Friday, March 04, 2005

Poring Hot Springs

Poring is situated at the edge of the Kinabalu World Heritage site, tucked in the confines of evergreen forests that is accessible via a kampung road. Travellers who are partaking a climb up Mt. Kinabalu will often find themselves headed to this natural hot spring to soak off some of the weariness from the previous days of climbing in the sulphurous waters. Trust me when I say after a day of aching muscles and tired out limbs from ascending and descending Mt Kinabalu, a soak at Poring will feel like Heaven. Named after a type of bamboo found locally (Gigantochloa levis (Blanco) Merrill), Poring was first developed by the Japanese during WWII as a reminder of the hot spring baths from their homeland. Now it is one of the varied attractions for people looking for some peace and relaxation.

To reach Poring, one would have to take a 45 km drive from the Kinabalu Park headquarters passing the town of Kundasang and Ranau. Those wishing to stock up on supplies or have a nice lunch before heading to Poring can do so here where local cuisines can be found at the varied eateries in town or if that does not suit your taste, fast food joints such as KFC can provide a hot meal. The turning after Ranau town might be hard to spot at first and you might miss it but the road to Poring is marked so you won’t get lost. You’ll drive past scenic rivers, golden fields of rice and kampungs on your way, driving slowly is advisable since cattle and livestock freely wander around the roads and may even hold you up if they deem to rest in the middle of the road itself.


The outdoor bath houses available for visitor's use.

A note of advice for day travellers, those who have already paid for park fees while entering Kinabalu Park should keep their ticket stubs as they are valid for the day. I had the unfortunate experience of paying twice for the fees before finding out this fact. Parking is available but limited in the park office. Visitors with tickets are still required to sign in at the guard post by the entrance.


Visitor Center offering museum displays and information to travellers.

A visitor center can be found at the entrance of the park. A booking office for those seeking accommodations is found within where you can opt to spend the night at one of the chalets or for more budget conscious travellers (Serindit I & II), bunk into the various guests lodges where you can have a bed and washing facilities to freshen up. Accommodations cater for all price ranges as they wanting to pay for luxurious 3 star rooms (Rajawali) have that option. An audio visual room and museum can be found at the conservation center where the display focuses on the various attractions of the park as well as a little on the flora and fauna of the area. Toilet facilities and a souvenir center are also found on site. A field near the chalets allow for visitors to have some fun if they want to play games such as football.


The Mamut river cascading down from the highlands.

To reach the hot springs, one has to cross the Mamut River (similar name to the Mamut copper mine now closed, in Ranau) using a suspension bridge. This is a very lovely sight especially during the rainy season when water can be seen cascading wildly from the highlands while polished stone from centuries of weathering line the shore and the air is cool and refreshing. Along the way, you’ll pass lush vegetations and huge bamboo groves. The hot springs are divided into two areas, the open air area consists of several tubs that allow you to funnel hot spring water available through pipes and soak in relative comfort, and a kid pool for those wishing to just soak their feet can be utilized as well. in its original unpiped state the waters are boiling hot, enough to make a good hard boil egg in minutes. Both hot and cold yellowish sulphuric water can be experienced depending on preference, some saying that the mineral rich waters can help diseased skin as well as take away tiredness and aching muscles. You can tell by the highly pungent wisp of hydrogen sulphide (smells like rotten eggs) that you’re near the place. More private commodes are available for rent by an hourly basis where you would not have to rush with the crowd but as of now these are under repair. Have a fresh coconut juice served in its original form by the vendor as you soak away your worries.


A kid finishing with his dip in the open pool.

Nearby can be found a restaurant where you can have lunch and dinner served albeit at a steep price but the portions are ample enough. A swimming pool has been newly constructed for those not too keen in soaking in the hot spring waters. There are varied activities for nature lovers here beside the hot springs. One is the forest canopy walkway (157 m) located after a brief hike through the jungle trail. Prices are RM5 whereby you’ll be treated with a marvellous view of the forest from high above the tree line (40 m elevation) seeing miles into the vast jungles. It is the longest and highest suspended walkway in Borneo. For those prone to highs and faint of heart, give it a skip as it is quite high up and looking down gives a thrill for those that don’t mind being suspended only by planks and nets. If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of the forest inhabitants such as monkeys and birds. A butterfly farm can be visited on site. Nature lovers can take time off and smell the roses at the various garden plots on site. Hikers will enjoy the myriad paths available, several leading to waterfalls such as Kipungit and Langanan that offer a cool refreshing soak rewarding the effort. Old growth trees can be frequently seen with roots towering an average person while everywhere you look you can find life from the uncountable insects, bugs and wildlife. I once found a green moth the size of a plate in the urinals.


Visitors braving the heights to complete the canopy walk.

Before leaving make sure you check out the various stalls sited opposite the park headquarters. Here locals sell various trinkets that are cheap and make good souvenirs. Stalls are lined with crystal, mineral and rock fragments collected nearby. Crystals of quartz, iron pyrite, tin, silver as well as polished rocks are made into lovely decors. Creative sellers fashion these into various shapes such as Rafflesias, key chains, sculptures and even stationary holders. Remember to haggle before you purchase to get better deals. During fruiting season you can also find langsat, rambutans and cikus for sale. Poring can be a day trip if you deign but stay a few days to visit all its attractions is a better option.


Crysta fragments, polished rocks and mineral ores are creatively arranged together to make wonderful and cheap souvenirs by locals.

1 comment:

5xmom said...

Oh Kervin, I wanted to go to KK so much. The other day got conned by advertisement. They boldly advertised KL-KK only RM200. Pttuuiii, truth is, it is Labuan-KK or something. It will costs us a bomb as 2 of us, 2 adult kids, 2 children fare. Maybe one day we will drive to KL from Penang and then, find a cheaper flight from KL - KK. Meantime, keep those info coming and tempt me.