Outdoors

Going to Symbiosis Re:Union?! Here’s a crash course for the Lineup this year.

Planning on hitting Symbiosis 10 Year Anniversary this September?!  You’ve absolutely made the right decision.  After almost 16 years of events under my belt in the realm of the electronic music festival world here on the Left Coast, I have constantly said now for years that Symbiosis is by far, THE BEST, hands down, no questions asked.  The venues they choose, the attention to detail in production, the crowd they draw, the incredibley diverse lineup, and more make this your one festival to never miss when they actually decide to throw one.  It’s usually once every two years with a one back to back occurrence in 2012/2013.

Due to the fact that their lineups are so massive and diverse, you may not know who or what it is you’re looking at exactly when it comes to these artists.  That is why I am here today.  Here is my Official Crash Course to the Symbiosis 2015 Lineup:

:: ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE MISSED ::

Nicolas Jaar (DJ Set)
http://www.nicolasjaar.net/

If you don’t know who Nicolas Jaar is at this point, you’ve obviously been on another planet for the past few years.  Since about 2011 Nico has made an incredible dent in the more mature and jazz influenced side of electronica.  Literally everything he touches is gold, and thankfully, he just started his own imprint, Other People, to further the exploration into the world of his tastes.  On Other People you can also find artists like Valentin StipDarkside, and other classy acts.  His live show I saw a few years back was nothing short of amazing, and as much as I’m not usually into DJ Sets from prolific producers, Nico should bring it proper as this year’s main headliner.

CocoRosie
http://cocorosiemusic.com/
https://soundcloud.com/larealcocorosie

Ahhh yes, the two beautiful lovely ladies that make up the Indie Folktronica group CocoRosie.  I was turned onto these lovelies around 2009 and dabbled a bit into their music with a girlfriend at the time.  They ended up passing through Seattle and I bought us tickets to go.  Suffice to say, that show made me a firm believer.  What really caught me was how incredibly unique and avant-garde their whole performance was – I’d never seen or heard anything like it.  They had a whole table with an array of children’s toys, plastic music boxes, and more that were implemented into almost every song played.  These beauties are not to be missed!

Tipper
http://tippermusic.net/
https://soundcloud.com/tippermusic

Dave Tipper.  The man who is almost solely responsible for the squelching Left Coast bass music sound.  A god amongst music producers.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have watched Dave play back in his humble beginnings right after he moved to Seattle in 2003 or so.  From the moment I saw him scratching with a CDJ over his own live beats, I knew something special had just landed on the West Coast.  Over the past 15 years now Tipper has released countless EP’s, a few LP’s, a surround sound masterpiece, and most recently kicked a heart bypass surgery in the ass!  Thank the gods Dave is still with us.  If you want to see this man in his absolute element, do not miss EITHER of his sets here at Symbiosis this year.  His downtempoish set during the eclipse at the 2012 Pyramid Lake Symbiosis was and still is in my Top 10 dance-at-a-festival moments EVER.

Four Tet
http://www.fourtet.net/

Kieren Hebden is one of my favorite musicians.  Ever.  The man has attributed to some of my very favorite songs, that have been on repeat now for fifteen years!  We’ve seen Kieren’s Four Tet moniker go from 99’s ‘Dialogue‘ minimal electronic jazzfest to 2005’s quirky downtempo IDM filled ‘Everything Ecstatic‘ to teaming up with Burial in 2009 for some of the sexiest slow techno ever to 2010’s gorgeous slow house love fest on ‘There Is Love In You‘ only to end up here in 2015 where he just released ‘Morning/Evening‘, two twenty minute long Hindu chanting micro-house ambient opuses.  Oh yah, in 2011 he did some work with Thom Yorke as well.  Basically the man is a genius, and makes amazing music.  Constantly.  I’ve seen Four Tet now a handful of times, and depending on what style of set he’s booked for (Live vs DJ), the level of awesome can vary.  That said, you’ll still more than likely see me in front of the stage when he plays!

Sylvan Esso
http://www.sylvanesso.com/

I was just recently turned onto Sylvan Esso through my What.CD geekings.  They’re straight up in this whole new wave of Hipster Folktronica, and I absolutely love it.  Don’t know too much else about them except that their LP debut from last year is a must hear.  Be careful, it may be on repeat in your room soon!

Ibeyi
http://www.ibeyi.fr/

So I just looked up these 19 year old twin beauties today.  Instantly fell in love.  If you liked the Sylvan Esso vibe above, you’ll definitely dig Ibeyi’s Afro-Cuban take on Hipster Folktronica.  I’ll definitely be trying to catch these ladies at Symbi.

