Friday, November 07, 2008

mount kinabalu challenge: day 2

*san, see, u dun have to wait until next year to read this post! hehehe...

woke up bright and early, in excited anticipation to our trek ahead... too cold to bathe. i didn't even want to take off my jacket!

breakfast at the guesthouse. i was still so groggy from sleep that when i was offered a choice of American Breakfast or Noodles, i said i wanted American Noodles! wakaka... everyone at the table was looking at me with a big question mark on their face for a second, especially the waitress!

after breakfast, we were coached to the park headquarters (abt 15 min away from our guest house) to get ourselves organised. here, our extra luggages are stored (at RM10 per luggage), the backpacks we wanted the porters to carry up the mountain were weighed (at RM80 per 10kg) and also name tags (with our names, numbers and group) were handed out to everyone. on the coach also, the driver asked us if we wanted to buy the 'tongkat' (walking canes) from him. he said the tongkat is sold for RM5 at the Timpohon Gate, but he's offering it to us for RM3 only! and they don't even looked new. we're sure they have been used and discarded by climbers after they came down, so the driver just collected them and sold them again! renewable income! very enterprising hor?

name tag to be taken home as souvenir...

name, date and group number at the back...

yeah! got my dog-tag and all set to go! :)

was coached to the timpohon gate (another 15 min from the park headquarters). actually there are 2 trails up. one is the timpohon trail and the other is the mesilau trail. the timpohon trail is the more common trail, less challenging and shorter. the mesilau trail is the less-travelled one, longer and more challenging, but with better scenery.

together we stand... everyone in high spirits, ready for the challenges ahead!

at the timpohon gate...

briefing by the guide at timpohon gate... but i'm bz taking photos! hehehe...

after a short briefing and toilet breaks, we set off from the timpohon gate at an easy pace.

departing from timpohon gate (at the back). coming back,
climbing up these steps was the most torturous part!

can see me at the 2nd last position there? still early on of the ascend...
still pretty easy stroll, like our regular jungle trekking trips

after abt 1/2 hour's trek, we came to pondok kandis at 1,981.7 meter a.s.l., the first of the 7 pondok (shelter) along the trail. so far so good...

everyone still looked quite fresh...

there are toilet facilities and water tanks at the shelters. the water are free, but untreated. so drink at ur own risk! we drank loads of those water, coz they were very fresh and cooling! hehehe... oh, and there were a lot of squirrels at the shelters, very fat ones too! once a human stopped at the shelters, these squirrels will appear. coz to them, human = food!

they're so tame, they'll even take food right out of our palms! dem cute...

we were advised not to rest for too long at each shelter, because we need to keep our engines running. once our engines cool down, it'll take more energy to get it started up again. so mostly we rest for less than 5 minutes, just enough to drink some water and get ourselves reorganized (maybe need to take out sweater, or keep poncho etc).

after another 20 minutes' trek, we came to the 2nd shelter, pondok ubah at 2,081.4 meter... a little before reaching this shelter, it began to rain. so we all had to don our poncho and walk around like the yellow man from digi! hehe...

"i will follow youuuuu..." photo taken by SP from pondok ubah...

we covered 1.5km (from a total of 6km ascending trek to laban rata) in 1 hour... good progress! along the way, lots of porters overtook us. some were carrying their clients' backpacks (a few backpacks to one person!), while some carried gas tanks, long wooden planks etc. they were really quick and sure-footed, and some of the porters were really young, around 13 years old!

a while rain, a while no rain... we were like doing fashion show,
keep putting on and removing our ponchos!

after abt 3 1/2 hours, we reached the 5th shelter, pondok layang-layang at 2,702m a.s.l., where we stopped to have our packed lunch. this packed lunch was part of our package deal, consisting of sandwiches, a piece of fried chicken, a hard-boiled egg, 2 pcs of spring rolls, an apple, a bottle of mineral water and a can of 100 plus. the whole packed lunch weighed abt 1kg! so we had the porter carry it up for us, at RM8/pack. i think that's even more expensive than the packed lunch itself! but nvm, better let them earn that bit of money, than lugging it up ourselves and regreting later! :P

lunching at pondok layang-layang. most of us can't finish our food,
maybe coz we were too tired, or too cold, or the food was too much.
or maybe all of the above!

