Must brag a bit eh? nyahah Here's an awesome picture to start the whole post! - and to get it off to a good start. Becos blimey, th...

One step at a time, climbing Mount Kinabalu!

Must brag a bit eh? nyahah

Here's an awesome picture to start the whole post! - and to get it off to a good start. Becos blimey, the journey was fkin treacherous believe me. We were quite unlucky too to get bad weather - it was raining half the time and the top was foggy. This view you see here was only on our way down when the skies cleared and I could see a beautiful landscape. But seriously this was only like 3% of good weather. 97% of the time was shitty weather.

Can't control things you can't control my friends, and well, I shall do better research the next time I go on a mountaineering hike hehe. The dates for dry season.

Still, it was indeed a really memorable trip INSPITE OF. yes, inspite of everything we went through. I'll tell you in a moment heh.

So I was told I needed to clear leave - 15 days pro-rated to be exact. I never thought of taking any leave this year because well me being the hard worker that I am (mediacorp pls notice brouhaha) and after going on that 2-month long journey in SEA, I didn't feel the need to travel.

But well, when you got time, WATER YOU WAITIN FOR!!! And ya know how much I love mountains eh? And I've always wanted to hike Mount Kinabalu so I literally pointed at a date on the calendar - November 5th - and asked if any friend/s wanted to join me.

It was Suxin and OFF WE WENT!!!!!

Drove to JB before taking a flight to Kota Kinabalu. Had a little tour around the place~

At a dairy farm.
Yogurt + Milk = yum.
Our guide was freakin enthusiastic - took our pictures and stuff. But his enthusiasm faded when we didn't pay him extra on our first day after paying the deposit before arriving. We paid the exact amount that was expected.

Guess he was expecting moarrr. Seriously though, who expects tips so early on??? Kinda put me off.

Nevertheless, we were satisfied with...

Our lil lodge
Which was reallll cosy - Pine Resort if I'm not wrong
With a nice mountain view to boottttt hehe

All smiles because well, we weren't ready for whatever that was gonna happen the next dayyyyy hahahha. (btw it felt so good being makeup free for those 4 days)

One last happy picture before we're all ready to lift off the next day

Off we went!


What happens is... we'd go hiking with a mountain guide for about 6km up, before reaching a hut called Laban Rata hut. That's where we'd sleep for a night before waking up at 2am to continue on to THE SUMMIT, where another perhaps 2km would be left?

So onwards we went.

My freakin trusty shoes.
I can't stress just how important good shoes are. Honestly, I never really tested this pair of shoes before going on to the hike though. They were a pair of hiking shoes bought in Myanmar at Hsipaw last year when I went trekking. All the villagers were using this pair of green communist-looking shoes and it seemed kinda fashionable too hehe. I had my doubts though cos they looked like any ordinary pair of converse shoes hahaha. So Sianpei first bought it. But I was convinced to get one myself as well eventually.

And jesus christ superstar, they were freakin awesome. They gave me good grip. They were waterproof - something I never expected. And they were durable. Didn't let me down once. Oh plus, they're light. I could go at lightning speed up all those rocks.

Which looked like this.
And this wasn't the worst path.

There were rockier, steeper paths.

SO I WAS REALLY GLAD TO HAVE THOSE SHOES!!!! Best of all? They only cost USD5. Hallelujah. Brandless shoes. What a risk, but hey they pulled me through those rough terrains.

Everyone was impressed by my shoes. Me included. I'm a fan.

Wasn't the best views at all

Quite wasted lah, becos one of the reasons why I absolutely love climbing mountains is the awesome scenery. They never let me down.

Then again, you make the most out of what you have.

I didn't take much pictures at all because one, we just kept going and the only times we stopped to rest were at the tiny huts at every 0.5 - 1km. two, physically exhausting leh how to have time to take photos hahaha. and three, well there wasn't much scenery to take any ways, so ah well!

What's funny is how Jordin Sparks' song "One Step at a Time" just kept playing in my head over and over again. Before we got to the mountain, our mountain guide was driving us around Kota Kinabalu and all the time, teeny bop music was playing in his car and man, they were SMASHIN. I loved it. And one of the tunes was that song. AND IT JUST KEPT PLAYIN IN MY HEAD THROUGHOUT MY HIKE.

The best thing was, it helped. And it's true. One step at a time till you reach the top. Doesn't matter how long it takes, just. keep. going. One teeny step at a time. Besides, the trick to climbing these mountains isn't taking the big steps up the big rocks, it's stepping on the smaller ones. Like shifting gears while riding a bike when you tackle an uphill slope.

Just wow eh I could even get so philosophical while climbing. Good job pat on the back.

