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

Get your free travel blog from RealTravel.com

RealTravel is a travel guide and trip planner for travelers, powered by advice from real travelers. Their tagline, “Real People. Real Advice. Real Experiences.” shows that you can use their website as a one stop center for all your traveling tools and tips for your next destination.

It is a website that gives travelers information on the places where you want to go, by learning from true experiences of the real travelers which has been to that place and you can even tell other travelers your side of the story after you have made the trip.

RealTravel also provides 2 free features that travelers could appreciate – a Free Trip Planner and a Free Travel Blog, which both of the features are essential for a savvy traveler. A trip planner can help you save on your travel budget and a blog can be a good platform to write a journal about your trip.

When I came across a website like this, I can become really curious about what other travelers wrote about Mount Kinabalu. I looked into their blog archive and find an exclusive article about climbing Mount Kinabalu by Iris. Nicely done with their free blog platform.

The design for the free blog looks really professional. You can write your journal entry as soon as you register, and if your story is interesting, you may have the chance to get featured in the Editor’s Pick column. The blog even have a geo-tagging – a features that put a live journal earth map on the place you visited!

So, if you still do not have a travel blog/journal, I would recommend you to register with RealTravel free travel blog. Write your story in, and track your destination on the go.

This is a sponsored post. 

ReatTravel Free Blog

5 free personal financial software for you

I would like to share with you 5 free and open source personal financial software / personal money management software which I find it suitable for us who don’t really have a solid financial knowledge and background (like me). I used Quicken Money before, but I feel it a bit bloated and I don’t like using it illegally (yes, I use pirated copy. But that’s few years back).

If you are:

  1. A blogger who earn money from your blog, then you can use this software to record all the income and expanses incurred.
  2. A budget traveler who travel around backpacking, then some of the software also have the budget feature, which you can use to tailor your trip to fit your budget.

The good news is that all the software are free, no limitation, no adware and no spyware. All runs in Windows. However, as all of the software are ‘open source‘, you might face some ‘bugs‘ along the way of using it.

These are 5 most recommended personal financial software for you:

Buddi Buddi

Buddi is a simple budgeting program targeted for users with little or no financial background. It allows users to set up accounts and categories, record transactions, check spending habits, etc.

Buddi-screenshot

jGnash jGnash

jGnash is a cross platform personal finance application written in Java. jGnash is a double entry system with support for multiple currencies. jGnash can import Gnucash and QIF files. jGnash - screenshot

Money Manager Ex Money Manager Ex
Money Manager Ex is an easy to use, money management application. It is a personal finance manager. It can be used to track your net worth, income vs expenses etc. It runs on Windows and Linux currently with more ports planned. Money Manager Ex - screenshot
Grisbi
GrisbiGrisbi is a very functional personal financial management program with a lot of features. Brisbi - screenshot
Monex Monex
Personal finance manager based on double entry bookkeeping principles. Features: account tree view, transaction filtering, multiple currencies, multiple exchange rates, transaction scheduling and download of financial data. Monex -screenshot

How to choose which one?

Well, personally I like and use jGnash, as it is the closest to Quicken Money. Although it has less feature than Quicken, it still could give me what I want. I can track all my bank account (including my E-trade and Paypal) and can organize all my income/expenses with jGnash.

Money Manager Ex will be my second choice, as it is very similar to jGnash and the application is smaller.

Grisbi would become my third choice if jGnash and Money Manager Ex could not give what I want. I feel that Grisbi is a bit ‘sparse’…

Both Monex and Buddi is actually more to budgeting. I think those two are suitable for budget travelers who want to work out their budget for any trip.

Enjoy!

Recommended book – No Shortcuts To The Top

There are 14 mountain peaks in the world that tower to 8,000 meters (26,247 feet), and when Ed Viesturs finally conquered Annapurna, a peak on which one climber dies for every two who try, he joined an elite group of five people who have accomplished that feat without using supplemental oxygen.

He’s the only American to have done so. It took 18 years and 30 expeditions to the 8,000ers; on 10 trips he turned back short of the summit, once when he was only 100 feet away, exercising extraordinary willpower to follow his “deepest article of faith” that “getting to the top is optional; getting down is mandatory.”

Not bad for a man who in 1992 at the age of 33 had quit his practice as a vetinarian, was living in a windowless basement apartment, had $25,000 of school debt, and was banging nails as a construction worker to make ends meet.

No Shortcuts is a fun read because it is about more than mountain climbing, which, of course, almost none of his readers will ever attempt. But everyone has their personal Annapurna, as he says in the final pages of the book, whether battling cancer or conquering a fear. Failure, perseverance, passion, patience, risk management, teamwork, self-sacrifice for others, endurance and death are all life lessons that easily emerge from the book.

His chapter on the 1996 disasters on Mount Everest when a dozen people died, including world class mountaineers Scott Fischer and Rob Hall, ads his personal perspective to Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. In the last few pages Viesturs reflects upon whether his pursuit was selfish, adventure addiction, growing older and realizing he cannot climb like he could twenty years ago, feeling letdown after such a remarkable accomplishment, and how climbing has impacted his marriage.

