Cock and Bull in bed

bed club

bed is the latest clubbing district in Kota
Kinabalu, Sabah. It is located at the waterfront and shares its block
with other illustrious clubs and pubs like Nam Kwai Fong (a Cantopop feng tau joint) and Cock and Bull (a pub with draft beer that has a high expatriate and traveler audience).

bed multiple floors

The flagship of this new nightlife neighborhood is the recently built bed club.
The bright neon sign of this simple, yet elegant name is emblazoned
across the building which houses the club. bed is a large club with
multiple floors and areas and it impressed me that KK has this sort of

bed dance floor

We went to bed (the club, not the act) on Saturday night to cap off
our Kota Kinabalu trip with a visit to the entertainment facilities
that the place has to offer. The bouncer at the door opened the door
for us and we were instantly greeted by a huge dance floor located in
the middle of the club. bed has state of the art sound systems and
light displays.

bed bed room

The VIP room is appropriately named the “bed room”. I had guessed that before we had even stepped into the club. πŸ˜‰

bed bar area

There is also a long bar and seating arrangements for people who’re not into the dance floor or wants to chill out.


Download: bed club video []

cock and bull

The next destination we headed to is Cock & Bull
(after dropping into Nam Kwai Fong for a while). This is a pub with a
live band and draft beer and all sorts of amenities that you would
expect a pub to have. It’s located right after bed and Nam Kwai Fong
and probably is meant as an after party destination after the two clubs

cock and bull draft

It was about 1 am when we arrived at Cock and Bull and we stayed
there till about 3 am. There are two kinds of draft beer on tap (Tiger
Beer and Guinness Stout) and we ordered a jug of Tiger Beer.

cock and bull cocktail

I also had their signature cocktail – Cock and Bull (RM 38). It’s a blue hued cocktail with a slice of lemon and has a pretty high alcoholic content. It tastes great!

cock and bull pool

Cock & Bull also has a pool table where you can practice your inebriated pool shooting skills…

cock and bull waitresses

Talk with one of the friendly Cock and Bull waitresses…

cock and bull band

Listen to the resident live band perform cover songs…

cock and bull puke

Watch low alcohol tolerance people puke and moan while slumped on one of the outside tables…

cock and bull goggles

Put on your beer goggles for a bit…

cock and bull more beer

…and maybe order another round of drinks.

cock and bull relax

It’s a great place to wind down for the night. πŸ™‚

Eating frogs and eels in Sabah

sabah seafood

There is a popular seafood center in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah which
serves a lot of live seafood. It’s notable due to the way the live
seafood offerings is presented – the customer is presented with a huge
array of see-through aquariums that hosts a variety of (still alive)
marine life from green lobsters to huge oysters and a lot of swimming
fish in the middle.

sabah frog

We decided to go for something a little unorthodox – frogs.
It tickled me to no end to see large frogs jumping around a container
for the benefit of the customer. I choose three large frogs to be
cooked. Poor frogs. πŸ˜‰

sabah eel

The proprietor of the stall also recommended their eel.
The eels were swimming around lazily in their aquarium and the eels are
rather long, sinewy characters which looks rather like snakes with
water as their habitat instead of land.

sabah eel you

I also chose an eel for our consumption. Poor eel. πŸ˜‰

sabah mussels

There were also local oysters on display, which were flat, solid
looking objects. I also choose a couple for our table but the
proprietor accidentally served it to another table, and that other
table unknowingly accepted, so we forgot about it, since it would take
a long time to prepare another batch.

eel dish

Here’s a closer look at the eel dish. This was cooked Japanese style
in BBQ sauce with a touch of hot chilli (Sabah style) and it tastes
great! The eel came out hot and oily and it does get a little cloying
to eat too much eel, so small portions are the key.

eel close up

This is a close up shot of the eel. The (poor) eel has been sliced
into bite-sized pieces – the dish bears a distinctive resemblance to
the live eels, except that it’s been chopped up. πŸ˜‰ The colorization
and shape (round) of the eel is still visible though.

