Monday, August 25, 2008

Kota Kinabalu stroll

The seafood in KK town is gorgeous. Visiting one will make you think that you are at a marine park.

Since my flight was tuesday, I took a trip to pulau gaya on monday. Trip by a speed boat will take only minutes to reach the other side. And this is the usual transportation the locals used.

The boatman had stopped me at a school, which is also build on stilts. So I made my way towards the resort which lays somewhere to the west north.

From the town, pulau gaya seems like an laidback coastal village. But on nearer observation, it's a place of immigrants and lacking basic amenities like water and electricity. The villagers live in houses with stilts above the seawater, which are so flimsy, strong winds would have toppled them. The beach nearby is also littered with rubbish, plastic bags, and is so polluted, it deserves to be called a slum. And children plays amidst all this.

But as I reached the resort, the whole scenery changed. Now you could see, nice sandy beaches, with fishes and corals. There's even a marine conservation center, and a seafood restaurant. Pulau Gaya is like a 2 face island. One contains the slums, and the other paradise.

A trip to the local pasar malam was quite interesting as well. Seafood is usually roasted with fire, and displayed for patrons to choose from.

Kota kinabalu seafront...nicely decorated with fishes...

Another view from the seafront...nearby are fisherman boats..

The jetty to pulau gaya at the back...

A mosque constructed above the waters at Pulau Gaya

Walking towards the resort Gayana

I found nemo...

Bamboo sharks..



Mantis shrimp

This is a live squid..and it's so charming to be eaten.

sea turtle..

Some fishes..

no idea what are these

Looks like cat fish

Stone fish....the world's deadliest fish.

Puffer fish

The shark is just beneath...

Having a sip at Gayana resort

Napolean wrasse...unfortunately some restaurants here still serve this endangered species.

Another napolean wrasse..

Grouper fish..

The slums of pulau gaya...

The beach is littered with rubbish everywhere...

The school on stilts..

Glorious seafood...

Lobsters ... one cost RM 300 bucks.

See that napolean wrasse?

Live seafood on display..

Live abalones as well...

Now...this looks weirdly familliar

These looks like giant moths...dare to try?

Sabah Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2008: DNF I come...

Look at the sheer size of Mount Kinabalu at the back...

Yusran and AJ in the mens veteran category...

At the starting line for the mens veteran and the women open...

Kadazan traditional music was cutely served by children...before the start.

Sayat-sayat hut..

Twin donkey's ears peak

At 7km mark...

Awesome view at 3800 meters...

This is taken on the descent...

Another view of the sheer steepness of the cliffs...


AJ finishing the race with Yusran

this is the highest i was allowed to go...If at 8km, I would have seen low's peak

Misty clouds can be dangerous

Donkey ears again...

Abu and fairuz ahead at Timpohan Gate...we have to ascend 8.72km up.

View at 2km mark

The record for the's crazy


It was my first time in Sabah, and I was eager to look forward for this race. Had a quick flight from LCCT and reaching Kota Kinabalu at around 12:30pm. Then rendezvous with Abu, Fairuz, AJ, and Yusran at the Sabah Tourism building, before boarding the bus to Kinabalu Park.

At 1500 meters, KK park is higher than gunung nuang (1493 meters), and the weather is always cold, and misty.

Saturday was the mens veteran and womens category. Yusran and AJ was in this group. And as the wave of runners departed, the rest of us took a stroll up to 2km up the trail, snapping some pictures on the way. What amazed me was the sheer size of the mountain, when I first saw it appearing in the morning. Usually the clouds will settled in during the afternoon, so the best view is early of the day.

Yusran and AJ completed the ascent with the time of 3:55. Cutoff for veterans and women is 3:30.

Race day:
I had 2 shirts on, a bandana, and a cap to protect from the low temperature. The gun went off at 8am and all of us soon started the climb up. I was moving from the back pack, and slowly pass many front guys who were already panting. I think I passed Abu at 1km plus mark.

The full distance up from the starting line is 9km. In theory, if you could do on average 15 min/km, you could finish it within cut off time of 2.5 hours.

The path up the first 3km can be described as going up stairs build with a thick small horizontal wooden plank anchored to the dirt path. For normal runners like us, going up the series of stairs at fast pace is like pushing your heart rate to more than 150bpm. And you have to sustain that for a long time.

I tried to keep a consistent manageable heart rate, worrying that pushing it way beyond the limit, will be tough for the later part. After 3km, the path turns out to be sharp rocks.

However looking at my watch it turns out that I was moving slower on the run. I had a feeling I won't make it, but kept on anyway.

Soon I reached laban rata, and things turn out to be harder here. This is where we need to scale the sheer granite wall, while using thick white ropes as support and guidance. I told myself however slow I was going, I will keep on pushing.

And I was out of breath, as I was not used to the elevation and also low temperature. Since the air is thinner, I found out I couldn't move fast.

But one thing that amazed me was the speed the pros were doing. They were literally running down the mountain. One wrong step, and you can tumble towards death. Yet they control their descent so smoothly.

At 7.5km, I knew there's 1km plus more, but this is not any 1km run. It's another ascent of 200 meters up. Finally the marshals stopped me at 2:45 on my watch. If only I had another hour, I could reached it, but they don't call this the world toughest mountain race for no reason. It's tough because of the cut off time. So, I took some pictures up there and spend some time enjoying the view from 3800 meters on top.

Now for the descent, it's clearly as hard as well to make it within 2 hours. I tread slowly at some parts because I don't want to get into injuries.

..and I finally reached the finishing line at the time of 5:15.

Abu and Fairuz managed to reach 7km, and they managed to descend before 5 hours, which qualifies a medal. Amazingly, they have not done any hill training!

Although I didn't made it to the top, the race is well worth it. Management was great, and the goodies they gave us for RM 60 is worth more.

Tey is right when he warned on how tough the race is going to be. I can race up nuang (1300 meters up) in 2.5 hours, but for kinabalu, the total ascent is 2300 meters. So, in theory, I will need to push faster, perhaps sub 2 hours for nuang if I have any hope of reaching Low's Peak.

I highly recommend this race. Yes, it's tough, but the experience of racing a mountain is so different than that of a normal road race.

On the way back at Kota Kinabalu airport, I bought some postcards with the mountain on it. That'll give me the motivation to complete it next year.