sickly looking me

Last year, (was it really last year? It felt so long ago!) the sisters and i + Darcy managed to conquer Mount Kinabalu despite the severity of our AMS condition. Uh huh, we never thought of swallowing any high altitude sickness pill at all. In fact, the whole lot of us (20 odd humans) went up there pill-free.

Our June 2010 Kinabalu Expedition Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrival, chill & seafood!
Day 2 : White Water Rafting at Padas and i swear, this will be my last time on a Grade 4 river.
Day 3 : Mount Kinabalu, ascend
Day 4 : Mount Kinabalu, descend
Day 5 : Sabah’s famous noodle , TAR island hopping & depart.

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Day 1 – Ascend

I was dead tired. 3 consecutive nights of 4 hour sleep.
(*note to self : bring ear plugs if i am ever staying in Backpacker Hotel)

I’m someone who needs at least 8 hours of sleep. 7? I’ll live but i will very likely be ab-normal. Best is 10. HEH.

But 4?!?! And 3 consecutive nights?!?! It doesn’t take a genius to figure what happened on my ascend eh?

We all woke up at 4am. Bus came at 4ish-5am to pick us up. For those of you who are keen to climb this mountain, my advice is to stay at the foot of the mountain the very night before the climb. You can at least sleep in for another 3 hours! Because i am also an extremely light sleeper, i didn’t manage to sleep in the bus at all. :(

I stared out the window most of the time. Sabah is breathtaking. So different. So different from West Malaysia. I likey. Oh, and the fresh and very clean air.. you know, i can go on and on and on and on. :)

At 9am, we were all ready to go. For some very strange reason, i felt pretty energized after the bus ride. I was raring to go. Never had it crossed my mind to hire a porter to carry my bag. No, really. Not because i was being arrogant or what, but i know my own fitness level – i run a couple of times weekly + yoga sessions too. After all, i did Mount Rinjani just 2 years back and i carried even more stuff then and it was 9-12 hours of solid climbing up and down for 5 days. And just 3 months before that, i was trekking at Sapa, Vietnam for 4 days with my backpack too. Zilch problemo.

So yeah, the thought of hiring a porter never quite crossed my mind.

I think it was the holiday adrenaline rush.

I was pretty okay initially despite the lack of sleep and rest. But slowly, very slowly.. i started panting and the backpack felt heavier and heavier. I was pretty shocked to be honest, especially the fact that i was just at 1km mark. Oh, we ascend via Mersilau route, which was longer. Nevertheless, i marched on.. after all, i did declare that i can lug the bag up all by myself in front of the group – Oh what’s with humans and their ego ah?! :P

What you are seeing : me pretending to be exhausted.

In real life : i was really exhausted!

Shortly, i broke into cold sweat. I was breathless and had pounding headache. Darcy was nowhere in sight. He was accompanying another lone female group member who almost couldn’t make it up, supporting and encouraging her (verbally of course) almost all the way, well alright alright, half the way at least. So desperate i was – because i was pretty sure i was gonna pass out anytime – that i actually left a huge notice (without names, but a message which Darcy will have no problem identifying who it was from) at the side of the track where oh-the-helpful-one couldn’t have missed – urging him to catch up with me as i needed him by my side.

Our local guide who was extremely friendly, strong and nice, offered to take my bag (for a fee). I didn’t hesitate one bit at that point. With the bag gone, i felt so so so much better.

But.

Not for long.

Shortly after that, i was sick again. I just can’t believe the state i was in. The husband was still nowhere in sight and i was all alone on the quiet and scary trail! HMPH!

Just when i was gonna curse and swear out loud at the husband for not being there for me, suddenly the pig appeared out of nowhere, grinning like a Cheshire cat. I almost broke down and cry. That relief + happy + angry feeling seeing someone dear to you at that point of time is rather indescribable. I pouted, went up to Darcy to hit him a couple of times before giving him my big i’m-so-glad-to-see-you-smile and a hug. *ahem* I’m tweeny bit manja if you haven’t realized that by now. :P

To cut story short, we made it to Laban Rata with much, much difficulty. I know i sure did. Everyone cheered as we arrived, together with others who soon caught up with Darcy and i. Dinner was just a few tiny bites here and there before i called it a day.

