Published: August 17th 2012August 17th 2012
This morning was another early start with us up for breakfast at 7.30 as we were being picked up by our tour company at 8.30. More or less on time our minibus arrived and after dropping a couple of girls off in town we found out that we were the only people on the trip. The journey to Kinabalu Park took about 2.5 - 3 hours. The views were spectacular and we climbed high into the mountains. The roads were very good for the most part but in places workmen were working on them and they were a little bumpy but it just added to the experience. Eventually we got to Kinabalu Park, our driver paid the conservation fee and we entered. He thought we'd like to visit the Botanical Gardens overlooking Mt Kinabalu, but as we were short on time and had already seen 2 lots in Singapore we decided to give it as miss. He then drove us further on until we came to Poring Hot Springs. In addition to the Hot Springs there is a canopy walk, butterfly garden and waterfall there. Before we went in he took us for our lunch in a little restaurant just outside
the springs. The meal was an absolutely gorgeous affair and had 4 courses, starting with chicken and sweet corn soup - not the thick awful stuff we get back home, this was fresh and aromatic, this was followed by sweet and sour prawns and then a chicken dish with veg then another one with shiitake mushrooms and pak choi which was delicious. All of this was followed by fresh fruit and washed down with Sabbah tea.
Once we had eaten and entered the hot springs we decided to go on the canopy walk first. Our driver told us it would take us about 20 minutes to walk to it and 20 minutes back but in reality and in the heat of the day it did take a little longer. The walk took us up the side of a mountain which was very heavily covered in rainforest, a path had been carved out amongst ancient tree roots and it times it was pretty steep and because of the dampness slippery. We climbed and climbed and it became noticeably cooler as we did so. Eventually we came to the canopy walk and to access it we had to climb up a
tower and there was a person checking at the top to make sure you had purchased a ticket for yourself and paid an additional fee if you had a camera with you. Only 6 people were to be on any stretch on the walk at a time. I'd imagined (foolishly!) that it would be rather like the 'canopy' walk we had done in the Gardens By The Bay in Singapore but rather than being of sturdy construction this one was more like sets of narrow ladders strung together, with netting bits on the side and a rope handrail. As you stepped onto it, it went down by about 6 inches and swayed as you crossed it. All in all there were about 6 or so of these rope/ladder bridges with wooden platforms in between. We walked tentatively along them. It was very hot and clammy and I think half the perspiration lost was due to the heat and the other half down to the fear! Some stretches of the walk were very high and you couldn't really see the ground below as it was covered in very dense vegetation whilst you walked at the same level at the top of
the canopy. We just took our time to do it, stopping every now and then to take photographs and to let keener people passed so that we could take our time and enjoy the experience. Although it was great, it was just about long enough and I was quite pleased to get to the tower at the other end and get back down onto firm ground!
After the canopy walk we made our way back down through the rainforest and decided to visit the butterfly garden. By this time we were a little lower down and it was really hot. We saw lots of butterflies in the garden, but most of them were too quick to photograph. At the back of the garden there was a large enclosed area where there were even more butterflies and we had a bit more success in here with taking photographs. From here we wandered back down to the hot springs and decided to fill one of the outside tubs and dip our feet in. I didn't believe that the water was that hot, so stuck my foot under the hot tap twice! It was very hot! We sat there for about half
an hour and it was lovely and refreshing. A lot of other people were bathing in the individual 'baths' or in the communal pools but we decided that we didn't want to do this. After we'd finished and had a nice cool drink from the shop and an ice cream to cool us down. We were finished at about 4.30 and our driver was coming back at 5 so we wandered into the visitor centre and into the shop before sitting on the steps to wait for him. We were rather worried when he still wasn't there by 5.10 but eventually at about 5.15 he showed up. He told us that it was about 1.5 hours drive back to Kinabalu Park where we'd be able to take some photos of Mt Kinabalu and then about another 1.5 hours back to KK. So off we went.
Very soon after we started the heavens opened and it became quite dark very quickly. By the time we reached Mt Kinabalu its top was covered in clouds and we were well and truly in the 'cloud forest' that we'd seen in the Gardens By The Bay. It was pouring down so we took
photos from inside the minibus with the windows down. Just as we were about to leave the mountain popped its head out of the thick cloud as if to acknowledge us but within seconds it had shrugged itself back down into the clouds again. It rained more or less all the way back to KK. At one point it had stopped enough for us to get out and get some photos of the mountain but again its peak was in the clouds. As we reached the outskirts of KK, the minibus got a puncture! We sat in it for a while whilst the driver made some phone calls and then eventually one of his mates came along in a car to try and help him. In the end his friend took us back to our hotel whilst the driver tried to change the wheel in the pouring rain and thunder rattled around. It's been quite a long day but well worth it for the wonderful experiences we had been able to share. Tomorrow is going to be a quieter day by the poolside I think.