For movie versions see the IMAX film Everest (the highest grossing IMAX movie ever made) or the documentary NOVA – Everest: The Death Zone.

Book review by Daniel B. Clendenin “Phd”, courtesy of Amazon.com

Travel Europe with Eurobookings.com

EurobookingsEurobookings.com is one of the online European Hotels reservation portal that offers the best choice of hotels and room rates in Europe. They cover a whole lot range of accommodations from small family hotels, chain hotels, airport hotels, highway hotels, luxury hotels to low budget hotels in all the major cities of the world as well as the popular areas across Europe.

I managed to check out their website today and the first thing that I noticed was their tagline, “Lowest Rates – No Reservation Fee – No Cancellation Fee – No Payment In Advance!”. When I look into their website deeply for their claimed statement, it seems that Eurobookings will not request any charges when you make a booking with them, but only will do it when you check out from the hotels. They even do not charge for any cancellation fee!

Another nice feature about Eurobookings is that they have a Europe Hotel Guide, a blog like entry of post about the various destinations in Europe. With Hotel Guide, I think travelers could get some feedback on their destination from an insider point of view, especially on choosing which hotel to stay for their trip.

In addition to that, Eurobookings also provides a flight and car reservation services to complete your package to Europe.

This is a sponsored post. 

Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2006 video from YouTube

This year’s Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 21st edition will be held earlier than usual, on 25-26 August 2007. I check out their official website and found a very good video on the events from YouTube. Check it out:

If you think of participating, go to their website and fill in the registration form. A US$33,400 in total prize money to be won.

However, if the grueling events made you feel sick, why not watch Kinabalu climbing from a regular climber point of view…

Porters of Mount Kinabalu photos…

I received an email from our good friend, Cikgu Ismail few weeks back. He emailed me a photo of one of the porter, who climb Mount Kinabalu – day in, day out – to live. It’s really extraordinary, as the load of the packages that they bring are sometimes unimaginable.

Updated photo on 25 July 2007: CIkgu Ismail with one of the porters who showed him his well formed calf, lugging a 14kg cooking gas tank.

Porter lugging a cooking gas tank

Below are the earlier photos:

Porter with PVC sewage pipe

The next 7 photos were send by Cikgu Ismail a month earlier. He even made a special Power Point file (which then burned on a cdrom) with all the photos inside.

Mount Kinabalu Porter

Mount Kinabalu Porter

Mount Kinabalu Porter

Mount Kinabalu Porter

Mount Kinabalu Porter

The last 2 photos are really…

Mount Kinabalu Porter

Mount Kinabalu Porter

So, you think you can do like them???
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!

Can we sleep at Laban Rata Resthouse restaurant floor?

Laban Rata ResthouseI received and email yesterday asking about sleeping at Laban Rata Resthouse restaurant floor if climbers did not be able to secure a place to stay at any huts in Laban Rata area for the night. This is the email:

Hi Ruhaizad,

Could you please help us as you seem to know all about Mt Kinabalu! We are
planning a visit to Kota Kinabalu from the 27th July to 3rd august and are
very keen to do the Mount Kinabalu hike especially after reading your reviews.

We are having problems booking accommodation as everything appears to be
booked out. We have heard that you can actually sleep on the Laba Rata Restaurant
floor, do you know if this is possible and if so how do we go about organizing
this?? Your help would be much appreciated as we really want to do this
climb!

We aim to climb on the 30th July but could also to the 31st July, 1 or 2nd August.

Look forward to hearing from you and hope you can help!

Cheers

D & J

And this is my answer:

Hi D & J,

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to tell you that Sutera Sanctuary Lodges is right, as there are no more places for you to stay in Laban Rata at that time. Its too short notice. I usually advice climbers to book at least 6 months in advance, to make sure that you place is secure.

At the moment, the rules and regulations by the Sabah Parks has not changed. Climbers are not allowed to sleep at the Laban Rata restaurant. It is prohibited, and they also will not allow you to camp around Laban Rata.

Maybe the best way is to call SSL directly and ask for any last minute cancellation. I would not advice you to just pop in at the park the morning before your climb to look for last minute cancellation, as you may risk of not getting any chance to climb if there were none.

I am sorry for your inconvenience. Hope the explanation helps.

Ruhaizad

Sidestep.com – Your one stop travel search engine

Sidestep.comI usually goes to Airasia.com and sometimes Malaysian Airline System (MAS) websites to look for flights, going to and fro Kota Kinabalu. The problem with these individual airline website is that we cannot compare the flight tickets, side by side (although I know that Airasia is always cheaper). A good travelers search engine like Sidestep.com, provides flights from both airlines side by side in one page, enabling you to compare the price differences at real time.

