Saturday, July 29, 2006

summarising mt.k

there are some friends that you're genuinely happy to have because they never cease to challenge you and make you want to be a better person, take risks and experience new things.

it was a good friend, exactly that type of good friend, who persuaded me to do the 10km last year. although she ditched me after 500m to pursue a top 100 placing (which she deservedly got), it was enough to drive me to want to train and shave time off the half marathon this year. she was the same person who persuaded me to take up the challenge of conquering all 4100m of mount kinabalu. i have to say that there would be no other way i could have really gotten my butt off my nice comfy chair here and undergone the treacherous climb.

a different friend once psychoanalyzed me and said that the only real reason i chose to pursue medical studies is because my other option, journalism, is "easy" compared to 5 years of honing the right skills to literally touch people. the way i see it, journalism is just as hard as any other profession. after all the difficulty lies not in the number of years needed to perfect a skill...the difficulty lies in simply perfecting it. period.

anyway, i guess the main thing my friends were both getting at is that i enjoy the challenge that comes attached with the many things i do and i agree with them. i love being pushed to do better and there is a sort of sadistic joy in doing things that are difficult.

having said that, i didn't really enjoy finally conquering the pseudo-highest peak in southeast asia. it was possibly the hardest physical thing i have ever done in my entire life and, unlike the 10km run, i am in no hurry whatsoever to repeat that feat.

of course, the scenery was gorgeous. if i ever thought that i had no affection for tall pieces of rock, i was wrong. the dark slabs of rock that rose above me were breathtaking and when i found myself clamouring down the same pieces of stone i awed at from the foot of the mountain the day before, it felt nothing less than exhillarating. the plants were amazing and whatever little bits of wildlife i saw was fabulous. it was great to know that the entire area is a national park, a national heritage site that will hopefully remain green and beautiful forever.

i just didn't feel the pain that came from it all was worth it.

the story of the entire trip would be way too long and boring to fit into one entry so i guess i'll just summarise it. we took the mesilau trail which was 8km long. the climb to the summit was about 2km in distance and we took on that final bit of the journey at around 2am, after a fitful night's sleep. the descent took a total of 7 hours from the peak to timpohon gate and was possibly the most excruciating 8km of my life.

unpleasant. very unpleasant indeed.

at the end of the day i'm kinda glad i attempted the climb and successfully went up and down without breaking anything other than my reputation for sticking things out without much emotion. i was a blubbering pathetic little thing for the ascent and was wincing with every step as we approached timpohon gate, unable to progress for most of the journey without the guide's reassuring grip on my hands.

what redeems the experience for me is the fact that i can tell people i made it up mount kinabalu. nevermind that regular mountaineers know that even gunung tahan, the highest peak in the peninsular, is a tougher conquest. the important thing is that eventhough i didn't exactly do it in the most glorious manner...

...i freaking pwned mount kinabalu, man! woohoo!


*note: thank you june, for being exactly that kind of friend. thank you markus, for being so patient and waiting for me when i couldn't catch up. thank you fung, for completing the party and for your delightful company. i did have a pretty good time, though am resentful i was the only one who came down with a fever and the runs after the trip. lol. send pics, ya?

lishun at 5:46 PM