After settling down and all, it was close to midnight, again.

As some of you may have known, having AMS = insomnia, and i had just that. Panadol and whatnots were useless. Nothing worked!

Extreme headache where i literally felt the nerves pounding, insomnia, nauseous, whoaaaaa.. you just can’t imagine the condition i was in but errrr.. i still insisted on waking up at 2am (not that i slept at all) for the peak.

Yup, crazy is my middle name. LOL!

Day 2 : More ascending & descending

The husband who also had AMS, had zero intention to conquer the peak (hb is never the adventurous sort. he came because of the company).

But because i was going, he reluctantly tagged along too, (disclaimer : i didn’t force him ah!) just to be there for me.

Going higher before i had the time to acclimatize equates to suicide. Grin. Nearing the peak, it was 1/2 step forward (yup, i can’t even do 1 step then), stopped, breathe, 1/2 step forward… repeat. I had a guide (did i mention they are godsend?) holding on to me, holding my hand to make sure i don’t fall backward. I almost did, a couple of times. Heh.

But i did it.

I managed to reach the peak, not the peak’s peak though, which was merely 60-80m away? That, i gave up because i was barely breathing then. I’d be a bloody idiot if i had insisted going. Heh. My lips were blueish in colour at that point. It was that bad.

We missed out via Ferrata (!!). What a bummer but then, with my condition, it was all for the better, aye?

The sister (second sis stayed behind) greeted us with a big bear hug when we arrived at Laban Rata at 10ish-11am. We wasted no time and descended within half hour to the foot of the mountain. Oh, if you haven’t noticed, i didn’t snap any photos when i was at the peak. Reason? I didn’t bring the camera along. Some guy advised me not to (it was his third climb) and i did just that. Pure stupidity lorr seriously. But in a way, it was a blessing in disguise (n0 extra weight) cos i practically had negative ounce energy to go snapping around on the peak.

1/4 way into our journey down, it rained cats and dogs.

The whole trail was like waterfall! Totally dangerous i tell you. We were soaked inside out though i was Gore Tex-ed from top to toe. This is the sort of rain where Gore Tex is absolutely useless, rain coats get torn up, umbrella just won’t do, basically.. nothing works.

But.

We made it down there safe and sound with no tripping and falling over and we were thankful for that.

pssssstt : believe it or not, i actually dozed off while descending! the legs just went into auto-mode… 0.O

Thoughts :

1. Mt Kinabalu is a must climb. Just one time will do. The experience is priceless. Descending from the peak to Laban Rata (and vice versa) was terrifying but thrilling nevertheless. One minor slip and your life is at stake. No safety rope, no nothing. You are on your own, 100%. Pity i didn’t have my camera then, otherwise a picture is worth a thousand words.

2. Be prepared. Take AMS pills beforehand. Get sufficient sleep before your climb and preferably, stay at the lodging near the foot of the mountain.

———————-

Currently :

I’m anemic. Pretty severe i would say. I’ve been as such for a few weeks now but last week was really bad. Mother insisted on bringing me to the doctor and i was told that my pulse rate was just 42? My iron level was extremely low and i was told to start eating red meats again. To go to high altitude places in this condition is madness not advisable, according to the doctor, unless i am better.

After reading some first hand experiences on the internet, fear crept in. I’m really quite worried for myself. With just 1 week to heal myself, i’m praying for miracle. Though i am much better today compare to last week, i’m still lethargic and half of the time, in daze, except when i am in yoga classes – an unexplainable phenomena if you will. Heh.

Meanwhile, i’m so gonna tank up my iron intake, eat well and be better. Hopefully, i will be better.

Because getting AMS is really no fun. :(

This will be my last white water rafting (at Grade 4 river that is -> confirmed!).

The sisters promised they’ll not badger me anymore..

Because they got freaked out themselves! Hahahahaa…

Can’t blame them at all because they didn’t google and find out how it was like before going. They didn’t have any clue. What they had is just an experience on Grade 1-2 river 3 years ago, which was fun, fun, fun – that, i must agree. But not Padas. Period.

the gang i went with – 26 of us altogether!

