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Mountain Guides: Malaysian Unsung Heroes

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KUNDASANG – They may not be popular film stars, but a photo of a mountain guide carrying a student on his back which went viral after the Sabah earthquake last Friday, has earned these Malaysian heroes instant fame.

Most of these mountain guides had worked as porters, carrying the belongings of visitors right up to the peak of Mount Kinabalu.

According to Mhd Rizuan Kauhinin, 25, now famous around the world after the photograph of him carrying an injured student went viral online, he had been a porter since he left school at 17.

He said the job of a porter is full of challenges that demands physical and mental strength, but serves an effective training for those who want to build their strength and learn the ins and outs of the mountain before becoming mountain guides.

“Carrying a gas tank is nothing, usually a porter carries three bags which could be as heavy as 50kg.

“But for me this is honest living, I cannot leave Kota Kinabalu as it is my home and the place where I earn my living,” he told Bernama when met recently.

He said porters at Mount Kinabalu would normally start their job lugging tourists’ baggages at Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata, which is about 6 kilometres uphill.

The charge is RM10 per kg, he added.

Mhd Rizuan said to be a mountain guide at Mount Kinabalu, a person has to be a porter there for two years and to have reached the mountain peak at least 10 times.

Another mountain guide, Anis Monggol, 54, petite she may look, but to carry a 15kg-gas tank uphill on her back is nothing.

She started off as a porter for a restaurant at Laban Rata, and her job then was to carry food supply and other goods, including gas tank, required by her employee from Timpohon Gate to the Laban Rata Restaurant.

She was also a regular in climbathon events held at Mount Kinabalu since 2000.

“I participate in the climbathon to build my stamina and improve my climbing performance,” she added.

Based on the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon record, Anis earned second place in the ‘Women Veteran’ category last year with a time of 3 hours and 54 minutes.

Meanwhile, Mount Kinabalu Mountain Guide Association chairman, Richard Soibi, 49, said mountains guides usually start off as porters as the job teaches self discipline and determination, as well as helps build their stamina.

He started as a porter too, at the age of 16, and until now, had climbed Mount Kinabalu more than a thousand times.

“When I was young there were not many job opportunities, so most of the residents in the area either earned their living as vegetable farmers or as porters,” he added. – BERNAMA

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