frog dish

The frog dish was prepared with the WHOLE frog, which is great for
presentation purposes. This dish was cooked in a very bland sauce,
allowing the natural sweet frog meat taste to shine though.

frog meat

The Chinese call frogs tien chi which translates to “sweet
chicken”. It’s an euphemism for frog. The frog dish has parts of the
frog still visible – there’s the much lauded frog legs, a little frog
thigh here and there, the body of the frog. It’s frog.

frog leg

This is the best part of the meal – the frog was wonderfully
prepared, leaving the sweet, tender and juicy frog meat to shine
through. Hop on, frog! πŸ˜‰

Gardenia Cola vending machine

gardenia cola vending machine

Gardenia Cola seems to be the leading coke (the
drink) manufacturer in Sabah. This is interesting coz the other states
seem to be dominated by the #1 cola based drink producer – Coca Cola.
Gardenia Cola dominates the carbonated drinks shelves of hypermarkets
and convenience stores like 7-11.

gardenia cola buy

I even saw several vending machines dispending Gardenia Cola and
other Gardenia flavored canned beverages. Gardenia is best known for
its bakery products and is a major producer of bread related goods in
Peninsula Malaysia. Gardenia Cola is made by Gardenia Beverages in Kota
Kinabalu, Sahab. Coca-cola (coke) is still the major brand of cola
drinks in Malaysia though, except in Sabah.

gardenia cola drop

I could not resist addressing this cultural glitch and inserted RM
1.30 in coins into the Gardenia vending machine and purchased a
Gardenia Cola drink. The distinctive red can of Gardenia cola dropped
down into the holding cell of the vending machine, still cold from the
internal cooling system.

gardenia cola can

Here’s a closer look at the Gardenia Coke can – it has the Gardenia logo on it and “Cola carbonated drink by Gardenia” printed on top of the 325 ml can.

gardenia cola drink

It tastes remarkably like a cross between Coke C2 and Coke Light
(Diet Coke for non-Malaysians). The cola drink is not excessively
carbonated or sweet and leaves a nice, but unusual aftertaste on the

Fried Ice Cream

Fried Ice Cream or Ais Krim Goreng is a
popular “mall food” that’s been around in one iteration or another for
the best part of the past decade. It’s basically ice cream that’s been
dipped in batter, which is then freezed until the customer orders one.

fried ice cream

The fried ice cream is then taken out from the freezer and then quickly dipped into a very
high temperature oil mixture for a short amount of time. This produces
a delicious snack that’s hot and crispy on the outside with wonderfully
cold ice cream on the inside.

Kedai Kopi Wan Wan

kedai kopi wan wan

Kedai Kopi Wan Wan is an auspiciously named eating
establishment in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The eatery specializes in fish
noodles (as in noodles made of fish puree) and fish pieces (also made
from the same puree). It came highly recommended from a KK resident who
claimed that seafood and the fish noodles here are the only noteworthy
specialties in Sabah.

wan wan al fresco

It seems that a lot of KK residents agree, as the place was packed
during lunch and even well after lunch hour. Kedai Kopi Wan Wan spans
two large shop houses and is neatly compartmentalized into indoor and
outdoor (the term al fresco should never be used to describe the
Malaysian dining experience) spaces. The tables were filled with people
eating the much lauded fish noodles and a side dish of fish slices in

wan wan fish community

The three of us and the couple residing in KK that we met up with
recommended eating the dish like the locals do – having a personal dry
noodles dish and a shared fish noodles and fish slices in broth
community bowl. The fish slices/noodles (or a combination) is cooked
with the soup of your choice and the interesting bit about this
establishment is that the soup is refillable at no cost, much like a

assam tom yam fish

This is fish slices in Assam Tom Yam soup. It tastes like tom yam soup with a dash of the sour assam
tang. The fish slices in this dish are made from real fish cuts. Fresh
fish is cheap and plentiful in KK due to its proximity to the sea.

assam tom yam fish personal

Here’s a closer look at the fish slices in the orange looking Assam
Tom Yam soup. The soup is hot and spicy and the fish tastes good when
paired with the dry noodle dish.

