April 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
This is a special post about my climb up Mount Kinabalu last year on 13 November. It has been sitting in my draft for so long due to its lengthy-ness. But I’ve decided to leave it as it is. Be warned, it’s a super long post. But I have few photos to make up for it.
I don’t regret a lot of things in my life, except for a few. When I studied in Labuan, I had the chance to join the expedition to hike up Mount Kinabalu but due to the lack of confidence and no kawan (actually the reason was mostly because no kawan la.. hehe) I forgo it. Sangatlah rugi. It was uber cheap and I was super near but I let the chance slip. During university and after that, I still couldn’t find friends who really wanted to go. It was mostly “mau, tapi nantila” which is a spirit-breaker. Until one day, fate happened.
It was only two weeks between the time I decided to go and the real hiking day. There was a wedding and reception happening the weekend before our climb so I only had about 9 days of physical preparation. I jogged to up my stamina and walked up the stairs at the university stadium just to get use to the notion of taking steps after steps after steps after stepssss. You get the picture.
Upon meeting my friends and one of their family at the airport, we were transported to Kinabalu HQ. It was quite a quiet drive. Probably because my friends were tired from the early ride to the airport to catch their flight. I was just taking it all in at the back seat, looking at landmarks and signs of the places I’ve only heard from and trying to remember if I had any friends at that particular place, counting the Catholic churches that are along the way and then losing count (there are super plenty I tell you) and just trying to remain positive, without freaking out because I was going to fucking climb Mount Kinabalu!!! The moment I opened the car door after reaching Kinabalu Park, there was that chill in the air. It must have been like 20ºC or so and when the wind blew it was damn cold! I am not one who can withstand low temperature and it was worrying me a bit with how i might do during the climb. But mind over matter, we walked around, took some pictures, waited for all the formalities regarding our trip to be done and then off we went to Mesilau Nature Resort! It was quite foggy at the time, and it had been drizzling on and off so we couldn’t see the peak during that drive. Oh wells I thought, God just wants to surprise me tomorrow. But it was still a beautiful sight. I’ll let the photos tell you how it looked.
There was a bit of adrenaline pumping happened as we were driving up the final hill to reach the resort. The car we were travelling on couldn’t shift into lower gear and we were backing down the hills backward, with a gaung on our right. Quite scary being seated at the back, but our driver was a pro and after we slowly backed down to a slightly flatter ground, the MyVi successfully brought us to the resort. It smell of burn tyres after that! What a start!
Mesilau was even colder than the HQ and it was quite torturous for someone who cannot stand the cold! We were about 2000 m above the sea level by then and it really felt like you’re not in Malaysian climate. Here we stayed in a hostel, there are 3 bunk beds which can accommodate up to 6 people and there were 8 hostels in total. Each hostel is assigned a toilet and bathroom, so it’s not really shared but it is located in the middle of the hostel. Everything was lovely here, there were even hot water but for some reason it didn’t worked for the showers. There were hot and cold tap water so it was either scorching hot or icy cold. Day 1 without shower. No problemo! Good thing I was told to pack wet tissues. Essential that. After dinner we retreated to our hostel and had a very early night. It was close to freezing that night that I had to wear thermal inside my pants, jacket, socks and gloves! Angan2 je la wanna study overseas.
On the morning of 13th October 2012, I was in my slacks, long-sleeves button down collar shirt, mortar clipped to my hair and pink robe, holding my nerves while walking across the stage to receive my dummy Msc certificate. One month later, I was in cargo pants, t-shirt and adidas kampung at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, saying a silent prayer and setting off to right the regret I had been carrying for seven years. There were ten of us in the group, me the youngest and there were two uncles who were 68- and 69-year old. Talk about spirit man! We were put in the hands of Din and Bonny, our guides cum porter who are the typical Sabahan dudes; funny, jajal and talkative! Reminded me of someone.
