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Mount Kinabalu Climbing For The First Time – Part One

I went for mountain climb last October together with my fellow friends, Rade, Tokok, Rosli, Hatta and two lovely couple from Labuan. I’ve been working as tour guide for nearly 6 years in which i had explain and educate tourist to come again and climb mount Kinabalu. Its such irony to know that that was my first time climb our state (Sabah) most visited site which as enlisted as World Heritage Site by UNESCO November, 2000.

The decision to scale the mountain is generally not my idea, it comes accross after a good friend of mine, Rade asking me about the room availibility at Laban Rata (a resthouse which every climber should overnight before proceeding to the summit on the next morning, very early morning). Then things happens seems parallel when at the same time my brother announced climbing package with confirmed date. So we grab the package and thats how it began.

I’ve only managed to train physically just a few time in less than a month prior to the climbing date. I wouldn’t be able to have time for training if it wasn’t effort by Rade. For people that knows me well, i’m not physically fit, just imagine yourself carrying 25-30kg of additional weight all the time and that will be me.

We stayed at Rina Ria Lodge on our first night. This lodge locate about 500 metre from Kinabalu National Park. It provides several types of rooms, including dormitory. We were given quad room (4 person in a room). Free Wifi available at the cafe. If you forgotten to bring some of your climbing needs, you can get it here at their mini shops which happens to be their reception counter too.

Ria Ria Lodge Cafe

Rade & Rosli at Rina Ria Lodge

On the next day, we had our breakfast at the cafe. We went straight to Kinabalu National Park, meet the 2 loving couple before proceeding for mountain climb registration. At Sutera Sanctuary Lodges reception counter, after providing their booking reference number, you will be handed meals coupons and a form which need to be submitted at Sabah Park’s counter located on the next building.

American Set Breakfast at Ria Ria Lodge Cafe

At Sabah Park’s counter is where you will get your climbing permit. Just a quick tips here, the machine that print the climbing permit are not designed for long name, ask the officer if it allowed to put your name as short as possible prior before the permit printed.

Sutera Sanctuary Lodges Reception Building

At the same counter, located next to the permit counter is the mountain guide counter. For every climber that climb mount Kinabalu, it is mandatory to hire mountain guide to go along with you. One mountain guide for every 7 climber. The porter service, on the other hand is optional. The charges for porter depends on the weight of your stuff with minimum weight of 10kg.

We the proceed to KOKTAS counter to arrange our transport to Timpohon Gate, which is the starting point of the climb. There are 2 starting point you can choose from, Timpohon & Mesilau, which the later longer than the first about 2km. Before we went to the Timpohon Gate, we went to Balsam Restaurant to take our packed meal which consist of Sandwich, Apple and drinking water. Balsam Restaurant located just in front of Sutera Sanctuary Lodges reception building. Well, you can only see the roof if you sanding exactly at the reception building.

Bus to Timpohon Gate

It took about 10 minutes drive to reach Timpohon Gate. We were given safety briefing by our guide before we begin our journey scale the Majestic Mount Kinabalu on foot. The distance from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rate is 6km. There are rest hut along the trail almost every kilometre providing untreated water. I hiked every steps slowly as i need to store my energy on the second day climb, i must keep my self from any serious injury during the climb. Just about 1 hour of climbing, it was raining. The trail gets slippery with some trail looks like waterfall especially when reaching Villosa Hut & Paka Hut.

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Group Photo – Image Stolen from Rosli Facebook 🙂

Safety Briefing By Our Mountain Guide

Ubah Shelter – Summit Trail

Along the summit trail, we have stopped on almost every resting hut just for 5-10 minute to at least drinks or just relax and keeping ourselves alive. Some of us even utilising this moment by posting an update through social media like facebook & instagram. We decide to have our packed meal at Layang-Layang Hut. Upon reaching at this point, we actually had gone almost 4km of the summit trail. Even the 2km to go seems to be much more nearer, but I’m really exhausted after this point. My leg began to sore, and every steps I took it seems to consume more and more energy, but I have no other choice than to finish what I just started, at least to make it to Laban Rata.

