Wow the flight to Kuala Lumpur from Kathmandu was full of young Nepalese lads all heading to Malaysia to find work. I think I was one of about 6 girls on the flight (which was a large airbus) and the only western girl. Made me realise how lucky we are in England and especially for me being able to travel.
Anyway finally arrive at Kota Kinabalu airport and the humidity hits straight away. Got the bus to the centre which dropped me off virtually outside the hostel where I checked in (Akinabalu Youth Hostel) and I'm instantly quizzed about whether I have booked the Mount Kinabalu climb yet. Charlie and I were going to try and book it once she arrived in Borneo that evening. So I told the woman I'd text my mate and let her know before the deadline of 2 hours. Charlie was all for it so I went down to book it and the woman have me a cheeky smile and said 'I already have, I knew from your face you'd want to do it tomorrow'. Good job I didn't say no then!
So after booking the climb, I went to explore Kota Kinabalu before Charlie arrived and demolished a tasty pork steamed bun and coconut bun which cost me all of 2.90RM (55p). Once Charlie arrived we got some grub and a beer before crashing ahead of the big day.
The next morning we were up bright and early, despite the lack of sleep and jet lag, and ready for the challenge ahead. We were picked up and taken to the Kinabalu Park and received our permit and guide so we could commence the 6km hike up in some lovely humidity. We had a guide, Tugge, and not sure what he added to the experience as we barely saw him and as he couldn't speak English (don't blame him) we couldn't ask any questions or whether we were making good progress. On the way up we went an American couple (the guy refused to accept that he was English - born in Ipswich) and they conveniently dropped into conversation that they had just bought an island off the north of Borneo! I mean, as you do! Charlie and I struggled up the 6km but luckily we met Fabian who made us feel a bit better about our progress, he kept stopping for fag breaks despite struggling with the altitude. Finally we made it to the rest camp and got ourselves checked in (our guide sent us about a km out of our way to the wrong accommodation block, just what we needed). After some much needed food and watching the evening sky roll over and distant lightening flicker away, we were tucked up in bed by 8pm with the rest of our dorm. Trying to prepare for the 1.45am wake up call. Well, none of us slept more than an hour as a bloody mobile phone in the room next door went off continuously for about 2/3hours! And then when that stopped, the Aussie guy in our room starts snoring. One of the girls handed out tissue for us all to stick in our ears.
The 1.45am alarm goes off and none of us want to get up. With a bit of effort by 2.15 we were ready and having breakfast before the final push to the summit, some 2.7km away. In the pitch dark and head torches at the ready we set off. It was not an easy climb and every few meters we paused for a break and in the pitch dark I had no concept of what we were climbing. I just knew there was a steep bit that required a rope to climb which I became a bit worried about getting down in the descent. Three hours later we reached the summit just in time for the sunrise. It can't be denied, it was stunning. The clouds were below us and the sky a lovely red, yellow colour as the sun made it's way up. All to do now was descend the 8.72km down! Well with a brief breakfast stop on the way. The entire descent was worse, Charlie and I both have one goosed knee and they both flared up, in Charlie's case a lot worse then mine. So we hobbled back to the base, worn out, frustrated and ready to be back at the hostel. Was it worth it???? To reward ourselves that evening we decided to treat ourselves to a pedicure, we left crying with laughter. It was not the pedicure we know in England and the girl who painted Charlie's toes had made the biggest mess and she had the pleasure of paying for it!
The next morning we were both achey but looking back on the photos we took, yea we had to admit it was worth it! We met Greg from New Zealand at the hostel and adopted him for the day as we headed over to Sapi Island for a bit of sun, sea and sand to recover. Just what the doctor ordered. A lovely little island, although was a shame that the beach we sat on had it's fair share of rubbish. Although, to distract us from the rubbish we had a bit of fun racing hermit crabs which resulted in one permanent winner (the other hermits didn't grasp the concept of racing). Followed by an evening of cheap beer and food.
Now to see what else the island has to offer that doesn't try and cripple you. Off to Sandakan to go find some Orangutans!