After much rest, its time to hit the summit trail and this time, we’ll hike from Laban Rata to the Sayat-Sayat station.
Supper was really good as I worked out an appetite. We had about five to six hours of sleep before waking up and had our gear and don our cold weather clothings.
The duofold longjohns held up very well and my biggest worry was the wind chill factor. This was founded much later.
When the door at Laban Rata opened, I can feel the chill down to my bones. Slowly, in an orderly manner, we hiked up to Gunting Lagadan lodge.
Just a few yards away, came the rope section.
At this point, some climbers had turned back and as far as 30 people didn’t make it to the peak.
Vincent, who was the strongest of the lot had made his way to the top.
For Michelle and me, it was one step at a time.
I hiked up the trail of rope which was laid out all the way to the peak.
We had a distance of 2.7km to cover before reaching Low’s Peak at 4,095metres above sea level.
The mist was so bad, visibility was down to about 10 metres.
I can see as Michelle had slowly faded away in the fog. The reflection on her pack’s special reflective strips were my guide.
Half-way through, a man, probably in his mid-40s spoke to me. He said he had reached the peak at 6:30am. At his pace, he took nearly four and a-half hours to reach there.
We were at the half-way point.
Michelle watched as we hit the 8km marker. And with another 700 metres to push, I can see the peak, with a set of ropes on a vertical ascent.
She was the first to reach and as my wife made her way to the peak marker, the weather had cleared up, revealing a fantastic view of Mount Kinabalu and her peaks.
I wasted no time on capturing the beautiful scene, one which most of the earlier climbers would have never seen.
We were the last to summit the peak of Mount Kinabalu and for our patience, we were rewarded with some really awesome pictures.
The journey down was a different story.
After our successful summit attempt, we made our way back to the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint.
A ranger was waiting there didn’t show any sign of amusement.
Infact, he was fed-up of waiting.
We made our way down the rope section and walked back to Laban Rata.
Vincent was already waiting with a plan.
Since everyone from the original summit group have left for the Timpohon gate, Vincent suggested that it was best to remain at the basecamp for another night.
We took the idea and rested before making a 6km hike back to the gate.
This, we completed in five and a half hours. It was an achievement and at the Kinabalu Park HQ, we were issued two certificates: one for the successful summit attempt at Low’s Peak and the other for completing the Mesilau trail.
I couldn’t be any happier in life for pulling this off.
Despite my bad left leg and my overall physical condition, I made it.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Mount K diaries–the final push, summit day
After much rest, its time to hit the summit trail and this time, we’ll hike from Laban Rata to the Sayat-Sayat station.
Mount K diary–Day 2–Mesilau-Laban Rata
We started our day early in Mesilau.
Shortly after breakfast, we met Atong, our guide at the summit trail's gate.
This was to be a 6-km hike to the basecamp junction at Magnolia hut.
Now, I was told that the Mesilau trail has plenty of promising sights. Its also much longer than the Timpohon trail which we were supposed to have hiked.
At 8:15am, we began our ascend up to Mount Kinabalu.
The first 3km hike was a breeze until we hit the next half of our journey.
At about 3.30pm, we reached a steep incline on km 4.5 which proved to be really tough.
My legs gave way because I was hauling about 13kgs of gear and equipment.
We switched baggage between our guide and Michelle, my wife to push on.
With the cramps setting in on both my legs, each step was agonising.
I had to put up with the pain and just a short distance away, I saw a big guy sitting down on the steps.
His guide, a young Kadazan boy said the man had cramps on both his legs.
He was hauling a small sling back. That was it. From his accent, I discovered that he is West Malaysian and was left behind by a group of climbers we met earlier during breakfast in Mesilau.
The poor dude had to limp his way and from the tone of his voice, I knew he had given up.
From what I heard, the plan was to divert to Layang-Layang staff quarters where he will spend the night before descending down to the Timpohon gate.
At 5.30pm, we reached the Laban Rata junction and were already exhausted.
This was followed by a 2-km hike up to basecamp.
Luck wasn't with as it poured heavily.
Strong winds made the situation worse.
Nevertheless, we pushed on to the next hut and took a short break to mount our headlamps as daylight was fading really fast.
At 7:35pm, we reached Laban Rata and were the last team of climbers to check-in.
We had packed dinner and settled-in early.
