somewhere, then we saw some roofs ahead. Ahhh…we must have reached the ground. Great! We’ll just go out from here & find our way back to the car. Then we came to a small gate. The door was opened and we saw the sign on it…of a person shooting another person. Uh ohhh…it’s a private property. We could see some building down ahead…maybe it’s some chicken farm or log mill or something. Then Shaaron said she’ll go & check it out. She took less than 5 steps and we could see & hear some dogs barking down there. I tried to see if they were chained…and realised that they were not! Oh noooo…the next thing I saw them running towards our direction. I turned to Bryan & his friend….”Go go go! RUN!!!!”

The barking become louder & closer…as if they were just right behind us. Shaaron kept asking us to stop running coz they’ll keep chasing if we kept running. But if not then what? I mean, they were already coming after us. Then she kept asking me to pass my hiking stick to her…so I quickly passed it to her while still running…coz she was the last person behind & afraid her butt will be munched off. HAHAHAHA! It was all so funny. When we couldn’t hear the barking anymore, we stopped and laughed our hearts out.

Oh man! What an experience. Now I think they’d have a phobia if I ask them to go to Ah Pek Hill again. As for me, I wanna find out how we got lost that day. Hmm….must go again soon. Hehe. Anybody wants to join me? 😉

The Conquest to Mount Kinabalu

I know this post is extremely late & outdated. But better late than never, right? 😉

Below is my account of the trip. I will also include some first-hand tips along the way, which is highlighted in red.

The preparation started when we booked the flight tickets to Kota Kinabalu…sometime in Aug 2010…though in actual fact I was already training in the hills before that when we decided to go for it. So let’s just say that it was 9 months of training for me – 2 to 3 times a week at Bukit Gasing & some weekends at Ah Pek Hill, plus tennis once a week. I think the worse was the last 2 months…because I started to get all stressed up over it. Then, it didn’t help too when everybody kept asking me when I was going to climb Mt K…and blah blah blah. Then, I got loads of advises from people who have been there before…and even those who haven’t. Sigh. Too much info can sometimes make you feel even more confused. Then, I was also stressing myself up because I was worried that I couldn’t reach the peak…and I kept feeling that I wasn’t fit enough or hadn’t trained enough…etc. Oh I just couldn’t wait for it to be over soon!

So finally, the day came. We flew into KK on Mon, 18 Apr 2011. Our driver met us at the airport, took us to KK town for lunch, then we went to pick up Tze Ching & her friends. In total, there were 7 of us – 5 girls & 2 guys. Then, we went to Kinabalu Park where we stayed a night before we started our climb the next day. We stayed at Rock Hostel, which was very clean & quite nice, much to our surprise.

Our beds in the dorm room. We paid RM100 for each bed – pretty expensive for dorm beds. Good thing we managed to get 2 rooms completely to ourselves. Each room had 4 beds. They were clean & nice but the blankets were too thin…I woke up freezing in the middle of the night & had to put on a jacket & socks.

This is the hallway to the rooms & common toilet. They provide towels for every bed but no toiletries. So remember to bring your own shower gel & shampoo.

This is the common rest area. It was really cozy & looked like some foreign hostels. When we were there, it was very quiet as there were not many other guests, so we had the whole rest area for ourselves. 🙂

Then, the next morning came. We woke up at 6am, hoping to be able to start ascending by 7.30am. But by the time our driver came to pick us up to have our breakfast & get our tags & etc, we only started our climb at 8.45am. We went via Timpohon route, which was 6km from the gate to Laban Rata.

The Timpohon trail started with descending steps, which led to a nice waterfall. After that, it was all staircase to heaven! 😛

At 3km, it is recommended to pop in 2 tablets of Panadol. I was told that most people start to develop headache after the 3rd KM.

We stopped at Pondok Layang-Layang (at 4km) for lunch. 4 of them in our group had already finished their lunch & was about to start off again when Tze Ching & I reached…that was 11.30am. The lunch pack was pretty huge…sandwiches + apple + banana + 2 hard boiled eggs. At that time, I was too tired to eat, so I think I only managed 2 pieces of sandwiches & the apple. I carried the banana & threw away the rest. I was just glad to get rid of the lunch pack which I had to carry all the way with me. Then we continued our climb at 12pm. OK, 2km more to go.