The Acid
http://wearetheacid.com/

https://soundcloud.com/the-acid-sounds

Like the past few projects mentioned here, The Acid I just recently discovered.  Leaning on the Hipstertronic side of things, they are in that same vibe minus the Folk aspects.  You could almost call it ambient lyrical moody house/techno…or something.  Regardless, I just listened to their first LP ‘Liminal’ and totally dug it.  I’ll definitely want to check this live electronic trio out this year!

Pantha Du Prince
http://www.panthaduprince.com/
https://soundcloud.com/panthaduprince

Normally you would only see Pantha at something like Decibel Festival (Seattle) or Mutek (Montreal), and not at some hippie styled festival here in Cali.  This is an absolutely perfect example of why I consider Symbiosis to be the best Left Coast festival – booking artists of this nature.  Pantha separates himself from the usual techno world with his ever so sleepy beats making you feel like you’re floating through the falling snow of some Norse country in the dead heart of winter.  By infusing all sorts of bell and glass instrumentation, the music while thick underneath, sounds heavenly and full of light.  I was fortunate enough to stage manage for Pantha at Decibel a few years back, and was astounded when he set up his rig – a computer, a midi controller, and sixteen different pieces of glassware – all randomly filled with different amounts of water – that were then mic’d and played throughout his live performance.  While I don’t expect this to happen out at Symbi, I do know he’ll deliver one incredible set for us all OUTSIDE.  Don’t miss it!

edIT & Ooah Present: Crying Over Pros & Of Porcelain
https://soundcloud.com/edit
https://soundcloud.com/ooah
http://www.theglitchmob.com/

I first caught wind of Ooah back in 2005 when I spent four months on Maui with my girlfriend at the time and a whole posse of hippies.  EPIC times those were.  Ooah, Random Rab, and the late Rodman had come out during those four months as well, and were basically playing every or every other party during the whole time I was there.  It was awesome.  Ooah’s quirky, but hard hitting breaks to hip-hop sets were something to lust for over and over.  Rab’s gear hadn’t been stolen yet and he was not playing via laptops.  Then by the next time I saw Ooah, The Glitch Mob had happened.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  For one it was nothing like I was used to with Ooah.  Two, edIT, this random name in IDM who I’d heard of from his mind blowing glitch quest entitled ‘Crying Over Pros For No Reason on Planet Mu in 2004, was up there on stage with Ooah and Boretta and a whole slew of other folk churning out this psycho glitch glam hop that made me (personally) want to run away screaming.  Regardless, the Mob’s (and Bassnectar’s) sound literally took over the Cali music scene for a good four years from 2006-2010.  During that time however, Ooah self-released his own answer to edIT’s glitch quest, titled ‘Of Porcelain‘.  Both of these emotive downtempo styled glitch fests are two of the boys best works, and possibly will be for a long time to come.  To see this performed dually and live at Symbi will be a real treat that honestly will probably never happen again.  Be there.

Max Cooper
http://maxcooper.net/
https://soundcloud.com/max-cooper

I first caught wind of Mr. Cooper like many artists – through catching him deliver an over the top excellent set at Decibel Fest a few years back.  From then on he was on my radar.  Then he was booked at the Juke Shack at Symbi 2013 – again another excellent set of diverse techno, blended perfectly for the time and slot given at the fest.  That dancefloor was raging!!!  Since 2013, the world has seen Max diversify his sound incredibly from mostly techno into the world of expansive IDM sounding downtempo electronica and more.  2014 saw the release of his debut LP ‘Human‘, which is an instant classic in it’s own right.  2014 also saw Max stepping up his game even further by launching his own Live A/V (Audio/Visual) tour called ‘EMERGENCE‘, which thankfully he debuted at Decibel Fest.  This live set brings forth everything about Max that you love already, while placing sharp and crisp visuals programmed by the man himself behind it all to fully encapsulate your brain, heart, and body.  If ‘EMERGENCE‘ comes to your town – do not miss it.  I know Max will fully deliver another epic dance set at Symbi this year – I’ll see you on the dancefloor!

