Weekend trip to Mount Kinabalu

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

Mount Kinabalu is in the Malaysian part of Borneo. It is 4095 meters above sea level and really really cool. It’s a two day climb and you have to join a group with a guide, since it’s very regulated. They only let 130 people up there per day, which I think is part of what keeps it nice. I went with two friends one of the weekends last semester. We started the weekend early and flew to Kota Kinabalu Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we were picked up and taken to the start of the trek.

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None of this hike was flat, it was a constant climbing of stairs like the ones in the picture. The man was our guide. As we got higher he made us stop very regularly to avoid height sickness. After hours of stairs, we reached the place we slept and had an incredible meal, the white building in the next picture. After sunset it got really cold, so we just went to bed.

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At 2 am we had supper and started towards the top before 2.30. It was actually a relief that when nearing the top, the stairs were replaced by ropes to hold on to and we just walked on the mountain. We were walking through the night and the sky was clear, the stars were amazing. You don’t see stars much in Singapore because of the light pollution, so I was blown away by the sight. The timing skills of our guide meant we reached the summit at sunrise. We’d been walking through fog/clouds for the last bit, but when we were at the top it all suddenly cleared and presented us with a view I can’t describe. Obviously, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

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I didn’t bring warm clothes to Singapore, so I had to buy the essentials last minute. I looked like an idiot in my hoodie, the raincoat I got the night before and with a light the hostel lent me. Top tip: prepare at least a little bit for a hike like this. I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted to on the top because of the cold.

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Because of the daylight, it seemed like a different hike walking down. Nature is cool, I’d never seen a mountain like this before. When we reached the place we slept, we got the best breakfast I had so far on my study abroad. Legs shaking, we continued down to where we started and drove back to Kota Kinabalu. The day after I was on the plane back to Singapore, and weirdly the week started like it was just a normal weekend.

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