The Mount Kinabalu expedition is a five day trip. The first day is spent in Kuala Lumpur (KL), the capital of Malaysia, visiting the KL Telecommunication Tower and the Petronas Discovery Centre at Suria KLCC (Petronas Twin Towers complex). The following morning we visit the KL Butterfly Park before flying to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah on the island of Borneo (East Malaysia).

It is a two hour bus journey from the airport to the Kinabalu Park Headquarters, where we spend a night in a park chalet 1000 metres above sea level. Around 8am the next morning, having been introduced to our guides, we are taken by minibus to Timpohon Gate, from where we start a 6 km trek through one of the oldest rainforests in the world. On the way we exchange greetings with weary climbers coming down the mountain. It takes between five and six hours to reach Laban Rata where we sleep in a mountain lodge, 3000 metres above sea level. This helps us acclimatise to the altitude.

At 2am we are woken by our guides and, after putting on hats, gloves and several layers of warm clothing, we begin the arduous three-hour trek to the summit. Head torches are worn in order to leave hands free to hold on to the safety rope and hand rails during the steeper parts of the climb. The wind chill factor can make it very cold, particular on the granite rock face above the tree line where there are no trees to provide protection and the effects of altitude are felt for the first time. As the sun climbs above the horizon it brings with it welcome warmth and the first glimpse of the majestic peak, already crowded with people patiently waiting for sunrise.

There is a quiet but noticeable feeling of euphoria amongst those who have reached the peak. Photographs, including some of the students wearing boaters, are taken with the park sign as evidence of great achievement. The long trek down the mountain, which is broken by a one-hour stop at the mountain lodge at Laban Rata to have breakfast, then begins. Having reached the Park Headquarters we have dinner before boarding a coach that takes us to Kota Kinabalu, where we enjoy the luxury of a night in a hotel. The following morning is spent quietly, coaxing tired and aching legs to start working again, and packing in preparation for the journey back to Bangkok.

Last updated: 15 Aug 2013 16:14