Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just some of those things I did...


Recently, I went to try two hiking trails in Tambunan. I've never been to Tambunan all my life so I was really looking forward to the first trail we did in Mount Wakid.

I didn't took the pictures of the trail but to me it was easy enough for a beginner. It was about 7 km hike from the starting point to the peak and back. At the first part we were walking through a village and then passed some paddy fields and vegetation. The trail to me is a slow incline but was very steep towards the peak; I say it was close to 90 degrees that we were almost like rock climbing there. It was a bit muddy due to rainy season so we have to grab the stems and roots for support as we climb. If you're not comfortable with getting dirty, it's best to have a pair of gloves ready. And what I didn't expect was the number of river crossing. It was only around ankle to knee-high deep but some rocks were loose and I did trip and dipped my legs into the river.

You can see there, it's just 1372 meters so since it was only a month away from my hiking in Markha Valley, I found it was quite okay that I didn't have to struggle to bring air into my lungs. We paid RM 80 for the trip which included guides and late lunch which was served when we completed the trail. 

It was actually a well-organized trip. The guides were professional since they were officially from Taman-taman Sabah. There were enough rest for all but a bit too much rest for me because I can be easily tired if I have to slow down my pace. 

The next trip was Minduk Sirung which I'd underestimated and decided to not wear my knee guard for the climb! What on earth was I thinking!!!!!!????

I did take a look at the trail and the elevation given in the group, the trail was a long stretch with slow inclination but I didn't notice that the descend was tough and long; which is actually a known disadvantage to me. The total distance is 12 km and we completed it in 8 hours.

The footpath was not in its best condition because there was a trail run the week before and it was raining for the past few days before we arrived. So can you imagine how muddy and uneven the trail was with hundreds of people using it the week before.

My left knee was in severe pain when I reached the peak. I took Hakim's muscle spray and literally finished it by the time I completed the trail. Although the spray was for muscle pain, it did work for my aching joint. When the pain was no longer bearable, I'd to spray it to go on. It rained when I reached 2/3 of the trail and it was already getting dark when I reached the Mahua Waterfall. 

The trail actually reminded me of Mount Irau's. The climate was cool since the very beginning and the tree barks are mostly covered with moss. If I ever to do this again, I'll make sure I wear my knee guards and from now onward I will never ever leave them behind even if the trail is easy. Promise!

And last year I got to go to UMS Bon Odori. Luckily we were already back from Jakarta. And my proudest moment is that I donned this Yukata on my own!!!!! \(^^)/

To be honest, I practiced for 2 days! A full day on the day of the event; my Yukata was the first thing I reach the moment I woke up that morning. I was afraid if the Obi (the ribbon) is not tight enough that it loosen as I walk around. I was planning, if that was to happen, I better prepare myself some safety pins. Alhamdulillah it didn't! 

The event was great. There were Japanese involved too. There were martial arts performance, a tea ceremony demonstration and the Bon Odori dance.

Can't wait for my Japan trip!! I'm so looking forward to go to the places that I didn't get to go last time.. The Samurai museum, the sumo tournament, the zen gardens, the war memorials... #Japaneseatheart

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Leh, India; August 2016


Whenever one of my travel mates mentioned about going to India, I will quickly displayed my reluctance. I was very influenced by the 'Slumdog Millionaire' movie. I don't think I can stand what filth shown in the movie; especially that earlier part where there was a guy wading inside a river full of garbage. And whenever we meet another traveler, they never come up with a convincing story that attract me to India. It was always about severe diarrhea (like they almost die there) or overcrowded attractions and scams. I'm the scam-magnet in our pact so it's logical for me to feel intimidated and scared.

I had a change of heart when a friend of mine who is also an outdoor enthusiast showed me a picture of Ladakh; a picture of a huge electric blue lake surrounded by brownish mountains and there were two horses grazing nearby. It was a rare sight to me; you don't always get to see dry barren mountains as beautiful as what I saw. And I told my friends; if we are going to India it's going to be Ladakh.

That was somewhere in 2013 or 2014. At that time I did some research of how to get there. I remember it was not yet readily accessible to tourists and I've put the idea off because of that. It was at the end of 2015 that the idea of going there popped out again. I was triggered by a documentary that I was watching during one of my insomniac night. It was about a lady journalist who spent weeks moving about the Changtang plateau with the nomads. I was mesmerized by the change of landscape as they shift from one grazing site to another. It was surreal and from experience I then knew, that it would be better be seen by the naked eyes rather than just on TV.

