Archive for March, 2005

Manukan Island 19th March 2005

March 28, 2005


Kota Kinabalu (the city centre of Sabah) is so conveniently close to the nearby islands – a 15min boat ride to be exact. For only 45rm ($20 sg) we spent a few hours snorkelling and lazing about at Manukan Island.


A large stretch of beach, it’s a great place for families, honeymooners, adventure-seekers, basically everyone!



The snorkelling is really good, especially since you only have to swim a few metres to be mesmerised by the assortment of colourful fish. I was especially awed by these 15cm cobalt starfish and a maroon clown fish – who was eye-balling me. I also saw pink coloured sea-cucumbers and punk-like finned fish which blended so well with its nearby corals.


After a quick retreat at Manukan Is. we returned back to the city, showered and headed out for some shopping.

Tini bought some clothes and then we successfully found this cheap massage place – Helen’s Place at Centre Point. A 1hr body massage only cost 45rm (20sg). The masseurs are pretty strong, decor blase but its cheap!


Padas River, Sabah 18th March 2005

March 28, 2005


The journey begins!
A 2hr drive to Beaufort train station from Kota Kinabalu, followed by a 1.5hr train ride to Pangi (the starting point for our White Water Rafting (WWR) adventure….)

Chugga chugga chugga
The train ride to the Padas Gorge is an adventure in itself! With no aircon; a toilet which is literally a hole where the stuff flies on to the tracks; a deafening engine and breaks which cause the train to jerk frequently – it’s like journeying through the 50’s….


On the upside, the train cuts through the jungle terrain and you get glimpses of the exciting Padas River Rapids.

It was a first for me, but 2nd time for Tini who had her first taste of WWR at Nepal where she also trekked. Apparently the best time to go WWR in Sabah is between September & October when the rapids are wilder. We were also told by our guide Ikan, that Padis River is certified grade 3, which is moderate (grade 1 being easy and grade 7 life threatening :p)

After briefing us on how to paddle and the necessary safety precautions, we merrily walked along the train track towards the Padas River for the start of our 1.5hr adventure.


With 5 paddlers including myself, Ikan & the stabiliser, we braved through the 7 rapids. Some of which were mild, while many were fairly rough. Thankfully we didn’t capsize – well with the exception of Alison (Brit chic) whom I pushed over (accidently of course!!). However 2 of the other rafts capsized but were rescued immediately, no injuries thankfully.


During the course we had a few opportunities to swim along the Padas river. Even though the depth of the Padas is only 1.5m the rocks cause it to be rather treacherous. It was real thrilling floating with the mild current.

Towards the last few metres of our adventure, Richard (the Swede dude) asked Ikan if we could swim (sans raft) through the last rapids. Stupidly Tini & I agreed, not realising how scared we’d be!!! I naively thought it’d be manageable especially with the lifejackets on, but I fink I almost thought I was gonna drown at one stage – the rapids just came too fast & were too strong – thankfully Ikan was nearby!


If your going to Sabah, please add White water rafting to your itenary! And do it after Mt Kinabalu!

Mt Kinabalu 16 & 17th March 05

March 24, 2005


Before going to Mt Kinabalu – I received a lot of doubtful/snide remarks from Navin and some colleagues who had very little faith that I could trek up the 4000km+ mountain. I suppose I figured if Zalena and Sue Ann could climb it surely Tini, let alone I could climb it too!

Day 1: 6km trek up Laban Rata (LR)

Excited and all geared to go, we met our guide Jackson and our pint-sized porter a 16yr old student who helped carry our large back pack weighing about 8kgs.


The trek started out fine, though I soon realised within metres why stair-climbing was a ‘highly-recommended’ form of training 😛 Much of the hike up to LR consisted of 40cm steps or a cluster of large rocks.


Along the trail up to LR there were 7 rest points, each one about 1km apart. We would normally rest for about 5-10 min at these points and refuel with muesli bars & chocolate.


We didn’t see much flora or fauna, but at certain points we got a peek of the mountain. Occasionally the clouds would pass right before us too.

Towards the end of the 6km there was a lot more upward climbing. Fortunately we purchased wooden sticks (5rm) from the starting point. These act as a third leg and aid in extra support.


Hooray we made it to Laban Rata! 
4hrs later we reached LR at 2pm. Having hiked 6km we were absolutely exhausted and famished! With a half day rest before the climb to summit, we piled up on the carbo (a mountain of fried rice), had our cold showers in the tin shed and Tini caught a well deserved nap, whilst I sat infront of our isolated dorm and sketched the view infront of me. This proved rather tricky especially with the constant movement of the misty clouds.