cin tan fish noodles

This dish is based on plain broth (cin tan in Mandarin) and
is a combination of fish slices and the famous fish noodles. It tastes
better in this implementation as the soup is bland and does not
overpower the taste of the fish.

cin tan fish noodles personal

The fish slices are made from fish flesh which has been grinded up
and shaped into rough, uneven slices. It’s a little like a flat
fishball. The fish noodles are thick, flat noodles made of the same
processed fish.

dry tossed noodles

The main fish soup dishes are meant to be eaten with this dry noodle dish, in lieu of rice. This dry noodle dish is also called kon lo mee
(dry tossed noodles) like its Kuching counterpart, except that it’s
eaten with fish instead of meat, presumably due to the relative
abundance of the former in KK.

kon lo fish noodles

Our hosts were kind enough to order another popular variant of this – kon lo
fish noodles. It’s like the dry noodle dish, except that it’s made with
fish noodles instead of flour noodles. It’s tossed and served dry, and
it’s interesting to eat a noodle dish made entirely of fish flesh.

It’s surprisingly good…

Snorkeling at Manukan Island, Sabah

pulau manukan

Manukan Island or Pulau Manukan is a 20 minute boat
ride from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. It’s one of the more popular islands in
Sabah due to the attraction of its white sandy beaches and rich hued
waters teeming with marine life. The abundance of corals and
availability of water sports makes this a premier destination for
island hopping in Sabah.

manukan island jetty

Manukan Island is part of the chain of islands that makes up Tunku
Abdul Rahman Park in Sabah, Malaysia. The island can be reached by the
jetty at Kota Kinabalu city. The boat ride costs RM 15 and can
accommodate 10 people, so if you’re in a group that’s less than the
quorum, be prepared to wait a while until 10 people sign up.
One can rent a boat for a day too.

manukan island heading

The boat that takes you to the island is a modern speed boat and it
easily navigates through the clear waters towards the island of your
choice. The boat had a mixture of travelers from all over the world and
the early morning skies were perfect as we headed towards Pulau
Manukan. Snorkels can be rented from the boat operator at RM 10.

manukan island boat

The boats that are allowed to dock at Pulau Manukan has to be
registered with Sabah Parks and it’s required to meet safety
requirements e.g. life jackets must be worn during the journey. The
waterfront of Kota Kinabalu zips by as the boat departs and there is a
constant wind from the speed of the boat billowing at you. The boat
occasionally runs into waves so splashes of water into the boat are
pretty common.

manukan island docking

The lush green island soon comes into view as the boat slows down to
dock at the Pulau Manukan island. The natural beauty of the island is
apparent – calm, green waters with a diverse amount of fishes swimming
around and white, sandy beaches at the fringe with deep green lush
trees lining the island.

manukan island friendly fish

The rich marine life on Manukan Island is apparent as we disembarked
from the boat – the high tide submerges the lower part of the jetty and
people can be seen feeding the fishes with pieces of bread. The island
is a protected zone so no fishing or harming of the marine life is
permitted. This makes the fish breed with abundance and they’re quite
friendly and unafraid of human contact.

manukan island bouys

Pulau Manukan has chalets for overnight stays but most people come
here just to relax and enjoy the natural offerings of the island on a
day trip. The red buoys bobbing around the perimeter extending 100
meters out from the beach are designated swimming areas. There is a lot
of boat traffic outside that demarcation and the speed boats carrying
island visitors frequently passes very close to the line so it’s a good
idea to keep inside the perimeter.

manukan island pier

The Manukan Island pier is a wooden catwalk hovering over the
vibrant green waters and the natural tranquility of the island is
palpable as you walk towards the beach…

manukan island welcome

There is a “Welcome to Pulau Manukan” sign at the end of the pier and a RM 3 conservation fee is to be paid at the booth before entry to the beach is permitted.

manukan island chalet

The chalets nested in lush greenery greet you as you first step on
the beach. The polished wood chalets look perfectly in place on the
island, due to the matching theme and decor of the architecture.

manukan island lets go

I did not waste any time in hitting the beach as the warm sands and
appealing shade of water looks too tempting to resist. I donned my
snorkels and started to float and swim around, appreciating the
wonderful diverse and unique marine life in the waters.

manukan island snorkelling

This is me in the snorkels. The water on Pulau Manukan is incredibly
calm and hosts a wide variety of fishes. I wish I had an underwater
disposable camera to show the readers of the incredible
scenes that I saw while snorkeling:

There was friendly little swordfish swimming at the top of the water, skimming over my snorkel masks every now and then.