Bob Moses
https://soundcloud.com/the-bob-moses

Thanks to the brilliant brain of the one and only KDJ aKa Kadeejah Streets aKa Dirty Ice do I get turned onto many incredible musicians I may have not found on my own.  Bob Moses is yet another perfect example of KDJ playing something for my ears, and instantaneously am I finding myself addicted.  (I probably wouldn’t have started spinning dubstep if it wasn’t for addictions like this, but that’s another story for another time.)  This time it was through Bob Moses’ ‘Inner City Odyssey mix from about eight months ago.  I think I played it out something like 10-12 times the first week I got my hands on it (and it is still available for download via the link above, FYI).  The mix is a heartfelt and laid back sunny day house set, with beautiful vocal melodies swimming around your head throughout most of it’s hour long play time.  While I don’t know much about Bob Moses, I do know they’re relatively new to the house music scene, and so far have done nothing but turn heads wherever they play or their music is played.  I’d fair to say this may be the one biggest dance set I’m lusting after at this year’s Symbi – I can only hope they get scheduled at that perfect moment!

Thugfucker
http://www.thugfucker.org/
https://soundcloud.com/thugfucker

Thugfucker.  Say it again with me: THUG-FUCKER.  What does not come to mind when you say this brilliant moniker is a tech-house duo.  What does come to mind might be Master P or Dr. Dre’s new protege or something of the sort.  Regardless, the Fucking of Thugs is definitely oriented towards house and is one of those odd projects that has randomly released some tunes here or there for the past 10+ years, has never released a full LP, and really only plays out every so often (from what I can tell).  Honestly due to the name I’d skipped seeing them at a few previous festivals until I caught the tail end of their set over a Funktion One soundsystem at Symbi 2012.  My love of house had full on returned at that point and I dug what I heard.  It wasn’t until Symbiosis 2013 that I was fully converted into Thugfucking.  That year from 5am-7am the duo laid down what has now been deemed the ‘Fogrise Set of a Lifetime’ by our whole crew who had been camped out at the Juke Shack for close to eight hours already.  The music being DJ’d matched the time and setting so well that I was finding myself nearly brought to tears multiple times.  Melodic, emotive, dance-forward tech-house perfectly mixed for two hours.  Pure bliss.  I can only hope they get a similar timeslot this year.

Thriftworks
https://soundcloud.com/thriftworks

In a land that is overly saturated with immature bass music for days, comes the mature answer to that sound: Thriftworks.  Introduced to me through The Jess a few years back, I’d heard the name a few times, but had dismissed it due to my jaded mindset on most Cali bass music.  Then I pulled my head out of my ass and discovered Thriftworks’ not overly produced, not overly squelched, and not overly repetitive bass heavy goodness.  The man has releases for days.  They start to sound a bit similar if you go on a binge, but they really do all stand apart in their own ways.  My personal LP favorite is ‘Terry-D‘.  The title track alone gets my brain bouncing and laughing so hard at the same time, that I am only hoping he drops this one on large sound this year!

TRUTH
http://www.truthdubstep.com/
https://soundcloud.com/truthdubstep

I discovered TRUTH when I was full on binging in my new lust for the dark, minimal, and grimey sounds of halfstep dubstep a few years back.  Side Note: Remember folks – real dubstep is at 140bpm.  Just because there’s annoying squelching sounds and lots of bass DOES NOT MAKE IT DUBSTEP.  In fact it probably isn’t.  Okay, that said, TRUTH was one of the few heavy hitters not from the UK that caught my ears.  The duo has released a fair amount of tunes through most big name dubstep labels at this point including Deep Medi Musik, Black Box, and Tempa.  While it definitely takes a bit of sifting through their catalog to find the gems, once you find those gems, you’re stoked.  This was a bit of an odd booking to me for this year’s Symbi, as there is literally almost nothing like it on the lineup besides them.  Regardless I’m curious to see what these guys pull off on large sound, and I just hope that it’s some form of a live set!

Carbon Based Lifeforms
http://www.carbonbasedlifeforms.net/
https://soundcloud.com/carbonbasedlifeforms

Another fairly out there but fantastic booking is the Swedish ambient/downtempo psydub project Carbon Based Lifeforms.  Having been around now since 1998, they are veterans to the chillout scene and all things trippy.  I’d heard of these two off and on for the past ten or so years, and always in positive discussion.  A few friends are truly avid fans, so I downloaded a few albums a while back and turned out to really enjoy the music.  It’s very relaxed, calm, and has many moments of weightless ambience throughout the songs and in between.  Just like TRUTH mentioned above, these guys are kind of in their own world out at this year’s Symbiosis.  I’d imagine an early morning sunrise set would be perfect!

