Monday, May 11, 2009

World's Highest Via Ferrata

I was asked to meet my Via Ferrata guide at 730am somewhere mear Low's Peak. Two other participants were supposed to meet me but when I met them, they informed me that they were unable to continue their Via Ferrata experience due to fatigue from summiting Mt Kinabalu. So it was just me and my Via Ferrata guide. I chose Low's Peak circuit which is a detour down Low's Peak to explore hidden corners of the mountain plateau. This activity is said to be 4-5 hours but with just me alone, the guide said it should no less than 3 hours.
Carabiners checked, harness checked, helmet checked,balls of steel checked. My Via Ferrata experience begins......
Defying gravity at Mt Kinabalu

Excellent view from the side of the mountain


One must own good hiking shoes for a situation like this

Getting ready to cross the bridge

At the bridge

Enjoying the view

Balance, baby, balance

The bridge I crossed earlier

After an hour plus, a much needed is the side of the mountain plateau

Above the clouds

Laban Rata on my right

Started on Low's Peak and ended at the steps to Laban Rata..3 hours

A satisfied man

To be honest, I did not want the experience to end. I was in every nook and cranny of the mountain and to be there was just unbelievable. The view from those spots is breathtaking and it shall forever be etched in my memory. Via Ferrata really rocks.

Conquering Mount Kinabalu ...For The Second Time

Mt Kinabalu

Last year, Mt Kinabalu became the world's highest Via Ferrata(at 3800 metres) and I was eager to try my hands on this amazing new thrilling adventure that was started back in 1914 near the Dolomites. Now, I've summited Mt Kinabalu before and had a tortorous outcome. Trekking using the Mesilau trail and Via Ferrata are the only reasons I came back to Mount Kinabalu.

I landed in Kota Kinabalu's Terminal 2 airport and was picked up by my old Budak Kelantan friend, Hasmailee. Hasmailee and I used to be day labourers on Layang Layang island of the Spratly Islands.
Hasmailee and I mixing cement

It was good catching up with him after all these years and we swapped old stories and kept each other updated over our favourite lunch - Krishna curry fish head
Hasmailee and I over lunch

Later, he sent me to the bus/van/taxi station and I boarded one headed for Ranau. This ride costs me RM16.00 as opposed to RM88.00 charged by Sutera Sanctuary-the company responsible for Mount Kinabalu.
Vehicle headed for Ranau

Since I am taking the Mesilau trail (which is 3km longer than the Timpohon trail), my destination was the Mesilau Nature Resort,a resort tucked underneath the foothills of the mountain. The resort is located 16km from the Kundasang road junction and my intention was to take a cab from the junction to Mesilau Nature Resort. But when I found out that the cab ride was RM50.00, I had to resort to this :
Hitch hiking my way to Mesilau

Still no luck

It was frustrating but the view ..ahh the view compensated for it

As Kundasang has a cool climate, walking was perfect but ..stretches of uphill and downhill was starting to take a toll on me. I walked probably 0.5km and I was already panting. A dozen or so cars passed by without stopping and the timeby then was 500pm. It gets dark at around 620pm in Sabah. But deep down inside, I knew in my heart that someone will stop and give me a ride because I would and not everyone has a wooden heart so says Elvis. True enough, a driver saw my sign and asked me to get in. Phew, what a relief. He was going the same way and for once, he did not look like an East Malaysian serial killer. The 20 minute drive to Mesilau Nature Resort made me realize that if I were to walk my way there, it'd be a 2 hour walk. Yikes. Results of a quarter life crisis affected man. Anyway, we arrived at the gate and I thanked the good samaritan for his kindness.
My saviour who brought me to the gates of Mesilau Nature Resort.It's really really nice to experience the compassionate and caring side of humanity.

I started off the Mesilau trail the next morning. Beautiful bright morning and the hike was not too bad except for a few parts.
A view you don't see if you use the Timpohon trail

Mountain squirrels that will eat anything you give them..even energy gels

Mesilau trail-misty and mysterious

I started the Mesilau trail at 8am and reached the turn to Laban Rata, the halfway house to the summit of Mt Kinabalu at 1130am. The traffic there was heavier compared to Mesilau as Mesilau's trail has an added 3km route.
Part time job as a mountain porter. RM9 per kg

I reached Laban Rata at 130pm and was quite pleased with myself as compared to last time's performance.
The next morning, I headed off for the summit at 300am and did not even stop until I reached the summit. It's unfathomnable that I am this fit!!!! I summited Mt Kinabalu for the second time at 545am and was pleased with myself overall. Next stop, the world's highest Via Ferrata!!!!!

Safety briefing for Via Ferrata participants

At the summit...for the second time

Monday, May 4, 2009

Obtained My Open Water PADI Diving Certificate

Open Water PADI Diver

ABT - About bloody time I took up diving. I've always admired people like the late Jacques Cousteau and Dr Bob Ballard(He found the Titanic) for their contributions towards oceanography.I've always been comfortable with water since young as I was always jumping off from the wooden jetty into Sungai Golok back in Kelantan. Just kidding. However, I was already swimming by 8 years old.

Afters years of putting off diving, I finally made up my mind to get my license. I arrived in KB in the morning and had one of ze best nasi lauk for breakfast with my loving parents who knows my taste buds at the back of their palm. Driving to Besut took me 45 minutes and by 11am, I was already on the island to begin my academics of diving. I think nobody likes this part but it is essential for knowledge and safety once you're underwater. I watched the video and read from the manual all day long. Jumping into the clear blue waters every time it got slightly hot.
Video studying


Day Two
I was taught the scuba gears and mechanism. BCD, Regulators, LPI hose, etc. My instructor, Sean from the UK brought me to shallow waters and for the first time in my life, I took a breath ...underwater. Hang on a minute, I am wiping a single tear that is rolling down my cheek. It had such a calming effect after a few minutes. But then, I was asked to clear my mask with some fancy technique. Now, that is scary. You learn all your life to breath in through your nose but this time, I had to breath in through my mouth and exhale through my nose ...underwater...and not on the surface of the water like snorkellers do. I panicked slightly but got the job done and my instructor gave me an OK signal and shook my hand. Everything is so graceful underwater, even a handshake and a fist bump. 2 hours later, I went on my first real 18metres dive. i saw marine life like
These are some of the marine life I saw :
Titan triggerfish
Yellow boxfish
Blue spotted ribbon tail ray

Sneaky batfish
Angel fish


Day Three
I went for 3 more dives around Perhetian Island and it took 45 minutes for each dives. And after every dive, I had to carry the weights, the scuba tank, the BCD and walk past snorkellers. I hate to admit it but I sure did feel a bit sorry for snorkellers now.
Suiting up

Coming back from 2nd dive

Day Four
Graduation day. My amazing instructor, Sean gave me my application form for the PADI card and congratulated me for my efforts. He did a great job as well.
Anyway, do I like diving? Absolutely!!! IN fact, I'm planning my next dive in 2 weeks time.
Perhentian Island jetty

Perhentian on a pale moonlight