March 27, 2007 was a bright and sunny day. As seen in the picture, Tong Kiat, Cynthia, and I were looking fresh all ready to scale up Mount Kinabalu from the starting point. The tour operator has only one walking stick (now they have three as donated by Tong Kiat and I) and it went to the lady of course.
Soon, we saw a waterfall. Our mountain guide knew exactly where to take our photos. We yet to reach the first rest point and hence, still looking fresh and energetic.
First sign we saw that indicated our progress, we took a group photo there. This is probably the only chance you see our two German teammates. They looked fit and their legs are long so most of the time, they were ahead of us. And because we were the slower ones, the mountain guide stayed with three of us all the time.
We hardly see any wildlife in Kinabalu Park except the small Asian squirrels (with shorter tails compare to those I saw in the West) that are not afraid of humans as they do get fed often by the climbers. There are quite a number of pitcher plants though. I would have missed all of them but the mountain guide was passionate in showing us where the tiny pitcher plants were.
Somehow the Germans and the mountain guide were fascinated by the flowers around us. I was not that excited but took some photographs nevertheless.
Over at one of the rest point, our mountain guide took me into the bushes to show me something. I was curious so I followed. Tong Kiat and Cynthia both decided to rest their legs instead of entering the bushes with us. I saw what was in front of me and I gasped. What a huge pitcher plant it was! It was big enough to fit a cat or a small dog inside! Not only that, I saw quite a number of dead pitchers on the ground. Most likely each pitcher has a certain lifetime before the plant regenerates another fresh pitcher. Gruesome!
So what was the climb like? There were stones …
… and more stones. I remember I lost balance after taking the photograph above and felt down on my back. Fortunately the bag pack was big enough to cushion the hard ground below me. Actually, the stone paths like the one above and below were the easy ones. The hard ones were the big steps. I must be pretty focused so much so that I forgot to take some photographs of those steps.
Smart readers must have noticed that something is wrong about these pictures. Cynthia was not carrying any bag at all! Well, guess who carried two bags on day 1.
From time to time, we gave way to the natives who carried the food and goods all the way to the rest-house. I saw some carried a gas tank while others carried a carton of can drinks up. Some tied the goods over their heads for better support. It certainly did not look comfortable to me. There was one particular native our mountain guide has chatted with for quite a bit and according to our guide, this native is the strongest man in the area capable of carrying 40kg of weight to the rest-house. We asked (or more specifically Cynthia asked as she speaks Bahasa Indonesia) him how he does it. The strong man told us that it is all mental power, avoid instant noodle as there is no nutrient in it, and eat more vegetables. With that said, he continued his journey up.
We rested quite often and this picture of Tong Kiat (left) and myself (in red) is one of my favorites. Look, we were not that fresh anymore.
And at this misty rest point, Cynthia looked sort of tired and sleepy. From what I remember, we were 2km away from our day 1 destination.
How misty does the mountain get? A picture like the one below is not uncommon as we gained altitude.
The last 2km was tough as the slope was steeper and our feet were heavier. As we approached the rest-house, we began to see the peaks of the mountain range.
When we finally saw the rest-house, we were in tears of joy.
At the foot of the rest-house, we looked around us and saw the bone chilling granite rocks that we had to scale up the next morning. My body shivered from such a sight.
After our dinner served at 5pm, I took Cynthia out to the balcony to take a picture. As you can see below, we were so close to the cloud. In fact, once in a while, the entire balcony would be covered in cloud and we could hardly see anything from inside.
The view from the mountain was beautiful. How I wish I have a house above the cloud!
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