Author Archives: drizad

About drizad

A self employed General Practitioner who lives with his lovely family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He dedicates his spare time serving people with precious information on climbing the Majestic Mountain of the Borneo, Mt Kinabalu. Reachable at drizad(at)gmail.com

Now share with us your SSL experiences…

After 3 days fighting spam bots with my phpBB version 2, I decided to upgrade it to phpBB3. Unfortunately, the configuration for administrator sucks. I don’t know why, but it took me longer time to configure it out compared to the existing Simple Machine forum engine.

Kinabalu ForumLuckily, only Kay and Meng Chwen registered, and no ‘genuine’ forum post written yet.

Now that I have improvise registration process, I am hoping that there will be no more automatic bots registration into the forum.

Now back to our serious business…

I want your feedback on SSL.

Any experiences will do, either good or bad. But I know, mostly bad experiences.

They rarely answer phone calls. Even if they do, they don’t do it professionally.

They rarely answer emails that was emailed from their official website. And most of the emailers contact me for explanation.

They will ask you to call them everyday to check whether there are any cancellation on their booking in Laban Rata. But when you call, they rarely pick up the phone.

The booking is always full.

It sucks isn’t it?

Now please don’t comment here. Please get into the forum (You have to register yourself in. It is a simple process), and write up your experiences. I am hoping to get as much as I can. I even have made a forum post specifically for you on that matter.

Share your experiences dealing with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges with us!

Saya juga menulis topik yang sama dalam Bahasa Melayu, supaya pembaca berbahasa Melayu juga dapat memberikan maklumbalas di atas topik yang sama.

Kongsi pengalaman berhubungan dengan Sutera Sanctuary Lodges bersama kami!

See you inside!

Kinabalu Forum – Where we could do something with SSL

At last…

After 2 years of struggling online with mount-kinabalu-borneo.com website and 1 year with this blog, it is about time for me to open Mount Kinabalu more to the online community.

Frankly speaking, I hate the booking system by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL). It was bearable 2 years ago, but it was getting horrible. Initially, booking with them was really easy, even a walk-in travelers/climbers could get a place to climb. You could even tailor made your trip so that you could save some money by DIY-ing (do-it-yourself) the package, and don’t have to pay hefty amount of money to tour and travel operator which sometimes unbearable for budget travelers.

However, since they started a new booking system, it is getting harder and harder to book a place to climb.

They even “upgrade” their services by packaging the climbing trip, and sell it to clients as a package. Clients don’t have a choice but to take the packages to climb, otherwise they would not sell it. But if you see the price – you might choke to death.

Tour & travel operators also feels the heat. As third party service provider, they have to sell the pre-packaged climbing trip which has been prepared by SSL to their clients, and even mark-up the price some more.

Some “BIG” travel & tour operators also plays dirty with SSL. They pre-booked the beds in Laban Rata in bulk.

Imagine this situation: There are 130+ beds in Laban Rata. Most of those BIG operators pre-book the beds, at least one operator will book 20-30 beds one shot. If 7 out of 100+ tour operators here in Kota Kinabalu take the booking, there would be no more places for climbers to book. Small / sole operators like ME don’t even have a chance. You need to be really, really BIG FISH with BIG CABLE to tie up with SSL’s “BOSSES” to get the privilege.

You know how ridiculous is their problem? Once, I got a feedback from their reservation saying that all the beds are fully booked, but the booking just opened for 2 hours! Who the hell in this world could buy all 130+ beds in Laban Rata in just 2 hours?

Hmm… Now you were asking… Why not complaint this to the authority? Well, I must say that – THE STATE GOVERNMENT KNEW ABOUT IT. But they could not do anything, as SSL has a VERY BIG cable with the Boleh Land government. I am getting sicker when I knew that also.

So, who are the losing party here?

  1. You & me – as we are only a small matter to them.
  2. Our beloved Kinabalu – as more and more commercialize climbing (that means PROFIT taking) by only ONE sole provider, without the intention to CONSERVE the mountain. Hell… If they say they are actively involve in CONSERVATION of the mountain, they are LYING. Sabah Parks is one of the government body who is responsible for the mountain’s CONSERVATION project, but NOT SSL.

I am sorry Sabahan, but the Sabah state government sucks big time on this issues. I am hoping that Masidi Manjun read this, and if he thinks that he is the better MP for Sabah, he should be doing something. It is his portfolio – tourism. (Still, I love my wife!)