There were many different multicolored fishes which come over
and take bites out of pieces of bread that you offer then, occasionally
nipping at your fingers.

There were sea cucumbers of all sizes, lining the seabed…

There were starfish and corals of mind-boggling variety and complexity.

Since I didn’t have an underwater camera, I had to snorkel out into
the waters to retrieve select pieces of marine life so I can take
photos of them:

manukan island starfish

This is a starfish taken from about 30 meters out to sea. It’s an unusual blue color with a brown underside.

manukan island sea cucumber

OMG! My thing fell off! πŸ˜‰

manukan island corals

This is a piece of the ubiquitous dead corals that wash out onto the
beach. I couldn’t very well lug one from the seabed, so this would have
to do.

manukan island guard

There are lifeguard posts located at the beach for drowning swimmers (though most non-swimmers I saw were wearing life vests).

manukan island beach

The beach at Manukan Island is beautiful – the scenic islands surrounding it are easily visible from the shore.

manukan island waters

The tranquil waters of Pulau Manukan…perfect for snorkeling…

manukan island reading

Reading a good book by the shade of a tree on the beach…

manukan island girls

These are two travelers that I met while I was on Manukan Island – very friendly people, they were snorkeling as well.

manukan island bombs

This is a WWII memorial at Pulau Manukan…there were bombs and
shells on display by the beach, which were presumably recovered on the
beach after the war.

manukan island fishes

The fishes in the water are clearly visible through the calm, green waters…

manukan island leaving

…and all too soon, it was time to depart the island.

Pulau Manukan in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is a great place to relax and unwind. It’s a great island…

Mount Kinabalu summit – Climbing Lows Peak

lows peak

Mt. Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Borneo. The majestic mountain is also a feature of the Sahah flag and the highest peak is called Low’s Peak,
clocking in at an elevation of 4102 meters. The height of the summit
changes from time to time though, and it’s currently listed as 4095.2 meters.

The climb up began at 0230 hours from the rest house at 3,320 meters
above sea level. We had already scaled the first part of the mountain
earlier and the summit attempt was made after 4 hours of sleep. I was
the only one to reach the top amongst my buddies – one didn’t want to
go and the other gave up half way.

summit attempt

The mandatory guide that was assigned to us woke us up at 2 am in
the morning and I had a quick snack of Pringles and brought along a 1.5
liter bottle of water and several energy bars. The altitude at the
start of the summit climb made the ambient temperature very cold, with
an extremely icy wind chill factor.

I suited up in climbing gear and grabbed a torchlight before
following the guide up the summit at 2:30 am. It is important to wear
gloves as you will need the grip to scramble up the mountain using a
rope and as protection from the rugged granite terrain. The altitude
also makes scaling the mountain difficult and it is important to take
breaths to get used to the thinner atmosphere as you climb up the peak.

dangerous cliffs

The first part of the summit attempt is through rocky terrain and
there are some dangerous areas where the path is narrow and there’s
only a rope separating you from a long fall down the cliff. This isn’t
visible when you climb it as its dark – but watch your step, as some of
the ground is slippery.

km 8

I made good pace and reached the 7 km point with relative ease, so I
told my guide to stay with my friend as he’s moving slower. There were
other groups climbing so I decided to embed myself with the faster
moving groups. It started to get difficult after 30 minutes of climbing
– the weather was extremely cold and my windbreaker couldn’t seem to
keep the cold out. The temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius at
night and ice forms, though there’s no snow up there.

