Hello readers! I’m Kah Yee and currently a student in Private Secondary School pursuing my SPM next year (2014). Despite what many believe, form 4 definitely isn’t a ‘honeymoon year’ and should definitely be taken seriously. However, it is your last year before you go into hardcore studying mode for SPM in Form 5, so on one hand you want to take your studies seriously, but on another, it is your last year to be a carefree high school student.
With that said, I told myself at the beginning of this year that I’d try new things and tick everything off my high school bucket list. So, I excitedly signed up for the Merdeka Climb to Mount Kinabalu expedition with a few of my classmates.
Of course, I was really intimidated by the climb. I tried my best to squeeze in as much training as possible but only managed to train properly three times.
Us training at Batu Caves, then at Bukit Kiara, TTDI.
(FYI Batu Caves has a new rule where people cannot exercise/train there anymore due to religious reasons, so just a heads up!)
In preparation, we had to get suitable gear for our climb.
Melati, Paggie and I having matching shoes because they were proper hiking shoes and they were on sale! (We got our shoes and other gear at World of Outdoor Sports at e@Curve)
We gathered at KLIA at an early (dreadful) 6am to catch our 8am flight to Sabah. Of course, we had to take some mandatory selfies before we flew off! We were almost the only form 4’s on this trip, while most of them being form 5’s who have just finished their SPM Trials.
And guess who was our new BFF during this trip?
OUR SCHOOL NURSE! Since we had 7 people in our group, the nurse filled up the 8th spot when it came to our lodging. Since she climbed Mt. Kinabalu twice before (but never reaching the peak because she was taking care of students at the Laban Rata rest house), we asked her millions of questions on how it’d be like climbing. She told us it would be very hot until the Laban Rata rest house, but that wasn’t the case! It was air-conditioned temperature or colder! She claims it was hot for her because she already reached menopause… Hahaha, but I’m really glad she was there with us as a guardian.
In the bus. Melati and I slept throughout most of the bus ride, but Paggie survived on reading that Vivi magazine of hers the entire 2-3 hours bus ride.
After our two hour flight from KL to Kota Kinabalu, we went to a shopping mall to get some last minute shopping done (essentials like water, energy drinks, nuts, chocolate)
Luckily we didn’t get lost! After shopping we had a 2-3 hour bus ride to the Naphthalene Lodge in Kinabalu Park, where we would stay for one night.
First thing we do when we reach the lodge: take pictures! (the nurse so kindly offered to take pictures for us!)
Our lodge! It was surprisingly quite big and spacious! Wish we stayed here longer 🙁 There was Astro! We watched Junior Masterchef before dinner to ‘prepare our appetites’.
It was like a dream vacation house! We could actually start a fire with the complimentary firewood, but we were too tired to after we came back from dinner and briefing.
Had breakfast, weighed our luggage (to be carried by the porters to Laban Rata resthouse), rented our hiking sticks and off we went!
As much as I loved my girls, I really wanted to get as much rest I could at the Laban Rata rest house before climbing the peak at 1am the next morning, so I walked at a hurried pace and (selfishly) didn’t wait for my friends.
I liked walking myself. It felt therapeutically to a certain extend. Plus, I could shamelessly take photos without worrying about anyone waiting for me or judging me.
After walking alone for awhile, a group of boys from my school caught up with me (and actually overtook me) but they were so kind to wait for me. Bryan claims, “What if you suddenly faint or have muscle cramps? No one’s here!”
Then he went on to say, “Actually, we just want you to take our picture.”
Hahah, but I really don’t mind being a photographer. :p
Hahah, me being awkwardly photobombing their bromance picture, but whatever! :p And let me tell you: It was cold. (Even in the picture. I really don’t get how the guys are just wearing a t-shirt. I was wearing a shirt, a hoodie and a thin windbreaker, and still feeling cold.)
This part was horrible 🙁 I was so tired/blur, I didn’t see the white rope, so I climbed (as in got onto all fours and climbed) then I started slipping down because the rocks were kind of smooth then I panicked and wanted to shout but I remembered our teachers telling us not to shout at the mountains so I didn’t but I really did panic!
Then I saw the guys beyond the bush area and they loudly said, “Go and hold the white rope!”
But I was on the other side of the pathway and could barely move 🙁
Anyways, that was my horror story of climb up to Laban Rata (not really horror but worst experience I guess)
Anyways, I reached Laban Rata at 2.15pm, while the fastest was around 1pm (insanity). Haih, I didn’t bother get a good angle of the Laban Rata sign because all I was thinking of was, “Faster take your picture then go in and rest!”
Pictures of porters. The porter charges RM9/kilogram. It seems so easy for them! One of the porter told me he could carry a water tank up to 83kg up to Laban Rata, and 90kg coming down! While we are breathless from hiking with our <2kg backpack, they seem completely okay with the hike and can even ask you, “Moi, you OK?”