Stop this “the only sole provider thingy” for climbers of Kinabalu. It’s hurting everybody from all over the world knowing that this issues are making them disappointed when asking me for a help on their climbing trip.

This is just a beginning. I am planning to get voices from climbers from all over the world who thinks that Mount Kinabalu is “raped”.

But at this moment, I have set up a forum portal for all Kinabalu climbers from around the world to share their opinion. And you are invited to join.

Shoot.
*As on 13 August 2013, the forum page no longer exist. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you.*

Don’t Jail Doctors Blog Campaign

Calling all doctor and student bloggers and anyone who can help. The Government has begun to arrest and jail doctors on a technicality – not registering their clinic with the PHFSA. This act treats doctors like common criminals. These are community doctors who have not committed a serious crime but instead face an incredibly harsh sentence for their technical lapse.

Dr Basmullah Yusom, a family practitioner, is the first victim of this legislation. He was sentenced despite not having legal counsel representing him, despite pleading for leniency (he had wanted to sell the clinic anyway and is in financial trouble) and as he could not pay the hefty RM 120,000 fine, he is now in Kajang prison.

You can read more about it in
The 1st clinic doctor convicted under the PHFSA
and
The 1st clinic doctor convicted under the PHFSA (II)

The ex-Health Minister had promised that the Act would be used only against Bogus doctors and Bogus clinics. Yet, we see that legitimate licensed APC holding medical practitioners are now being targeted.

dontjaildoctors

In support of Dr. Basmullah, we urge all of you to put up this logo in your Blogs and Websites until this travesty of justice is reversed. Please download or link to the above image.
To aid you, you may use the following code, copy and paste in a suitable place in your website/blog:
<a href="http://medicine.com.my/wp/?p=3009"><img src="http://medicine.com.my/upload/dontjaildoctors.jpg" alt="dontjaildoctors" /></a>
(Credit to dranony of the MMR Forums for designing the logo)

Original post here.

My two cents: Damn… Lucky that my boss had registered. But anyway, jailing a genuine doctor who make this kind of mistake is a big mistake. Ironically, we never heard anything about bogus doctors being jailed.

Lokan Bakar (Roasted Clam) at Jalan Sulaman, Kota Kinabalu

Oh, I had a roasted clam session last month with my brother and his family form Muar. He spent 2 weeks of traveling here in Kota Kinabalua and Kundasang during the school holiday. We had a very good time together, and one of it was eating roasted clam at the well known stalls along Jalan Sulaman, 30 minutes drive out of Kota Kinabalu city.

Lokan (Polymesoda expansa) is a bivalves molluscs is found buried in the stiff mud of the landward fringe of mangroves. It is well-adapted to this habitat, being able to tolerate long periods of low tide, and has the ability to resume filter-feeding rapidly when inundated.

We had it with burned coconut juice, coconut pudding and a special sauce which is home made – a mix of sesame oil, lemongrass root, lime, black soy sauce, vinegar and I don’t know what else.

It taste like? Hmm… I don’t know how to explain it. You need to go there to taste it yourselves!

Lokan

Lokan Bakar

Lokan bakar Jalan Sulaman

Lokan

Lokan

Lokan Bakar (Roasted Clam) in Kota Kinabalu

Lokan

9 most common injuries to climbers of Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is not a technical climb, means that you don’t have to bring any special equipments or apparatus to help on your climbing. It’s a straight forward climbing, and some climbers considered it as a hiking activity.

There’s always risk on any climbing activities. As long as you are moving up or down (against or towards the gravity), you will definitely exposed to danger of falling, which may leads to injuries. Depending on your condition, falling down can be really trivial but sometimes can be dead serious.

I will write about fall at the end of this article, but let’s get through 8 most common injuries on climbers, in which I have divided it into 2 main groups:

  1. 4 Injuries from the climbing activities itself,
  2. 4 Injuries from the exposure of our body to the environment.

Emergency Department, QEH

4 Injuries from the climbing activities

1. Foot
The most common minor injuries to your foot during the climb is blisters. It can be caused by unsuitable shoes, as wearing a pair of shoe that is not your size will increase friction of your feet with the padding of the shoes. This friction can leads to annoying blisters which could really spoil your trip.