I started to get altitude sickness again after the first hour and
had to stop frequently to catch my breath. I practically sprawled at
the ground and as I got higher and higher, the more exhausted I got,
and I was close to giving up…except I wasn’t going to give up, so I
just soldiered on and at one point was practically clawing my way up
the jagged rocks by sheer willpower alone.

sayat sayat check point

I finally reached the Sayat Sayat checkpoint (where
you register your summit attempt) and had to take a 10 minute break
there just trying to catch my breath. I don’t usually exercise and
that, compounded by the unfriendly climate and the previous day’s
exhaustion made my summit attempt very difficult. My heart was jack
hammering and I was breathing raggedly, but I was just as determined to
reach the top. πŸ™‚

steep rocky incline

I could barely feel my fingers due to the cold, when I reached the 8
km point, despite the gloves. I met Connie, a Hash House Harrier from
Kuching who asked me if I was alright when she saw me trying to get
warm in a gully. The wind chill factor is a serious concern at this
altitude – I couldn’t ever shield my face from the wind. I decided to
climb steadily without stopping despite my exhaustion and timed my pace
to Connie’s, who’s more experienced.

scaling mt kinabalu

The next few hours passed with a blur and all I remember is the
sharp rock face and the sporadic flash of light from a torchlight as
the climbers scaled up the mountain. It got to a point where I was so
exhausted, my mind went blank and I just forced myself to keep my hands
and legs moving in the general direction of the summit.

It got better as dawn started to break and I could see the peaks of
Mount Kinabalu. That gave me a burst of adrenaline and I started to
climb with more vigor. I didn’t feel exhausted anymore at this point
(probably coz of the endorphins) and marveled at the beautiful face of
Mt. Kinabalu that is starting to reveal itself.

I soon reached the ridge at the bottom of Low’s Peak (the highest
peak in Mt. Kinabalu) and started scaling up the face of the peak.
There is a rope to guide you through the large limestone and granite
peak – it has a very steep inclination and the final 15 meters requires
unassisted climbing, so rock climbing skills would come in useful here.

dawn breaking summit

I managed to pull myself up the steep face of the peak and finally
got to the peak of Mt. Kinabalu just before sunrise. The dawn was
breaking over the mountain and it’s truly a sight to behold…I was
glad I made it to the top. πŸ™‚

Here are some photos from the summit:

summit views

Dawn breaks on the summit of Mt. Kinabalu

summit breathtaking

Breathtaking views of Mt. Kinabalu from Low’s Peak

summit clouds

The clouds below the summit – on the top of the world!

victorias peak

Victoria’s Peak taken from the summit at Low’s Peak

me at summit

Lows Peak – reaching the summit of Mt. Kinabalu


Connie Wu, also from Kuching

connie me summit

Connie and me, taken at the summit

summit wire

Low’s Peak – wire to prevent a fall down the peak

summit ice

Films of ice forming at water pools at the summit

summit rock formations

The beautiful peaks of Mt. Kinabalu as seen from the summit

summit descending

Descending Mt. Kinabalu – the mountain has been conquered!


Download: Mt. Kinabalu summit video []

mt kinabalu certificate

Mt. Kinabalu is an impressive granite and limestone mountain and is
a sight to behold in itself. The scenic view at the summit of the
highest mountain in Borneo is breathtaking! I highly recommend scaling
the mountain to anyone who’s visiting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Mount Kinabalu – The Summit Trail

kinabalu drive range

The journey to scale Mt. Kinabalu begins with a one
and half hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to the base of Mount Kinabalu at
Kinabalu Park. There are a lot of scenic views during the ride – the
peak of Mt. Kinabalu is visible at one point.

kinabalu drive clouds

The road traverses through the mountainous area around Mt. Kinabalu
and the ambient temperature cools down noticeably during the ride to
the base of Mt. Kinabalu. The road actually goes above the lower cloud
cover that usually shrouds Mt. Kinabalu, and if you’re lucky, you can
get a magnificent view of the great mountain.