The journey there was a good one. 2.5 hours was spent in the car.. travelling all the way from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom, passing Crocker Range almost half the way. I didn’t get to see much unfortunately because i was uncomfortably dozing on and off more than half the journey. What i vaguely remember is the mountains, the mist and the clouds. You cannot possibly miss that out definitely.

After our lunch break at Tenom, we were on the move again. This time, the cars got abandoned. We hopped right onto the train which still goes chooo choooooooooooooo~!

Some of the girlsss.. and the sisters, while waiting for the train

Here comes our choo chooooo train ~

yes, i sat down with my legs dangling out on a moving train! 1 word – FUN! kaypoh Darcy wanna knee me!

can you tell which is mine? ^_^

THE Padas river~  TEH TARIK!! Eeewwww!

The safety briefing was not like the 2 briefings i had before at both KKB and Gopeng. This briefing was a serious one. Like really serious.. which took half an hour at least! This was when the sisters realized how serious Grade 4 river is.

FYI.

Grade 1 – confirm will not capsize. children are welcome onboldren still can go.

Grade 2 – a little more thrilling. children still can go.

Grade 3 – 50% might get capsized. children? Not advisable.

Grade 4 – 50% might get capsized. children? DON’T play play ah!

Grade 5 – 100% sure to capsize. Not open to public. Only professionals.

And Padas is between grade 3-4. They say, Padas is world class!

There are 3 rapids that are graded at level 4 and the rest are at grade 3 – quite a number of them!

My raftmates.

Shaun, while being the youngest in our raft, happened to be the fittest and strongest. Like really awesome strong, i tell ya! Of course, being young and all.. he anticipated excitedly on getting capsized! Rapids after rapids, he’d try to bounce on the front of the raft, hoping to get the boat capsized.. I was literally like this –> O.O”"” !!!!!!!!!

But i guess having his videocam strapped safely on his own helmet -he’s a avid mountain biker – somehow contributed a little to his anticipation.

all ready to go!!!!!!

Strangely, this time.. there were no butterflies in the stomach before i hopped onto the raft, unlike my previous 2 experiences. I was very certain that i’d get those ridiculous butterflies you know, given how nervous i was whenever i thought of this excursion!

Our first rapid grade 4 – the3EWhy cobra?

Because the waves are shaped like one, like a cobra head facing us.. waiting to swallow us all in!

Just before the Cobra, our guide stopped next to the bank and told me, yes ME (!) to jump into the river to demonstrate certain must do!! Ugh. Of all people, me!! I protestedtext-align: left;”>And Padas is between grade 3-4. They but to no avail. Bleah. Very reluctantly, i jumped into the river and got my first taste of the teh tarik. Lol.

Then i was made to push myself up to the raft in view of everyone, just in case we get capsized and needed to get back into the raft quickly before the next rapid comes. Just as before, attempts to press and push myself up onto the raft as glamorously as the guys didn’t work out for me. Dang!

I is no strong. I have no arms strength.

Instead,ously onto the raft..  eg; my face pressed down on the raft and legs high up in the air with my raftmateamorously onto the raft..  eg; my face pressed down on the raft and legs high up in the air with my raftmates pulling my life jacket, trying to get me into the raft.

Sigh.

SOoooOOooo MALU-fying!!! -__-

Barely after my first terrifying (fine, not terrifying, more like humiliating!) episode, the next one came within minutes.

One needs to see it to really feel it. The feeling.. oh gosh… was simply indescribable. I saw the rapids and i got sick in the stomach immediately. It was bloody scary!!!!!!!!

When we went nearer, i knew we’d be doomed for sure. Like really sure. Seriously.. HOW TO PADDLE????!?!?!??! But we did. Paddle kuat kuattttttt, we were asked. However, as we inched nearer, i saw how powerful Cobra was, Cobra..  which was at least 5-6 feet high from my eye level!

By then, it was too late.

Too late to say, i wanna alight!!!

I knew we WILL get capsized and within that second, after whispering “OH MY GOD”, all of us got thrown into that rapid. Yes, into that freaking scary Cobra rapid!!