The first 500 meter hike was quite challenging, not physically but I think it was because my body was still trying to get into the rhythm of walking through the jungle steps and controlling my breathing. It was not long until we reached the first valley which was spectacular. The air was cool but it wasn’t cold anymore due to the increased heart rate. My friends were somewhere behind but there were two other guys in front of me so I carried on after taking few photos. Not long after we reached the first shelter. There was a squatting toilet which could be flushed and there was running tap water. I was impressed! Decided to utilize the facility because empty bladder means less weight on your body = easier climb and I wasn’t sure where the next loo would be. I’m not much of an eater when I hike, but I made sure to eat something light at every pit stop. We were provided with sandwiches, apple, bananas, two eggs and a small bottle of mineral water so the first to go was an egg! Rested 15minutes or so and off we go again!
It was pretty much the same for the next eight hours of the hike. I became so engrossed in my walking that I stopped noticing the markers after KM 4. I stopped at the chirping of bird, trying to find where it could be but my sighting skills in the jungle has greatly diminished. I did see one black and white caterpillar on the ground though! And a purple flower. Little things like that kept me contented and pumped to push through. Walk as I did and pumped as I was, after more than an hour only did I realize that I hadn’t seen nor heard of anyone in front of me or behind me! Cue cursing streak. When the realization hit, it hit hard! But I knew that freaking out wasn’t an option so the only thing to do was to go ahead on a slower pace until I reach the next shelter. God really was with me throughout my journey.
Reached Lompoyou Shelter which was overlooking a valley and when I took out my phone, the Digi reception was full! Alleluia! I decided to wait for the rest of the group here because any chances that I was lost, at least I’m contactable. There was a couple of birds chirping and treeshrew on the ground scouring for food. These animals put me at ease. Went to the loo, ate a sandwich, laid on my back, had a quick shut eye, walked around. I was getting restless. It has been 30-minute. What if I am really lost? What if I went off-trail and the others don’t realize I’m missing until nightfall? In the midst of overpowering my scared-self, I heard a sound. I wasn’t going to say or call out a name, just kept quiet. And suddenly, carrying our bags in his yellow tshirt was Bonny. Alleluia! Not long after the rest of the group reached and I was so relieved! No more walking alone in the jungle! This time I waited until my friends were ready to go and we all walked together after some camwhoring session. I don’t know what it was, I wasn’t on speed or anything, but ten minutes or so after that, I was well in front again, without any sight of my friends. Not again! But this time I knew they were quite close to me so I just walked on. Thankfully in my last 2km, Din caught up with me and accompanied me til Laban Rata as I was going to be the one checking in the rooms for our group. He was quiet at first, but after the initial awkwardness, he turned out to be a fun person to talk to. He had carried a 91kg man up the mountain and 104kg man down the mountain. I learnt that he was from Kundasang and he had been to the majestic Maliau Basin. Jealous!
Between all the back and forth Q&A, time seemed to pass by much quicker and before long I was facing the Laban Rata resthouse. It was getting colder and the sun was fast setting, but as I took everything in, I realize I have made it. I have accomplished what I wanted to do that morning. I looked around and there were plenty of other climbers who must have gotten their rest and their dinner, and there I was missing my friends. I made it to Laban Rata! I asked Din if I could scream, for I was feeling sheer joy and ecstasy. But he advised me against it, “ko kenak hysteria tu nanti”. Entah betul entah tidak that fellow, tapi ikut saja la arahan orang yang tau. We checked in, put the bags inside ours rooms and I headed to the buffet spread and started filling my plate. But I was more tired than hungry, and all I wanted was something hot. So I took the soup. Can’t remember what else I ate. I had two cups of Sabah tea after finishing my dinner and I waited for my friends at the restaurant. I wanted to be there greeting them when they reached so at every creak of the door, I would turned to look but it was always some guide or some climber. When I realize how icky I was, I went to the room to change. The wet tissues came in very handy again. There was nowhere in hell to shower with the icy cold water, non-existence heater and the temperature outside blasting at ~10ºC or so. At least not for me! So day two without shower! Yay!
