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Kundesang to Kinabalu National Park


A long awaited day. After having stocked up on food for the next couple of days at the village, it was still a concern of mine to be feeling rather underequipped for my imminent trials, and so I hit the shops once again in tiny Kundesang in an unlikely search for gloves and a hat. Amazingly, the very first shop I chanced upon which was a hardware store blessed me with rubber palmed gardening gloves and most amazingly, an unlikely red balaclava, it was the only one they had and must have surely been the only one in town. So it was then that we managed to negotiate a surprisingly cheap transfer for the 6Ks along to the entrance to Kinabalu National Park, where we had come to pursue a long held dream, the climbing of Mount Kinabalu. Meaning "Chinese Widow" for reasons which have been lost to time, this is the highest peak in all of South East Asia, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and the island of New Guinea. Arrival at the headquarters involved a convoluted yet organised rogmaroll of numerous payments, also taking the chance to ditch our main packs and arrange a daysack for the short 2 day siedstep. With my maion pack basically comprising nothing more thah a daypack anyway, it was simply a case of nigh on emptying it so that a few csant items shoogled about in the bottom. After hooking up with our assigned guide who had obviously done this same trip scores of times, it was no big deal to find he had no English and didnt attempt to keep up, just one more formality aimed at creating work and ripping you of. A standard 100 Ringgit (about 14 quid) payment just for the right to climb the mountain was doubled by the time we had added on insurance, the park entrance fee and a van transfer, but it was fair enough compared to the financial excesses of Mulu for example. The trail would be long enough we hazarded and so we did the first unexciting Tarmac mile the easy way, arriving at a checkpoint which revealed that it was certainly well organised at least, we each had to be ticked off against a list of expected itinerants opposite a remarkably cheap little shop full of goodies which would have been better acquired here. It was a little discouraging then to promptly set off downhill which rather went against the intention, immediately coming across a sweet and sizeable waterfall right next to the trail inexplicably known as Curtiss Falls. What then ensued was an unmitigated slog up chunky rudimentary stairs on a path at least impossible to get lost on, a test on the thigh muscles but nothing to arduous. Though we saw only a few fleeting birds and the odd insect and butterfly, Kinabalu held a second major draw in the promise of 4 species of Nephrentes (Pitcher Plants), 2 of which are endemic to this mountainside alone. Surprisingly, these did not become apparent until reaching the heady heights of around 10,000 feet, and a short pit stop on a flat slab of rock at the point where the trees suddenly seemed to disperse also revealed cute little green Tree Shrews too.

Posted by andyhay2 00:00 Archived in Malaysia

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