Having made to the summit was always my ultimate aim. Gunung Kinabalu (Mount Kinabalu) summit was marked my success of conquered the highest mountain in Malaysia this time.


24 Jun 2012 | Mountain Kinabalu via Mesilau Trail

Back to the failed attempt to the summit in Sept 2009, triggered me to try again whenever there’s chance. Time has passed yearly until June 2012, I was able to grab a chance to attempt to the Gunung Kinabalu‘s summit via Mesilau Trail.

In fact, I jump into easy decision-making to climb this mountain again.

Of course, one month notice wasn’t good enough for us on physical preparation but I confident enough maybe because all these while, all my mountain climbing was involve much trodden, longer and tougher trek. Forget about the altitude and temperature preparation. Not much we can do for this. Swimming more frequent, perhaps may help for under pressure breathing?

Although this was a second time we attempted Mount Kinabalu, our challenge was compounded with the climb happened on 3rd & 4th day of our 4D3N itinerary. Means, we descended on the same day of our departure day to KL. Less advantage for us to take rest after the climb, straight to the airport. Suffer huh? However, we took advantage to visit interesting places before our hike. This was a reward we gained. Haha.

Our Gunung Kinabalu via Mesilau expedition started when we landed our foot at KKIA (Kota Kinabalu International Airport) Terminal 2 by AirAsia flight before noon. Merely 2.5 hours flight from KL. We greeted by Madam Wong, a coordinator cum companion from WW Adventure Tour & Travel who with us for the rest of our trip. She taken care our itinerary from food to accommodation and transportation.

Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal 2 (KKIA)

She stayed in the same hotel with us on first 2 days before our climb. She brought us to famous food and shares with us her life experience, which indeed a true from heart. A truly different character from all kind of tour organizer that I met before.

Day 1 … 11.00am – Free N Easy at Kota Kinabalu

A free and easy tour on Day 1 after we check-in Hotel Traveller, a truly budget hotel but clean and comfortable. Although it was a free and easy day, Mdm Wong brought us for lunch, walk around town and night market.

Our experience on Day 1 was pretty much like relax at the city of Kota Kinabalu.

Checking-in Hotel Traveller … a truly budget accommodation

Room corridorpainted in orange

Our budget roombasic accommodation

Simple bathroom

View from our rooma short walk to any eatery & night market

5.30pm … Walk to the KK Waterfront & surrounding

Night market can be anywhere in KK city. One thing I observed was food, wet market & souvenir are separated. You won’t able to find drink stall at souvenir market and vice-versa. Not mix up with everything like night market in KL or PJ.

Watching sunset @ KK Waterfront

Wet Marketall sort of vege, seafood & dry food

Souvenir (Pasar Kraftangan) Marketnext to Food Bazaar

Quiet night market on Friday nightall souvenir stalls

At 9.00pm, we went back our hotel for early rest. Good night.

Day 2 … 8.30am … Kota Kinabalu attractions

Early in the morning, we went to nearby famous eatery shop for breakfast. We met Mdm Wong at the lobby where she brought us for few places of food. We settled at two places for breakfast.

Old Kopitiamfamous with Sheng Rou Mian

Sheng Rou Mianpork slices mee

Thin slices of fresh pork are lightly boiled in hot broth, served with dark soy sauce and pork lard noodles. This is for noodles lovers. This is another local dish that you must try if you’re at Kota Kinabalu.

Seng Hing Coffee Shopanother round of breakfast

Seafood Mee Soupcost RM8.00

Tuaran Meemust try, cost RM6.00

11.30am … Check-out from Hotel Traveller

Transportation arranged to fetch us all the way from KK city to Kinabalu Park. While travelling, we’ve stopped by for grocery purchase, lunch, Signal Hill Observatory TowerUpside Down House.

Signal Hill Observatory Tower of Kota Kinabalu

Signal Hillthe highest point in the city

Next stop was Upside Down House (Rumah Terbalik) at Tamparuli, district of Tuaran.

This unique house will turn your world upside down. Everything inside the house are above your head, we’re standing on the ceiling. There is a Kancil parked upside down also. No in-house photo is allowed, only outside is allowed. Penalty on RM100 per photo will be imposed or photo will get deleted on the spot, according to the tour guide.

An entrance fees inside the House is RM10 with guided tour. Visiting just outside the house is FREE.

