Category Archives: Hash House Harriers

Climbing Mt Kinabalu: Part 1 – Kota Kinabalu

We saw some pretty funny things on the way up, a sixty five year old man over take us, Malaysian people with 80kg bags pass us twice to drop things off at the guest house, some pretty bright man-leggings, a man dressed in pointy shoes, tight jeans and a polo shirt with no bag hiking up, looking like he was on his way out to a club. It was beautiful scenery though, the valleys, clouds, waterfalls, the people and the jungle. But this was all very hard to appreciate when you are buggered and can’t speak or smile as even a smile would probably take more energy away from you which you need to save to make it up. The whole way we could not see how far we had climbed or views as we were above the clouds and it was to misty. But as we came up a flight of stairs (rocks) the clouds parted and we saw how high we were in the sky and the tip of Mt Kinabalu, it was incredible. The view gave me more willpower to keep climbing as it showed us how far we had already climbed.

Mt Kinabalu.. more like Mt F**kin Hard!

The trip to Kota Kinabalu was both busy and enjoyable. My young niece and nephew (eleven years old and eight years old respectively) happened to be in Saigon with their mother visiting family, so I took them out for a pizza for lunch on Friday, New Year’s Day. I worked in Saigon for over a decade and still know a lot of people there, so Friday night was spent catching up with old friends.

I caught a taxi early on Saturday morning to Tân Sơn Nhất Airport in an effort to beat the rush hour traffic. The flight to Kota Kinabalu via Kuala Lumpur was uneventful, although I arrived at KL International Airport just as my climbing mate Karaoke and his partner Nutty were boarding their flight to KK. I had to wait a couple of hours for my own flight, so I went and picked up a Malaysian SIM card for my phone. The biggest drama for the week happened on my arrival at Kota Kinabalu International Airport. I waited in vain for half an hour at the luggage carousel for my suitcase. Eventually, there was just one lonely-looking bucket wrapped in plastic left, forlornly making its way around the carousel.

To cut a long story short, I…

  • reported my missing suitcase at the “help-I’ve-lost-my bags” office
  • caught a bus into the city
  • checked into my hotel
  • got in touch with Karaoke and arranged to meet for dinner
  • took a nice long hot shower and dressed in my less-than-fragrant travel clothes
  • managed to locate Karaoke and his better half, Nutty (yes, another Hash name),  at the outdoor Chinese restaurant that they had selected
  • got my suitcase delivered to my hotel after it turned up on the next flight from KL
  • found a waterfront place that sold cold beer at reasonable prices
  • hooked up with 2Stroke, 4Stroke and Jules when they arrived quite late

The rest of the evening, not surprisingly was a bit of a blur.

 

So went Saturday night. We weren’t due to start the climb until Wednesday, which left us three days to do any necessary shopping and play tourist. In keeping with my general trend of keeping the long story short:

  • 2Stroke’s baby sister Sprog arrived (not a Hash name)
  • Johnsie, another of 2Stroke’s old mates, also made an appearance
  • I went shopping in  the local hiking shops in search of jacket, hiking pants and other necessities
  • 2Stroke delivered my order of trekking poles
  • The four Hashers among us—2Stroke, Nutty, Karaoke and me—joined the Jesselton Hash House Harriers for a very hilly jungle run
  • We went snorkelling off the beach at Manukan Island, followed by lunch and rather too many beers

After all this, I reckon we needed to climb the mountain just to rest up.

The journey begins

This will likely be my last post for a while. I’m flying down to Saigon today (New Year’s Day), spending the night there and then flying to Kota Kinabalu via Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. I may be able to post some smaller updates, but I’ll have to use my tablet and that’s a royal pain in the arse for writing on. Anyway, I’m pretty much prepared for the climb. Training this month was interrupted by bad weather last week, a heavy pre-Christmas workload and a scare with my knee.

That last item was the big worry. I injured my right knee in a motorbike accident about fifteen years ago and it’s never been dependable since. I’ve been able to take up running again but every two or three years it goes sproing!!! and that’s the end of running for another year or so. So, there I was a couple of weeks ago on lap six of a planned nine-or-ten-lap session, coming down the hill. I stepped down rather heavily off a tallish step and felt that familiar lancing pain in my dodgy knee. I froze, saying to myself, “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck…”

After a couple of seconds I gingerly took another step, putting the bulk of my weight on my trekking poles. It wasn’t as bad as I feared. I continued down, stepping carefully and keeping as much weight as possible off my right leg.

