About Me (1)
Philippine Islands (8)
* Kinabalu and the Last Leg
* Peninsular Sprint
* Like a Diamond Out a Goat's Ass...
* Adios Philippines
* I Will Eat Your Unborn Child!
* Learning to Play
* I Love Sufing
* Reunited (And It Feels So Good)
* On a Cool Night, Just Let Me Hold You By the Firelight
* The Temperate Zone Spreads Her Chilly Tentacles...
* It's All Good
* Eyes in the Back of My...Back
* The Road to Hell
* Getting High in the Low Season
* Just a Quickie...
* Oh My Buddha! (Part Two)
* Oh My Buddha! (Part One)
* Life's a Bitch...
* Holiday in Cambodia
June 24, 2005
Kinabalu and the Last Leg
Legend has it that the Emperor of China once learned of a pearl being guarded by a dragon on some mountain in Borneo. Desiring to have it for himself, he dispatched his three sons to retrieve it for him. The first two failed, but the third succeeded and also took a wife at the base of the mountain. Before too long, the young man decided he must return to China, but promised his wife he would be back for her. As you have already guessed, the guy never came back and his wife, in mourning, climbed to the mountain's summit, where she met her death. Anyway, the name 'Kinabalu' translates to 'Chinese widow.' Neat, huh?
My flight from Kuala Lumpur was quick and painless (and cheap--only $50). I headed straight for the National Park and sought out refuge in the budget dormitory at HQ. Of course, I brought the Rice God along for the ride and he proved to be quite helpful, especially during the descent. That night at dinner I met a Briton named Ian Phillips whom I would hang out with for the rest of my stay in Malaysian Borneo. I took full advantage of the dinner buffet, stuffing myself to utter abdominal pain once again. Ian and I traded stories about the places we had visited, then rested up for the climb.
Our 'guide' (more of a chaperone, really, we barely saw the guy; however, hiring a guide is a requirement even if he is worthless) led our group of six to the base of the mountain at 0930. He somehow sensed that I would be moving like a raped ape, and told each of us to travel at our own pace, since we'd all be ending up at the Laban Rata Resthouse before summiting early the next morning. 2 and 1/2 hours later, I reached the resthouse at an elevation of about 3,200 meters. It was interesting to observe the vegetation change from lush moutain jungle to gnarly and weather-beaten shrubs. I rested and read my novel, snacking on the occasional Chinese mung bean cake. The plan was to disembark at 0230 to make the supposedly difficult 3 hour ascent to the summit.
Ian and I got about an hour of sleep each. We both tried getting to bed around seven, but the heater made things extremely uncomfortable. At about 0115, the two Chinamen that were bunking in our room decided to wake up and make a ruckus just after I had finally managed to drift off into lala land. 'WTF?' I thought. 'The sun doesn't even rise until just before six so get back to bed!' Well, they didn't and luckily we both managed to return to our slumber after they left. At 0230 our guide woke us and simply said, 'We leave now. You guys catch up, okay?' Okay. We tumbled out of bed and headed to the restaurant, where I loaded up on about 200g of chocolate and another bean cake. Then we set off.
One by one, Ian and I passed the slow-moving members of the train of people along the steep route to the summit. I had no torch and relied on the full moon and stars to illuminate my path. The air was wonderful--cold mountain air that was thoroughly refreshing. Eventually, the trail was gone and a thick rope laid along the bare granite marked our path to the summit. At this point I was feeling frisky and increased my pace, passing everyone in my path until I was alone. At this point, I thought I might be the first to the summit. Between gulping huge breaths, I sang songs to make things more cheerful. Finally, I reached the base of Low's Peak, the tallest of Kinabalu's several peaks, and scrambled my way to the top. I summitted at 0430, an hour and half after leaving Laban Rata. I wasn't alone--a single Malaysian high school student had been shivering up there for about a half-hour. Ian reached the summit about 10 minutes later, followed by a few more Malaysians. We all sat shivering in the wind, Ian and I huddled behind some boulders and went through another big bar of chocolate.
Sunrise, about an hour and a half later, was superb! The combinations of colors and the frequency with which they changed as the sune rose was brilliant. I snapped as many pictures as I could and sat back, taking in the excellent views in all directions. It was a bit cloudy on this particular morning, so I didn't see it myself, but supposedly one can see all the way to the Philippines across the South China Sea.
After getting our fill of the views from the summit, Ian and I headed back down to camp. I found this to be much less comfortable than ascending, as descending puts a great deal of stress on the knees. We got a couple more hours of sleep and headed back to HQ.
The rest of our time in Borneo was fun, but nothing worthy of mention to you fine folks. I flew into Bangkok last night and am heading north tomorrow for a second slice of Pai. On the 30th, I head back to Portland. I am truly excited for my return, there are many people I am eager to visit and many goals I have set and will accomplish during my short stay. I have a hunger to get some things done, just as I had a hunger to travel before I actually left. This trip has been a huge success in so many ways and I feel that I have grown immensely as a person. Also, I've been bitten by the travel bug and ain't gonna stop moving. This has become part of my life, this backpacking to various regions of the world. There is so much to see, so much to do, so much to learn...
In closing, thank you for following along with me these last several months. My family, my old friends from back home, my new friends from out here, and the strangers whom I have never met--I'll see many of you at some point in the future, so look out! Later...
"Memento Te Esse Mortalem"
Posted by Gary on June 24, 2005 07:38 PM
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