Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah is named after one of its most breathtaking and prominent attractions, Kinabalu park. The park was initiated in 1964 as one of the first national parks in the country. It was bestowed the status of a World Heritage site by UNESCO in the year 2000.
Kinabalu park is considered to be heaven on earth by botanists and nature enthusiasts. The bright green park is nestled on the West coast of the state of Sabah. The park stretches out as far as the eye can see, in fact it is spread over an area larger than Singapore, 754sq km to be exact.
Being a person that loves the morning sunshine and a cool mountain breeze, I was delighted that our itinerary included a visit to the Kinabalu Park. We hit the road at about 8.30 in the morning and bid farewell to the Sabah Tea Resort as we rumbled along the bumpy tea estate roads. Kinabalu Park was a good hour and a half away from the Sabah Tea Resort. The spiraling road rocked me to sleep, only to be woken up an hour later by the bright sun and chirping birds. We had arrived at our destination, the Kinabalu Park Headquarters. This is the starting point for climbers wanting to scale Mt.Kinabalu.
Mt.Kinabalu is enveloped by the forest and stands tall at 4,095m, making it the tallest in the island of Borneo. It is the central attraction of the Kinabalu park, bringing in hundreds of trekking and climbing fanatics from the world over. Mt.Kinabalu is known for being beginner friendly due to the fact that the prerequisite skills and equipment are minimal. The ascent to the summit usually takes two days, but can be completed in a day provided you are as fit as a fiddle.
I was keen on trying my hand at climbing Mt.Kinabalu, but as it turns out, you are required to book the climb at least a month in advance to even stand a chance. Since Mt.Kinabalu is a protected area, only 130 climbers per day are allowed, this is to ensure minimum disturbance to the ecosystem.
The first sight I saw when the bus pulled in, was majestic Mt. Kinabalu, peeking out from behind the clouds. A view like this cannot be explained, it can only be experienced. The mountain looked mighty and tall, planted on a layer of green, and sandwiched by the blue sky and the fluffy clouds. I was getting hungry and the scenery started to look like a fat steak on top of lettuce. It was time for a snack, so I went up to the souvenir store and bought a packet of my favourite prawn crackers and picked up a couple of fridge magnets for my kitchen. I then reunited with my group who were busy admiring the ‘next level’ beauty that the place had to offer. I was awestruck by the view, and almost immediately pulled out my phone to update my instagram. But as my luck would have it, the clouds played spoilsport and blanketed the mountain. Maybe this was nature’s way of telling us to be in the moment and enjoy instead of stressing over getting the “perfect” picture. Kinabalu park is the best that Malaysia has to offer to nature buffs.
So fill up your water bottles and put on your trekking shoes for a hike into the realm of tranquility.