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Climbing Mount Kinabalu via Kota Belud Trail

Climbing Mount Kinabalu

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake on 5 June 2015 destroyed part of the old summit trails on Mt. Kinabalu. On 1 Dec 2015, a new summit trail named Ranau Trail is open and becomes the Standard trail to climb Mt. Kinabalu until now, and I had covered this trail in detail in my article “How to Climb Mount Kinabalu and How Much it Cost?”.

Map of Ranau and Kota Belud Trails

Ranau and Kota Belud Trails (Click to Zoom In). Both start from Laban Rata and meet at Sayat-Sayat (checkpoint 1.6 Kilometres before the summit)

New! Kota Belud Trail

The second new trail called Kota Belud Trail will be open in this month (Dec 2016). I had climbed it three months ago (with special permit by Sabah Parks, as it wasn’t open to public that time), and this post will give you an overall of this new trail.

1. Kota Belud Trail is 170 Metres longer than Ranau (Standard) Trail

The one way distance (from Timpohon Gate starting point to the Summit) of Kota Belud Trail is 8.97 KM, while Ranau Trail is 8.8 KM. The starting point of Kota Belud Trail is next to Gunting Lagadan Hut and Panar Laban Hut, while Ranau Trail is started behind the Pendant Hut.

Ranau trail and peak

Ranau Trail is less challenging than the old trail

Descending via Ranau Trail

Descending via Ranau Trail

Kota Belud Trail

Though Kota Belud Trail is more challenging, the experience is more thrilling.

2. Kota Belud Trail is more Challenging than Ranau Trail

Ranau Trail is more tourist-friendly and safer because there are a lot of staircase and climbing aid. Kota Belud Trail is quite “raw” with limited support, so it is meant for adventurers who want to do real climbing. You need to be quite fit, and more upper body strength is required for climbing at the steep section.

Staircase on Ranau Trail

Staircase on Ranau Trail

The most difficult part of Ranau Trail

The most difficult part of Ranau Trail is still quite easy to climb

Rock climbing section on Kota Belud Trail

Rock climbing section on Kota Belud Trail

3. Kota Belud Trail is more Rocky

Most of the time you will walk on rock face and rocky ground, while Ranau Trail is flanked by dense vegetation most of the time.

Granite rock trail of Kota Belud Trail

Granite rock trail of Kota Belud Trail

Nice open view at Kota Belud Trail

Nice open view at Kota Belud Trail. You can see Aki Point platform far behind

Nature path of Ranau Trail

Nature path of Ranau Trail

4. Both trails start at Panalaban (then Laban Rata) and meet at Sayat-Sayat

Sayat-Sayat is a checkpoint 1.6 KM before the summit. The following routes are unchanged (before and after the earthquake):

  • Timpohon Gate (Starting Point) → Panalaban (Laban Rata, the location of midway accommodation): 6 KM
  • Sayat-Sayat Checkpoint → Summit: 1.6 KM
Kota Belud Trail ends at Sayat-Sayat

Kota Belud Trail ends at Sayat-Sayat (see green building in photo), where it meets Ranau Trail too.

5. Both trails have very different scenery

Climbing via Ranau Trail is like walking in a garden because climbers will see many flora along the way. On Kota Belud Trail, you climb on bare rock face most of the time, but the panoramic view of the landscape is magnificent!

Panoramic view from Kota Belud Trail

Panoramic view from Kota Belud Trail. You can see Laban Rata Resthouse from there.

Ranau Trail is flanked by dense vegetation

Ranau Trail is flanked by dense vegetation

Aki Point on Ranau Trail

Aki Point on Ranau Trail

Ranau trail

Ranau Trail: See the man in red?

Below is a table to summarize the differences between these two summit trails:

Ranau Trail (Standard) Kota Belud Trail
Distance (one way) 8.8 KM 8.97 KM
Difficulty Easy. Many staircases. Relatively less steep Steep and challenging. Limited climbing aid.
Features Dense and rich variety of summit vegetation along the trail Route on rock face and rocky ground. Beautiful panoramic view.