Wearing unsuitable socks can also be one of the causes, as nylon & polyester material will not absorb your sweat properly and they usually are not thick enough to do it. Thick socks from wool material is the most suitable, as it could absorb sweat, isolate heat (which will help you warm your feet at the peak) and protect your feet from friction with the inside padding of the shoes (which could leads to blister formation). Cotton socks is unsuitable as you are at risk of hypothermia as it retains water.

2. Hands
Hand injuries usually happened at your second stage of your climb, where you use it almost all the time to hold the guide rope on the Summit Trail. As the trail is more than 13,000 feet above sea level, low temperature and strong wind will almost definitely make your hands cramp and numb, unless you use one, or even 2 pairs of gloves to protect it.

It depends on your preferences, some climbers like to wear water-proof gloves, but I opted with some normal cotton wool gloves that is usually use by local construction workers. And I wear 2 pair of those.

3. Upper body (trunk)
Most climbers will climb Mount Kinabalu with less than 10kg of backpack. Unless you need to spend more than 1 night, it is really not necessary for you to bring more loads, as excessive loads could injure your upper back muscle, especially if you don’t have enough training.

Shoulders, upper back and spine, and even your lower back muscle is the most affected, as moving your body uphill with the loads actually increases your potential energy, which means you need more energy to do the work. By this, it is more prone to get injury.

4. Legs and lower limbs
The body part that is primarily used for Mount Kinabalu climbing. Can easily get injured at almost every part – the bone, muscle, tendon and ligament – unless you have a good workout and training for this kind of activities.

Your muscle will be used to the limit when you climb uphill, but it is your joints that is working during your downhill climb. As climbing down releases potential energy, you joints works to absorb more shock with every footstep to stop motion instantaneously.

4 Injuries from the exposure of body to environment (or some medical professional describe it as illness).

1. Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a condition in which your body temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism and bodily functions. This condition could happen while you are on the bare rocks of Kinabalu, 13,500 feet above sea level. The temperature can drop to below 5 degree Celsius, and prolong exposure to this environment can leads to hypothermia.

Most climbers will wake up at 2am in the morning to start the second phase of the climb through the cold darkness. You will be exposed to cold temperature for about 4 hours – which can be really cold if it is raining and windy. Wearing thick clothes and maybe a simple raincoat will reduce the risk of hypothermia.

*Do you know that the cause of death of Ellie was hypothermia?

2. Dehydration
Dehydration is a condition in which our body contains an insufficient volume of water for normal functioning. During the first phase of the climb, your body is exposed to fluid loss from sweating. You may exposed to dehydration if you climb uphill without consuming adequate water, especially in a hot and/or humid environment of lower zone of Kinabalu.

That is why the authority have set up huts on the Summit Trail with untreated water tanks for you to refill your water bottle on your way up and down the mountain. Drink a lot of water on the way – better still put a sachet of oral rehydration salt into your water to replenish the electrolytes that you have loss from sweating. You can easily get fatigue if you are dehydrated.

3. Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or altitude illness is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure (usually outdoors at high altitudes).

It commonly occurs above 2,400 meters (approximately 8,000 feet). Bare in mind that Laban Rata is at about 11,000 feet above sea level. This condition is caused by reduced partial pressure of oxygen, while the percentage of oxygen in air remains essentially constant with altitude at 21 percent.
*I have explained about altitude sickness here.

4. Internal organ illness
Is what happened to your internal organ when exposed to all external hazard – the weather, the altitude, the heat, the food, the water, the environment… You name it… As the list go on, this is what you have to bear in mind.

You could experience just about any illness that is related to the hazard. You may have to prepare yourself with a good first aid kit to relieve the symptoms, hoping that it would not hinder yourself from conquering the highest peak of Borneo.

Fall
I could not categorize fall in either of the group above. While all the above known injuries could be prevented with a good preparation before and during the climb, falling is not. A lot of external factors that could leads to fall – as you are climbing against and towards gravity.

Wet boulders and rocks can be very slippery sometimes. Wrong judgment and misaligned foot while walking through slippery surfaces can leads to fall. It is not about the mountain all the time, but climbers can sometimes be careless and ignorant.

Stripping climber on a stretcher

What could happen if you get injured from a fall?
Porters of Kinabalu have a very systematic way of lifting injured climbers down the mountain. As what Leong have wrote on his Multiply page, the only way available (at this moment of time) is to strap the injured climbers on a stretcher and bring them down carefully.

There are some issues on air lifting injured climbers down from Mount Kinabalu by helicopter, and up until now, it has not been totally resolved.