As an example (and I just would like to do some personal experiment), I was looking for roundtrip flights from Kota Kinabalu to Johor Bahru, Johor. Surprisingly, Sidestep.com’s database is really up to date, enabling me to check the airline fares for my search easily. The best thing about Sidestep.com is the capability to check out flight deals from over 150 travel sites and 600 airlines with one click!

Apart from providing cheap airfares, Sidestep.com also provides discount hotels, cruise vacations, car rentals, and vacation packages to popular travel destinations worldwide. They have a very interactive travel guide, which mentioned Sabah as a playground for adventure seekers, extreme sportsters, and bums in search of the ultimate beach. I really agree!

The other special feature from Sidestep.com are the free newsletter and an IE toolbar, which can be use to compare travel prices side-by-side with sites like Expedia and Travelocity, search multiple sites at once for discounts on flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation package discounts (like this Hotels in New Orleans package) and discover deals from travel providers that other sites miss.

Top 7 highest peak on Kinabalu

Ha… I have a very short quiz for you. Select the top 7 highest peak on Kinabalu from the 15 peaks that are there on Kinabalu. The one who could give me the correct answer may receive a free gift from me!

  1. Low’s Peak (Yeah, this one is the highest. Choose the next 6)
  2. King Edward’s Peak
  3. King George’s Peak
  4. Donkey’s Ear Peak
  5. St. John’s Peak
  6. Alexandria’s Peak
  7. Ugly Sister’s Peak
  8. Kinabalu South Peak
  9. Victoria’s Peak
  10. St. Andrew’s Peak
  11. Kinabalu North Peak
  12. Oyayubi Iwu’s Peak
  13. Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Peak
  14. Dewali’s Peak
  15. Mesilau’s Peak

Bonus question:

Name 3 peaks that is situated in the Eastern plateau…

Just drop the answers in the comment box!

10 ways to save your money backpacking in Kota Kinabalu

  1. Travel with somebody else. You may need to use the service from local tour and travel operator maybe once in a while, and most of the time, the budget package that they have is quoted for 2 pax (or a couple). If you are a solo traveler, there will be a 30-50% surcharge for you, and that is almost a standard practice to cover the expanses. If you want to save more, travel with more.
  2. Stay in one of the backpackers/travelers lodge inside the city center. There are more than 10 backpackers/travelers lodges here in Kota Kinabalu city center, and staying in one of the lodges, will cut your cost of moving around. By staying in the city center, you can easily get access to almost all the important places by foot. And it will be easier to get help if you are lost.
  3. Board a low cost carrier. The most popular way to get to Sabah is by air. Boarding a low cost carrier is one of the way to cut your travel cost. Airasia is the sole provider for Malaysian low cost carrier (as at the moment FAX is currently not that reliable). Airasia serve most of the capital cities around South East Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, Philippine and Indonesia. While boarding the flight will cut your cost, you still have to pay ‘some price’ for it. Free sitting, flight delays and small seats and legroom are the common complaints by the passengers.
  4. Sabah Tourism BuildingGet your free travel information from the government. It can be really difficult for you to choose the perfect travel operator for your activities, as there are so many around Kota Kinabalu. Why not head to Sabah Tourism Building at Jalan Gaya, in the city center. It is a Sabah State Government information center for travelers and tourist, where you can get free brochures and information from their information counter.
  5. Use public transport. While renting a car or 4WD may be a good idea (provided that you are familiar with the road here and have an updated map), the best way to travel in Sabah is still the public transport. However, you must carefully choose a suitable transport for you, especially if you plan to travel to Sandakan and Tawau. Some of the buses are really not comfortable, especially if you are 6′ tall!
  6. Eat seafood once in a while. While uncooked seafood is considered cheap in Kota Kinabalu, the seafood restaurants around town serves first class services, which might put a hole in your pocket. And careful with the spices. You might end up purging away your entire trip…
  7. Bring your own first aid kit. Lomotil, Imodium, Brufen and Charcoal tablets can be very useful during your difficult time. It might save you some money from spending it for a medical treatment. Oh, consider anti-malarial tablet also…
  8. Bargain up to 50% discount if you are shopping for souvenirs at the Filipino Market. Filipino Market is the best place to look for local handicraft souvenirs to take back home. Most of the traders will put the price tag almost double, purposely for the more ‘wealthy’ foreign tourist. And surprisingly, most of the time they tend to agree with the price tag for the item. There are 106 traders inside the Filipino market. Find the one that can give you the best price.
  9. Use a prepaid phone calling card. While internet connection and internet cafes are easy spot in Kota Kinabalu, it is a different story anywhere else. If you are heading to some adventurous travel where there are no mobile phone coverage, using a prepaid calling card with a public phone can save you a lot of money. For example, iTalk calling card from TM. You can get a really special rate calling overseas. Handy communication tools for emergency too.
  10. Use cash. While credit card is an easy way to pay for something you like, you have to bear in mind the interest generated. Debit card is not widely use here, so having enough cash is a better way to not get into trouble, especially if you are away in a place where barter trade is still practice…

Happy Backpacking!