I'm the kind who needs this kind of trigger to have this unwavering determination to get the tickets. So, after that I start monitoring cheap tickets to India and I got RM 399 for KL-Delhi. From Delhi, you can actually choose to go by land or by air to Ladakh. There are two routes by land which will equally take at least 3 days and the cost are more or less the same. But your journey can be further delayed due to road condition such as land slide or due to safety because you will have to go through some parts of Kashmir that are occasionally in tension. We were lucky to have opted to by air because there was an insurgence in Kashmir at that time. We met another group of girls who were in Kashmir before they got to Ladakh and they have to sneak out of Kashmir in the middle of the night to avoid the clash.

The ticket is quite pricey for a domestic flight. And mind you, we picked the high season which is during summer because Ladakh's weather can be unpleasant during winter. From what I saw, it ranges from RM 900-RM 2000 for GoAir, Air India and Jet Airways. I didn't get the cheapest price because there were only two seats left in that flight whereas I needed four. I got RM 1300 return ticket and MR who bought the tickets two weeks before the trip got RM 2000 plus return ticket.

We spent a night in Delhi and took the first flight to Leh the next morning. To my surprise when I arrive in Delhi, the immigration officer insisted to speak Urdu to me. He only stopped after I told him "Sorry, I don't speak Urdu. I'm Malaysian." And then a few days later I learned that there are people in parts of India that has Sabahan features and one of them is Ladakh.

I studied a bit about the Indian side of Himalaya and was impressed with the different sight offered by it from air. The Nepali side of Himalaya is filled with lush greenery, but there from above, they look like sand dunes with patches of snow in some peaks. "Beautiful ey" said the man who sat by the window in our row. He was a Canadian who is going for a hike in another trail. The flight was smooth until we were about to land. As the aircraft descend, it started to vibrate due to the swift moving wind in between the mountains. The Canadian joked, "I hope there is somewhere flat for this thing to land". That something flat was nowhere to be seen. Then the aircraft made a left turn around a huge mountain, the nose continue tilting down and it was slightly shaking. Despite all that, the captain made a smooth landing on the runway. I turned to RA and said, "Patutlah ticket mahal.. Pilot terer ni!"

I was immediately spell bound by what surrounded me. We went to many mountain range in the world but what Ladakh has is of its own. We never seen anything like it! They were so close and colossal, covered with sand and rocks and has delicate ridges whose features change during different sun-phase throughout the day.

The airport was very basic yet efficient. Foreigners were given a special form to fill and to my surprise again it was not handed to me upon arrival. I had to go the immigration desk to ask for it. The lady there spoke something in Ladakhi to me and without understanding what she said I just responded, "I'm Malaysian". It was a relief to find a toilet spray in the toilet. On my way back from the toilet I saw the huge signboard about how to avoid acute mountain sickness (AMS) and only then I realized that the repeated announcement that I wasn't paying attention to was actually about AMS.

Yangphel Guesthouse; we paid INR 6800 for 2 rooms for 2 nights. I gave a good review for this place and highly recommend it. You can ask the staffs  to cook breakfast and dinner and the price is quite reasonable. Trust me, when you have AMS, no matter how close the town is from this guesthouse, you will be too disoriented to walk there.

We went straight to our guesthouse. To my dismay, although they have wifi there, there was a power cut that afternoon. It was hard to stay awake when you are suppose to rest while you have nothing to distract you from falling asleep. Since I've felt AMS when we were in Nepal, I took some Dexamethasone as prophylaxis. I've expected it would be worst there in Leh, because we flew from sea level to about 3500m above sea level. I prepared my water and just lay down on the bed. RA was busy cleaning her bag because something spilled. Later that evening she had a very bad AMS and turned pale that we had to cancel our plan to go around Leh town. As we waited for dinner, MR actually fell asleep in her room and later had a severe headache during dinner. I've never seen her in so much pain. She was literally rolling on the sofa and keep saying she feels like knocking her head on the wall. Although I think she wasn't going to do it, I was scared anyway.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

20's.. You won't be missed..


I still find it hard to believe that a decade have passed since I turned 20. I remember that particular birthday because I was wearing a full leg cast at that time and my friends made a birthday surprise that I least expected because it was during Christmas. We had a halaqah session (a religious study circle) that night and closed it with a short tadarus Al-Quran. Everybody went back to their rooms while me and a few friends stayed there for a while talking crap. And suddenly the lights were turned off and the girls who already went back to their rooms came in with a cake. Of course, I got emotional and cried. At the end of all that, all of them took turns to write and draw pictures on my leg cast.