kinabalu park oo

There is an Operations Room at the base of Mt. Kinabalu and it’s managed by Kinabalu Parks, Sabah.
This is where you register your presence (so they’ll know if you fall
off the mountain instead of finding your skeletal remains 3 years later
;)) and get a guide to bring you up to the summit.

kinabalu park wardens

Mount Kinabalu is a World Heritage Site (the first such designated area in Malaysia) and the highest point is Low’s Peak at 4095.2 meters.
It used to be 4101 meters but the summit height seems to change from
time to time, which I find interesting. Mt. Kinabalu is the highest
mountain in South East Asia.

kinabalu park pass

The park wardens at the Operations Room will issue out tags for each
individual – the tag has the climber’s name on it, as well as the date
of registration. There is a short 4WD (SUV) ride to the proper base of
the mountain and that is the point where the climb up Mt. Kinabalu

mt kinabalu start

The summit trail begins at Pondok Timpohon where
there is a locked gate to keep out non-mountain climbers (the ones
without a valid pass). It is a 6 km climb (6.5 km to be exact) from
here to the halfway point accommodation that we booked for the night.
This is the easy part of the journey as most of the Summit Trail is
relatively well paved.

summit trail sign

This is a photo of me beside the Summit Trail sign
– I was inappropriately attired coz I didn’t know that we had to climb
to the half-way lodge that day. The “walking stick” can be purchased at
the Pondok Timpohan gate for RM 3. It’s quite useful for hiking up
rough terrain. A torch is also essential for the summit climb, as well
as a suitable (enough for you to drink, but not too heavy for you to
carry) supply of water.

summit trail start

The first kilometer of the Summit Trail is relatively tame, with
(usually) well defined paths and a less punishing incline. The flora
and fauna at this point is similar to what you’ll find at altitudes of
below 1000 meters.

km1 kandis hut

There is a rest hut at about 1000 meters from the start of the summit trail – it’s called Pondok Kandis (Kandis Hut) and there are toilets and untreated (read: undrinkable) water supplies at each rest point.

km1 kandis sign

The rest points (huts) have a short description of the place or an
interesting snippet and also distances to the next rest point, both
ways. Pondok Kandis has the distinction of being located “on the
youngest granite pluton in the world”.

km1 pluton

This is a photo of the pluton which is only half a million years
old. I realized the reason Kota Kinabalu is called Api-Api by the
locals then – it’s coz it used to be a volcano.

km1 trail

The next kilometer is more demanding, with more rough terrain and
sharp inclines. The path also starts to become more rocky and harder to

km1 sign

There is a Summit Trail progress sign at every kilometer with a
drawn trail path to show the progress you’ve made so far. It can be a
pain in the ass at times. πŸ˜‰

km1 views

The view starts to become more interesting…the mountain range can
be seen through the trees beside the trail and the ambient temperature
changes subtly as you walk up the summit trail.

pondok ubah

The next rest point is Pondok Ubah (Ubah Hut) at 2081.4 meters above sea level.

pondok ubah sign

The sign states: Moses and ferns grow well in the damp conditions
here and grows luxuriously on the trees here. As you climb the
mountain, the weather gets colder and the soil gets thinner. Fewer and
fewer plant species can survive in these harsh conditions.

moss trees

Sure enough, we saw moss. Moss that grows on trees.

moss furry

Green, furry moss.

moss fungi

White, fungi-like moss.

moss flank

Heck, there’s even moss that seems to grow on the banks of soil that flanks the summit trail…


There is also a variety of interesting ferns growing along the summit trail as well.

km2 rocky

The terrain on the summit trail gets rockier with rougher edges cut
into the mountain at the 2 km point with a similar drop in temperature
to reflect the higher altitude.

cloud cover

We seem to reach the cloud cover just before the 3 km stop point.
It’s a very interesting experience to watch the clouds float by before
you and into you before dissipating…

pondok low

The next hut is called Pondok Low II (Low’s Hut II
– no idea where Low’s Hut I is) and one notable experience of climbing
Mt. Kinabalu is the friendly people you meet while going up and coming
down. It’s customary to greet fellow climbers with a warm “Hello!”.

