Friday, May 21, 2010

Backpacking Borneo: Kinabalu National Park

Shervin and I scheduled Kinabalu National Park on a Sunday, and luckily Kuni our CouchSurfing host was going also with Dinah (another Couchsurfer) the same day. The night before, we initially organized the trip amongst the four of us and agreed to split the petrol expense. Then came Tobi who moved in the house and asked if he could join us. Kuni was hesitant for he thought the car would be too crowded, but we said five should be alright. Besides, the more the merrier.

Mt. Kinabalu as seen from a view deck, located on the way to Kinabalu National Park.

Our party of five left Kuni's house at 7:00 AM to have brekkie first at a cheap local restaurant near Grace Ville. In less than thirty minutes, everyone was done eating. We all hopped in Kuni's car once again soon after.

Dropping by the view deck for Mt. Kinabalu seems to be mandatory if you have a private car (or with a tour group). We all agreed to make such stop so we could check out some souvenir items. When we got there, Kuni said we're fortunate the peak was not covered by clouds. We were very lucky indeed for we were able to get good photos with the mountain.

If you don't have a private car, here's how to get to Kinabalu National Park:

1. Hire a taxi. From the city center, it will cost you around RM150-200 (can only take 4 passengers). Travel time, about 2-3 hours.
2. Take the bus. Buses though leave from the North Bus Terminal in Inanam (to get there, you can ride a cab RM30 or bus from Wawasan Terminal for about RM1.50), starting at 7:00 AM daily. Travel time, 3 hours.

Admission fee is 15 MYR for non-Malaysians and 3 MYR for locals (the latter we paid, thanks to Dinah who did all the talking).

Now do you intend to climb Mt. Kinabalu? So let's say you're that brave and adventurous, but consider the expenses though. One must pay for park entry fee, climbing permit, climbing insurance, guide fee and transport fees. We initially wanted to do it, but after realizing how much we'd have to pay just to torture our bodies, we crossed it out from our bucket list.

Okay, maybe we'll still do it some time in the future. When we got more money.

Strolling within the botanical garden.

And so we opted for leisure hikes. We trekked to the botanical garden, falls, and the bat cave. We also went inside the butterfly garden (Dinah was really eager about it) without paying an extra fee cause the booth attendant was not there. Probably on bladder break.

Poring Hot Springs with fellow Couchsurfers

We also did the canopy walk, paid for the entrance but did not declare that we had cameras because they'll charge RM5 each. Kuni (who has done it several times) and Tobi did not join us. We just met up with them at the Poring Hot Springs when we were done.

Before going home, Kuni said he wanted to try the fish massage at Kampung Luanti, Ranau. It sounded awesome, until we saw how the fishes do the "massage" (RM10 for legs and RM25 for full body)! You get in the water, dip your closed fists (with fish pellets inside) and they suck your skin like there's food scarcity! While it was far from relaxing and more brutal than Thai massage, it was definitely a unique and 'interesting' (as Kuni kept repeating) experience. Dinah, apparently a fish enthusiast (well she loves to eat them too), had the time of her life.

Shervin, lone person who did the full body fish massage.

[This blog is part of the South East Asia in Six Weeks series which took place May-June 2009. Price of goods, transportation and so forth may already be different.]


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The Nomadic Pinoy said...
June 13, 2010 at 9:30 PM

While I've seen a fish foot spa, this is the first time I've seen a full body massage. Must be a more ticklish experience than any stretching a Thai woman could do :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
June 17, 2010 at 5:34 PM

It was not a ticklish experience at all. The fishes sucked so hard, one of us even had a wound! Haha! It was a pretty brutal - yet entertaining massage.

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