You know what. You can get better idea by watching the following video of Kota Belud trail. It shows our climb from the starting point to the summit. You can jump to 3:27 to see Kota Belud Trail:

The following is a photo walk-through of Kota Belud trail in chronological order:

Starting point of Kota Belud Trail

Starting point of Kota Belud Trail

20161202_11

Kota Belud Trail is more challenging than Ranau Trail

Kota Belud Trail is more challenging than Ranau Trail

The waterfall section not far from the starting point

The “waterfall section” not far from the starting point

Nice view at Kota Belud Trail

Nice view at Kota Belud Trail

Beginning section of the Kota Belud Trail

Beginning section of the Kota Belud Trail

Climbing along the slope of Kota Belud Trail

Climbing along the slope of Kota Belud Trail

Resting on the rockface

Resting on the rockface

Wide and long rockface section of Kota Belud Trail

Wide and long rockface section of Kota Belud Trail

Staircase on Kota Belud Trail

Staircase on Kota Belud Trail

Starting point of the steepest rock climbing section

Starting point of the steepest rock climbing section

The most challenging part of Kota Belud Trail

This is the most challenging part of Kota Belud Trail.

steep slope of Kota Belud Trail

Steep slope of Kota Belud Trail. It’s no joke if you fall from there.

Climbing via Kota Belud Trail

The most difficult part is almost over

Reaching the Sayat-Sayat Checkpoint (green building at the left). At the right are climbers on Ranau Trail.

Reaching the Sayat-Sayat Checkpoint (green building at the left). At the right are climbers on Ranau Trail.

Both Kota Belud and Ranau trails end and meet at Sayat-Sayat Checkpoint.

girls rest on slope

Relax after overcoming the hardest part

Walking on the rockface

Walking on the rockface (about 1.5 KM before the summit)

Group photo in front of Wishing Pond at the foot of Low's Peak

Group photo in front of Wishing Pond at the foot of Low’s Peak

On the way to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu

On the way to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu

Happy lady climbers on the summit

Happy lady climbers on the summit

Group photo on top of Mount Kinabalu

Group photo on top of Mount Kinabalu

At the moment, I’m not sure if we will need special permit or requirement to climb Mt. Kinabalu via Kota Belud Trail. If this trail is open to public, you can get the most fun by ascending via Kota Belud Trail and descending via Ranau Trail. I’ll update this post when I get the latest information.

Photos taken on Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Food Hunting at Menggatal Plaza

Juara Express

A traveller said, “I won’t have the memory of a city, if I don’t remember how its food tastes like.” Smell is the sense most closely linked with memory, and it can trigger a memory. We tend to recall more happy things while we enjoy great food. Agree? That’s why our food quest is a lifelong journey. Thanks to EatBah.com, I found some great stuffs at Menggatal Plaza (see Location Map or Street View), about 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu City (KK).

Relax Cafe

My first impression of Relax Cafe is a home-like cozy place filled with nice aroma of coffee.

Relax Cafe

Relax Cafe

The most ideal picture of my life is reading a book and relaxing in a cafe. Besides coffee, I love the smell of books. Coffee and books are prominent elements in the trendy interior design of this little cafe, so yea, I like its identity.

Interior of Relax Cafe

Interior of Relax Cafe (Click to Enlarge)

This cafe makes smart use of spacing and soft lighting to create many “small worlds”. You can find a little personal corner that belongs to you and your friends. In city, most cafes want to stuff as many desks as possible in a small area, making us feel like sitting in an open public area.

Relax Cafe: Oreo Lover (MYR12)

Relax Cafe: Oreo Lover (MYR12)

Most other cafes sell mainly cakes and dessert. Relax Cafe has some stomach fillers. The following are some of the items (*Serve No Pork):
– Oreo Lover (MYR12)
– Hot Commando Latte (MYR10)
– Cappuccino (MYR8.50)
– Hot Relax Chocolate (MYR7.50)
– Relax Signature Cheesy Snacks (MYR12.90)
– Cheesy Chicken on Papan (MYR28)
(Prices as of Nov 2016)

Relax Cafe: Cappuccino (MYR8.50) and Hot Relax Chocolate (MYR7.50)

Relax Cafe: Cappuccino (MYR8.50) and Hot Relax Chocolate (MYR7.50)

Relax Cafe: relax signature cheesy snacks (MYR12.90)

Relax Cafe: relax signature cheesy snacks (MYR12.90) (avalanche of cheese!)

Relax Cafe: cheesy chicken on papan (MYR28)

Relax Cafe: Cheesy Chicken on Papan (MYR28)

When I was looking around, I saw a pretty girl smiling at me. I took a deep breath, walked to her, and said, “Sorry Miss, would you please move away? I need the power points behind you.” Ok, I’m just kidding. She is Kimberly Vung, the Miss Sabah Tourism 2016, in our food hunting group. I’m just trying to say that it’s very thoughtful this cafe has many power points, something that I always search high and low in other restaurants.