pondok low sign

It seems that the summit of Mt. Kinabalu is named after the first
person to reach the highest point of the mountain – Huge Low, 1951.

large ferns

The large (huge – pun not intended) ferns dominate the flora at this point.

fern canopy

The summit trail is covered by a “fern canopy” of sorts, which shades the climber (though at this altitude, it is hardly warm).

fern trees

It seems that the fern canopy is made by fern trees! Jesus, I didn’t know ferns can grow like a tree…

unpredictable path

The trail also tapers off into unpredictable and narrow stone paved paths…

stony ground

It starts to become more challenging to navigate the summit trail at
this point. I was thankful I had the walking stick to avoid unplanned
face first falls into the stony ground.

earthworm transparent

I found an unnaturally large transparent earthworm. I didn’t think it was animate at first…

earthworm retract

…until I touched it and saw it retract into its segmented body length at the contact. It looked like a gross penis.

high altitude fungi

The summit trail keeps on ascending and fungi and other strange plants starts to dominate the plant sphere.

pondok mempening

Pondok Mempening (Dizzy Hut, an appropriately named rest point) lies in the mist shrouded upper echelons of Mt. Kinabalu.

stranger plants

Stranger and stranger plant life forms started to make itself known…

crackers bursting

…and vacuum sealed packets of crackers protested against the
altitude and pressurized, threatening to literally burst. It’s useful
to bring crackers and energy bars (or high energy candy bars like Mars
and Snickers bars) to eat during the climb.

cannabis sativa

Plants that look suspiciously like cannabis sativa was also spotted during the summit climb.

orange fungi

Orange fungi seem to dominate the KM 3 point.

pitcher plants

I also took photos of the pitcher plants that grow here. Here’s a
rather nice looking pitcher plant. It looks like a nut sack (to call a
spade a spade) with its furry exterior and sticky liquid material
inside. This one’s for lolanto.

even rockier terrain

The higher parts of the summit trail starts to become uneven rocky
terrain. I know I’ve mentioned this many times, just think of it as
getting harder and harder the higher you climb up. :p

majestic peaks

The peaks of Mt. Kinabalu is visible as we pass the canopy cover –
it’s majestic, watching the cloud cover roll lazily past, revealing the
ancient beauty of the mountain.

mountain hardy plants

The higher altitude also makes the plants smaller and hardier. The
mountain at the backdrop looks absolutely beautiful. It was tough to go
up the summit trail but the sight of the mountain peaks makes it worth
the effort.

moon rising

The sight of the moon rising as we ascended the summit trail also provides an ethereal quality to the experience…

pondok villosa

Pondok Villosa (Villosa Hut) states that the strong
wind and the poor soil causes the trees to become dwarfed and gnarled
here. It also states that the despite the gnarled and small look that
the trees have, some of them are several hundred years old.

gnarled trees

The gnarled trees are a main feature of the landscape before we reach Pondok Paka.

pondok paka

Pondok Paka (Paka Hut) is the last rest point before the first halfway house at Laban Rata.

dark and lost

It was getting dark and I got separated from the group coz I wanted
to go faster (the others could not climb that fast and were slowing me
down) so I decided to go ahead. It was a bad idea as I got altitude
sickness a little while after that and I got confused, dizzy and sleepy
(!). I had to sit down and I honestly thought that I was on the wrong
path and the chilliness of that altitude would make me die of

raban rata

I managed to stumble along, hoping that I was on the right path (it
turns out that there is only one path, but it’s hard to tell when the
path is rocky and narrow and I didn’t have a torchlight at night), and
I almost rejoiced when I saw lights at the Raban Rata lodge, except I
was too tired and dizzy and just plain sick (felt like throwing up real


It’s thanks to Mel from Canada that I managed to get to the Raban Rata
lodge. Much props to her for guiding me up the right path. It’s just
400+ meters, but having altitude sickness is like having a Dramamine
trip – it just fucks up your perception of spatial relationships. I’m
not ashamed to admit that I feared I had lost my way and gone down the
wrong path before Mel came out with a torchlight from her lodge (a
little down from Raban Rata).

