I arrived in KK feeling pretty exhausted after a 10 hour journey involving 2 boats and 30 british soldiers, to be met by monsoon rain like I've never seen before! The place was basically flooded and after a 10m dash to shelter I was drenched! A taxi was definately the best plan and I was dropped off at my hostel "Lucy's Homestay" which really was more of a house than a hostel. It was cosy and the people were friendly and I was entertained with the kittens while it rained! I had my first invite to dinner with a Swiss couple which was great as I hadn't seen any backpackers for a while, although I got a feeling that his girlfriend wanted it to be just the two of them!
The next day I was ready to see KK but it really didn't live up to my expectations. There really wasn't a hell of a lot to see but dingy apartments and a couple of shops. So I took the opportunity of having nothing to do and prepared for my mountain climb the following day. I stocked up an sweets and chocolate as well as hats and gloves before catching the sunset over the waterfront and getting to bed ready for my early start.
I managed to meet a group of people heading out to Mount Kinabalu, my next destination and shared a cab ride with them. The mountain is the highest in South East Asia at 4095m above sea level and we were all off to climb not really knowing what we were letting ourselves in for! On the journey there we could see the mountain looming with clouds rolling over the summit and it looked amazing! We set off from the bottom of the trail at around 10am with our packed lunches and hit the 6km uphill trail to our overnight accommodation on the mountain. We soon realised that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park as we climbed step after step, rock after rock up the mountain stopping for supplies and air as we went! After 5 hours of uphill climbing and with my thighs burning, we reached the accommodation for the night at 3300m. The air was very cold up here and after being placed in unheated accommodation, I managed to blag a warm bed in the main area. We got our food and went to bed at 7.30 as we had to be up at 2am to climb to the summit the following morning. It was one of the worst nights sleep ever and I woke up in the morning with chest pains from the altitude, a common occurance my guide reassured me! We set off once again in the pitch dark and freezing cold to climb the final 3km to the summit. I was finding the altitude a real problem and I felt I could never catch my breath after each step. But after a while I was in a rhythm and managed to get through it. We soon reached the huge granite slabs that make up the summit and we had to haul ourselves up with ropes along cliff edges all in the dark, and it doesn't help when your torch batteries run out! I never thought I would make the summit as the trail seemed to go on forever, but soon it was in sight but the last part was the toughest. After clambering over rocks with my thighs killing me, I finally made it to the top, just in time for a magnificent sunrise. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we never got the chance to see it! My climbing partner Tom and I were determined to see something so we waited around in the freezing temperatures and sure enough the cloud began to clear and we got the most amazing view I've ever seen. It really felt like we were on top of the world as we looked out across the cloud to the coast line and beyond! Satisfied we had seen something, we began to descend, only to find that it was worse on our legs than going up! 5 hours of marching with wobbly legs saw us to the bottom where we were so glad to sit down! It was definately one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, it took a lot of will power, but it was worth every step for the view and the achievement!
After pretty much sleeping the entire afternoon, I decided the following morning to have a well earned soak in the hot springs near by. They turned out to be baths rather than natural springs but it was definately worth it to soak my muscles! The mountain was definately worth doing and I've never done a climb anything like it. It seems as though everyone who was in KK was just there either before or after the climb as there's not much else to see.
Next stop the Borneo jungles!
Photos to come, the computers in Malaysia don't seem to like my camera.