:: IF YOU’RE NOT BUSY WITH THE ABOVE LIST, CHECK OUT ::

Justin Martin Dirtybird Bassline Techno
Christian Martin  Dirtybird Bassline Techno
Extrawelt – German Techno
KMLN – Cali Techno Dj Duo
Mumdance – Tripped Out British Bass Music
Filastine – Epic Political Hip-Hop
Random Rab – Warm & Fuzzy Downtempo (Especially if it’s a sunrise set!)
Tara Brooks – Super Fun Dancey House Music
Treavor Moontribe – PsyTechno
World’s Finest – Americana Dub Grass from PDX

If you have some free time to kill while you’re not dancing your ass of to any of the DO NOT MISS list, then I highly recommend you check out any or all of the above artists.  They’re solid performers, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the show!

:: IF YOU GO TO FESTIVALS TO SEE THE SAME SHIT EVERY TIME, CHECK OUT ::

Shpongle (DJ Set by Raja Ram)
Emancipator Ensemble
The Polish Ambassador
EOTO
EPROM
Perfect Stranger
Desert Dwellers
Kalya Scintilla
The Human Experience
An-Ten-Nae
Kaminanda
Liberation Movement

Uhhhh, yah.  The Festie All-Stars.  They play every fest during the summer and some of you love it.  Not really my thing, but if it floats your boat – go sailing!  I’d personally recommend checking out some of the other music this massive lineup has to offer.

:: IF YOU’RE SUPER SPIRITUAL, CHECK OUT ::

Dub Kirtan Allstars
Fanna Fi Allah
Hamsa Lila

I actually really enjoy the above bands.  What I don’t enjoy is the excessively elevated and holier than thou vibes some of their fans bring with them.  That said, if you’re into kirtan and chanting and what not, these groups are definitely for you.

Well that’s about that.  Hopefully this has been informative, helpful, and fun.  I definitely hope you discovered something new in the music world you’re now into.  I’ll be at this year’s Symbi from Thurs-Mon, and would love to see any and all of you.  I’ll be camped in the Seattle Camp, which hopefully will be pleasantly situated by the Lake once again.  Have fun this year, and remember to DRINK WATER.


~SS~

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New To Banda Aceh? Little John Can, And Will Help!

IMG_20150327_225128

Planning on heading to Indonesia sometime soon with a stop in Banda Aceh?  You’ll definitely need some transportation to and from the bus station or airport, and you’ll probably want to check out some of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami memorials and museum while you’re in town.  You may also need some information on where to get some supplies and or random other info about the area and what not.  Look no further for help, it’s right here!

I found a man who calls himself Little John on WikiTravel.org who turned out to be a joy of a becak (tuk-tuk) driver and guide for a few days.  I contacted John by texting him from Sabah, Malaysia, and even though it was long distance texting he got back to me right away about a ride from the Banda Aceh Airport to our hotel I’d booked a day earlier (Hotel Wisata, Rp225,000 w/Hot Water & Private Bathroom).

John found us easily and right away as we stepped out into the thick muggy air of Banda Aceh and had a sign waiting with my name on it just in case.  He drives a local styled motorized tuk-tuk (called becak’s here in Indonesia), and actually has mobile Wifi through 3G on the becak in case you need it!  In years of traveling in SEAsia I have never seen this once.  Pretty impressive.  He’s a smiley character that speaks English (and Japanese) very well, and is full of info on whatever it is that you may be curious about.

Upon arriving at our hotel we immediately booked him to be a tour guide for the following day to take us around to some of the Tsunami memorials and such.  He was a few minutes early, and beyond taking us around to the memorials, assisted us in getting some string we needed to patch up some clothes, Jess’ contact lens replacements, Kopi Luwak, and even brought me to his friend’s chop shop because I told him I was a motorcycle geek and wanted to rent a bigger bike if possible.  It was an incredibly packed day full of great food, history, errands, and more.

Overall John’s insight is whats most valuable: we asked about dogs and why they are unholy for Muslim’s, SIM cards with internet packages ($3.50 will get you 4.5GB with simPATI!!), and he also translated what the all kids were asking us, plus told us where to go for the best stone markets here.

We’ve actually booked him again for tomorrow to take us over to Lampuuk Beach where we plan on staying at Joel’s Bungalow’s for a few nights before heading off to Pulau Weh for my birthday and some more diving!!

John would appreciate you contacting him a few days ahead of your arrival by Facebook, but you’re more than welcome to text him as well.  Here’s John’s info:

Phone: +62 81360231339

Facebook: Little John Banda Aceh – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006284559205&fref=ts

Blogspot: http://tuktukbandaaceh.blogspot.com

Climbing Mount Kinabalu (On A Budget)

So you’re one of those outgoing types and want to climb the tallest mountain in the Malay Archipelago?  Well if you’re prepared to get your ass handed to you to see one of the most breathtaking and beautiful sunrises ever – continue to read this post.  If not, read it anyways, you’ll learn a bunch!