Suxin lookin ecstatic cos we reached Laban Rata hut
A lot of the time, Suxin and I separated while hiking because she needed more rests than I did. I just wanted to keep going because too much rest isn't good as well. But I think she wasn't prepared at all. Clothing wise - she'd only brought a thin jacket. And her shoes.... kept making her slip. Boy oh boy, she wasn't prepared at all.

One thing about my good friend though - she's super positive. So there wasn't a moment when she'd be upset with herself or anyone. And that's what I love about her :-) I think she just needed more experience with climbing mountains.

Anyway, finally, after 6 gruelling hours, we reached Laban Rata Hut. Yeap the picture with Suxin inside, just right behind's the hut.

That's where we'd stay the night.

Had a freakin awesome dinner buffet at 5pm with fellow hikers at the back.
We started climbing at about 9:30am and reached the hut at about 3:30pm. Had a good bath with icy water haha, and went to bed at about 8pm.

Our private room!!!
The rest were rooms shared with 8 other people. K lah, gotta give this one to our guide for arranging.
Plus he provided us walking sticks.

just chillinnnn
Sadly, I couldn't fall asleep at all because it was too cold even though we had a heater in the room. It was winter up there. And I felt really bad for Suxin cos she was underdressed and underprepared.

OH btw, we brought all our clothes and stuff and hiked up with them in our bag. I think that was why she packed so light............ We could've gotten a porter but we saved on that. (the people there actually hike the mountain every day. the food we had at our buffet? every damn day, people would hike up to deliver the ingredients. you should watch them, they're crazy good - sacks of rice. just imagine... i'll leave you to imagine..) 

So yes, if you need to train for this, I suggest you jolly well train for it. We climbed Bukit Timah Hill twice but of cos that hill is nothing compared to this hahaha. 

At this point, we were told that we may not be able to hike up to the summit because of the weather. It was raining and it could be dangerous since we had to climb up by tugging on ropes. We left it to the rain gods to decide. I prepared myself mentally that the hike to the summit may not happen.

Eventually we got up at 2am, had a good supper, and were delivered the good news. And we began our hike with the rest of the hikers who stayed at Laban Rata.

Pitch dark at 4:50am
By this time, I had lost Suxin. We went our separate ways. She was with our guide while I went on alone. I felt bad of course leaving her but separate we had to. 

And I was a bit frightened that I'd lose my way if I continued without our guide. I almost reached out to someone who was ahead of me but didn't. 

Eventually, it was the kindness of strangers who once again, saved the day. Who saved my day. It was a big group of young Malaysians and one of them reached out to me and asked, 

"Hey, where's your friend?" 
"I don't know!"
"Do you want to join us?"
"That would be nice~~~"


When day broke,

THIS was what we faced

Told ya, it wasn't easy.

Misty as hell.
Remember, we climbed 6km the day before, so our legs were tired as. But we still had to continue on with this. And continue we did.

Again, I was singing "One Step at a Time" to myself over and over. What would I do without you Jordin Sparks. 

And eventually.....


Made it!!!
with my new Malaysian/Sabahan friends!!!!!
They were freakin awesome and nice la~

Admittedly, I was judging them the day before cos they were making such a ruckus. And perhaps well, you just naturally want to compare yourselves with people who are about the same age as you are.

But I was so wrong and they were my angelssss.

Particularly these two:

"I've only known you guys for one day but I feel like I've know y'all fureverrrr"


and Xiang xi!!!!

They were with me at every step of the way while hiking up to that summit and while we were climbing down as well. My brothers from a different mother :')

Xiangxi was particularly funny lah, he kept making sure that I had enough photos. I told him I didn't need any but he was insistent with his DSLR and here are some of what he got:
after much persuading

"huh enough already lah, don't need lah"
"ok, one more"

Soon, the fog started clearing while we were heading down at around 8am... 

Hills on hills on sea on more hills...

This was what I came for...

And KK delivered.
Some of what Xiangxi took..

And nature never seizes to amaze me. You are so big and beautiful my loveeee.

Yet, while we were heading up to the summit, I constantly wondered why humans would do this to themselves and to nature? Why interfere with these things when they should be left alone, as they should be....

Sigh, life's contradictions. 

Soon after....

She finally made it down to where we were!!!!!
We were going down slowly because the two dudes were waiting for some of their friends, while I was waiting for my friend as well. Eventually she caught up and also made it to the summit!!!!! Good job my friend, you were brave.

She was in a really bad shape when I found her though, freezing her ass off. Seriously I couldn't nag at her more than I already did. Her leggings....... and she was only wearing a t-shirt fffff!!!!! I forced her to put on layers despite her constant, "nvm lah!" NEVERMIND. Wah, I told her, "eh i rather not climb this than have you dead ok"

Still, it was worth every moment climbing with you Suxin :)
By 9:30am, we had our proper breakfast, checked out at 10am before making our way all the way back down the mountain.