Relax Cafe

Relax Cafe (note the power points behind her lol)

To find out more about Relax Cafe, check this out:
Facebook: RelaxCoffeeCafe
Tel: +60 19-8231127
E-mail: relaxcoffeecafe@gmail.com
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm daily

Juara Express

What’s for lunch / dinner? For food, I’m very lazy to think what to eat, so Nasi Ayam (Chicken Rice) is my default choice.

Restoran Juara Xpress (Halal)

Restoran Juara Xpress (Halal)

Therefore, if the price of chicken rice rises, that’ll affect my income. In KK, most chicken rice costs MYR7 and more. In Menggatal Plaza, you still can find cheap chicken rice at Juara Express:
– Nasi Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken Rice) (MYR5.30)
– Ayam Kon Lou Mee (Noodle with Chicken) (MYR5.80)

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Rice (Nasi Ayam Goreng (MYR5.30))

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Rice (Nasi Ayam Goreng (MYR5.30)). Thank you Eilvane for holding the bite so we can take photos.

The quantity of the chicken is not bad, at least the meat is more than cucumber. You can have noodle there too.

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Noodle (Ayam Kon Lou Mee (MYR5.80))

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Noodle (Ayam Kon Lou Mee (MYR5.80))

There are 9 other Juara branches in Sabah:
Tel: +60 88-433653
Opening Hours: 10am – 9:30pm daily

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁)

Our next stop is a Chinese restaurant called Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) next to Upperstar.

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) opens from 5pm to 11pm daily

We tried the following dishes:
– Pork Belly with Salted Fish 咸鱼花腩煲 MYR12 (S) MYR20 (M)
– Nam Lu Chicken Wing 南乳鸡翼 MYR10 (S) MYR20 (L)
– Fried Tom Yam Meehoon 炒冬炎米粉 MYR10
– Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish) from Paul Ikan Panggang (separate stall in this restaurant) MYR4/100gram

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Pork Belly with Salted Fish (咸鱼花腩煲) MYR12 (S) MYR20 (M)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Pork Belly with Salted Fish (咸鱼花腩煲) MYR12 (S) MYR20 (M)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Nam Lu Chicken Wing (南乳鸡翼) MYR10 (S) MYR20 (L)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Nam Lu Chicken Wing (南乳鸡翼) MYR10 (S) MYR20 (L)

I like their Pork Belly with Salted Fish and Nam Lu Chicken Wing, very appetizing.

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Fried Tom Yam Meehoon (炒冬炎米粉) MYR10 (meat / seafood)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Fried Tom Yam Meehoon (炒冬炎米粉) MYR10 (meat / seafood)

Paul Ikan Panggang: Ikan Bakar (Grilled Stingray) MYR4/100gm

Paul Ikan Panggang: Ikan Bakar (Grilled Stingray) MYR4/100gm

More info of Phoenix Restaurant:
Facebook: PhoenixRestaurantkk
Tel: +60 13-9720333 (Eddie Law, 阿聰)
Opening Hours: 5pm to 11pm daily

Ikan Bakar Nicholas (Grilled Fish)

We tried Grilled Fish of Ikan Bakar Nicholas in Kedai Kopi Memang (美满).

Ikan Bakar Nicholas

Ikan Bakar Nicholas

The grilled fish we had was a flounder, which costs MYR14 (MYR3.50 per 100gram)

Ikan Bakar Nicholas: MYR14 (MYR3.50/100gm)

Ikan Bakar Nicholas: MYR14 (MYR3.50/100gm)

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

MYR30 for a steamboat buffet sounds too good to be true, but I find it at Menggatal Plaza. Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet serves no pork and the following is the rate:
– Adult MYR30
– Child MYR15
– Under 5 is Free Of Charge

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet (Adult: MYR30, Child: MYR15)

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet (Adult: MYR30, Child: MYR15)

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Though the buffet isn’t expensive, the food is not cheapo. They have good variety of meat, seafood and vegetables, and soft drink and ice cream are included.

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Facebook: Ladleful
Opening Hours: 6pm – 11pm daily
E-mail: yunhong111@hotmail.com
Tel: +60 16-5122111

Photos taken in Menggatal (Kota Kinabalu), Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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