THE CLOUDS AT YOUR FEET, MOUNT KINABALU

PassageBlue.comMy dearest memory of climbing Mount Kinabalu involved sitting on a rocky plateau a few metres below the Laban Rata rest house, watching the clouds gently catch fire as the sun dipped behind the mountainside.

PassageBlue.comPassageblue.comPassageBlue.com PassageBlue.comWe watched the sky turn into a milky gold as the clouds engulfed the trees and shrubs around us, and thought what pity it was that so few of us were awake to witness such a sight. If you’re planning to climb Mount K soon, do stay up a little longer to soak in the sunset. It will be worth your while, we promise.

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Not sure which trail to take? We’d recommend the Mesilau trail for picturesque views of the forest and beyond.

Don’t forget to view our tips at the bottom of the post! Happy climbing! 

THE MESILAU TRAIL: MOUNT KINABALU

Passage Blue in Mount Kinabalu

The morning sun casted a white glow over the treetops as we began our journey through the gorgeous Mesilau plateau, located on the East Ridge of Mount Kinabalu. Tangled tree roots traced our path as we climbed past towering trees and little waterfalls before reaching the Kipuyut Bridge, a suspension bridge across the West Mesilau river.

The trail was long and arduous, but the view made up for everything. We watched the forest unfold into an entirely new world as bright green patches of moss blanketed the rocks and fallen branches along our path. Trees grew stunted past 6,000 feet as the   terrain transformed into a shorter landscape of oak and chestnut trees. Breathtaking yet opted by few, the Mesilau trail is less     trodden by climbers for one reason; the additional 2 kilometers along this upward and downward route makes the climb fairly         demanding for the unseasoned climber. There is no adventure without a little struggle though, and I knew we had to work for our view.

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www.passageblue.com Passage Blue in Mount KinabaluPassage Blue in Mount KinabaluPassageBlue.com Mt KinabaluAfter 5.7 kilometeres of continuous trekking and a little scrambling, we arrived at the Layang-Layang shelter where the two trails converged into one steep climb up towards Laban Rata. Our climb up the unpaved path and uneven rocks seemed endless at one point, and we began to lose our breath. We nudged each other on and took comfort in each other’s company as the mist rolled in   before dark. It turned out to be a blessing that we had lost track of time – watching the clouds roll in behind us at sunset was truly the pinnacle of our climb.

View Laban Rata at sunset and scenes from the summit.

WALKING THE GREAT WALL IN THE MIDST OF WINTER

Passage Blue at the Great Wall

The Great Wall turned out to be quite as astounding as we hoped. It was midwinter, the air was crisp and it was a numbing -18 degrees. We set out really early in the morning and made our way 50 kilometers out of central Beijing to the Changping district to see one of the three greatest mountain passes of the Great Wall of China. From what we gathered, walking the Great Wall would be a breeze if you were reasonably fit. My grandfather did it in his 70s with little effort, an endeavor he undertook in the Fall of ‘97. Doing so in the midst of winter though, is an entirely different endeavor. We arrived at the base of the Juyong Pass to find a thick layer of ice glazed over the surface of our pathway, watched as visitors skidded down the slippery slopes and wondered if we should even proceed with such a daunting attempt.

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The layer of ice beneath our feet grew thicker and it had gotten so cold that our feet stung. We held onto the railing as we made our way higher up, clambering up almost, uncovering a view so breathtaking that we forgot all about the biting cold. High enough to see the extended parts of the wall snake across the mountain, we took in the view for as long as possible, stopping by a cosy souvenir shop along the way – we went in for the heating and hot tea!

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The Great Wall truly is a spectacle, a place we’d really like to revisit in the Fall one day.

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THE LOUVRE

Passage Blue in Paris

I wound the film advance lever, stopped at the entryway of the narrow, elongated room and began to release the shutter. A stream of visitors poured into the room from behind me as I stood in their way. The sheer grandeur of the Louvre’s expansive art collection easily reminded us of how little we knew about art history. We love museums, but felt a little overwhelmed after midday as we further negotiated our way through the immense space. We took a break and continued on, past the resplendent marble sculptures of Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory, and quietly watched as an artist recreated an original painting in the midst of hundreds of passing visitors.

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