Yeah everything felt super quick and fast. No time to properly savour the moment.

By this time, I was also really exhausted. Plus, I had only an hour's worth of sleep the night before. But go down we had to.

We were told, it'd take us 3 hours to get down from Laban Rata hut. Boy oh boy, going down sounds easy, but man, I hated going down. I can't decide whether going down or up was more painful. I think for me, whilst going down, I was mentally drained already and my body dreaded every step I took. Knees bang bang. Excruciating.

But unlucky Suxin... at the 2.5km mark, she fell and sprained her ankle. Man, it was painful to see her in pain. But we trudged on, and with her super positive spirit, it wasn't so bad. She decided not to be ported down, which means to be carried down by a guide, because 1km = RM350. That's like. Daylight robbery. I told her, I'll fork it if you're in too much pain. She pressed on inspite of the pain. She da real MVP yo. 

Estimated 3 hours, turned into a 6 hour hike down - the same amount of time it took for us to go up - and it was evening by the time we arrived at the foot of the mountain. What's amazing is once again, the kindness of strangers. There was a Singaporean man in his late 50s who helped her out. Ex-medic who worked in the army. What were the odds eh? Singaporean spirit at its best :')

When I first arrived in Sabah, I lamented that I wished Singaporeans were like the Sabahans... friendly and warm. But this took me by surprise and I think my own people have the capacity to help and be gracious in times of need as well. And it feels really good to have witnessed it.


Now before I end my post,

let me share with you a beautiful passage that I saw at the Laban Rata hut. It stared right at me on our first night there and I read it aloud with my CNA voice for Suxin hahah

In case the picture isn't very clear...

" The Essence of Discovery. 
Live your life each day as you would climb a Mountain. An occasional glance towards the Summit keeps the goal in mind. But many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment. And this view from the Summit will prove to be astonishing.  
God Bless." 

Again, I'm not religious, but I can be deeply spiritual in my own ways and beliefs in the world.

And it's poignant to describe life as an analogy, one that I truly believe in as well. And just imagine having climbed that mountain and reaching the hut to see this quote. It is a beautiful feeling.

At a time when 2016 hasn't been the best of years. Both for the society that we live in (Brexit and Trump's win) and my own personal life as I'm still figuring out how to navigate in a world that can be so noisy, and pessimistic and sometimes uninspiring... It's nice to read something like that and know that everything will be okay. It's a long road ahead, but take a moment to breathe. Otherwise the world would've passed right beneath my nose and life wouldn't be worth living.

For some strange reason, after returning from this climb and my trip to KL for the ASEAN forum (which I blogged about right before this post), I've become a lot less lethargic. The past months at work, I must say my concentration levels were very low. Perhaps because I was trying to get used to a new environment and my focus was off. But now, my energy levels are at an all-time high. I can focus and think better. And I'm getting better at work. Writing is sharper.

It's like the body woke up. And climbing this made me realise... Gees, I'm healthy and I've got legs and a perfectly good body. I'm still so young, I've my whole life ahead of me to do the things I really want to do. There are so much more adventures ahead and I want to embark on as many as I can till the end of my life.

And it is a life very much worth living. 

What made this trip better, even though expectations weren't met, was making friends along the way and learning from people. 

On my flight back, Suxin and I were seated apart and I sat beside this man who was in his late 50s. He started talking to me and when he knew I had just started working, he had a few lessons for me:

1) Don't keep banging your head at work (haha literal mandarin translation i'll explain later)
2) Learn as many languages as you can
3) Invest your money and let it grow on its own
4) Let go of grievances with people

He said in this day and age, academic smarts will not get you far. Doing well at what you do is not the only way (which explains the banging head), you need to strategise and talk to people. Make as many friends as possible because everyone has something to offer. See the good, not just the bad in people. He also believes that the more languages you know, the more marketable you are. Which I don't deny, especially in my line of work. Also, to weather bad times, you must learn to invest so that you've at least something to fall back on - well, I have zero biz sense so this won't be put to use any time soon hahah.

Finally, we must learn to forgive people for whatever they've done to you. There's no point in holding on to grudges, it'll only make our lives a lot more dull. 

Some lessons from my flight home. Always enlightening when you have conversations with strangers. And I like to take it that it must've been fate to have brought us together.

The climb was a good one, and I'm already looking forward to the next ;-)

p/s if you've any questions about the climb, and you're preparing for one, feel free to comment, leave a tag or email me! happy to help.
p/p/s i can't wait for 2016 to be over already!! christmas is coming! and then happy new yearrrr whoop.

You may also like

No comments:

Blog Archive