However, we have good news for climbers who are concern about their safety. Insuring your trip to Mount Kinabalu may alleviate your anxiety if anything happen. Multinational Underwriters’s travel medical insurance policies have an optional “Sports Rider” that will cover you when you do hazardous sports. They could provide airlifting for any emergency medical evacuation, and could cover the cost up to $30,000 depending on the location and rescue. Check it out.

Thank you to my website voters. And you have less than 48 hours to vote!

I received a call from Nuffnang just now about my website entry to The Dotcom Youth Search. It was a surprise, as I did not expect my website to be shortlisted as the top 10 highest voters. They received more than 400 entries, and a lot of the site submitted are more “bling” and “happening” than mount-kinabalu-borneo.com.

If you could see from the screenshot that I took a few minutes ago, mount-kinabalu-borneo.com is at number 10 – out of 10, and Paul Tan’s automotive blog is the highest with more than 4000 votes! The vote that he got is twice as much as what I got! And maybe by the time you read this, the ranking has changed also!

Vote for Mount Kinabalu Borneo.com

Anyway, I am glad that the website get through this stage. Seeing other top 10 entries, I can see a mix of blogs, forums and websites, and all of them have their own uniqueness.

I am not sure whether I could raise another few thousand votes to pass Paul Tan’s, but I will still request a final vote from you, before the contest ends. If you have voted before, and you don’t mind, please vote again. Better still, tell your friends to vote for the website too!

http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com
(Just click at a triangular banner on the right upper corner of the website. That’s it!)
*By the way, I did not put the banner on this blog.

Although I know that I am not going to win this, the awareness about our beloved Kinabalu on the internet will make a very huge impact on all Malaysian, South East Asian and even the world. And I am really, really proud to present you our Natural World Heritage Site online.

Thank you for your vote!

Mount Kinabalu is NOT the highest mountain in South East Asia

Rants and raves about the height of Kinabalu were audible last year, 2007. I knew that Mount Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in South East Asia, but I did not know that Mount Kinabalu was ranked 5th on the highest point in SEA.

Dan Low is the person who was responsible for the information to be conveyed to me. LeongWK was the first person who raised this issue but I did not take it seriously, until I read a blog post by Bisean. Fortunately, we share our information together through Multiply social networking platform and I am glad to be connected to a group of people who are really concern about our World Heritage Site.

You can read the heavy discussion in Bisean blog, which some of the commenter did not really agree with the facts. They gave a very different description and definition of the countries and the borders of Asian continent and South East Asia, in which, according to their definition, Mount Kinabalu will rank differently on the highest point list of mountains in this region.

We could actually argue the facts on the border definitions, but personally for me, it is not as important as taking the responsibility to take care of the mountain.

Most importantly, our young generation must be teach to love our mountain and take care of our environment. No point having the highest mountain in South East Asia, but nothing is done to preserve the heritage.

By the way, I think it’s about time we change our Malaysian Geography syllabus, by not mentioning Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. Our neighbouring countries may get insulted with it.

I hereby give you the 10 highest peak in South East Asia, courtesy of Dan Low…

1. Hkakabo Razi, Burma (5881m)
Hkakabo Razi

2. Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (5030m)
Puncak Jaya

3. Trikora, Indonesia (4751m)
Trikora

4. Mandala, Indonesia (4701m)
Mandala

5. Kinabalu, Malaysia (4095m)
Kinabalu

6. Kerinji, Indonesia (3809m)
Kerinji

7. Rinjani, Indonesia (3727m)
Rinjani

8. Semeru, Indonesia (3677m)
Semeru

9. Fansipan, Vietnam (3143m)
Fansipan

10. Agung, Indonesia (3142m)
Agung

P/S: Anybody could tell me how many of them are NOT volcanic mountain?

I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!

Happy New Year 2008!

We managed to go back to Kudat last Saturday for just a short break. A good getaway for my family, as it has been a while since my children saw their grandparent.

I also managed to snap some photos of the Longhouse and the surroundings, and currently still editing the photos. I may have to take some time to do it, and will upload it here as soon as possible.

I would like to wish Happy New Year 2008 to you!

Happy New Year 2008
Photo of my two kids, taken at their grandfather’s backyard 2 days ago – a paddy field – at Kampung Tinangol, Kudat…

5 provided equipments for your Mt. Kinabalu via ferrata adventure

Just have a session with Wilfred and I-Gek from Mountaintorq.com last Saturday. Managed to get Aiden and Peter Chang from Power Tours to sit together and discussed about how to work with each other.