My motivation to reach this stage of the summit attempt, was a cup of hot tea and my chocolate bar which was already chilled...
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Mount K diary - Day 2 - Mesilau - Laban Rata
Mount K diary - Day 1 - Mesilau
Later, we had lunch at a place which I could hardly remember because the food sucks and the it was a blatant rip-off, well, at least our driver had his free meal.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The journey begins
We are all set for the trip to Kinabalu Park which roughly about two hours away the town centre.
Had breakfast and checked out the town fish market. There were some good fish being sold there, but its no good when we can’t find a place to freeze it for packing for transportation back to KL.
KInabalu Park is gonna an easy day. We’ll rest there till early tomorrow morning before our transfer to the Timpohon gate and the hike to Laban Rata basecamp.
Ah… The good food!
Okay, its been three years since I last visited Kota Kinabalu. And many things have changed.
Cheap flights made this town in East Malaysia highly accessible and the best part of being here, is the food.
We weren’t able to rent a car, so, the thought of going to Penampang for dinner was out of the question.
The taxi service in KK is generally a rip off. At any given day, a short trip around town costs RM15 a ride, so, screw that.
I found out that the Grace point food court is roughly about 950metres away from out hotel. This is roughly 15-minutes walk and sadly, the seasons seafood restaurant was out closed down. It went out of business.
Our only choice was a restaurant opposite our office called ‘Kim Boo’. There’s a good selection of seafood here.
I picked a live fish, clams, prawns and crabs. Its a pretty decent fare and the bill came up to RM142.10. Not bad cos the live fish was about RM63 a pop. I found the tiger garoupa overcooked, so, no great shakes.
When we come back from the Kinabalu Park and our Mount K summit attempt on Tuesday, there’ll be more places to check out!
Day one of our Mount K attempt
Its been an easy day in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
I’m nursing a bad stomach flu. Must have been some contaminated food I had on Thursday.
Here at KK, Michelle, Vincent and I are housed in a cosy little hotel.
Tomorrow, we will be headed to Kinabalu Park, where there will be no internet connection.
We will begin our ascend to Mount Kinabalu on Monday and hopefully summit the mountain on Tuesday before heading back to KK on the same day..
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
There are moments that can be captured on camera and one of those was a shot of a black ant mimic jumping spider or Myrmarachne plataleoides with a prey.This really made my day on the trail in Kg Pertak near Kuala Kubu Baru. I spotted the spider with an insect in its mandible and lucky for me, it stayed really still.Usually, ant mimics are really active creatures that rarely gives you a good shot as it moves around a lot.
Rise of the macrosapiens..
team Macrosapiens in Kg Pertak recently.Thanks to Stanley Tan who generously offered to drive the team, we managed
to cap off some decent shots.Stanley and I were joind by T.S. Ching, one of our regulars at
Photomalaysia.comChing had been going out with me a couple of time and our last outing was at
Gasing Hill during the night macro session.I am really glad to have dealt with some mature adults who have set aside their
ego and fear in our quest for good photographs.On my part, I packed my folders and a large fixed blade in the event if
something should go wrong.With the numbers, we can ensure a safe trip and in an outing that involves
lugging photographic equipment, no one is a hero...
Victoria Institution's 100th year in scouting
A section at the school where some relic photos were exhibited...