(Quick Very Important Note Dated March 7, 2015: The mountain is INSANELY booked right now.  If you’re seriously thinking about hiking Kinabalu anytime in the near future, read all of this, and RIGHT NOW.  You’ll be lucky if you can find yourself a spot.  Read on, trust me.)

Hiking Mount Kinabalu has been something I’ve been wanting to cross off my bucket list since I heard about it from a fellow backpacking nomad sometime during my first SEAsian excursion years back.  Since then it’s been in the back of my mind and finally this year I made it over to Sabah mainly for this reason and to go diving in the Semporna area.  Not being used to the way things work around here in Sabah just yet, Jess and I showed up and rented a motorbike and started off on our journey not really thinking too hardly about booking in advance and such.  Five or so days into the journey we were starting to plan a bit about the mountain and started doing some research.  I randomly went to the travel agency outside our hotel and asked about pricing for hiking the mountain.  The woman came back at me with prices ranging from Rm1350 ($369.99) all the way up to Rm2000 ($548) and beyond!! (Quick Note: Rm = Ringgit Malaysian, the currency of Malaysia.)  These package deals, which I personally can’t stand, will include everything from transport to and from Kinabalu Park, way too many meals, and probably a bunch of other bells and whistles you don’t necessarily need and/or want.  We had already rented a motorbike for weeks in advance, didn’t need all that extra food, and mainly didn’t want to spend $400!  Beyond that, she also told us that hiking the mountain was basically booked until sometime in July.  Fail.  Epic fail.

A bit flustered, we took off from KK (Kota Kinabalu) for a five to seven day journey realizing that we would need do some serious research into booking this experience as we were here now and absolutely needed to make this happen.  I hopped on Google and came across an absolutely wonderful blog titled Notes of Nomads written by fellow travel addicts like myself that had brilliantly spelled out how they got around the insane prices and climbed Kinabalu on a budget (if you’re reading this – thanks again Jessica and Hai!!).  From their advice and the comments on one of their posts about it all I started seriously digging.

On their recommendation I first ended up contacting Sutera Harbour‘s Sanctuary Lodges, which funny enough, is a side business of a 5-Star resort based around Kota Kinabalu and more importantly – the exact company that the package deal from any travel agency is going to sell you on, without telling you who it’s through.  From what I could now tell, this company is basically the only way to tackle this incredible feat.  If you contact Sutera directly (which I don’t recommend) you’re looking at the following packages and prices:

Sutera Packages

Rm835 is still $230 per person.  The catch is this: all that is without the guide and park fees.  Add another Rm175 or so and you’re going to look at a grand total of about Rm985 ($270)!!  They also only offer the 3D/2N package.  You may or may not have that amount of time, or even want to do that.  The reality of it is that you’re more than likely going to be insanely sore after the hike and you will probably want the extra night once you’re down from the mountain to get a good night’s rest and rest your legs which will be absolute jello.  You’ll see again though on the above list that they also include SEVEN meals.  You really just don’t need all of them.  You’ll barely want to eat much for any of the three hikes, as hiking on a full stomach is really just a good way to ask for an uncomfortable side ache, or worse, a decent vomiting session somewhere along the trail.  Regardless of all this, I contacted them because I really wanted to hike this mountain.  They got back to me with the same news as the package lady in KK did – they’re fully booked until July.  Fail again.

Reading further into the comments section on the Kinabalu post from Notes of Nomads I started to notice the author and commenters mentioning something about a possible option through a company called Jungle Jack Backpacker.  Having a Malaysia SIM card already with 3G on it (Rm30/800MB) already I looked up Jungle Jack at his Facebook page and noticed his phone number 010 947 7509 (or +6 010 947 7509 from out of the country) and gave him a call.  Jack himself answered the phone and gave me simple details on what was up for climbing the mountain through him.

Jack offers all the way up to 4D/3N, though you can rock the 3D/2N or 2D/1N package, without all the extra bells and whistles from Sutera and for the lowest price I’d heard yet: Rm630 ($172).  You can stay with Jack out at his property 1km away from Kinabalu Park the night before your 9.30am climb and the night after your 2.30am climb, and honestly probably the night after if you wanted – Jack is about as sweet of a man as it gets.  After Jack explained this and also let me know that the mountain is basically full non-stop these days, I asked him when was available – he said get here Sunday, you can hike Monday the 2nd (of March).  Perfect I said.  STOKE – this was going to happen!  Jess and I got back to KK in time to repack our smaller bags with the gear needed for hiking and took off to find Jack’s place.

