Friday, November 21, 2008

Mount Kinabalu

My best friend, Kok Yong and I, out of the need to challenge our mental and physical strength, decided to try to land our foots on the peak of Mount Kinabalu (Mt KK), the highest peak in Southeast Asia at 4,101 metres asl.

For Kok Yong, the attempt is just another routine given how actively he has participated in the full marathon race for many years, which requires very high level of mental and physical strength.
For me, it is a completely a different story. The climb to Laban Rata (3,270 metres) alone took almost 5 1/2 hours via 'The Summit Trail', and soon after I checked into Gunting Langanan hostel the altitude sickness spinned my head and caused me 2 vomits slightly after 2.30 am the next day, when everyone is supposed to start its final leg of attempt to conquered the peak. With the temperature at 15 degree C, I decided not to touch the water. Kok Yong came out with a brilliant idea of dry cleaning; apply Baby Johnson powder to overwhelm his odour - i did not bother to check if it worked on him but i did work on me just for a short while...Thanks God that Nelly (my wife) was not with me then.
At 2.30 am, my head continued to spin. Kok Yong offered to stay with me but i declined...told him he should continue with the climb. Shortly after he left, I tried again to put on my gear for the climb. The moment i stepped out of the hostel, i vomitted, twice. For a moment, I felt so sad for the fact that I had travelled so far for the climb. At this point, a lady in mid 50' who suffered similar altitude sickness tried to convince me to give up trying; she told me it is very dangerous for me to reach the peak without 100% focus. What could I say.
Despite all that, the journey to and from Laban Rata had been nothing but excellent. The air was so fresh. It was misty. It was so green. Saw many species of picher plants and some weird insects. The Dusun people was fantastically friendly and strong. We could see some Dusun people carried 25 kg of goods up the mountain daily; how they did it I have no idea. We tried the well-known Pucuk Timun twice and still craving for more.
On several occasions, I had the chance to make friends and chatted with 3 Britons (a fire-fighter and a couple who have travelled for 6 months round the world), a Dutch reseacher (reminded me of my boss who is a Dutch himself), 2 Australians (one used to be from Toga Islands), a Malasysian single-mom who accompanied her son for the climb, and few rangers of Dusun tribe. These people made my journey more meaningful. Also special thank to Kok Yong for the company.
For anyone who is considering a mental and physical challenge, you may consider doing this. For me, it is not done yet until I reach the peak. So I will be back.