Famous Rumah Terbalik @ Tamparuli

The entrance of the Houseguided tour

Amazing houseupside down

Even car is upside downKancil type

Officially opened on 9 March 2012barely less than 4 months back

5.00pm … Check-in Mountain Resthouse @ Kinabalu Park HQ

The mentality test was finally here. Are we really prepared for the endurance test in about 14 hours from now?

Mountain Resthouse is suitable for  the budget conscious backpackers. It has the cheapest bed for rental.

  • Room One RM 70
  • Family Room RM 70
  • Dormitory bed RM 20

The kitchen would come in handy for anyone who wants to do some simple cooking themselves. We brought some raw food, fruits and vege for this purpose. Facilities here are very limited, a gas stove, some fried pans, and pots are the only cooking tools provided.

We stayed in Family Room, consists of 1 twin bed & 1 single bed (Room 4). Temperature here ranges from 19°C to 17°C at night. Our unit comes with water heater. Lucky though.

Check-in Mountain Resthousejust 300m from Park HQ

Off your shoes pleaseif too cold, wear socks will do

Walkway to living area and kitchenmore rooms behind this building

Spacious roomwith shower heater

Spaces for group chat & briefingwith Astro channel

Kitchen & utensil availablefor own cook and drinks

5.30pm … Walk to Kinabalu Park HQ for leisure visit

After settled our luggage and order our dinner menu, we proceed to have a short walk to the Park HQ for leisure visit. The park entrance fees cost RM3 per pax.

Welcome to Kinabalu Parkworld heritage site

Road leading to the Park HQhuge bus parking area & eatery place

Entrance fees chart all the way I thought was free until we registered

Our guide cum coordinatorMdm Wong.

Atmospheric phenomenathe disappearance of the sun

Mdm Wong seems excitedwent back to take the digicam for sunset scene

Our home cooks dinner … by Mountain Resthouse

A big mission was awaiting us tomorrow.

We were confident enough because we’d done quite a number of mountains. We trained successfully under mountains such as Gunung Rajah, Gunung Senyum & Gunung Nuang.

In addition, we have done a few tough hill-hiking previously such as Pinnacles of Mulu, 7 trails of Fraser Hill, Cross-station of Apeh Hill and some waterfalls trekking.

Therefore, we took our nap as early as 10pm to allow our body to take advantage with full boost.

Day 3 … 6.45am … Mesilau Trail to Laban Rata (8.2km route)

The traditional route up is via Timpohon trail. However, attempting Mount KK via Mesilau called the Mesilau Summit Trail required longer hour and challenging route.

Mesilau trail is much more mystic and scenic with trek of montane forest, past few shiny streams and on ridges. This trail is for those who are looking more adventurous trail.

Due to this, we woke up much earlier at 6.00am, had our breakfast from 6.15am onwards. Getting ready to register by 7.00am when Park HQ open.

Morning weather and skies at 6.15am … unbelievable bright

Colorful bird is around … wake you up with chirping sound

Bugs will bug youcan be easily found everywhere in this resthouse

Moths also can be seen everywhereeven on the floor if you’re not caution

Good morning Mountain KinabaluI’m coming!

7.30am … Transferred to Mesilau Trail Operation Office

From the Park HQ, we transferred by car (since only 2 of us plus our mountain guide) to Mesilau Trail Operation Office about 7.20am and reached before 8.00am.

Before that we’d taken our lunch pack, name tag and hiking stick. I never used porter to carry my bag which weight total of 10kg (unexpected lunch pack which contributed about 2kg).

All my hiking life, this was the heaviest I ever carry. Not even I’ve been trained for this weight. I fear but I trust my leg and shoulder to withstand this. Part of the reason was the bag designs which easy to carry, so no problem.

Our first step into the trail has marked our journey. We can have our sweet time walking past entire trail from KM1KM3 while having an endurance test from KM3KM7. After we met up with other fellow climbers at KM5 inter-junction of Timpohon & Mesilau Trail, our count has started from KM5 again.

The series of photograph captured below. Enjoy.

Moving our steps into Mesilau Trailthrough a small entrance

Trail is wide with rockssimilar to Gunung Datuk if you still remember

All the way uphardly have flat terrain since started

Hope for viewthe view finally show in front of me

First KM done in 40 minutesnot acceptable to keep this pace

Met the first sheltercalled Schima

Still early for a restcontinue until saw KM 1.5

Met second sheltercalled Bambu

Start of descending trailall the way down for 1km distance

Enjoy & catch up my lost timesince Mesilau a bit longer to complete

Met a small waterfall nearbycontinue to look for a shelter

Third sheltercalled Nepenthes

Buck-up completed 50% of the Mesilau trail

Reached the hanging bridgecalled Kipuyut

Many prefer to hang on for photo shootit’s a check-point anyway

Beginning of stair cases trilogyreal hiking started

2.5 hours passeddid 3.5km trail hiking in Mesilau, sounds good?

