Heather's Thairy

Heather's journey to Bangkok, Thailand: a year of adventure!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Vacation Day Four: Mt. Kinabalu Summit

We were somewhat rudely and abruptly woken on Monday morning...very early...1:30 AM. It was not unexpected, since this is when people begin to rouse for the summit hike. We were up fairly quickly, given that other hikers were now stepping over us to get their breakfasts!
Starting a summit hike in pitch darkness, without food in your belly (in hindsight, not a wise choice) is a bit of insanity that, we discovered, pays off. I was exhausted and kept sitting down, only to find myself like this...

I'm actually asleep in this picture. Scary business, given that I was perched on the SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN!!!
Mostly we were guided by the headlamps of the overly-equipped Japanese tourists that were scattered along the trail (helpful folks, those Japanese!); once again Jennious proved to be absolutely useless as a "guide". The hike is fairly treacherous and the danger is magnified when you do it by the light of the moon. A few times I actually thought that I was physically unable to complete the climb, but Alisa was a great motivator... "Look at that schmo! If he can do it, we can do it!!!"
We reached the top with plenty of time to spare before the sunrise, which was sort of unfortunate because it was FREEZING!

It was absolutely, positively 100% worth it, though. We suffered from lack of sleep, malnutrition, abandonment by our guide, physical exhaustion and a variety of other ailments including bitter chills to our very souls but our reward was the breathtaking scenery and the knowledge that we had, in fact, defeated the mountain.
It was an experience that I will never forget, and we all were very proud of ourselves for having accomplished such a thing. It was truly amazing, being above the clouds at such an altitude, with many other people from all over the world who were all thinking the same thing: This is incredible and I did it.

We hiked back down that day, too, all the way from the top to the bottom. It's a busy day, the second day on Mt. Kinabalu: hike to the summit, come down from the summit and have some breakfast, and then hike all the way down!

Ryan and Brian headed back to KK after the mountain because they were booked for diving the next day; the rest of us decided to continue to Poring Hot Springs, which is about an hour further down the highway and is supposed to be nice and relaxing. We got there, discovered that Poring is a dump and the Hot Springs are gross, and the only parts of the area that are worthwhile to visit are accessed by hiking...we were certainly in no position to be hiking ANYWHERE at that point so we made the decision to head back to KK while the evening was still young, thus avoiding spending undue time in "Boring" and not staying at the god-awful hostel we had planned on sleeping in.
Mt. Kinabalu: another highlight of my overseas experience. What a trip!

Until next time,

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vacation Day Three: Start The Climb

Sunday morning we hopped into a van early in the morning to get to the base of Mt. Kinabalu, our next destination and the source of much wonderment. The peak is 4095.2 m, and it takes two days to reach the summit. At the base of the mountain, there are services where you set up your climb: you need a guide, a permit, insurance, and accommodation before you can start. If you can’t obtain all these things (it’s expensive, and it also books up fast and in advance), there are still many trails that you can walk around up to a certain point on the mountain.

After a good breakfast (I had peanut butter straight from the jar, while the boys opted for the buffet breakfast- the tours that we booked on this trip were big on buffet offerings), we started up the trail. It was a bit of a tease at first, very flat and starting with a set of stairs that went down, but we soon realized the true nature of the beast.

About four hours of rocky trail, littered with the bodies of people who couldn’t hack it…just kidding, but it was fairly crowded at points, apparently tons of Japanese people like to make the hike in their designer duds, grasping their hiking poles…
The trail is easy to follow and offers the occasional pitstop, but there is no drinking water or food until you reach the sleeping quarters. You don’t want to carry a lot with you for four hours up a mountain, so it’s unfortunate that they haven’t set up some stands with at least water, but we were well supplied so it was fine.
This sign greets visitors at the beginning of the trail. We’re not sure what it is supposed to mean, but in my limited knowledge of Malay I think that I can translate: “No dancing, on pain of death.”
Our guide’s name was Jennious, which is pronounced “genius”. He was about as useless as a person can be…he did no guiding and was absent for much of the climb. I suppose that he wouldn’t have been much help had he actually been around, and it’s not like we’re totally incapable of looking after ourselves and each other, so we were actually sort of glad that he took off.

Alisa and I broke off from the boys…well, not so much us breaking off from them as them surging ahead…and hiked up together, which was great because it gave us a chance to catch up and chat. It also was nice to go at a slower pace to really take in the scenery and appreciate our surroundings.

We arrived at the accommodation well before dark and had some buffet dinner before taking in the sunset. Ryan had a celebratory swig of some random, cheap booze purchased back in KK…not sure that it actually summed up the victory…

Since we had booked so late, we ended up with beds on the floor of the restaurant rather than actual rooms with actual beds, but it was fine because they brought us really nice mattresses with really nice sheets, pillows and blankets. Knowing that we had to leave at 2 in the morning for the summit climb, we went to bed pretty early and in our clothes!