This blog is like an archive of my twenties that I sometimes go back to; reminiscing the good old days... For the past 10 years, I admittedly learnt a lot. Well, for me the 20's was when I started to independently make conscious decisions on my own that weren't always right. So, ya, it was somewhat like Dark Chocolate; black, bittersweet but good in many ways hahaha

I turned 20 learning that I won't be the only one who is going to be affected by my choices and actions. I learned that, if I don't take a good care of myself, there are people who will be sad and even fall sick out of worry. On one of those days, when I was not able to move freely, still waiting for my leg to heal, there was an Explore Race going on. I requested for my mom to drive me around town so I can watch my friends do their challenge. Silently, as I sit inside the car looking outside the window, I thought about what I'd missed and wonder if it will ever happen to me again; being immobilized like that. At the end of that ordeal that year, I learned that when you get the chance to catch your dreams, grab it because the future is still a mystery. I also learn that I'm stronger than I think to have completed the semester as a cripple.

Life goes on after that. I searched and found my passions. I discovered my love for nature especially the mountains. And I became sure that I have chosen healthcare because I found satisfaction when it comes to serving others. I seriously dread it when it was time for our Retail Pharmacy attachment or Industrial Pharmacy subjects but extremely love it when it was time for ward attachments, community service and home medication review programs. I also learned that, I have to be proactive in order to grow and not just wait for good things to happen.

And then I start to realize that a person's feelings towards another do change and a relationship wouldn't last if the effort is one sided. Hold on and be patient only until it's no longer worth it. I immediately decided to walk away when I finally found his change in behaviour is due to the presence of another girl. When it's too crowded, there is no point of staying and fighting for it anymore. It was my first ever serious relationship and it hit me real hard when it ended. It took a long time and a lot of strength for me to get hold of myself and stand again. But that was the second turning point of my life where I began to not focus my definition of happiness in the existence of one man. Instead, I start to divide my source of happiness in small chunks and the largest portion is, of course, belong to my beloved family. After the accident, this was the next occasion that taught me that during the darkest of times, it will only be Allah that you can turn to and talk to and ask for strength from.

I moved on, of course. I challenged myself to excel and for years after that I was focused on personal achievements until I entered the working world. It went smooth for a while until one fateful day, during my oncall as a PRP, I failed to respond competently. It was understandable that I was a newbie but then I was demoralized and start to think that I'm not suitable for the job. My mom talked me into it and reminded me that mistakes happen for us to learn from it. Ever since, I began to understand that knowledge is necessary. My aunt once said to me, "Jangan luan pandai, J. Nanti nada orang mau..". (Don't be too smart or else no one will want you (for marriage)). She might be partly right since I'm not married yet hahaha But then, the way I see it, having knowledge is not for so that you can feel superior than others. It's necessary in order to function well in every aspects in life. I need knowledge to be a competent pharmacist, I need knowledge so I can teach the little ones in my family, I need knowledge to communicate and connect with others as I travel and I need knowledge to be a good Muslim too. There's no limit in gaining and applying knowledge. And having more doesn't make you better than your parents, better than your teachers or your spouse. It just adds your value as a person.

When everything was starting to be right and great, came my greatest lost. I dedicated a few posts for Nurul alone in this blog; before and after her passing. So you can easily guess just how close both of us were. My condition was even worst than during my first heartbreak. For months, I cried every morning (on my way to work) and in the evening (on my way back from work) because that was the only alone time I had to pour my greatest weakness which is losing someone I really love. My productivity was going downward; my room was in a mess and so was everything else in my life. But then, slowly, I started to see the wisdom behind this deep-seated sadness that dwell in us as a family. I guess, it's natural to feel that death is real when someone so close to you is gone. And it's even eye opening when one of the youngest is fated to go first. You will never know when is your turn. The inspiring part of Nurul's departure was the massive amount of people who offered their prayers and gave us support. I was surprised to find the amount of donation was enough for all the kenduri (We had kenduri 7 days straight, and then every weekend during Ramadhan and on the 40th and 100th day). At the end of it all, I thought, Nurul only lived for 17 years but she received a lot of duas from people who don't even know her in person. Not everybody is blessed with that. I've seen people who don't even have any next of kin who come to claim the body after their demise. So, if I were to leave this world one day, I want to be remembered as good.