Fourth sheltercalled Tikalod

Visible trekwonderful flora

KM 4spent 3 hours already

KM 4.53.5 hours passed

Torturing stepsmust go on

Fifth sheltercalled Lompoyou

Scenic trek start to be seenafter Pondok Lompoyou

At KM 5.5almost 5 hours used up to here

Speechlessbut better than Timpohon stair cases

Windy & cold air at this altitudefeel relax for a while

Lompoyou Shelter can be seen from hereinteresting to know

Met the inter-junction of Timpohon & Mesilau trailEast meet West

Even though 2km morelegs refused to move faster

Restarting my count from 6.2km to 4.5kmwhat a demotivating figure

At KM 5completed 1km in 1 hr plus? Oh, I’m getting slower.

Vegetation at this altitude change graduallyno more taller tree, all bonsai look

At Paka ShelterI know it’s near, but body refuse to go faster

Passed 3pm at KM 5.5hope to make KM6 it before 4pm

Voilahappy to see Waras Hut

Found outLaban Rata was another 10 minutes distance

WowI reached by 4pm at Laban Rata cafe to check-in

Dinner yet to startI moved my bags to room first

Our room (No.1) located at the very firstthe end of this walkway

Many do not take bath because of water heater not available until further notice by Laban Rata management. They’d a notice to inform that electricity volume not enough to be use by the heater hence had been turned off.

The normal water from the washroom & bathroom was true ICY and you can easily get numb for whole body. I was tried once before, so without any doubt, I bathed with this ICY CUBE water with jumping up and down.

I hold myself to withstand this torture as long as I don’t catch cold at the end.

Double decker bedshared with another foreign couple

Look out from small windowsbetter close to keep the air warm

Foods were getting tastier. Since everyone of us paid so much for the accommodation plus meal, the chef did a good job for the food.

Maybe we were too tired and hungry, everything lands on our plate will be completely finished!

My full loaded DINNER plateterribly hungry for energy

After dinner we decided to go for a walk outside

Till this pointKM 6 will be our starting point tomorrow midnight

The highest peak can be easily reached by fit trekkers without much equipment. But this Via-Ferrata is needed much more technical skills and gears plus some rock climbing experience. For those who seek more challenging Mount Kinabalu can choose this descend route from Low’s Peak. An additional cost need to top-up for this route, Mount Kinabalu via Ferrata.

Saw a hutcalled Pendant Hut, for Ferrata hikers

I’m ready for tomorrow ascent to Summittries to overcome coldness first

Group pictureas first timer for them, they exceeded the expectation

Came back into the cafe to have a sip of hot coffeebefore get back to prepare for tomorrow

We slept very early, around 8pm. By then, we have at least 5 hours of nap to let our body to re-energize. Challenges during at night where coldness sip into our body. I wore Long John and all necessary clothing for tomorrow hiking, plus socks and gloves.

This is important to keep my body warm and migraine from attacking me. To add-up, I’d acti-Fast panadol and pain killer. Temporary medicine can keep my mental energy from being affected. At this altitude, anything can strike your body to weaken.

Day 4 … 1.50am … Final ascends to the top of Mount Kinabalu

I was able to sleep, few hours I think. Woke up at 9pm & 11pm before my phone alarm rang at 1.30am.

Mentally strong is important at this point. Some of the people would rather stop at this point due to heavy migraine. Tiredness and sore muscle weren’t a problem as long as no pain or injured felt.

Supper (not breakfast) started at 2am. So we quickly ate our light breakfast, but not too full. Meet up our guide to start early at 2.15am. However, the gate to the Summit will only be opened at 2.30am, leaving a group of energetic hikers wait at the gate.