I was still so pumped after dinner, my friends and the rest of our group had made it but it had to be an early night in again as we had to wake at 2am for our supper breakfast and summit climb. I always had trouble sleeping early but after the 9-hour climb of the day, the bed was so heavenly irrespective of its condition. Have a super early night, get as much rest as possible and get up in time for supper and summit climb. That was the mission of the night but somehow in the darkness of the room, under the comforter and chilly night, something happened and I started crying. It was difficult to keep it down and I needed to cry to someone but I just couldn’t wake up my friends as I knew they were tired like me. I’ve read about the time you crash down from a drug high, and i think that must have almost been like it for me. I was so pumped, so excited and so happy when i made it to the resthouse, but at the same time it was sad because i did that part all by myself, and I couldn’t share the happiness with anyone. I also couldn’t call my mom or friend back home because my phone was running out of juice. And before we called it a night, my friends mentioned about not doing the summit climb or doing it much later in the morning. That totally bumped me out. I was going to be alone again when I reach the summit, I thought. No pictures with friends, no one to cheer and lift my spirit. All alone again. Just like how it always is in my life. I don’t know what time I snapped out of it, but it took a while.
When I woke up, there was that dreaded sleepyness and tiredness but the mind was clear and the heart was set. I am going to conquer Mount Kinabalu! By hook or by crook. Everything boils down to that morning. Yesterday’s success and tears are yesterday. I was going to be at the top of the mountain by sunrise. No buts or ifs. I went there for a reason and the reason has to be met! So semangat I was that I only had a cup of coffee before the climb. But I avoided food because I was afraid after hearing my friends’ story about their friend having to use the toilet during the summit climb. There wasn’t any toilet at the rocky parts of the mountain. Although in the hindside, my ass could have gotten frozen had i wanted to pee or shit. It was 3ºC at the summit on the day.
Almost an hour into the summit climb, even before I reached the rocky summit, most of my conquering spirit was depleting. I was cold, I was hungry, I was sleepy, I was tired, I was with Din who wouldn’t shut up! Why did I subject this to myself. First and last I told Din. Never again, I muttered to myself. It was difficult to see people overtaking me and doing it with such ease. And then I overheard one woman saying it was her 11th time conquering the mountain. “Who the hell is this lady insane enough to do this more than once, let alone 11??” I thought. Here I learnt the pain of hiking alone, without your friends. No one to give you the encouragement and spirit to continue on, no one you can whine and bitch about just to let it out of the system. Sure there’s Din but I can’t possibly be the childish and manja girl that I am and whine to him kan? Malu la. But it was here that taught me how capable I was mentally. And when I reached the highest peak, the sense of accomplishment was surreal. As was the view. God definitely works in His own mysterious ways.
Turned out I wasn’t the only one from the group when I reached the summit. My friend’s uncle, the 68-yo was there! I was surprised to see him, I thought it was his doppelganger. He was quite famous that morning on the peak, people kept asking to take pictures with him. Probably because they were impressed someone at his age could climb Mount Kinabalu successfully. We decided to wait at Low’s Peak for the others to arrive so we could take a group photo together. The wind was so strong, in less than five second you could be engulf in a thick fog but 5 seconds later it’ll be super clear and you can see the South China Sea behind the peak. Unbelievable.
Alas we couldn’t have that group photo at the peak, but nine of us made it to the peak. Accomplishment! It was like receiving double degree when we reached Kinabalu Park and received our certificates. One for the successful climb to the peak and the other was from doing it via Mesilau trail. I’m so glad I decided to do this even if it was very last minute and quite impromptu. One thing I can strike off from my list of things to do in life!