The summit is hiked at 2 in the morning in order to arrive at the peak at sunrise. More on that in the next issue of the vacation fun series!!!

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Vacation Day Two: Kota Kinabalu

The second day we took it easy, having gone on something of a bender the night before. We decided it would be “Get organized for the mountain hike and relax” day; and that we did. It turns out that hiking up Mt. Kinabalu is a popular activity, and we were lucky that they allowed us to book accommodation even though they were full at the mountain. You need to have a room booked in order to get a climbing permit, and they sold us beds on the floor of the kitchen so that we could do the hike.

We went to the beach in KK, which is easily accessed by taxi and probably also on foot. It is a very long expanse of clean, white sand with hardly any people around. The water is a bit dirty- some garbage and grunge- but otherwise it was a great place to sleep off the previous night’s activities.
Ryan and Ryan are into dressing up; this trip was no exception. They brought along pirate swag (for whatever reason) and this ‘medallion’ became the trip mascot, christened Moby and treated with the utmost care.

That evening we went to Little Italy, an Italian restaurant that we enjoyed quite a bit (enough to return to later in our trip). The food was great: Alisa ordered a calzone and, in preparation for the long hike ahead, ate the whole thing. It was incredible.
We turned in earlier that night with dreams of mountains dancing in our heads…
Until next time,

Vacation Day One: Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu

Here it is, the first installment of what should prove to be quite the series of posts about my two week vacation!
We (Ryan, Ryan, Brian, Chris, Alisa and I) departed Bangkok on Friday, March 9 for Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, one of the districts of Malaysian Borneo. Much to our surprise, our Air Asia flight was relatively on time and we got there in the evening.
We headed to Borneo Backpackers Hostel, which I HIGHLY recommend. It was amazing: sort of a standard hostel in terms of facilities, but made incredible because of their remarkable staff. So friendly, so helpful, so nice! I actually found that the majority of people in Borneo were extremely personable, which is great when you're on a trip in a foreign place and you need all the help you can get!
That evening we got it started with a visit to The Black Room, this sketchball karaoke pub that you access from the street, up a flight of urine-soaked stairs. We walked in and I felt like the music should stop and everyone should turn and look at us- it was a small place filled with people who looked like regulars. The music kept playing and we settled in a booth, soon to find ourselves singing old, bad favorites and schmoozing with the locals.

Ryan sang some god-awful love song with this woman...while her boyfriend/husband silently seethed.

Alisa and I with our best "magnum" faces...

Ummm...that's a nice big pitcher of apple juice (sugar-free with added fibre, I swear) and I'm just displaying the Guinness for posterity. YECCCCCH Guinness. I mean, so I hear.

Expect the CD in the next few months...

A classic start to a fantastic trip: out till 4:30 in the morning, singing, drinking and eating with strangers! Right on!
More to come!

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stay tuned!

I'm back from vacation and sometime this week I will be putting up a huge post about my adventures...in the meantime, you can check out some of the pictures on my facebook account if you're a member! If not, they'll be here shortly!

Until next time,

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Status: Away

Hi everyone!
This is just a quick update coming to you from the free computer at Borneo Backpackers Hostel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. We've spent nine nights in Borneo thus far- the tales of the adventures I will leave for another time when I can accompany them with pictures- and we are flying to Bali today. I wanted to check in and let you all know that there will be some serious posting when I get back in a week...so stay tuned!

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Phu Kradeung Supplement

This is late, but needed to be posted. For those of you who really didn't buy that I climbed a mountain and at the top, had to wear winter gear, check this action out.

We look happy but we're trying not to DIE FROM COLD.
In Thailand.

Until next time,

Monday, March 05, 2007


The concert was on Sunday; the day was filled with great performances and fun. It was amazing to see all the work that had gone into the show, and heartwarming to see how proud the kids were to perform and be on stage. They worked very hard and it showed!
The Dragon Dance was a roaring success- P6 did a wonderful job. They were even asked to perform twice!

Some of the costumes were amazing! There was a big budget for the outfits...not surprisingly, a lot of emphasis was placed on appearance. Here's what 4/2 was wearing; Porsche, Coff and Prince (the boys in blue) look SO cute.

Getting organized...

Some technical difficulties were overcome and it was on with the show!

Those are the feet of spectacular performers. "Look Mom- that's me! The third pair!!!" "There's little Poon, you can tell by the way he walks! I'm so proud!"

The girls did a dance alone before the dragon came; they were wonderful. Pleng, one of the students, choreographed the majority of the dance and it looked fantastic.

The Dragon took the stage to join the girls and the drummers. It was amazing how they managed to all look cohesive. Showstopping!

The girls, looking lovely...

Jane and Titan, likely up to no good...

My Drummer Boys...

It was a day to remember...and thankfully, my memory will be aided with a DVD copy (professionally done) of the whole event! When I get my hands on it I'll hit up the Dawcee (computer whiz) for some help and get it up so you can all enjoy!

Until next time,