July 17, 2013

Kota Kinabalu Free and Easy

The Mountain Torq Via Ferrata is 88 kilometers away from Kota Kinabalu, or 1 hour and 30 minutes away by road transportation.
By bus, visitors can take a bus headed to Kundasang or Ranau at the City Bus Terminal (North). Buses from Kota Kinabalu to Ranau are available from 7.30a.m to 5p.m; bus fare is RM15 per person.
To return to Kota Kinabalu, take a bus across road outside Kinabalu Park (reconfirm with Kinabalu Park reception counter) headed to Kota Kinabalu.
By taxi, visitors can take the Ranau taxi at the Ranau taxi stand (next to the Merdeka Field) or request from the hotel lobby. From Ranau Taxi station, taxi fare charged is RM160 per taxi; while from hotel lobby, taxi fare charged is RM300 per taxi.
For a return trip to Kota Kinabalu, take a bus from Poring Hot Springs to Ranau town. From Ranau town, find a taxi back to Kota Kinabalu.
Visitors can also rent a car and drive by themselves. - See more at: http://whoaadventures.com/adventure/highlands-and-jungle/mount-kinabalu/ferrata-mount-kinabalu#sthash.SCVA05rY.dpuf
I went to Kota Kinabalu alone, without any confirmed itinerary except for one night hostel reservation. Just wanted to keep my options opened. My main plan was of course, to climb Mount Kinabalu. But since I didn't make booking for the climbing spot yet, I thought I'd just fly there free and easy. If I couldn't climb the mountain, I could always go diving. If I couldn't dive, I'd just lay by the beach. Or take a flight to Sandakan or Tawau. Free to do anything.

This is only my second time stepping foot in Sabah.

Excuse me but I still don't believe why me, a Malaysian, need this social visit pass.

Anyway, after clearing the immigration, I went out to the arrival hall and approached the information counter. Asked them about buses going to the town centre but the lady at the counter told me the buses' schedules are uncertain. I might have to wait 10 minutes, 30 minutes or even an hour. She advised me to taxi instead.

OK.. so I took taxi. The ride from the airport to the town centre took about 15 minutes, and cost only RM30.

This is my hostel, Borneo Backpackers.

 Loved the location. It is located within walking distance to Suria Sabah and Warisan Square shopping malls, Jesselton Point ferry terminal, restaurants, convenient stores, Filipino market and the popular Gaya Street where a street market takes place every Sunday morning. The rate's cheap too. Only RM25 for a bed in the dorm.

It was already 6.30 pm when I checked in at the hostel. Refreshed myself and went out lepaking at the common area. There were two American ladies sitting on the couch, talking animatedly to each other. I greeted them and sat on the next empty couch, while flipping through tour brochures on the coffee table.

Since they were busy talking to each other, I tried not to interfere but two words from their conversation caught my attention, Mount Kinabalu. Yeah... they were talking about climbing Mount Kinabalu. One of the ladies had already climbed it the week before and the other was going to climb soon. Hearing they talked about their trips to the mountain, I chimed in on the conversation. Couldn't help it! haha...

And ladies and gentlemen... that's how I met my climbing partner.

Brooke was going to climb solo. And after she learnt that I too, was going to climb solo, she insisted that I went with her. At first, I was kinda sceptical. It was all too sudden. She was going to climb on Friday, and it was already Wednesday night. The booking office was already closed, thus I could only checked the climbing availability tomorrow. On Thursday.

The next morning, I woke up rather early cos the sun was already shining oh-so-brightly by 6 am!
At around 8.45 am, I walked to Wisma Sabah and looked for Sutera Sanctuary Lodges office. Arrived at 8.55 am, and the office was still closed. As soon as the office opened at 9 am sharp, I told the lady officer in charge of my situation; I have a friend who's going to climb the next day and it would be great if I can join her. *with a hopeful face.. haha*

The lady checked her computer screen, while I prayed silently in front of her. I didn't mind climbing alone later but if I could join Brooke tomorrow, why not? I'd have company, plus we could split the mountain guide fee. Save budget ok.

After a while, the lady said yes. YES! I could climb tomorrow! It caught me by surprise actually, cos I didn't think I would be able to get a spot that soon (and easily!). All lodging on Mount Kinabalu are usually very difficult to book due to the limited quota of climbers allowed to overnight on the mountain. But I guessed it was easy for me cos I was alone. Kalau rombongan Cik Kiah haruslah susah.

She then explained the cost details for the climbing package, and I immediately paid the amount required to secure my booking. It was really quick, I finished everything in less than 10 minutes.

Anyway, after that I went to Scuba Junkie office which is just a few metres away from Sutera Sanctuary Lodges' office.

Did my booking for scuba diving on Sunday (since Monday was already fully booked). Didn't know how my legs would fare then, but I just reserved my spot. I dived with them in Mabul and Sipadan Island last year and was really happy with their service. Since they opened a new branch in Kota Kinabalu, I thought I should give KK a dive!

Finished with everything, I walked back to the hostel. On the way, I bought a small backpack for RM20. Not gonna carry my Deuter backpack to the mountain. Would just leave it at the hostel.

Brooke was already waiting for me at the common area. When I told her I managed to get a climbing spot, she hugged me. Hahaha... I guessed she's relieved too.

Without wasting time, I sorted my backpack for things to bring and essential items for the climb.

At around 12 pm, we went for lunch at a nearby restaurant and walked to Padang Merdeka Bus Terminal right after.

Here, look for buses or mini vans to Ranau or Kundasang and ask the driver to stop at the entrance to Kinabalu Park. They leave from 7 am till late afternoon but the frequencies then would be much lesser. And the mini vans usually only depart when they are full. You would end up waiting for God knows how long. Luckily we only waited for 10 minutes.

The fare is RM20, and the journey took about 2 hours. On a clear day, you'll catch a beautiful view of the mountain as you approach the park but it was raining that day. It was slightly scary as eerie white fog eventually blanketed the world around us. We were actually worried at that time. What if the fog remained until tomorrow? How to climb? And I was already thinking, how to take picture like this? T_T

Anyway, we asked to be dropped off at a junction heading to Kinabalu Mountain Lodge. It's about 1 km away from the entrance to Kinabalu Park. 

Can't wait for the climb...


Dennis Bermudez said...

How much budget should i.prepared aside from airfare. Im planning to see KK this summer... tnz in advance.

rara said...

@Dennis: How many days are you planning to stay? And do you plan to climb Mount Kinabalu? Do you prefer to stay in a hotel or hostel? Well.. there's a lot of things to consider before you make a budget :)