aussie couple

Thanks should be given to the Australian couple James and Emily as
well, for being concerned with my well being as I stumbled into the
Raban Rata restaurant, disorientated from the altitude sickness. They
brought me warm water and offered to bring me to their lodge to rest
while I get used to the altitude. Mel also gave me some herbal mints
(that may or may not work, and I didn’t need to take them if I didn’t
want to) which I took (she must have mistaken my nausea for
apprehension at being given pill like mints from unknown origin, not
knowing that I take pills for recreation ;)) and she offered me some
rose scented aromatherapy thing which DID make me feel better. Cheers!

raban rata buffet

I opted for the buffer dinner (RM 22) at Raban Rata (though I could
only pick at my food) and waited for the rest of my group to catch up
(it took them the better part of an hour). I started to get used to the
altitude and gave my thanks to the friendly and helpful folks there
that night (was too sick to do so earlier).

gunting lagadan keys

I checked into our room at Gunting Lagadan while waiting for the
rest of my buddies to catch up. Gunting Lagadan Hut is located about
500 meters (that’s a lot at this altitude, so I wasn’t raring to go)
above the Raban Rata restaurant and the hut can fit about 50 people in
rooms of 4 persons each (two double decked beds). It’s about 6.5
kilometers from the base of the mountain.

gunting lagadan

I finally took the hike up to the Gunting Lagadan Hut when my friends came up with the guide,

gunting lagadan showers

took a quick (cold!) shower,

gunting lagadan beds

and climbed into the bed with my climbing gear ready for the 0200
wake up call from the guide for the final summit climb at 0230 hours.

I was raring to go. πŸ™‚

XX Chromosomes at Pulau Manukan, Sabah

manukan preview

I just came back from Pulau Manukan (Manukan Island) off the coast
of Sabah – we managed to squeeze in a visit to the renowned beaches at
KK AND a climb up Mt. Kinabalu this trip.

Here’s a little preview before the writeup – I met these two
friendly girls (they’re travelers as well) at the beach while
snorkeling this afternoon. I took several photos of them…naturally,
there will be more in the Pulau Manukan writeup.

Cheers! πŸ™‚

Zaharah Hotel Apartments, Kota Kinabalu

zaharah RM 75

Zaharah Hotel Apartment is a new Muslim Chinese operated hotel/serviced apartments in Api-Api Center
in Kota Kinabalu. It’s located at the same block and area as Paramount
Service Hotel and Apartments – it seems that the management has rented
out some units to be rebranded as Zaharah Hotel Apartment. Paramount
Service Hotel and Apartments (RM 68++) is all out of their lower end
rooms, leaving only the RM 238++ 3-bedroom apartment suites, so we
decided to look for alternative accommodations and chanced across this
Zaharah Hotel Apartments advertisement for RM 75 nett.

zaharah room

We had just gotten back from Mt. Kinabalu, and being extremally
exhausted, we just took the room and booked it for two nights (RM 150
nett). It’s a very nice deal, considering the excellent service and the
comfortable beds (with clean towels and a new bar of soap on each bed).

zaharah toilet

The toilets are relatively clean and come with an embedded heated
water shower unit. It looks rather like Paramount Hotel and Service
Apartments except that Zaharah Hotel Apartments has…

zaharah mystery room

…a mysterious room which serves no practical or imaginable purpose.

zaharah vanity

Zaharah Hotel Apartments is also equipped with a TV and a vanity
mirror. There is also air conditioning and blinds that leads out…

zaharah balcony

…to a balcony. Nice!

zaharah kitchen

There is also a full fledged kitchen with a fridge, oven/stove top combo and a dish washing area.

zaharah pot

There were also new cooking utensils like pots and so forth and
being so tired, we just cooked dinner in the hotel apartment facilities
and hit the sack.

P/S – I’ve conquered Mt. Kinabalu – it was
torturous and I hurt all over, but it was worth the pain and altitude
sickness. I was the only one in our group to reach the summit and it
was punishing to push myself to the limits, but it was amazing! I will
write about it when I get back – I will have much more resources then.

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