After going to the Philippines for recess week, it was surprisingly cheap to get a flight to Borneo (non penisular Malaysia) so since we had a few days left before our classes start, some of the law students went to Borneo with the sole purpose of climbing Mount Kinabalu. It’s the highest peak in South East Asia – the peak is 4500m – and so when living in the region for a year, it is something you really should try and do. We had the time to spare, and it was cheaper to get to from Philippines than from Singapore, so the end of recess week seemed the most sensible time to do the hike.
I was slightly nervous before going, especially since we hadn’t done any trips as active as this yet! It was going to be really tough, require a lot of muscle and stamina. But I was positive the view from the top would be worth the effort. Everyone I’ve talked to who did it in Semester 1 said it was breathtaking.
The hike started with a very early start – 5.30am rise, to get the 6.30am bus, to get the base camp of Mount Kinabalu in order to start the climb at 9am. Not a great start if you’re tired and didn’t even have time to have breakfast. Both of these made the morning part of the climb pretty hard and knackering. But by lunch time we were already 2/3 of the way up for that day, and had the pack lunch the organisers gave us. We were in a group of 5, so we decided to stick to having just us in the group, and hired a mountain guide for us.
We reached the “halfway house” by mid-afternoon, where they served us an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet – all sorts of meat, bbq, curries, asian dishes, fruit, soups, desserts, everything! We took some time before dinner to nap, much needed since our muscles were aching. Dinner was another of these amazing buffets, and then straight to bed again around 9.30pm because the hardest part of the hike was coming up in Day 2: reaching the summit. We had to get up even earlier on Day 2 – at 2.30am in order to have breakfast and leave by 3.30am. The terrain up to the summit got a lot harder – we had to climb up lots of rocky terrain, over lots of rocks, and use ropes to haul us up. However, after 5 hours, we eventually reached the summit, and it was breathtaking. We spent a while just taking in the views: I couldn’t believe that the clouds seemed miles below us, how high did that mean we actually were? The summit was just over 4500m, and absolutely freezing!
We started our descent and made it down to the halfway house in time for breakfast number 2. After a short break, we continued the final descent back down to the base, where we got a huge buffet lunch. The feeling of getting to the summit was amazing – what an achievement, what a struggle, but it was soooo worth it once we saw the views. The descent down began to get very tedious, and hurt our knees because it was steep. Eventually I reached the stage where I was just fed up and wanted it all to be over. But we encouraged each other to keep going and before long we could see the van to take us home…. amazing feeling of relief/achievement/teamwork/emotion…. This was tough, but one of the best things I’ve done. I love to put yourself through a bit of struggle in order to reap the rewarding benefits at the end.
I’ve put in some photos to show just how amazing it was up Mount Kinabula, in Borneo….