5/31/18: Hiking In Kinabalu Park (Borneo)

I woke up at 6 am and went out into the lobby to eat breakfast.

Johanna came out of her room as I was making my oatmeal. We hugged and said hi, and then sat down to eat together.

Emily came and sat with us while we were eating.

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Johanna, Emily and I had met 2 months ago in Battambang, Cambodia. We were all in the same group for a tour of the city and had spent the day together. Last week, Emily posted on Facebook about how she was going to be in Borneo. I commented on her post, telling her that I was going to be in Borneo soon as well. Then Johanna commented saying she was going to be there too.

A few days ago, I messaged them to ask them about their plans. They were both flying into Kota Kinabalu on May 29, and I was flying in on the night of the 30th. We all booked the same hostel and planned to hang out on the 31st (today). Funny how that worked out so perfectly.

We left around 7 to walk to the shuttle bus station— our plan was to hike in Kinabalu Park.

Once we got to the station, a taxi driver approached us and told us he’d take us for 25 ringgit. It was a good deal because the shuttle bus was 20 ringgit, and we’d have to wait until it was full for it to get going anyway. This guy was ready to leave now, so we hopped in.

Mt. Kinabalu from the road


We got to the park around 9. The lady at the ticket office told us the entrance fee.

“10 ringgit for people under 20, 20 ringgit if you’re over 20.”
“Are you under 20?” She asked me.
Obviously I lied. It’s like when you’re at a bar and the bartender asks if you’re over 21. Who would say no?

Park entrance


There were a number of trails to choose from. We started on Kiau View trail. It wasn’t too hard physically, but it was super muddy. And we walked through a TON of spiderwebs. I guess not a lot of people do the trails?


Once we got through that one, we started on the Mempening trail, which led to the Bukit Tupai trail and the Silau-Silau trail. They all merged with each other, so it was easy to do them all.


We were done with all the trails by 12:30, and then exited the park to find lunch.

There was a restaurant across the street called Panataran so we sat down and ordered.

An hour later, the food hadn’t arrived yet. I was so hungry that I whipped out my rice crackers to eat as an appetizer.

My meal, mixed veggies with rice, eventually did come. It included cauliflower! Yay!


I didn’t finish my rice, which I often do. It occurred to me that the reason why I often have leftover rice, and other starchy food, is that I’m afraid I won’t be hungry in time for the next meal. Like if I eat too much at lunch, I won’t be hungry by the time we go to dinner. I’ve always done this unconsciously, but the reason only just now hit me. So strange. I wonder if anyone else does this…


Emily, me, Johanna

We waited on the side of the road for a shuttle bus to come and take us back. About 5 minutes later, a big bus pulled over and told us they were going to Kota Kinabalu. The price was 20 ringgit, the same as the shuttle bus, so we got on.

2 hours later, we were dropped off a few kilometers in a city. We needed to get a cab back to the hostel.

Emily called a Grab from her phone, but it died before the Grab arrived. She was the only one with cellular data, so we had to find an actual taxi, which we knew would be more expensive than Grab.

We talked to a driver who told us it would cost 30 ringgits. We walked away, saying it was too much. Another guy approached us, offering to take us for 20. Eventually we worked it down to 18 and were on our way.

Our strange bedazzled taxi
Emily in the pimp-mobile

When we got to the hostel, Johanna gave me 12 ringgits to cover her and Emily. I gave the 12 to the driver and then got out my wallet to give him the 6 remaining.

I only had a 50, so I handed him the 50 and asked for change. He got out his wallet and gave me 32 back. I got out of the cab. Right as he pulled away, I realized he had stolen my money. He got the 50 plus the 12 from Johanna and Emily, meaning I paid 18 ringgits and he got 30 total instead of just 18. UGH.

I was so annoyed. I tried not to be since it’s not a crazy amount of money (about $4), but still. It was annoying. I tried to practice what I learned in “Power of Now;” not to let emotions like anger take over your mind. If you can’t do anything to change the present moment, accept it. Be aware that you are angry and accept it. But I found this so difficult. How can I just accept it?? I needed to be angry. But there was nothing more I could do.

I went to a cafe to work on the blog— I chose Ayoi Culture Cafe, which was across the street from the hostel. I ordered ginger tea with bubbles, and the lady thought I was crazy. I guess people don’t normally order hot ginger tea with tapioca pearls???! Strange.

As I was sitting in the cafe, I realized that what had happened to me in the cab was karma for not paying the 20 ringgits at the park entrance. That realization somehow made me feel better about the whole thing— like it wasn’t just a random act of unfairness. I deserved it. I didn’t pay extra for no reason.

I went back to the hostel to drop off my stuff. Johanna and I walked over to El Centro for dinner, where we would be meeting up with Emily and her friend Kim, who had just done the Mt Kinabalu hike (the full hike up to the summit).

The walk over was brutal— it was pouring out, so I was drenched by the time we got to the restaurant.

I got 3-bean chili and a cucumber chili margarita. It was my first drink in almost 2 weeks! Wow. To be honest, I was a bit sad to end my sober streak. But the margarita was delicious. I LOVE spicy drinks. And food. Spicy anything, really.


Kim was cool— she works in London in the financial industry. Her Dad is Chinese but is from Mauritius (an island near Madagascar. I didn’t know where it was either, don’t worry), and mother is Trinidadian. Such an interesting mix!

Johanna and I walked back in the rain— it hadn’t let up yet— but it wasn’t raining as hard anymore, thank god.

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