Jungle Jack’s Backpacker Hostel is located on the left side of the road on Route 22 which runs from the Tuaran area past Kinabalu Park to Ranau and beyond.  Here’s where Jack’s place is on the map (the red marker – click to enlarge photos):

Jungle Jack Location 1

Jungle Jack Location 2

Jess and I had our own motorbike to get around (as we’re not much into being shuttled around like cattle), but if you don’t have your own transportation, I’d say the best way to get there would be to either hitchhike, or take a bus get dropped off at Kinabalu Park like everyone else, and then carefully walk the 1km back to Jack’s – WEST of Kinabalu Park.  Most of the locals around the area know who he is, so ask around if you’re not sure where you are.  (Quick Note: We stopped in at Jack’s today and asked how most people get to his spot.  He said by bus.  Just tell the bus driver you’re going to Jungle Jack and they should know where to drop you.)

If your eyes are seeing a view of this from the road – you’re at the right place:

Jack Entrance

Once you arrive at Jack’s, be prepared – the man comes off a little more forward in a crazy way than you may be used to at first from a Malaysian man, but you will hilariously get used to it and love it.  The man is a hoot!  He’s really incredible.  You’ll basically pay Jack the Rm630 right when you arrive at his place (don’t forget to ask him about the Rm55), and he goes and takes care of getting all your details for hiking the next day in order (license, insurance, guide, etc.).  He then tells you to chill out and relax a while before he’ll take you out to a fantastic local dinner.

(Quick Note: Do yourself a favor – DO NOT ask Jack too many questions until you get there.  The man is fairly busy and has somewhat of a short fuse in a humorous way, and he doesn’t want to deal with loads of empty questions for no reason.  Ask him when you can climb, when to show up, and let him to the rest of the talking.  He’ll confirm with you and then you’re set.  From there, just show up with Rm630.  He’ll take care of the rest.)

All that said if you’re attempting to climb Mount Kinabalu anytime soon – you better have a date in mind and be ready to hit up our friend Jack for a spot, as it is insanely booked through July 2015 at the moment.  Do yourself a favor and don’t book through the monopoly of Sutera (I’ll explain more about this in another post).  Book through Jack, get a real Kinabalu experience, and learn a bunch of history about it all from Jack himself.  Also, not to get your hopes up, but if you’re here in Sabah reading this right now and everything seems to be booked, there’s still a chance if you call him you could potentially have the opportunity to jump into a cancellation spot.  Even with the crazy wait list, people do still end up not showing, so if you have the patience and time to maybe wait a few extra days it’s possible you can still get up to the summit!

Again here’s Jack’s info:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/junglejackbackpacker
Phone:  010 947 7509 (Inside Malaysia) or +6 010 947 7509 (Outside Malaysia)
Remember – it’s best to call him!

I’m working on my post on the actual Mount Kinabalu climb currently.  As soon as it’s done, I will link it right here!  Happy hunting and climbing everyone!  Tell Jack Shawn and Jessica say hello when you see him!

:ps: To give you an idea of what you’re in for, this is what Jack will reply to you via Facebook:

Welcome to Jungle Jack’s! Located just 1 km from the entrance of Mount Kinabalu National Park, Jack’s place is ideal for both young travellers and families Impressum 630 Long Description Situated less than 1km from Mount Kinabalu Park, this is the ideal location for the budget backpacker endeavouring to climb Mount Kinabalu. The all-inclusive package offers comfortable accommodation in one of the 6 bed dorms, home cooked breakfast, lunch, dinner and full access to the outdoor jungle kitchen with unlimited tea, coffee and tropical fruits. There are also modest bathrooms with a hot shower.

Surrounding Jungle Jacks’ is an area of natural beauty, with wild Orchids, untouched jungle and a stunning view of Mount Kinabalu. During your stay you can rent a scooter for just 30rm (including petrol) and visit the nearby Poring Hot Springs, local markets and farms.

Jungle Jack is a welcoming host with a warm heart, willing to go the extra mile to make your stay a memorable one. As well as being a great chef, he can help you to climb Mount Kinabalu at a great rate so for further details contact Uncle Jack on: 010 947 7509

How do I get there? Jungle Jack is located on the A4 highway near Mount Kinabalu. When coming from Kota Kinabalu, it’s approximately 1 km before arriving at the Mount Kinabalu Park Entrance. To get there from Kota Kinabalu you can take the bus towards Ranau and ask the driver to drop you off Jungle Jack. The bus from Kota Kinabalu should cost about 20 MYR and take approximately 2 hours.

