A mountain too high to climb now
I HAVE been planning to climb Mt Kinabalu for some time with my friends and finally we made our flight bookings this year to make our dreams come true.
A few years back, I had a wonderful experience climbing the mountain and I met good and honest people who worked hard for their living as guides or porters.
Anyone who has been up the mountain would tell you of the amazing ladies carryng gas tank using a strap from their forehead to balance the weight 6km up the mountain.
I was told they were paid RM2 to RM3 per kilo.
When a climber reaches Laban Rata where the porters unload food, drinks and gas, all the climbers would praise these hardworking people after completing the same route with them, but carrying only a load of up to 25kg. The women even walked faster than any of the tourist climbers. It’s amazing!
This year when we wanted to book our accomodation in Laban Rata and Sayat Sayat, we were told that all these places have been placed under the management of private companies and prices of all accomodations have gone up tremendously.
Sayat Sayat is now handled by a company that packs a night’s stay with an adventure trip at above RM1,000 a person.
At Laban Rata where the restaurant used to sell fried rice for RM7 now offer the only option of a buffet with accomodation at RM208 a night.
I use to have very high admiration for Sabah Park for managing the Mt Kinabalu well. It was clean and with reasonable charges.
At the current high prices, I wonder if the local guides and porters are benefitting from it. Who are the new concession owners? Are they locals or foreigners?
Sabah Park should make clear the reasons for privatising Mt Kinabalu facilities. Have they been losing money and are they making money now? Is the local community benefitting from this privatisation?
Finally, at the prices now, Mt Kinabalu would be out of reach for many Malaysians.
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Checkout the new rates to climb Mount Kinabalu at the Sabah Parks website http://www.sabahparks.org.my/