I couldn’t recall what happened exactly. Everything happened too quickly for you to realize what had just took place. The next thing i knew was water.. lots of water and i was in the water. I drank quite a bit. At least half a litre i reckon but i managed to keep calm and consciously told myself not to try to get to the surface as instructed (non-swimmers have this advantage). I also have to consciously tell myself not to breathe as well.. in order not to drink more water or worst, get choked.

Amidst all that, i was still hanging on to my dear ol’ paddle. I almost wanted to let it go with all the strugglings i went through. After all, having both of my hands freed will make me feel a lot more secure than hanging on to the paddle while trying very hard not to hit any of my raftmates just in case they were nearby!

But i persisted.. after much thoughts.

Funny how much we can think in and do in that few secxt second i knew, i surfaced and was gasping for air, go: left;”>The seconds flew by in a blurry state… and the next second i knew, i surfaced and was gasping for air, got choked and drank more water! @$^&*$@!!!!

Face all wet and breathe, of course lah!

Before i could finish coughing and wipe away the water on my face to take my next breath, more rapids!!!! And into the water i went (again). By then, i was all worn out. I just want my O2 dammmitttt!!!

Thankfully, the rapids were back to Grade 1 then and i could see most of my raftmates and Darcy, much to my relief, but the bobbing in and out of the water didn’t stop. Grade 1 or Grade 4, i was still in the rapid. But i managed to body surf but i did it the wrong way – we are supposed to face forward, not backwards! After i corrected myself, breathing became harder because when the wave hit, it hit right smack onto my face. Grrrr…

By the time i swam over to the nearest raft and got rescued – more scrambling! eesshh – most of my raftmates were up already, in our very own raft. It was just the sister and i on the wrong raft which was very much at the front. Guess we were thrown quite far off.

Again, to get back to our own raft before the next rapid, i had to jump into the river and do the very un-glam scrambling up!! Aiyoohhhh! The raftmates were like, what??????!?!?! you again ah??!?! >.<

The mood in the raft was a different one this time as i scrambled safely onto my designated seat. I felt the fear, the somberness. Getting capsized at grade 4 rapid is no joke. My second sister almost drown. She shed a tear or 2. When asked who saved her in the end? God, she answered. To her, the young guide who pulled her up at the point where she was giving in – she couldn’t surface :( – was her God. Without him, the sister might have just gone like that.

It was that scary. I ain’t pulling your leg man. Like i mentioned, one really needs to get down to it to feel what we all felt. For the first time, i saw fear in Darcy’s face. That man, i tell you.. is not afraid of anything! Never cried and was never scared.

Anyway, gearing up for our next grade 4 rapid was unforgettable as well.

With a name like “Washing Machine”, how to not be afraid??????????

The second sister who was in front of me, chickened out everytime at all the rapids. She’ll just inch in and sit on my poor left foot, which was in a lot of pain because of the weird positioning. If you have done white water rafting before, you’ll know what i’m talking about.

Washing machine, like its name suggested.. is just that.. a washing machine.

Scary?

Yes.

But we breezed (well, breezed is the most unsuitable word to use actually :P) through it but not without extreme hard work and good team work though. In fact, i just re-played the video i posted and the rapid in there somehow seemed friendlier. Ours was much intimidating!!!!!

Perhaps it was the rain. The heavy rain from the night before. Then throughout our rafting, it rained as well.

After names like Cobra and Washing Machine, which also known as Merry-Go-Round, what’s next? I wondered silently. To my utmost horror, it’s “Head Hunter” or also known as “The Sucker”!

Another OMG. Hahahahha :P

Why Head Hunter?

I’m pretty sure you can figure that out already.

You can never imagine all of our relieved faces after the last Grade 4. Well, perhaps.. the only face that didn’t have that PHEW look was Shaun’s. Heeehehehehehhehee… That guy wanted more actions! He was prepared to KAMIKAZE okie.. :P Too bad he was in the *ahem* senior citizen group.. which also happened to be the group that screamed the most. Haaahahahahaa..

But u know, between the 3x grade 4 rapids, those grade 3 ones were scary too!! Many times, i have to say we were really lucky not to get capsized by it.

Finally, after 3 hours of .. hmmm.. well, can’t think of any decent words to use..