How much does it cost? The cost is 630 MYR. This includes 3 nights accommodation, 2 at Jungle Jack’s hostel and 1 at the base camp on the mountain, climbing permits, a guide, food at Jungle Jack’s and 1 dinner at the restaurant on the mountain. For lunch and breakfast on the mountain you can take as much food and drinks as you want from Jungle Jack and bring it up there. I.e.: sandwiches, packaged noodles, etc. There is a water boiler up there to cook the noodles.

What do I need to bring? Aside from the basics, you’ll want to bring warm clothes as the summit and higher altitudes can be quite chilly. As rain is very likely, you’ll definitely want a rain jacket and/or a poncho as well as a way to keep your backpack dry. You’ll be trekking to the summit in darkness, so you’ll want a headlamp to light the way. Gloves will come in handy for holding onto the ropes leading to the summit. Snacks high in sugar and protein are good fuel for the long hike up. Make sure you have good hiking shoes that grip well since the trail can be slippery. There may be some clothes you can borrow from Jungle Jack.

How long will it take? You should plan on at least three days, but may want to leave a extra day just in case. You should plan on arriving the afternoon before your climb. In the morning you will climb the very steep 6 km to a hut partway up the mountain and spend the night there. The following morning you’ll wake up very early (like 2 am early!) and climb to the summit in time to see the sunrise. You’ll then descend the entire way and arrive back at Jungle Jack’s mid-afternoon. You’ll likely want to spend the night after your climb at Jungle Jack’s, but you can leave that same afternoon if needed.

How difficult is the hike? The hike is not technical, but you should be in decent physical shape to be able to make it to the summit (and back). The trail is 8.7 km each way and ascends about 2200 meters (that’s a lot!).(MAKE BOOKING ONLY IF YOU ALL HAPPY WITH RM 630pp)

If your question wasn’t answered here, DON’T come or call 0109477509.

A quick glace look at what goes into a rucksack for globetrotting…

Salamat Datang!

That’s ‘Welcome’ in Malay/Indonesian.  I’m currently in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia.  It’s hot.  It’s sticky.  It’s gorgeous.  Thought I’d pop off a quick post of this video I took right before hitting the airport in Seattle to take off on this walkabout…literally.  Here’s a quick look at what goes into my rucksack (usually – if I was headed to India this would be a completely different story) before taking off on one of my wild globetrotting experiences around SEAsia:

Not mentioned in the video (in bag or whatever): Leatherman, vitamins, a simple first aid kit, random assortment of power adapters for different countries, pack towel(s), 5 liter dry bag, and last but not least Socks (not really needed…EVER almost – I mess this up every year).

Here’s link’s to a few of the products seen in this video:

KEENS
www.keenfootwear.com

Aqualung Favola Mask
http://www.aqualung.com/us/gear/masks/item/79-favola
(You can get these cheaper on eBay.)

REI Siesta Sheet
http://www.rei.com/product/808848/rei-siesta-sheet
(Apparently these aren’t available anymore, but they have similar items.)


Kelty Red Cloud
http://www.kelty.com/p-844-red-cloud-90.aspx

Space Bags
https://www.spacebag.com/

All that said, once I arrived I already realized I overpacked – AGAIN.  Mainly I did not need the socks and that many T-Shirts – it’s just too hot!

Boom boom, it’s hot out, we’re eating Mee Sup Tom Yam Seafood for breakfast and then off to a waterfall!

Loves!

Need your hot springs fill?! The Olympic Hot Springs just reopened.

God Rays

Nestled and tucked away in the Olympic National Forest is a semi-hidden gem of a hot spring which just re-opened – which I am prepared to tell you everything about so you can be inspired to get there yourself.

Having been craving a dip in some natural and sulfuric hot water as of late, I happened to come across this picture of a pixie I know named Dawn soaking away in what seemed to be quite the pristine location to do so.  I checked in with Dawn to see just where this magical picture was taken, and it turned out to be the freshly re-opened Olympic Hot Springs just outside of Port Angeles.  I checked in with the Jess about when we could head out and she simply said, ‘As soon as possible.’  Fantastic, I thought, the sweet smell of sulfur on skin would be nigh!

Port Angeles is a quiet old port town with US Highway 101 running through it on the North tip of the Washington Peninsula.  There are a few routes to take from Seattle depending on which part of city you’re in, one of them including a ferry ride from Kingston, the other including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  Here’s where Port Angeles is in comparison to Seattle:

SEA > PA

All in all it’s about a 2-3.5 hour drive depending on if you take the ferry or not.  I personally recommend staying in Port Angeles for the night, as it does require a hike to get out to the Springs.  It’s only about a 25 minute drive from downtown Port Angeles to the trailhead, so getting a little room and going out for some drinks the night before worked out perfect for Jess and I.  We stayed at the Port Angeles Inn ($60/night, Queen size bed, full bathroom) and ended up hopping around town to a few spots before hitting the hay for the hike the next morning.