looked back.But the scouting spirit is still strong in my heart as I am still living my passion
for the great outdoors.Last Saturday, I went back to my old school for the first time in years to join a
few friends.My wife Michelle also joined in the fray as we meet up earlier in the evening for
dinner at a popular food outlet in the city centre.Later, we walked back to Victoria Institution to witness their 100th year of
scouting celebrations with a parents campfire.And I what I saw was not impressive at all. Through the years, the scouting skills and spirit has drained away.The boys are at lost when they performed in front of a crowd consisting fellow
scouts from other schools, parents and old boys who came back to suppor
them.As an old scout, I felt that the elements of song and yells in a campfire was
missing.This was marred by a daring 'rescue' act where kids performed free climbing
on the school's structure.Bob Lew, my old buddy protested the show by giving the campfire organising
committee a mouthful.All I can say is that scouting didn't change much, the only glaring difference is
the boy's attitude.I think they have a long way to go to recover what was lost not only in the fire
that destroyed the scout den, but the scouting spirit and skills that went along
Wrong time, wrong place
Wayside robbery and muggings are a crimes of opportunity.More than often, the victim is caught by the element of surprise.Samuel Ong, a colleague of mine became the latest statistic in a botched wayside robbery.This happened in Bukit Bintang over the weekend.Ong received a couple of stitches on his head after being hit with a blunt object by a gang of youth.Its rather unfortunate that a nice guy like Samuel was on the receiving end.Again, street smart and personal preparedness is very important.Last Saturday, I was walking with my wife and two friends in the city centre.In my left pocket, I pack a pepper spray and carry a large Spyderco Military folder on my right back pocket.You can never be too sure and when shit hits the fan, the defensive tools are my last ditched option.When you walk the streets, you must observe what is going on around you because the bad guy can always spring a surprise.Never attempt to move alone if you are packing a lot of gear.Match it with sheer numbers.When I hit the trail, I pack a Strider PAB. This 9-inch piece of sharpened steel is my deterrent to the guy who wants to take away my camera and gear.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Enter team Macrosapiens
turned out pretty well.Right now, the group is starting off well with only two members. We will continue to organise outings to various parts of the state as well as around the
country to capture bug photos.With the right people and good attitude, there will be no more worries about paranoid guys
who are scared to death on night macro assignments.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Taman Rimba Kiara's crabbies
The female crab spider
The mysterious yellow spider
EF100mm F2.8L IS macro lens and the MR14EX ring flash.The 1:1 focal length was perfect for the spider measuring about 22cm in length.
the best interest for a small peer group.I also told my doctor that there has been some conflicts within the group leaders and
followers and that my involvement with them had raised some dissatisfaction.So, the right course of action is the bow out of the game and retreat.Clinging on to the group by brushing aside allegations that I am solely responsible in
putting the members in harm's way would just make the situation worse as more conflicts
are forseeable.So, with whatever dignity that is left of this, I chose to leave to protect their interest.That said, I would have to rethink, restrategise and reform my plans for the months to
come.By doing so, I have also lost some friends which I made over the past six months.This is a small sacrifice on my part and I hope with the bigger picture in the future, they will
realise my intentions.Whatever said and done was in their best interest because I don't have any bad intent.After a brief break, its time to form a new peer group and work on the places that I want to
conduct my day and night macro photography sessions.One thing is for sure: I don't want to get any paranoid people in the loop.
Monday, July 12, 2010
lives of a few people who took part in a night macro outing.I posted some information on time, date and place to inform those who wished to attend
the outing.This was misconstrued as 'luring crooks into the trail' and sparked fear that the group may
get robbed.My question to the person who said this: "Can you predict lightning?".The credo: "Better safe than sorry" can best be applied in such a situation.What irked me was the fact that this message was relayed to me by a third party.If the person who questioned my decision had something to say, why not contact me
directly?I pity the third person in this picture because he too had to put up with so much shit.Nevertheless, I set this difference aside and took my stride. There were never an issue of safety and I would never put other people's lives in harm's
way so that I could get a good shot.Ironically, the same guy who relayed the fear message had also joined in our group on
Friday night.He brought along a couple which I barely knew and had no issues with.Things went on smoothly and I made some record find in the jungle.On Saturday, I went back to the site where we did our macro shoot the night earlier. I gave
the group organizer my word to back them up.And like most outings, I set up some lights to brighten up the place, blazed the trail and
even got soaked in the rain.The group was about the give up. But they came in to fulfill their outing.I was surprised to see the lot, out of which, only two person were snapping away with their
cameras.And right throughout the whole thing, I escorted the group out, made head count and saw them off.But at the heart of things, one of them, a man who joined me and the team the night earlier said this: "Eh, next time ah, don't tell the whole Malaysia we are going for a night shoot.."He also muttered something about safety.It was then that I realised something really wrong. The matter was never laid to rest and
that this was going around a bunch of people whom I hardly knew.What the fuck was he talking about? Was it necessary to rub salt into the wound? Why of
all time, he had to say this before ending the day?I went all the way out to accompany the group without any expectation and this was what I
get in return.The picture that was painted clearly indicates that I am an irresponsible person who puts
myself above anything and gave no regards to other people's personal safety.So, that said, I had no choice but to go public.I also culled all the people associated with the group on facebook with plenty of
consideration on their 'personal safety'.With that, I parted way with some of the photography enthusiast. Ending six months of
good relations through outings.Now, if that was bad, an old acquaintance sent me a message about selling my Canon
Powershot G10.Later, I found out that his girlfriend's father was the buyer. I packed the camera and brought it to show to the guy. But the old man's attitude sucked. He behaved like a prick and gave me a dirty look, as if I
was about to rip him off.The guy wasn't honest. He took advantage to exploit my sale to impress his future father
in-law. Like the lot on facebook, I too had written him off. So, to sum it up, Sunday was a shit day.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
purchase my Canon Powershot G10.He said it was his friend who wanted the camera.We agreed on the price setting and scheduled a meeting in Bangsar.I brought the camera for veiwing, I began to sense that the buyer wasn't interested.He asked for further price reduction. I refused to budge. I was willing to let go the camera
for RM900, about half the price I paid a year and a half ago.It was like giving it away for a song.But I guess the G10 has a strong tie with me, so, letting go was harder than I had
imagined.The buyer on the other hand, complained about the banged up camera which I had earlier
stated as 'used'.After he refused purchase, we parted ways.I guess the middle man was guilty as I received four missed-calls on my cellphone.On my part, its time wasted.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I guess its time to move on..