After Layang-Layang, the air became thinner and you’ll know it because you’ll feel more tired now & your steps become much slower. The weather became cooler too, so I had to put on a thin jacket along the way. The vegetation changed as we climbed higher…with more shrubs & ferns. I felt that the last 2km was quite difficult…maybe because I was already tired…plus the air was thinner…I stopped more often now…and every step was an effort. I just couldn’t wait to reach Laban Rata.

Finally, we reached Laban Rata at 3pm.

Shaaron & Steph had already reached at 1.30pm and May at 2pm. So I felt I was pretty slow. Most people take about 5-6 hours by Timpohon, I took 6 hours & 15 mins. But I was just glad to reach in one piece. Right after we reached, it started to rain. Phew.

Then came the most challenging part. Shower.

It was probably like 15 deg C, and they DIDN’T have water heater! And the water was icy cold! Imagine climbing for 6 hours & we were expected to sleep with all our dried sweat?!?!?! OMG. I couldn’t do it. So, I had the quickest shower in my life! Haha. Not only that, I even managed to wash my hair!!!! Woohoo! It was terrible. I wish I don’t have to do it ever again in my life! 😛

Oh btw, they don’t have any electrical power point there, so forget bringing anything there to charge…or a hair dryer (which I brought!)…make sure you have extra batteries for your camera.

Then we had our early dinner at 5pm, walked around Laban Rata, took some photos with the awesome view. Then I was so tired that I slept at 6pm! The rest couldn’t sleep but I just dozed off like a pig….until 1.30am! Haha.

Before sleeping, you should pop in another 2 tablets of Panadol. I didn’t, so when I woke up, my head felt kinda heavy. Don’t worry about overdose, the max dosage for an adult is 8 tablets in 24 hours.

So at 1.30am, we woke up, dolled up for the next big challenge, had our supper….and started off to the peak at 2.30am.

It was cold. I was told the temperature can drop to 3 deg C at the peak. I wore a quick-dry sleeveless inside, with a long-sleeved t-shirt on top, followed by a winter sports jacket (fleece-laced inside). You can replace the long-sleeved t-shirt with a fleece jacket if you’re just wearing a wind-breaker on the outside. The point is not to wear 100% cotton as the first layer or a long johns because you will be perspiring as you climb…a 100% cotton will dry very slowly, making it wet & cold…wherease the long johns will trap the heat as you perspire…making you feel very hot & uncomfortable inside. So it wasn’t an easy solution to know what to wear best for the 2nd part of the climb…I had to read & talk to experienced hikers to finally decide on what I was going to wear. Gee. The point is to wear a few layers so that you can quickly remove each layer as you descend because it will get hotter when the sun rises…and trust me, you will be stripping off one by one in the morning!

OK, the 2nd part of the climb is the most important & exciting part of all. It was pitch dark, so everybody had to wear a headlamp. In the beginning, it was all climbing stairs again. Then it became rocks & there’ll be a rope to guide you the right direction to the peak. For most parts, don’t bother holding on to the ropes because you’ll feel more tired holding on to it. Only at times when it’s very steep that you’ll need the rope. Make sure you wear proper hiking shoes…not the RM6 ones you get from the market…but you don’t exactly need a Timberland either. Any mediocre ones, like Axel or Admiral or Bata hiking shoes will be fine. The reason is you’ll need to have a good grip on the rocks.

There’s a final checkpoint at Sayat Sayat, which is slightly before 7km, where you’ll have your last toilet break before ascending to the peak. We reached at about 4.30am. At that point, it was so cold that I couldn’t feel my nose & lips anymore. When I talked, I felt like I was just mumbling because my lips were totally numb. I was wearing ski gloves & even then I could feel my fingers were stinging cold. So you can imagine how cold it is up there.

Going further to the peak, the air gets even thinner. Some people couldn’t go any further from Sayat Sayat due to altitude sickness. I was still OK. But I was just going quite slowly…breathing slowly.

Take deep breaths…and breathe slowly. This will help you avoid altitude sickness. 

