Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mt Kinabalu’s guides seeking alternative sources of income

KUNDASANG: Since the devastating earthquake last 5 June, quite a number of mountain guides or “malim gunung” have opted to seek other sources of income while waiting for Mount Kinabalu to be open to climbers again.

Mohd Zainudin Robet Abdullah is one such mountain guide who now earns a living working at a vegetable wholesaler in Kundasang town.

The 22-year-old told New Sabah Times that he’s quite happy doing something different from mountain guiding since last month.

“In the meantime, I just want to take a break from mountain guiding this year. There are still a lot of things that I cannot forget,” he said when met at the vegetable stall where he is employed.
He was initially concerned about finding another job after the mountain was closed.

“I am thankful to have found this job,” he said and added that he would return to climbing the mountain again next year to allow his thoughts settle after having witnessed so much tragedy and horror.
Memories of the first tremor from the 5.9 magnitude earthquake are still fresh in his mind.

“I was at the peak helping climbers take photographs when the mountain shook. I thought a huge plane had landed on the mountain.

“Then suddenly rocks and boulders came tumbling down and there was so much dust everywhere. We were all terrified!”

Despite their own fears, Zainudin and the other mountain guides tried to calm the climbers and together with his five colleagues, escorted 13 climbers from the peninsula.
“We gathered everyone at the checkpoint and went to look for water. Many were hungry but there was only water to drink,” he said.

They finally reached Timpohon Gate at 3am but not before having to go past Via Ferrata where they saw dead bodies, some dismembered, strewn on the ground.
The “malim gunung” have since been given awards and aid for their heroic deed and sacrifice. However, not all the aid and assistance distributed have been equal.

Zainudin is not a fully licensed guide and his status is that of trainee.
“What the fully licensed malim gunung get and what the trainees get are very different. Those fully licensed get more recognition and priority,” he lamented.

“The trainees and those fully licensed all worked together to rescue the climbers that day but we didn’t all get the same kind of assistance,” he added.

Nevertheless, he was quick to point out that he was grateful to be alive in spite of everything. Zainudin hails from Tenom and lives with his family in Kundasang.

Source: New Sabah Times

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