Laban Rata Restaurant

Laban Rata Restaurant

The rain continues until we reached Laban Rata Resthouse. It was 1620hrs now, I took about 7 hours to reach here. I can’t believe my self that i had finaly reach Laban Rata. My pants, socks and shoe were totaly wet, but that is not my main concern as I had another pair in my bag. The cafe will serving lunch at 1630hrs, its a buffet style, we decided to had our meals first before going to our room at Gunting Lagadan which is another 150m from Laban Rata. After the meal (the best lamb with black papper sauce I ever had), We spent about 3 hours at the cafe, endless hot coffee while enjoying beautiful sunset here. Everybody took photos with each other without even knowing who we are, and where we coming from, we have only one thing in common, that we had reached Laban Rata. It was the time of honouring ourselves as the inhabitants of Laban Rata of the day, who dare to go out from our comfort zone and seek for some adventure.

Me at Laban Rata

Hatta & Tokok

Sunset at Laban Rata

It was dawn and we need to use our headlamp to go to Gunting Lagadan. It took me nearly 20 minutes to reach there. It was cold and my legs start to sore. It was pleasure to know that there will be no more climbing for the day. Time to get good rest and rejuvenate. Like many of us, I didn’t take shower for the night as there were no hot shower. We stayed at quad dormitory bunk beds with sufficient power supply to charge our camera & phone. Well thats pretty long stories about my climbing experience, I will continue part two very soon.

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Strangers Portrait of Penang

I have been discussed with some of my friend about my photography project for this year, “Strangers Project”. The idea is very simple, to take portrait of people that we just met. Personally, i’m not the guy who talks a lot, but actually i have the interest to get to know people. So this is a good reason for me to get out from my comfort zone & explore. Never think about being rejected, it is worth trying than regret for not to do this 10 years from now. What if, today is my last day in my life? Thats how late Steve Job had his first date with his wife. Anyway, this are couple of portrait of people that i managed to break the bread and gained their trust over my 35mm lens.

Strangers Portrait of Penang | Abdul Salim

This Indian Muslim guy is very talkative & pretty much likes to talk about his family. He is now 52yo, awaiting for another 3 year before he will be able to withdrew his sum of money that reside in his KWSP account. For most of us that working throughout Malaysia. About 11% of our monthly salary being deducted every month & debited to KWSP account. “As soon as i withdrew the money, i’m going to ask my son to get married”. Nothing beats the happiness of a father to see his son to be with a person that he loved.

Strangers Portrait of Penang | Abdul Salim

Strangers Portrait of Penang | Maram (Abdul Halim’s partner in crime)

Strangers Portrait of Penang | Azman Rayuh (Chinese Muslim)

Azman Rayuh is very interesting person, I just found out his is a muslim when i’m about to leave after about a good 10-15 minutes conversation (in Mandarin)

My project consist of 5 series portrait of Pakistani, hopefully god will give me the strength to complete this by November 2013.

History made in Historical Penang

I was on MATTA Fair (Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents) in Penang on 19-21 April 2013. Just few weeks ago, i made silly move by asking Matt Brandon whether we could meet for a cup of coffee somewhere in Penang, and i would be the happiest man on earth if we can go out and shoot. For those new to this name,  i have mentioned about his great inspirational podcasts “The Depth Of Field” in this blog (click here to view). He promoted Penang by conducting photography workshop during Thaipusam, a Hindu festival. His latest workshop was conducted in Rajastan, India. For more info about his on going photography workshop click here. Anyway, i get positive reply from him and we met at this World Heritage Site of Penang. Like buying 1 and get another 1 for free, a gifted photographer & videographer, Nathan Watkins joined us too during that historical meeting.

Me & Matt Brandon at Toh Soon Cafe, Penang

The man behind “The Mamas Of Chowrasta” video

Click here to see the video

We headed to The Goddes of Mercy Temple located on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling as suggested by Matt Brandon before i showed him the list of question during our coffee session at Toh Soon Cafe.

Goddes Of Mercy Temple, Penang

The Goddes Of Mercy, Penang

The Goddes of Mercy, Penang

I’m so glad to meet both of them. I have learned that to make the very first move and not worried being rejected are the keys to meet these great people.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”

– Mark Twain

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