I must say, the weather was perfect on that day. It didn’t rain. It was a full moon & clear sky. I was told that the sun rises at 5.45am. Looking at my watch, I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the peak on time for it. True enough, as I was still struggling on the rocks, I already saw the sky becoming brighter. I stopped to watch the sunrise. It was simply awesome. As it became brighter, the view of all below & beyond became clearer…and you’ll just marvel at the scenery in front of your eyes.

I could see the peak already. It didn’t look that far but I struggled…with each step I took…it felt like forever. That’s when you’ll be challenged by your mental strength. Imagine…the sun is already up. You’ve missed the sunrise on the peak. It seems like there’s still a long way to the peak & you’re feeling out of breath. Then you start seeing people who have already reached the peak coming down, passing you by. Are you able to tell yourself that you can still do it?

Having come this far, you have no choice but to continue the journey & keep psycho-ing yourself that you can do it. Actually, for me, there wasn’t even once that I thought of giving up. I just kept going & going & going…coz I knew I must reach the peak…no matter what. Shaaron & Steph were already way ahead of us. May had also gone ahead. I was with Tze Ching, Jonathan & the guide. The last 500 meters was the worst. Every 2 steps, I had to stop to catch my breath. Felt like an old woman. Hehe. Then you can see the peak just right above you right now…so near yet so far. Everybody we met on the way up (who were coming down) were going like, “Yeah, you can do it! Just a little bit more…!” Haha.

Finally, we reached the peak at 7am. Woohoo!

Then, the next challenge was coming down. Tze Ching started to vomit shortly after we reached the peak. The guide was with her & the sun was blazing by then. So I quickly ran down, literally, to avoid sun burns. But much later when we were back in KK, Tze Ching told me that she was already having altitude sickness way before reaching the peak…and if I had not been with her & continued on & on & on, she would have given up long time ago. Wow, I was so proud to have motivated someone. Hehe. 😛 Anyway, descending was a totally different challenge than ascending. It was scarier because I could see what’s below me now and how steep the cliffs really were. Anyway, after another long hike which felt like forever, I reached back at Laban Rata at 9.45am.

After breakfast, we packed our bags & started descending again at 11.30am.

If you’ve heard some people telling you to wear sandals to descend from Laban Rata to the ground because your toe nails might injure if you wear hiking shoes, well, DON’T listen to them. Seriously. I bought a new pair of Teva sandals for this purpose & right after I got out from Laban Rata, before anything, I already fell down. Even though my Teva is a hiking sandal, it’s not suitable for Mt Kinabalu…ascending or descending. The trails are just too rocky-ish. A hiking shoe is still the ideal.

Descending to the ground was quite a nightmare for me because my left knee became painful quite early. So I had to go very slowly, with my left foot down first…at every step…for the whole way! Gosh…good thing my right knee was still able to withstand the pressure.

Finally, May & I reached back at Timpohon Gate at 3.45pm. And that marks the completion of our conquest to Mt Kinabalu! Phewwwwww.

Some additional tips from me:

  • You’ll need to train for it. No shortcuts. But I can tell you, no matter how much you have trained, either by jogging or hiking or doing any other cardio workouts, you’ll never really be able to prepare for what you’ll encounter in the actual climb. Nothing comes even close to what you will experience here. But still, you’ll need to train up your stamina…that’ll take you through at least 60% of the challenge. The other 20% is your mental strength, 10% your physiological ability to withstand the altitude & 10% luck (i.e. the weather, etc.). Basically, just be prepared for the unknown. 🙂
  • If this is your first time & your main objective is to reach the peak, take the Timpohon trail…because the Mersilau is 2km longer, and trust me, 2km ascending is no joke. Even with Timpohon, every 0.5km seems like forever. And you’d want to reach Laban Rata as early as possible so that you have enough time to rest before ascending to the peak again. With Mersilau, you could reach Laban Rata at 6pm. By then you’ll be damn exhausted. So go Timpohon.
  • Take your time. Go at your own pace. Don’t hurry coz you’ll panic easily…and then there’s higher chance of you giving up halfway. Just relax & enjoy the journey. 🙂
* You can find the full set of our Mount Kinabalu climb photos in the album. Click here.
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