after the layang-layang shelter, our trail became more
challenging... most of it are like this (or worse) all the way up!

the trek after lunch became more difficult and i was beginning to get out of breath. i think it's because the air was getting thinner and also the trail was getting more challenging, not to mention the rain was heavier, the wind stronger and the temperature colder. so from here on, my progress became slower and i needed to stop to catch my breath every 10 minutes or so...

i'm mostly walking by myself now, coz the faster ones are already ahead of me and the slower ones are far behind me. occasionally, i'll only glimpse one or two of my team members in front of me before they disappear at the bend. however, during the whole way up, we're always meeting other climbers on their way down. we would smile at each other and sometimes exchange a "good morning" or two. for the friendlier ones, they would encourage us to go on, telling us that we're very near the basecamp of laban rata and to not give up. for us, we'd enquire if they managed to summit and to congratulate those who made it.


colleague J at waras hut...

see this hut? "waras hut"? this is situated at the top of a particularly steep part of the trail, so we can only see the top of the zink roof when we reached the bottom of the stretch of the trail. imagine the happiness and relief we felt, thinking we've finally arrived at basecamp! but our happiness was short-lived, when we got close enough to read the sign... *sigh* and so, we trudged on dejectedly, questioning why did we put ourselves through such torture!

finally, i really arrived at the basecamp of laban rata, at 3,554m a.s.l. the first of my team members arrived there at 2.50pm, so i'm considered not too far behind lar. the warm interior of laban rata was really a warm welcome, from the 11.5 degrees C temperature outside. my shoes and socks were soaked through! luckily i wore shorts, so my clothes were fairly dry under my poncho.

since dinner will be served at 5pm at laban rata, we decided against going on to gunting lagadan, our resthouse for the night. so we just sat around to rest our feet and trying to get warm. some of my teammates couldn't wait for dinner, so they ordered maggie mee, fried rice, hot tea and some other food, just to get something hot down their stomach.

finally, dinner was served! just a simple buffet line... the food was not wonderful, but edible lar... and since we're cold and we really need to replenish our energies, so what the heck? just eat lar!

after dinner, it was still raining outside and the 10 of us still need to continue on our trek to our lodging place, gunting lagadan. the resthouse is cheaper compared to laban rata, but that's not the reason why we chose to stay there. it's because laban rata was full! if i had a choice, i'd rather pay more and stay at laban rata, coz their rooms have attached bathrooms and also internal heater!

anyway, the air was really thin even at basecamp, and even tho it's only 15 min away, it was really a difficult trek. i was so short of breath, i had to take one step at a time and stop occasionally to catch my breath.

gunting lagadan is really a very basic lodging place. its made of thin plywood and a zink for a roof, with rows of small rooms fitting 4 bunks, a kitchen and unisex bathrooms. the bathrooms were really icky, wet and with loads of bugs flying around! and not a single nail to hang your things! when i went in with all my clothes and bathing things, i just stood around inside the cubicle, looking around and thinking how on earth am i to take a shower here? after a minute, i decided that i'm not going to shower after all. so i just changed my under clothes, changed into a fresh set of clothes and proceed to 'dry clean' myself with a wet towel.

this is how our resthouse looked like... 4 bunks in a small room, with only a small gap in between the beds. there weren't any place to put our things, except for our shoes. so we need to sleep with our backpacks on our beds.

as we have to wake up at 2.00am for our summit attempt, we need to be in bed early to get some rest. but it was so cold (still raining outside!) and everything felt so damp! i was in my long johns, t-shirt, long pants and jacket, thick socks, sleeping inside my sleeping bag, with two layers of wool blanket on top of my sleeping bag, and STILL i'm freezing!

and i don't know if it's the altitude, the cold or the anxiousness of what lies ahead (maybe all 3!), but i kept waking up throughout the night and needing to pee! looks like it's gonna be a long night ahead...

read also:
1) mount kinabalu challenge: day 1
2) bestest friend in the world!
3) mount kinabalu challenge: failed
4) updates and such...
5) mount kinabalu challenge