Road Trip to Mt Kinabalu

Ah the immortal words of Otter and Boon, “road trip”. (1978 epic movie, Animal House)

i often miss out on the sightseeing expeditions the girls take. for one thing i hate, fear and loath busses, not sure why but it is a real phobia of mine. Many attempts have been made to get me over this, but honestly i see no compelling reason. I will take a cab, walk, or do the hokey pokey before i will get on a bus. Really do not like the whole “tour” ritual at all. During the Sail Indonesia Rally so many great tours were offered, i took none of them. One intrepid couple i cruised with did not miss a one, twelve/fourteen hour bus rides did not detour them.

Ah but there is one form of transportation i cannot pass up. The words of Arlo Guthrie’s immortal song pop in my head; “i don’t want a pickle, just want to ride my motorcycle”. So when i found a motorcycle rental place in Kota Kinabalu the die was cast, road trip!

i picked up the Kawasaki KLH, on/off road 150cc bike, a brand new one at that and away we went. Anna had little experience on a bike so this was all new to her. i plunked on the “one size fits all” helmets, mine to small, hers too big, loaded up the luggage boot and away we rode.

the destination was the famed Mt Kinabalu, a 13,000 ft mountain inland from KK about a three hour ride. Second on the list was Poring Hot Springs, filling my never miss a hot springs agenda. i had googled the trip thoroughly, got a good deal on a room and kinda knew the map before we left. Ana was the navigator utilizing her GPS phone app and we made our way out of town almost without getting lost, almost.

We blasted up the windy mountain road, well as much blast as a 150cc with two people can get. This is a big bike for here, but my bike at home is a hot rod 1800cc monster so it seemed small. We entered the park at the base of the base of the mountain, paid the park fee and did some sightseeing. For the first time in a long time i got a little cool and Ana downright cold. i had packed my old leather jacket but she had not been prepared, i should have thought that one out but after 4 years of being warm, preparing for cold is just not common. No worries we found a road side open market in no time and got her a spanking new, ok slightly used jacket.

We found the road to the hot springs and meandered into the jungle until we got to the site. This is part of the same Mt. Kinabalu park so our passes were still good. i had found a room at the lodge within the hot springs compound, it is run by the same group, (some call mafia) that runs the marina. We unpacked, had lunch and headed for the pools. The naturally fed springs heat a big selection of pools ending in a swimming pool with water slides. We kept up stream where the water was hot. The water is piped into about a dozen two person tile tubs with a definite Japanese influence. it takes a while to fill the tub but once it is done a sublime soak in very hot water is yours. We hung out until totally relaxed, took a nap and headed to the restaurant.

There is one place to eat in the compound and several just outside the gate, as we had a miserable experience in the one outside we opted for the higher priced dinner inside, good choice. (note; paying almost $10 for a meal is rare here) It became apparent that there was only one other couple staying in the compound and we shared the restaurant with them. One of the perks of staying within the compound walls is that you get 24 hour use of the tubs, which close to the public at eight PM. We went back to the deserted tubs after dinner and soaked in solitude under the stars until very late. As we were clearly the only ones there, i deemed the tubs CO!

the warm sun beating into the window of our cozy room got us going, again a great meal. We packed the bike and headed out. We took a circular route home along the mountain ridge and through yet another scenic park. We sped down the mountain towards KK, you could feel the air change as we headed towards the moister coastal air. This was reminiscent of so many motorcycle rides back home coming from the desert across the mountains and down to the coast.

The KLH is a great bike but not built for comfort, after a few hours my butt was good and sore and i could hear poor Ana groaning behind me. We put the jackets on and off as we summated the mountain range and stopped for some other stretching/getting blood back to the butt needs. We were both happy to get back to marina and crawl off the bike. After the circulation returned to our posteriors the joy of the ride came through, we toasted to our great adventure.