critters on an intensive scale.With so much to learn and plenty of challenges thrown ahead, I guess its time to sit down
again to review my priorities.I was at Gasing Hill last night to capture some frog photos. It rained heavily, but that didn't stop me from hitting the trail as I was committed to another
group who linked up with me and my buddy Stanley later in the trail.What was appalling was the fact that some of the guys did not even participate in the night
macro photography outing.I don't blame them because they don't want to get their gear wet and soggy.Some were 'not in the mood', while one or two guys went on with the programme.And at the end of the event, a guy whom I barely knew said: "Eh, next time ah, don't tell the
whole world about the outing..."I found this remark to be totally unfounded and based on his concerns about safety and
being discreet about a hike in the trail at night, I'd say that the point was baseless.He was merely relating his concern about getting robbed in the trail and that by revealing
information on time, place and date on a public forum, someone may use it against him.Was he totally paranoid? Dumbfounded, I took some time to ponder on this and examined on what that had gone
wrong.Was I totally irrational by posting an open invitation in a public forum? Did I gambled away the safety and wellbeing of others or was I putting their lives in
jeopardy.That said, I was rather puzzled with the group who joined my four-man team on Friday
night. They were supposed to be doing something else.Way I look at this, personal preparedness is paramount if anyone would undertake a night
hike.If you hit the trail with a dim and puny flashlight, your level of confidence is as futile as the
equipment you are carrying.I did not invest in procuring high-performance illumination gear for nothing.For the record, in all four outings, I helped in setting up lights around a small perimeter. This is to raise the level of confidence of the people around me as I am also responsible
for their safety.The question of being discreet is another thing in mind.I know that many photographers won't share their findings and would want to keep their
fertile hunting ground a secret.This is very selfish and I guess for a person who loves to share such as I am, it would be
considered a sacrilege.Nevertheless, with the lesson learned, its now up to me to decide on whether parting way
with the group is a good thing to do.As it is, our four-man team has also doubled. For me, issues such as being discreet and
putting people's lives in harm's way is a que to move on.There are boundless adventures ahead and with some old connection hinting about some
future expeditions in sight, the timing has never been great!
Frogs of Gasing Hill
A toad in a striking pose
Another toad, this time, with its chest bloated..
macro outing, Stanley, my buddy and I had put our photographic equipment through a
gruelling weather test.Since my EOS7D and EF100mmL F2.8 IS macro lens were weather-sealed, there were
no issues about working the rain.However, the MT24EX twin flash system which I used to capture some frogs along the trail
need to be adjusted.The 'light tent' diffuser doesn't seem to work on 1:2 capture and I guess I'll have to work
with another technique of softening the light. Excessive moisture may have affected the flash output as most of the close-up shots I
took with my flash seemed to be underexposed.With trail and error factored-in, I guess there will be plenty more nightly excursions to Bukit
Gasing for frogs as well as reptiles.
A fine specimen - Bukit Gasing's Golden Huntsman
specimens I've ever encountered.Last week's outing was a good example that yielded some really interesting creatures
especially the huntsman spider.I captured a beautiful golden huntsman with my MPE-65 lens and thanks to Omar, a buddy
of mine who spotted the spider, the image of this wonderful nocturnal predator is
immortalised through my camera.