Nevertheless, i personally feel getting capsized at Grade 4 is really a must to experience!

It’s once in a lifetime. Grin.

But to get capsized twice at Grade 4 will be a total nightmare!

So, did i wish i didn’t get capsize at Cobra? Nope! But i think if i was in my second sis’ situation, i’m pretty sure i’d wish otherwise. Oh, wanna know how brave my eldest sis was? Hee.. She actually went through the whole adventure without her spectacles!! She was practically as blind as the bat!

No wonder our guide said he ‘sakit hati’ (heart ache) when he saw my eldest sis in the water and fished her out of the water first when we all fell.

No wonder Darcy ditched the intention to swim over to me (when he saw me surfacing + my ability to do an eye contact with him then) but pulled my eldest sister to the nearest raft instead.

Thankfully, everyone was safe and sound in the end.

You know, there were many nasty accidents (involving many lives) took place at this particular river that we were in.. We were indeed very lucky.

The souvenirs i got?

Tens of lethal insect bites which leaves many scars on my legs till today and a permanent scar on my right hand where a patch of skin got peeled off  and bleed when the boat got capsized. I think i hit something. And needless to say, blue blacks!

at the train station again.. this time, heading back. My sister’s God is just next to her- the one with cap.

Looking back, KKB and Gopeng were really just sap sap sui – wet wet water.

If you were to ask me, is Padas for everyone?

Hell no!

One hellavu experience?

Damn, yeah!!

Will i do it again?

ARE YOU OUTTA YA FREAKING MIND???!?!?!

* all photos courtesy of Penny and Mayz – our fab organizer. dare not bring my own cam!

** the agent we had was Skyland Adventure

One of the must eat when you’re in Kota Kinabalu is sang yuk meen (Cantonese), sheng rou mian (Mandarin) or if you must, raw meat noodle – direct translation.

The place to eat it?

Kam Heong Lei at Jalan Sinsuran.

They have 2 version – soup and dry.

Darcy, as usual.. ordered the soupy version and i, of course.. the dry version. As much as i wanted to order the soup version, i resisted. Come all the way and eat just 1 type?

It’d be a sin! :P

I love it!

As some of you experts can already tell, the soup was really quite something huh? One look and you’ll know! You can only get this sort of cloudy with almost not there tiny particles soup when it’s boiled for sometime with the real stuff.

The husband really digged it.

pssttt : i like to think of the soup as some magic water filled with calcium goodness :P

And here is the dry version of Sang Yuk Meen.

Very typical of Malaysia’s kon lou meen yeah?

Very black..

Very easy to slurrrrrrrrrpp.. which was exactly what i did. Slurrrpp all the way to my last bit ;)

I like!

As much as i love my own dry version, i prefer the husband’s. Even the soup, when it is not in the same bowl as the noodle, tasted different. Not so robust and flavourful anymore. A little more plainer but still good though.

So why the special name?

Sang yuk meen.

We concluded (uh huh.. just our assumptions) it was because the slices of meat were still raw just before serving. It was not cooked but instead, it was added to the very hot soup and was mixed and stirred thoroughly before bringing it to the customers.

Ewwww?

Not really.

You see, the meat is sliced very very thinly. Meats like these usually get cooked really fast even if they are not cooked directly over the fire in a pot or wok. Because of the way it is cooked, the meat is extremely tender and its natural sweetness retains.

Truly work of art if you may. Yes, i know it’s not some Michelin starred restaurants etc but just a small coffee shop in a small town but to me, star or no star.. it doesn’t matter so long it is good!

Usually, the simplest food is always the hardest to master.

Oh, if you are really there.. don’t forget to order their kopi gao!

I, the non-coffee drinker, can tell that the coffee is really quite awesome. Must be in my genes even though i don’t do coffee.. I’m allergic to caffeine – how very ironic! LOL.

But the sisters.. they are totally an expert when it comes to nay and yay coffee. Just the smell itself they can tell already! (i reckon it is because we really grew up with the roast coffee bean smell since babies!)

Just in case you think other places in KK serve equally good kopi, then you’etty decent noodle, hop on to Kam Heong Lei for breakfast!

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