In between all that, I fell in love again after 4 years. I was so afraid when I noticed that that once-a-familiar-feeling came back to me whenever I was with him. He was this type of love that you meet at the wrong time. On this part of my 20s, I learn that it's worth it to choose something that will cause less or no drama. You might not get the one you want, but at least you will live with a peace of mind. I coped with this loss well although it hurts too. I believe that if it was meant to be, it will be. If it was not him, then it will be someone else. He was the one that made me believe in giving love another chance. He made me believe that there is still a good guy out there who is kind and sincere, It was just the wrong time and he was just another person who came to give me new wisdom.

I very much developed my career afterwards. I sub-specialized. I learn that although my field can sometimes be a staccato, but if I look carefully, there is actually still a lot to be learned. And then, the best way to make someone improve their performance is not by scolding them but by guiding them. It's important to learn to forgive and give chance too, because all of us make mistakes. There were times when I used to despised those who didn't make use of their second chances in life wisely and chose to continue the life that have brought them where they end up instead. It made me feel as if I'd made that possible. But then, I figured that I couldn't go on thinking like this. So I start to see myself as part of Allah's tool of delivering the second chance. As long as I played my part right, whatever choices that comes after that is not accounted on me.

When I was ready to push myself further in my career, I had to let go one of my plan for the sake of others. It was a tough choice, to be honest. But then, at that point of time I asked myself which one will I regret the most not doing. Alhamdulillah, I made a right choice and the sweetness from the fruit of this decision is tasted not only by me but also by the people I care most. In this world where we are fed with the idea of making ourselves happy and just do whatever we want to do; to me that is not always the case. Things must be thought through. It will not always be about me and my life. Sometimes happiness is by putting others first and by putting others first doesn't mean you will suffer for life too.

After all those years, I'm no where near perfect or will ever be. I hurt others too but there are some people who hate me for reasons I don't understand. I evaluated our relationship, I admit that I have flaws too but I don't think I deserve to be treated to that extend. It's not like I did harmful things to these people but they just hate me so much. The most important thing is I did ease my pride and apologized. I walked away with my self-respect intact and I didn't keep up on any of them. I learn that you can't make everybody to like you. The best thing one can do in dealing with people like this is try not to make further damage and just move on. If you ever found out that they still talk about you, bear in mind these people most likely has minimal contact with you, don't even know you well and don't know your struggles as well.

After two heartbreaks and watching some of my friends' marriage broke, I started to understand marriage is not a life goal, it's a blessing. As I aged, the question of when is not so much of a problem anymore but recently I was challenged with perceptions. Some women will see you as a threat who's going to steal their husbands, male friends will start to think you are man-hunting if you treat them well and even say you're desperate and there are so many times that me and my single friends shared stories about how older men like to harass us with obscene words these days. I guess, a lot of patience is all you need in this type of society.

Honestly, I'm not afraid to fall in love. What I'm afraid of is putting my Iman at stake because as I grow older, the more I see people loosened their Iman for something they believed to be love. After all the answered prayers for strength, for guidance, for happiness, for understanding and whatnot, I don't want to turn my back to the Almighty for another human being. It's not an easy thing to do but I'm still trying. The man I was attracted to a year ago also had the perception that I was desperate when his confession was easily answered with a widely open door. I boldly said, I accept nothing less than marriage. He was someone who I saw good in despite what people have been telling me and despite his harsh treatment on me. I'd given him the chance to show me his true colours but he didn't take it so I didn't show mine. We end it without even giving it a real chance. I guess, it's just not meant to be again. I was sad on the last day we met and my best friend was thoughtful enough to take a time off to be there for me. The saddest part is when this particular guy was constantly being provocative afterwards and keep on pointing out that I was desperate. I lost my patience and cut ties for good. I learned that I'm not always right in seeing good in people. Two things that's worth to guard with all your life; one is your Iman and another is your self-respect. He taught me I can be strong enough to do both simultaneously.

Finally, those who have more than you is not necessarily happier than you. Success is not defined merely by possessions and position; it's about who you have become in this world and what do you have with you to return to your Creator. Live within your means because debt is a silent killer. If the things you've worked for doesn't happen on time, just continue working on it, because Allah will make  it happen on the right time.

So, that's it for my first post this year, 2017, at 30 years 2 weeks old.

Resolutions.. I want to...
Develop new skills while sharpening my existing skills
Improvise Japanese and Arabic, learn Spanish because I'm so going to watch Real Madrid play live in front of my eyes this year
Going to scratch off at least 3 bucket list this year
Save more.. While traveling more (LOL)
Put more smiles on people faces too!

All the best peeps!