The Killer Climb up the Mt.K Summit
The climb up to the summit from LR is 3.5km up. Inorder to catch it at its optimum view (sunrise) we had to set out at 2.30am! Waking up at 1am, we reluctantly got up, got ready our torches and put on the many layers of winterwear (long johns, jackets, gloves, beanies, scarves etc.)


The first thing you notice during the night climb is how awesome the starry sky is! We were fortunate it was a clear night sky – I’ve never seen such a star-studded sky, I couldn’t even find Orion! And I was lucky to see another rare shooting star!

Initially the trek was slow, as we were all queued up, waiting behind the other eager trekkers as they climbed up the rickety stairs. I was actually fine with the slow and steady pace and was hoping that it’d be like that for the rest of the climb, but was I in for a rude shock!

After climbing the easy stuff we were faced with the challenge of gripping onto the white ropes as we walked up the flat fascade. One third of the journey later, it dawned upon me how high up were already were. We had a clear view of the lit up nearby towns below us, it was pretty, but scary too! At that point I was just relieved that it was dark, cos I’d probably freak out for fear of such freaking great heights!

Battling exhaustion, the altitude and cold air of the early morning – I was soo physically and mentally fatigued and was seriously ready to give up. Feeling sorry for me, Tini asked me to grip onto her backpack, whilst the guide carried my backpack.


Amazingly we reached the summit at 5.57am. Despite the difficult trek (scaling up the rocks with my bare hands) and being mega exhausted, the summit was sooooo worth it! The sunset was as perfect as I had read from journal entries of other trekkers. The various views of the different terrains was spectacular. We stayed up the summit for half an hour, relishing this amazing moment – a definite highlight of 2005!


Snap happy, we took lots of piccies of the different panaromic views. Scared I was reluctant to stand for any of the poses – any clumsy move and that’d be the death of me! So you can imagine how bloody scared we were to scale down the summit!


For some, climbing down is a breeze – but not for us – we hesitantly ‘bummed’ our way through the sloped slate surfaces and eventually resorted to the white ropes abseiling down. At many points we were in awe of ourselves for having climbed up such tricky and treacherous points. Half way down there was a 12cm edge that we had to carefully manoeuvre – the view way down didn’t help – I was really really scared and had to call out to my guide to grab my hand!

After the ‘cliff-hanger’ experience, everything else seemed easier. We reached the huts safely at 9.30am, packed and had lunch before trekking 6km back to the starting point.

The whole trek up and down Mt Kinabalu took us about 18hrs of walking and involved 17km of hiking the steep altitude. It was such a physical and mental experience – I’ve never achieved such a physical conquest like this ever! I’m so proud of myself for surviving it, cos if I knew how exhausting, gruelling &  tricky Mt K was I seriously don’t think I would have agreed to come with Tini.

Lonely Planet & Wikipedia reckon that you don’t need climbing experience to trek Mt K which is true, BUT you do need to train before hand – you need to be physically fit & be prepared for HOURS of walking, climbing and scaling. Put it down on your to-travel list! Oh yea, one more thing, be prepared for aching legs and butt for at least 3 days during & after the climb!

Next entry: White Water Rafting & Snorkelling Sabah Style

The Big 30

March 7, 2005


Nav just turned 30 today! Although he hardly seems phased by it, it’s a new era, esp. so with him exploring new career/business opportunities….

It’ll be my 30th in 3 months time, Sue Ann will be hitting 30 in April – so all 3 of us are hoping to celebrate it together! We’ve yet to get down to nitty gritty planning, but some possible ideas include an 80s’ theme party or movie party with lots of hot dogs and popcorn… Not sure yet..


An update on travel plans – not going to Hainan next week, but will be going in June. Next week I’ll be going to Mt Kinabalu instead with Tini for 4 days. 2 days of hiking, 1 day of white water rafting & hopefully some snorkelling too. Can’t wait for the adventure packed trip. Have trained up a little – climbing up to my 13th floor, running 2.4 – 3.2km with Andrea on Sundays & visits to the gym – really hope it’s sufficient training! Am looking forward to Bangkok too during the May day long weekend – can’t wait to get my Chatuchak shopping fix – it’s been 3 yrs since my last visit – toooo long!!