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  • Writer's pictureRick

East Malaysia Day 7: Day Tour to Mt. Kinabalu, Poring + ATV in Kundasang (神山)

It was a Sunday. The Gaya Street Sunday Market was being held along the long stretch of Jalan Gaya since 6am. I would be going on a day tour at 8:30am, so I needed to have breakfast prior to checking out the Sunday Market.

At 7am, I came to Keng Wan Hing again. The coffee shop was pretty crowded but a couple of tables were still available. I wanted to try their big steamed bun and added a chicken curry puff with kopi-o. The steamed bun was delicious with pork, chicken, egg and mushroom in its filings. It was not surprising that most locals were here for the big buns with coffee or tea.

I had just enough time to skimmed through the whole Sunday Market but most of the items were not for tourists. I completed one loop around the market, including a small fruit and vegetable section in an alley before heading to Horizon Hotel to meet up with the tour guide, since vehicles were not allowed to go into Gaya Street.

The day tour started at 8:30am with a 2-hour drive to Mount Kinabalu in a car since there were only two participants — a young Taiwanese girl named Huà (桦) and me (华, also pronounced as Huá but with a different tone). Coincidentally, I was wearing a white T-shirt with "Taiwan" printed on it. The tour guide cum driver was John Ang from Mee Young Holidays.

At 10am, we reached Pekan Nabalu View Point in Ranau District for a short break and to take photos of Mount Kinabalu. The peak was shrouded by mist or clouds initially, but there was an opening in the shroud 5 minutes later which allowed us to see the peak of the mountain. John said we were very lucky to be able to see the peak. After a short tour of Pekan Nabalu Handicraft Centre and purchased some fruits from nearby stalls, we continued to the next stop.

We came to Borneo Adventure Basecamp, or BW ATV, at Sosodikon Hill just before noon. For some reasons, parasailing was suspended until 28th May, so we were left with ATV (all-terrain vehicle) adventure (RM100 per pax). After signing an indemnity form, we geared up with helmets, ankle and elbow guards, and went through a crash course on operating an ATV before mounting the vehicles. We had an ATV each — it was my first-time driving a vehicle since I did not have a driving licence. And off we went in a group "expedition" through the rough terrains. We played for over an hour — and affected the itinerary of the day tour eventually.

The orange dust picked up by the ATVs also stained my white T-shirt orangish, my green half-pants was not spared too — it was difficult to wash away the orange stains and effectively eliminated one set of clothings the rest of the my trip. Was it a coincidence that the Taiwanese girl was in orange or she knew about the dust?

Next stop was at Poring Hot Spring. We reached at around 1:30pm, and had lunch outside the premise at a restaurant named "Poring Station". It served dishes that were very similar to Chinese cuisine. We had a sour-sweet pork with pineapple, a stir-fried meat, a vegetable dish and a bowl of soup to go with rice.

The day-tour package included a canopy walk in the forest within the Poring Hot Spring area. So, we went into the compound (foreigner RM50 per adult) and walked past the hot spring pools. Hot sulphuric water was flowing out from a small hole near a huge rock that was the source of the hot spring. It was discovered by the Japanese during World War II.

And we came to another gate to the forest for the canopy walk (foreigner RM10 per adult). We had to walk up a hill using a wooden stairway most of the way, took us about 15 minutes to reach the canopy walk. There were 5 segments in total, about 150 meters high and the last segment being the longest. Exiting from the canopy walk, we walked downhill for several minutes before returning to the gate. It took us about 40 minutes to complete the circuit.

We exited Poring Hot Spring at 3:15pm and it started to rain heavily. Due to time overrun, we had to choose the next destination between Desa Dairy Farm and Fish Spa. John suggested Fish Spa as it was more fun and Desa Dairy Farm would require more time to travel there. We agreed.

When we reached the Fish Spa spot 30 minutes later, the rain had subsided to a drizzle but the fish pond was already washed out by muddy water due to rain water gushing down the mountain into the river. It was also too late to go to Desa Dairy Farm as it would be near 5pm closing time by the time we reached.

Another 30 minutes later, we were at the fruit market at Kundasang Hill. Our attention was not on the fruits but on Mount Kinabalu where a clear break in the clouds allowed us to see the top of the mountain range very clearly.

As we left Kundasang, fog started developing and we could not see very far. We had to forgo going into Kinabalu Park to see Mount Kinabalu. But it was not a pity since we had seen the peak of the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia several times from other places, just different angles.

Our last stop was for the famous sinalau bakas (smoked wild boar) at Kampung Bongol. Almost every tour group would come here to have a taste of the delicacy. We had 500 grams of belly meat and 500 grams of ribs meat with fresh coconut juice. The cost was offset by the entrance fees for the Desa Diary Farm and Fish Spa.

The day tour ended after we were dropped-off at Gaya Street at around 7:45pm. I went back to the hotel to shower before coming out again for dinner. I did not want to go far and went to Hakka Bites (客家小吃) just few units away. I tried their Tuaran mee this time with a glass of carrot juice. I also noticed that the (Tenom) Hakka-style spring roll and meatballs noodle dish was on their menu.

After dinner, I went back to my room. I tried to clean away most of the orange dust from my shoe, sling bag, spectacle and phone. As for the dusty white T-shirt and half-pants, I put them in a resealable bag to be hand-washed in Sandakan — if I wetted them and they could not dry up by the next morning, I would have a heavier set of clothing in my backpack.


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