By the time I got to the bottom, my knee felt normal again. I was strongly tempted to continue, but I’ve learned through bitter experience that when my knee says, “Stop!”, it’s best to pay attention. So, I took a week off from training. I did a short two hour hike around the back trails of my training hill on Sunday. I felt no twinges and everything shaped up well.

I did another short hike yesterday and then cleaned my  hiking boots and assorted gear in preparation for packing. My To Do list is assembled (albeit incomplete still – I keep adding to it) and everything is ticked off. Several things have to wait till I get to Saigon, chief among them is changing Vietnamese dong to Malaysian ringitt. I’ll take about 15 million with me (the dong is a peculiar currency with lots of zeroes and a most unfortunate name). This is about USD700 plus another $200 in mixed currencies. Most of my tour is paid for, so I just have to cover beer, hotel, beer, food, beer, shopping, beer and sundry expenses. Hmm, that’s a lot of beer. Better bring extra money. I’ve got my credit card for backup but I’d rather avoid using that.

Today’s plans include:

  • nipping into work early and printing more air tickets – my wife will join me in Saigon when I return from Malaysia
  • travelling to Saigon and checking into a hotel
  • picking up my nephew and niece en route from the airport to my hotel. They’re visiting from Australia so I’ll take them out for lunch and some shopping/sightseeing in Saigon’s central business district
  • meeting some old friends and hoisting a few beers with them this evening

Tomorrow morning I have to brave the Saigon morning rush hour, departing early to make sure I’ll get to the airport in time for my mid-morning flight. It’s a two-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, with a three-hour layover followed by another two hours to Kota Kinabalu. If all goes well, I’ll be in KK by 5:00 PM tomorrow. Most of the rest of the party will arrive tomorrow evening from Australia, with a few stragglers coming in on Sunday and Monday. We’ve got eight of us meeting there, but only three of us (2Stroke, Karaoke and myself) actually doing the mountain. 4Stroke is very disappointed, having to pull out of the climb because of a stress fracture in her ankle.

My plans for Kota Kinabalu mainly involve final shopping, sampling the local cuisine, copious quantities of beer and if possible a Hash run with one of the local Hash chapters.

 

 

One month to go!

Everyone I’d spoken to who climbed Mount Kinabalu told me what an amazing experience it was…what they failed to tell me is that the experience is amazing at the summit…and at the bottom…everything in between is a mixture of exhaustion, denial, regret, a lot of sweat and occasional bouts of swearing.

Climb EVERY mountain? One is enough for me…

I’ll fly to Saigon on New Year’s Day, and on to Kota Kinabalu via Kula Lumpur the next day. I know from experience that AirAsia seats don’t fit six-footers too well (during my last flight to KL, my knees were hard up against the seat in front of me) so I ponied up the extra to get a seat next to the emergency exit.

I haven’t booked a hotel in KK yet. After looking at all the booking options I thought it would be easier just to roll up on the day and check out the budget hotels in the central market area. I arrive at KK airport around five in the afternoon, so that gives me plenty of time to find digs before catching up with 2Stroke and the gang. They’ll arrive later the same evening.

So, where do I stand with my training now? Pretty damned well, I reckon. I’ve been logging my climbs and worked out that in the month of November I climbed just over 10,000 metres (6.2 miles) and hiked somewhere around 120 kilometres. I think I’m fitter now than I’ve ever been before.

My aim is not just to be able to reach Lowe’s Peak. I want to get there and down again without being absolutely shagged at the end. With that in mind, I still want to do ten laps of my training hill in one day: 2,000 metres of steps up and down and 16 kms of hiking. I reckon I can do it, since I’ve already managed seven laps in a day without too much difficulty.

I’ve learned a lot along the way. Rabbits might be able to beat tortoises, but the tortoise usually wins in the end. If I really push it I can do a lap of my training hill in about 30 minutes, but it’s exhausting. When I crawl up slowly and steadily, taking baby steps and a five-to-ten minute break each lap it takes a hour, but I can go all day.

I went to Nha Trang last weekend for their Christmas Run and 150th Run celebration. They generally do flat runs but this time threw in a 110 metre hill for something different. I haven’t done any running for the last ten weeks, but surprised myself with my endurance. I was about the tenth person in, but that was because I took the wrong trail when I was in the lead and ran an extra kilometre or two.

I also used the Nha Trang run to compare a few GPS apps on my phone. I’ll have a report on these up soon.