I only had known my friends for weeks, literally (!) but I had so much fun with them. Thank God we clicked! Haha. During the hike down, the toughest part of hiking Kinabalu if you ask me because 1) you’re exhausted 2) it hurts ur front toes from the force exerted as you feet touch the ground and 3) u have no feeling of your legs! This was one trip I’m thankful I didn’t do alone. I could be silly and childish and poked fun at my friends. And we could have chats about work, nature, personal, family, you name it. Someone even managed to pee at the side of the trail when it was pouring! Haha
I came back telling and re-telling this story to all my friends. All the joys when I reached the peak, the tears at Laban Rata, the heartache as I reached some of the best viewing spots alone, the idiotic yet meaningful questions and remarks by Din throughout our journeys together. I hadn’t realized it then, but he really was trying to keep my spirits up and trying to reverse-psychology me into reaching the peak. And it worked. Wish I could find a way to thank him now.
This is a life-long memory, one which will be in me forever. An achievement made all by myself, with the aid of friends and supporters from home. “Never again” I said as I was hiking towards Low’s Peak. But as I walked out of check out point at Kinabalu Park, I turned around, had one last look and said to myself, “Someday I’ll conquer you again, this time via Ferrata!”
March 28, 2013 § 4 Comments
The same thing happened before. The truth coming out years after, when I thought things were done and dusted. And when the truth hit me, I stumbled down the stairs, with every inch of my body hitting the hard surface and finally to top it off, getting my face knocked on the concrete surface. That sounds so dramatic. But it feels exactly like that.
I’m feeling acquainted with the dark hole again. Hi there, dark hole. And with this being the Holy Week, I got to keep my body clean. No poking snot.
Some people go through an emotion they’ve been through all over again, all those years ago not because they want to. But because things just hit them harder than other people. I’ve cried about it, was supposed to be in the angry phase now but it changes between tears and anger. Very confusing. Very annoying.
I don’t even want to see you anywhere. Because it reminds me of that time when I was there. The denial. The confusion. All the effort to make myself feel better.
I thought I had put this behind me. Clearly, I haven’t.
March 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I spent ten days in Langkawi a couple of weeks back. I have a lot of lost memories, especially of the last two nights I was there but I think that has been the best vacation I have ever been on. It definitely ties with hiking Mount Kinabalu in terms of memories made and fun had.
Cheap booze. Great food (Laksa Power! Artisan Pizza!). Learning and discussing with the world’s best in my field. Making new friends. Connecting with other parts of the region (through the cheap booze. Haha). Playing Jenga at a bar til wee hours of the morning. Turning up at morning sessions with a pounding head and thinking it’s the worst day for you but seeing the other world best have that glaze look and puzzling forehead.
Definitely best vacation for the year. And I don’t know how any place is going to top that.
Having greens two nights in a row was quite ill-advised. I forgot most compliments, funny comments and plenty of incidences despite being there physically.
I must sound extremely irresponsible. Haha.. Taking the duty free opportunity to the max and being wasted like shit. But still, I wouldn’t have changed anything. Because it was from there that I gained my confidences, connected with people and just had a great feeling being in this conservation field. A lot of time we feel like we’re fighting the world, but having each other’s support and acknowledgement, definitely worth it.
One day I will return. I must!
March 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It’s easy to be disheartened in the research world. When you are located so far away from the others in the same field and feeling like you are fighting the competitors of conservation alone. And it does not help when your good friend starts to throw a fit because you didn’t make time to spend time with her.
Just because I spend more time with another group of people, doesn’t mean the old group is forgotten. It’s twice now a similar issue has popped out, and frankly I’m tired of keeping everyone happy. I thought that if I could cut myself into smaller pieces and share it out, I would. But now, I don’t. Wanna know why? Because pieces of me means incomplete me, just one part of the big
person picture. You either take the whole package or you don’t you know? It’s not fun being setengah2, dibahagikan left, right and center.
So, here’s to a year of being selfish. Even though it’s already March. But I guess picking a fight with your good friend on her birthday is a good start, no? After all she has her girlfriend to fall back on. Plus, we are not always selfish. We are just being self-oriented. Haa!
