Day started out with Yi Hao turning his bags upside down, as he did not know where his passport was, but thankfully it was found in one of the compartments in his bag, and after this slight delay, we proceeded towards Mt. K with our driver, Hezrond, after a breakfast of toast with jam and butter.
On the way, our excellent driver cum knowledgeable tour guide pointed out many places of interest in KK, including the modern, circular Foundation building, which is the tallest building in KK at 32 storeys. Other interesting factoids which Yi Hao managed to fish out of Hezron include land prices (20-80 RM psf), prices of sports cars and future developments in KK, including a 100 hectare hypermall beside the largest university in Borneo, famous for marine conservation studies.
Arriving at Kinabalu Park at around 12 noon, we were an hour early for the check-in time, and hence, Hezron recommended a nice local restaurant to us, where we tucked in to our sumptious lunch of curry beef, fried rice, fried noodles and hot and spicy soup, which eventually just cost us 7 RM per person!!!
After lunch, we were brought to our cabin, the Nepenthes Lodge, which was posh beyond our imagination, as it had 2 storeys, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. In addition to the above, it actually has a functional fireplace and a porch with branches poking into our place. Way, way, way too cool! Hope we get to play with the fireplace at night!
Snapping out of our reverie, we decided to head down to the Kinabalu park HQ to see if we can find some form of transport to bring us to Poring Hot Springs, which is approximately 56 km away from Kinabalu Park. To our shock and disgust, the guy at the ticket counter said taht it would cost us RM 65 to charter ONE WHOLE BUS to bring us there, one way. Deciding that it was on the steep side of things, we decided to snoop around for alternative options, and the moment we walked out, we saw Hezron, our trusty guide, who was willing to bring us there and back for less than half the price quoted by the guy at the counter.
Arriving at Poring Hot Springs, Hezron kindly volunteered to lead us to the springs, and he also pointed out interesting things along the way including the lantern bug which crawls up the tree in a circular fashion, and various species of the ginger plant, the banana etc. He also led us to the canopy walk, which though not spectacular (as we were too busy watching our steps), was an adventure as it involved us walking through 3 suspension bridges hanging high above the forest.
After a sweaty and mildly tiring walk, we finally sat in the bathing tubs, waiting for the tus to fill for a well-deserved soak. Of course, while wandering why my tub took forever to fill, Elaine finally figured out that it was because I did not plug the hole in my tub, leading to the water draining out about as fast as it was filling up.
At around 5.30 pm, we left Poring to head back towards Kinabalu Park, hoping that we’ll make the journey before dark. En route back, the sharp-eyed Hezron spotted a sign saying “Refflesia [sic] blooming” and so, he immediately pulled over and after some skillful bargaining, we managed to enter the place for a view of the legendary plant for RM 12. The flower was about half a meter in diameter, with five petals. Although it was supposed to be smelly according to our textbooks, we detected no stench, as it was just the second day, and the stench is supposed to set in on the fourth day. Apparently, we’re pretty lucky, as this parasitic flower blooms only for 7 days, after 9 months as a bud, and only one in six buds bloom!
Dinner was a set meal, which was part of our package. Although the ambience was great, dinner was a challenge for me, as it involved 3 dishes comprising purely of vegetables and nothing but vegetables. I suppose this comes of Mt. Kinabalu being situated beside the vegetable distribution centre in Sabah.