Discussion meeting was held at Adventure Factors office here in Wisma Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. Apart from discussing about the via ferrata packages, I also learn some new things from Wilfred on the activities and the extra equipments needed.

Because of the risky nature of this via ferrata activity, Wilfred told me that they have to provide safety equipments for all their climbers. Basically, there are 5 equipments provided:

  1. Safety helmet
  2. Carabiners
  3. Double shock absorbing lanyards
  4. Harness
  5. Dynamic ropes

Via ferrata equipments provided

1. Safety helmet

A helmet is a tough item of headwear that primarily protects the skull against impacts. In well-developed and popular climbing areas, these impacts are more commonly caused by falling objects (such as pebbles or climbing equipment) than by a falling climber hitting the rock or ground.

To protect your head, they use Petzl Elios helmet for their climbers. This helmet has a high density expanded polypropylene foam headpiece on the inside and a thermoformed ABS outer shell, providing both lightness and strength. The ergonomic shape provides maximum protection while ensuring a clear field of vision.

A single adjustment wheel in the back and an adjustable chinstrap allow for efficient and quick adjustments. Four exterior hooks and a groove in the outer shell are designed to attach and secure a headlamp. Nothing has been left out in this simple, but refined helmet.

2. Carabiners

Carabiners (snap links), are equipments which are used to anchor the climber to the safety cable and (sometimes) to rungs along the route.

As the climber moves past an anchor point on the cable (one of the bolts which attach the cable to the rock), the two carabiners are unclipped and clipped on the other side of the anchor, one at a time in succession, so that the climber is attached with at least one side of the lanyard (item no. 3) at all times.

For example, Petzl William Screw-Lock carabiner is a pear-shaped carabiner with large opening. It also has:

  • Large size to allow anchoring of several ropes and slings
  • Large opening
  • Wide pear shape facilitates belaying with Munter hitch on single or double ropes
  • Keylock System (snag-free body / gate interface)

3. Double shock absorbing lanyards

Attached to the harness (item no.4), it is a double or “Y”-lanyard with two cords running to carabiners (item no. 2). On all the route of the via ferrata, the lanyards are always clipped to a safety cable.

Because a fall down the safety cable to the nearest anchor point can generate dangerously high forces, the lanyard is equipped with a load limiting (shock absorbing) device. Ordinary climbing slings are unsafe and may not be used on the via.

They use Petzl Scorpio lanyards, which uses ripping if stitches to achieve the same ends. This is thought to be a safer system as there is nothing to catch that could prevent it working and thus less that could go wrong.

Also the rip-stitch absorber section is stored in a pocket and is more compact and does not hinder movements. The third short end enables you to clip in short to rest, and to remain closer to the cable when traversing (e.g. horizontal or sloping progression).

4. Harness

A climbing harness is a piece of equipment used in certain types of rock-climbing, abseiling or in this case via ferrata, requiring the use of ropes to provide access and/or safety. They type of harness that is used in this activity is sit harness.

Sit harness comprises a waist belt and two leg loops which are normally connected in the front of the hips either through a permanent webbing loop (sometimes called a belay loop) or through the use of a carabiner via a lanyards.

*Some tips – Do remove handkerchiefs, car keys, bulging wallets etc, from your trousers before trying on harnesses. Do remove pullovers too.

Don’t get a harness that you can do up the waist-belt as tight as it can go – buy the next size down so that there is always room to tighten it further. You do not want to risk sliding out of it in a head first fall. Check your waist measurement well above the hips, at your thinnest bit!

5. Dynamic ropes

A dynamic rope (it’s green color item) is a specially constructed, stretchable rope. This ‘stretch’ is what makes it ‘dynamic’, versus a static rope that doesn’t have any give when under load.

By stretching under load, a dynamic rope will soften the impact of extreme stresses on it, and lessen the likelihood of failure. This is particularly useful in rock climbing, where it can absorb much of the energy of a fall (referred to as a whipper amongst rock climbers).

In this activity, the rope is used as a second layer of safety precaution, whereby it will be connected to the person in front and behind you along the trail.

This second layer of protection will help climbers from falling down if they accidentally did not secure the carabiner to the safety cable or forgot to do it. So, when they fall, they will still be connected to the other two climbers.

Mt. Kinabalu via ferrata

By the way, they DO NOT provide hand gloves. You have to bring your own…

Happy climbing!