The dorm at Laban Rata was just a regular dorm but the water in the toilets were impossible to freshen up with. No one dared take a shower (except the champion Nadia) because it felt like liquid ice. Rinsing our mouth after brushing our teeth made our teeth chatter.
Everything at Laban Rata was marked up (a plate of fried rice cost RM20+ when it wasn’t their buffet time). Stupidly, I disposed my plastic water bottle at one of the rest stops, and so I had to buy water at Laban Rata. A 1500ml bottle cost me almost RM15. But everything had to be transported by foot by the porters, so I guess it was reasonable.
The food at Laban Rata was really quite good considering the circumstances! 🙂 At Laban Rata, we could already feel the AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness—usually caused by altitude and low partial pressure of oxygen) which caused headaches and elevated breathing/heart rate. Some got it worse than others, but Paggie’s one was quite bad so she decided not to climb to the peak (she wasn’t the only one!)
That night (when I say night, in Laban Rata, that means 6-8pm haha) I was having a headache, then I realized I was having a fever too. I took two Panadols (actifast) and my fever subsidised. The nurse’s analysis: caused by a combination of AMS, over exertion (climbing up to Laban Rata wasn’t THAT tiring though) and dehydration (on a regular basis, I drink tons of water, but on the climb I didn’t want to make any pit stops so I held back).
The next morning, at 1AM, we woke up to get ready to climb to the peak. It was so insanely cold I wore more than 4 layers of clothing. I even wore my thermal wear that I wore to sleep because I was so afraid of the cold.
Hahah, the ski masks really made us look like robbers!
Climbing to the peak. The white rope is supposed to guide us to the peak, but at one point we had to climb a slope so steep it was basically rock climbing with a rope (and even though I’ve done rock climbing before) this time there was no safety rope that would catch you if you let go. That made it ten times more terrifying.
But luckily there were guides/porters who guided us through the way. When I say guide, I mean guide as in hold my hand all the way. The guides are so experienced and pro! They don’t even need to hold the rope and even if I lose my balance, they’d pull me back up to steady me. It’s amazing.
And the thing is: we didn’t even hire personal guides, but they acted like our personal guide anyways!
One of my guides! 🙂 He ditched me after I reached the peak, but another guide, who is more elderly helped me down (which is insanely terrifying but more on that later).
The view was amazing! We were supposed to reach the peak by sunrise, but since we were so scared, most of us girls reached after sunrise.
It seemed endless. Even though from Timpohan Gate to Laban Rata was 6km, and from Laban Rata to the peak was 2, the latter felt longer and more challenging, definitely!
When I saw what looked like the highest point, my guide’d shake his head and reply, “Low’s peak jauh lagi.”
But after a couple (okay maybe more than a couple) more breaks, I finally reached the peak!!
Melati was up there waiting already because she reached earlier. It was so cold, I stayed up there for less than half an hour before climbing down.
And because the proper peak was so small, we just took the picture about a meter lower than the peak haha :p
Melati went down before I took the picture with the sign, but she said when she took a pic with the sign, there were inconsiderate people crowding the place even though they already took 10+ photos!
When I looked down, all I could think to myself was, “Well… now how the heck am I gonna get down?!”
Going down was probably scarier than going up, but less tiring of course! I begged the guide to stay with me because I was so scared I’d fall and die or roll down the mountain or whatever :p
So after resting/having some food at Laban Rata, we continued our descend back to Timpohan Gate! Again, I didn’t plan on ditching Melati and Paggie but… I was just focusing on the fact that:
1) there was a comfy hotel bed at the end of my journey
2) I COULD TAKE A SHOWER (legit sang the song Amanda Bynes sang in She’s the Man when she finally got to take a shower)
3) My legs were tired. Quicker I go, quicker I finish!
Yep, so otw down I took a couple zillion other selfies and random nature shots because I thought they look very Tumblr-worthy but they’re not because of the bad quality :’(
I walked for ages and I see a sign telling me I’ve only completed half of the journey 🙁
Otw down, I tried to be positive and all, so I smiled and greeted some fellow climbers who walked past me (like the climbers coming down did to me when I was climbing up)
And there were many cute uncle conversations hahah but the best was when people asked me what I worked as/did I work in HP (because I was wearing a HP windbreaker)
They were kinda shocked when I said I was 16…?
But it’s okay! I’m going to take it positively as though they said I looked matured, confident and independent! :DAnyways, the rest of the trip was just shopping and travelling (airport and bus) so I’m just going to wrap things up!
I have no regrets! If you get the opportunity to do something like this, I’d encourage you to do so! You’d be surprised how capable your body is!
But make sure you know it’s limits! If you are not fit, do not push it to this limit (join the expedition without priortraining/getting fit) for your safety! 🙂
Anyways, I’m so glad I climbed this year (form 4) instead of pushing it next year!
One thing ticked off my bucket list!
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