Early suppertemperature believe to be lesser than 10 Celsius

Tasty meehoon, fried rice and eggs + breaddelicious no matter how

Wait at the Gate to the Summitnear Gunting Lagadan Hut

Sunrisetemporarily can be seen from this location

At Summit … since I missed sunrise, it’s more like sun ray to me now

Not going to miss this REAL PEAK photoLow’s Peak

Not going to miss the chance to follow usat Kinabalu’s peak

Barely 30 mins at Peakstart to descend by 6.45am

Pond that never ever dry, 365 days in a year … people throw coin and make wish to this pond

KM 8.5 spottedreal distance to the Peak is KM 8.7

Our ONE Ringgit back note imagecheck it out now

KM 8 checkpoints700m distance from the peak

Illusion created herewalk down to the edge

Think of sliding down easiersun heat started to feel here

Very steep until feel like rolling downmust hold the rope while going down

That was how I went up in the dark midnight using ropenice view of Kundasang town

Steep until walk horizontallyno more vertically

Final descendno rope anymore, beginning of stair cases

At 9.00am, we reached Laban Rata. I strive to achieve as fast as possible because room check-out need to be done at 10.30am or else penalty of RM100 for every hour late check-out.

I managed to give myself ample of time packing and clean up ourselves before going for breakfast meal. Yes, our breakfast meal quite similar to our supper. Doesn’t matter anyway. I’m needing this to continue my remaining 6km down to Timpohon Gate.

Simple breakfastenergy supply for 6km trek down

Time was enough for usat 10.20am ready for descend

Goodbye to Laban Ratatill we meet again one day

Going down was easypromised no injured or pain involved

Voilareached Timpohon Gate at 2.00pm (3.5 hours taken)

We received our certification of 2, one is Summit and another one is for Mesilau Trail on the spot when we reached the Gate. Mdm Wong was so coincidence happened to be there to settle something there, met us happily and congrats us.

The fate draws us to meet at the Gate.

We transferred back to Park HQ via private van. They dropped us and thus our guide/agent will settle our transport back to our accommodation or airport.

Since we’ve reached early, we can have our lunch without rush @ Balsam Restaurant. Food quality was average with not so fresh and tasty. Once I taste it, I don’t feel like refill my food anymore. One word can best describe the food, lack of freshness!

Lunch at Balsam Buffet Restaurantnice setting but poor quality food

My plate of lunchbuffet style

Nice environment and settingenjoy the breeze of air

Lunch was taken in short time only. We still have ample time to clean up ourselves at nearby hostel in Park HQ. Mdm Wong directed one of the van send us to Grace Hostel for clean-up at their public bathroom.

Once done, we walked back to the Park HQ to board our airport taxi. We waved goodbye to Mdm Wong for her good service as tour guide. We shall meet again, if not in Sabah, in Kuala Lumpur perhaps.

Our flight was 8.15pm, we reached airport at 6pm. We killed our time at KFC while waiting for boarding.

Boarding the flight on the same day of descending was a real test on our physically & mentally situation. We bid goodbye to Mount Kinabalu and Sabah by the flight went off from the ground.


For those who are interested on our cost and budget, the following itinerary and cost explained for all.

Day 1 – Pick up from airport and transfer to city, check in Hotel Traveller.

Day 2 – Pick up from Hotel Traveller. Transfer to Kinabalu Park. En-route visit Signal Hill, Rumah Terbalik and Pekan Nabalu for some handicraft. Continue journey to Kinabalu Park, register and check in Mountain Resthouse (300 meter from the Park). Briefing before sleep.

Day 3 – Own breakfast at Mountain Resthouse. Transfer to Mesilau Nature Resort. Meet the guide and commence climb to Laban Rata. Upon arrival, check in Laban Rata Resthouse. Dinner at Restaurant. Early sleep.

Day 4 – Supper at Restaurant. With guide, ascend to the summit of Mt Kinabalu. After witness the sunrise, descend to Laban Rata for breakfast. Must descend to Timpohon Gate by 10.00 am and arrive gate at 2pm. Transfer to Park for lunch. Transfer to Kota Kinabalu and onward to airport.

Quotation price = RM970 per pax

Our milestone:
  • [Ascend] Mesilau to Laban Rata (8.2km, 8 hr, Start: 8.00am – 4.00pm)
  • [Ascend] Laban Rata to Summit (2.7km, 4 hr, Start: 2.15am – 6.15am)
  • [Descend] Summit to Laban Rata (2.7km, 2.25 hr, Start: 6.45am – 9.00am)
  • [Descend] Timpohon (6km, 3.5hrs, 10.30am – 1.50pm)

Total hiking distance = 19.6km

Total hiking time = ~18 hours

Again, this itinerary was made exactly one month before with WW Adventure Tour & Travel. By trying luck to check whether there’s 2 pax availability on my said date of travel. My flight was booked much earlier a year back during promotion (RM52 per pax for return flight). I was having split choice between Gunung Kinabalu or Gunung Trusmadi. The reason why it was delay until final decision has to be made. It proved to be correct choice.