For a quick bite and a brew we hit up the Next Door Gastropub.  This spot is exactly that, a small little gastropub with $8-$15 plates, and a decent selection of NW brews on 10 or so taps.  You won’t find anything rare from the beer world here, but nevertheless you’ll find something tasty.  I snagged the Fig-N-Brie Panini and was extremely impressed.  Definitely worth the stop in.  From there we continued our usual beer hunting habits and walked over to The Lazy Moon Craft Tavern.  Here they’ve got something like 18 taps, and this is where you’re going to find something rare.  If my memory serves me correctly we found a bourbon barrel-aged stout, and some tasty IPA of sorts.  There’s a pool table, and a bunch of elder locals sipping brews by themselves.  Kind of an odd ambience to the place, but you got to remember you’re in a fishing port town.  Highly recommend stopping through the Lazy Moon if you’re in the area.  We got a good night’s rest and stopped in at Cafe New Day for some espresso and a snack (also recommended if you’re in the area), and set off for the trailhead.

As mentioned before it takes about 25-30 minutes to get from downtown Port Angeles to the parking area for the trailhead.  Head West on the 101 outta town and you’ll simply take a left onto Olympic Hot Springs Rd.  It’s very clearly marked from the 101.  From there just follow the signs for the hot springs and you’ll end up at the trailhead parking lot.  It’s a beautiful drive, and the dam has recently been destroyed and taken down, which apparently has made this drive even more pristine!  Here’s a closer look at PA vs. the trailhead:

PA vs Trail

Once at the trailhead you’ve got a 2.5 mile beautiful hike ahead of you.  We were greeted right off the bat by these incredible rays of light from the heavens above:

Jess God Rays

Some of the scenery along the way:

Mush1

Mush2

Forest Bridge

This is one of the three bridges you’ll cross to get up to the hot springs.  Looks to be semi under repair currently.

Forestry

View from the bridge pictured above.

You’ll start wondering when it is you’ll reach the end of the 2.5 miles, and then you’ll come to a beautiful little clearing with an old school styled outhouse in the middle.  It’ll look like this:

Outhouse

Head off to the right as the signs will tell you, you’ll cross another rustic wooden bridge, and you’ll start smelling the lovely smell of sulfur you’re about to dip yourself in.  Once you’ve crossed the bridge, you’re basically at the Hot Springs.  You will see small pools to the left and right of the path.  Two of these pools are decent to take a tiny dip in, but the most sacred pool you must keep walking for.

Some of the scenery along the path:

Reflection

Beautiful reflection on a sulfur pool.

Sulfur Water

Sulfur water running over sticks and stones creating an epic array of colors.

Scene from one of the better of the pools along the path.

Now you must pay attention if you want to find the best pool located at these springs: go all the way past all of the pools you can see from the trail.  At that point, the trail gets skinny, overgrown, and heads into woods off to the right a bit. Go another 20 yards or so and look for a small trail that goes to the right and very uphill. It’s a bit confusing, but there is definitely a small trail.  One minute up that trail is the last and best pool.  Here’s some shots and a video from around and actually sitting inside the top pool:

From Inside

This is taken sitting down inside the pool.

WINNING

So winning.

Pano of Pool

This is a panorama shot from above the main pool where the hot water is actually coming out of the ground.  On the left you have a changing area and a spot to put your items.  The large log acts brilliantly as a backrest.  Sometimes there are carpets in the bottom of the pool to keep the silt down, but they had been removed by someone for cleaning this trip.

Here’s a video of the scene:

We were fortunate enough to make it on a weekday, which I would highly recommend if you can, as there will be much less humans out there in general.  I think we spotted something like five or six people on the way out to the springs, and once we arrived at the top pool we were greeted by one older local gentleman who warmly welcomed us.  We chatted away fantastic hot spring conversation with Jack until he took off, leaving the pool to just us!!

Overall this is definitely one of my new favorite hot spring experiences.  The hike is just enough to keep the away the miscreant crowd, it’s totally rustic and not built up, you can still be naked and not have to worry about it, and of course, the hot spring itself is magic.  Jess and I highly recommend making the trek out there, and if you do, please let us know, we’ll totally tag along!  Enjoy!

Jess Bridge