January 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
What came as a joke, has turned into an idea that is planting roots in my head.
I have a friend who I’d chat with almost everyday at work. Just to keep our minds occupied and accompany each other. And gossip obviously. This friend has had the exclusive preview of my life since before I started this blog. So she knows every dirty secrets, every details, every ups and downs. I always joked that some producer should buy the rights of my life as it could be a source for a telenovela.
Then a kawan siber suggested I write a book about my life. That reminded me of another couple of friends who have said something along that line. Or at least publish some of the entries from this blog.
I never intended to reach out to anyone from this blog. It was just a place for me to pour my feelings and let it be out so they won’t be kept inside my mind and drive me crazy. But as always, when a seed is planted, it would usually spread its roots until it becomes the only thing I think about!
But even if I do find the time to actually write a book, there’s no guarantee it’ll be published. And if by some twist of fate and luck it does, what do I do with my identity? Here, it’s easy. Only select few know me and I get to be whomever I want to be. Do writers have that choice? Even if I choose to use a pseudonym, surely my close friends and relatives will be able to detect it’s me? I can’t write fiction, I don’t know how to tell a story which I have not experienced so the book would most probably draw from my personal experience. I asked my friend, who would want to read about the dramas of my life?? If u are an excellent writer, then there will be people who would read.
That sounds like a challenge and okay, why not try your hand in something new, I thought.
As we talked further about the idea, suddenly it occurred to me the possible exposure and scrutiny I could land myself in. And I was reminded of the talk I had with my friend several weeks before. About how some people want to put themselves out there in the social media circle, but at the same time fear that their parents/family/friends will be able to sniff their dirty secrets.
So I’m back to square one. Should I ignore these roots or should I find a way to satisfy both my curiosity and take the challenge?
January 7, 2013 § 6 Comments
This blog was made anonymous so I could voice out anything I want, without worrying if my friends will find out my deepest, darkest secrets or if I or anyone I name in here would be judged.
I had an open blog before I opened this one. I was naive, didn’t understand internet protection. As a consequence, the stepsis found it and used it to monitor me. I don’t like being told what to do and being under the constant eyes of certain people so I could be scrutinized. So when I found out she knew about the blog, I preceded to close it. By then I had found the joy of writing. And I was itching to write. Thus how the anonymous blog idea came about.
Of course it is not so anonymous anymore. I have came out (not in the gay sense) to a select few whom I know is not a judgement bitch and will never use the things I say in here against me.
But it’s quite funny when they find out the person behind this blog. “You’re very different in real life and in there. It’s like it’s not you. But when I think again, yes this person could be you. But it would never have crossed my mind had you not mentioned it.”
Mission accomplished I suppose? I didn’t open this blog because I want to have a double life, or become two-faced. To do that I would have to have superpowers, which I don’t, sadly. But this is my place to rant, to pour out my feelings, to put into words the things that I feel inside, to run away from the people who knows me.
And right now, I’m feeling pretty damn good that I still have this one place I can be myself.
January 1, 2013 § 4 Comments
When my bestfriend warned me about the “KL gay people”, I thought it was both cute and funny at the same time. She had heard stories and rumours about how the “KL gay people” backstab each other, have no loyalty to friends and partner, sleeps around etc etc so she thought it was wise to advice me.
I laughed when she said those things. Then I nodded. And continued laughing.
Here’s this girl who was never comfortable when I want to open up about that part of my life, who brushed off my failed relationships and who is still in denial that her 12-year BFF is in fact a lesbian, warning me about the “KL gay people”. I think there’s an irony there.
“How do you know these people?” she asked. As if these people are diseased.
Perhaps she felt a sense of protection. That she needed to look out for me seeing how she’s living in the same city as the “KL gay people”. But then it comes of as slightly pretentious to me. She was one of the first few I went to when I needed a shoulder to cry on but all I got was her back. So it’s understandable I suppose, why I thought it was such irony that she said those things about “KL gay people”. Oh well, straighties.