Low's Peak - the summit of Mount Kinabalu
It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves — Edmund HillaryI learned two lessons while climbing Malaysia's highest peak; to keep moving forward, one step at a time and the best thing in life is indeed always obtained after a hard work.
So I went on my first mountain hike at the age of 31 and spoiler alert, I reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu on 20 March 2017 :). As cliché as it may sound, my story is not just about the destination but how someone like me who has never been an outdoor person was even able to watch the sunset at 3,272.7m above sea level. Well, where there's a will there's a way.
Sunset at Laban Rata
People say; anyone of reasonable fitness can complete this hike, but don't be fooled. It is NOT easy. AT ALL. Haha. However to be honest, I think Mount Kinabalu is accessible summit climbs for the average person. No technical mountaineering experience is necessary, just a proper hiking shoes, a warm jacket and the most important is a whole lot of perseverance. Hehe.
Breathtaking view along the way up
Sea of clouds at Laban Rata
What an experience! The adventure of my first and maybe the last climb will be forever embedded in who I am. I went through all emotions and exhaustion that kept me from reaching the top. And it was a relief to FINALLY be on top of the mountain, alhamdullah. It was all worth it. The view was absolutely amazing and breathtaking :').
Labels: Mount Kinabalu
New York City, U.S.A
Admittedly, I just have one resolution last year, I want to pass my ACCA exams. And it finally came to fruition in 2017, alhamdulillah :)
So, how did the darn exams go?
Result was expected to be out on 16 January 2017 at 8.00 a.m (Malaysia time) via email or sms but I didn’t get mine until 9.00 a.m. Imagine that agony of waiting when your friends keep on updating about their results one by one. But thank God, it was good news.
As I mentioned many times, ACCA was THE hardest exams I have taken in my life. I MUST pass 5 professional papers and it took me many years to complete them all. I even went to the UK in 2014 to study full time but I failed miserably.
Well, I registered as student since 2010, and passed my first paper in 2011 after second attempt. Took another paper, failed 3 times and I gave up. The journey wasn't easy at all when failures always hit me. Getting average marks (50-55 marks) was okay but failing few times wasn't a familiar feeling. I mean it is okay to fail once, or twice but not thrice right? It was bitter, I hated it so much and so I GAVE UP. And that was in 2012.
In 2013, I felt soooo overwhelmed with my work and I just want a career break. So I applied a student loan from MARA and I was thinking maybe I can complete my ACCA in the UK. My thought was soooo simple back then and I didn't know what I was getting myself into.
Truth to be told, I was struggling to finish all the papers and at the same time I have to keep in mind that 100k loan MUST be paid in full if I cannot complete them. Sobs. The very thought gave me shivers. Haha. It was difficult emotionally, physically and mentally. And that is one of the reasons of the abandonement of my miniature page. Hehe.
To be honest, I just pass 1 paper when I was in the UK. The fact which I was tooo ashamed to share about. Hehe. And I completed the remaining 3 papers here, in Malaysia. My life wasn't easy peasy last year, I was soooo busy with my work, had to go to classes during weekends, spent my time in libraries and had less than 5 days to prepare for an exam. And the last paper was the hardest, I've finally passed after 5th attempts. Can you imagine?
After all, I am sooo glad that I did not really give up. It is okay to take a break but please DON'T GIVE UP. I managed to pull through and finally passed my ACCA after 6 years :). All the years of hardwork, sacrifice, time, money and tears have all been worth it. I couldn't be happier.
It wasn't my effort alone, but the prayers of many people. My parents, my family, my friends and it is all in Allah's will. It wasn’t the achievement that matters but all the lessons learnt along the way. I feel that I have grown so much throughout this course.
And I am writing this not to show off because really, there is nothing to show off. I have failed so many times and get up again, and again. Just remember this; fall seven times, stand up eight! I hope this will be an inspiration to all you young people ( I feel so old, haha) who are struggling and was as lost as I was, before. Whatever the situation you are in, if you cannot change the circumstances then change your attitude towards it. Be positive.
Last but not least, to sum up my travel diaries in 2016, just like the year before, the year before that, and all the other years previously, I have been to quite a number of places.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Penang, Malaysia (again)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I wonder how much I would have lost, had I chosen NOT to ride a pony in Pahalgam
CONT'D from HERE
I think all of us were getting severe headache and feel like vomiting, probably because of the twist and turns of hilly route on the way back from Sonamarg to our houseboat. And when we reached Lily of Nageen, Fana vomited. Tsk. Thank god I didn't throw up but my headache remains for few hours and as usual I ALWAYS forget to bring any medicine while travelling and had to request panadol from Fana that night.
Kashmiri chicken curry
We had chicken curry for dinner and it was cooked to perfection and also served with finely chopped coriander leaves. I gave in finally hahaha tried to eat a bit and walllahhhh it was GOOD! Sooo sooo good! Bertambah-tambah nasik siap, yumss. Hehe. Perhaps blogging this at midnight isn't such a good idea because I'm terribly missing Kashmiri curry.
We were all then decided to take shower at night rather than in the morning. I mean how often should you shower during winter, kan? Sekali sehari sudah hiks. And plus we smell soooo bad that day, need to take shower ASAP. Bau kuda sangat! Sooo bushuk. Haha. Well, the horse riding was fun but the smell is a bit euwww. Bertabah je lah, nak naik kuda sangat kan.
Our housekeeper Shabir, preparing for breakfast. Handsome enough? Haha.
Morning view at our houseboat
My UIA girls since 2005 and semua tak mandi pagi hiks
The next morning, we eventually got up, washy-washy, prayed, and dressed properly. Lesson well learned yesterday, when the weather gets cold, you need to learn how to dress for winter. And the easiest way of course; to wear layers.
Our brekfast as usual was okay. Bread, butter, Kashmiri tea and there's always omelette on the dining table. We had to quickly rush after brekkie because the distance from Srinagar to Pahalgam is about 100km and it takes maybe 2 hours plus to reach the destination.
On our way to Pahalgam, the drive was particularly scenic. We passed through local shops and almost all men dressed in their traditional firan (full length coat mostly worn during winter) and the girls with scarves tied tightly to their heads.
The journey today was easy compared to what we had yesterday and we were all cheerful. Perhaps, panadols we took last night really work, I believe. Hehe. We also discussed some of the things like no horse riding for today, never. Because, our butt hurt so much after the ride haha. At first, I thought I was the only one felt that way but they suffered too, eventually. Hahaha.
Almost there. The landscape here always give me goosebumps
We then realised that during winter, there are only two options going up to Baisaran Valley or people here call that place as "Mini Switzerland". It is either you have to walk for at least 7km long or... pony ride. The car cannot bring you up, it is definitely impossible.
And we... had no choice.
Most people go by pony not because of long distance but it is due to steep and rocky route up to the valley. We too, choose that route. 1 hour to climb and 1 hour to come down. The idea of pony ride up to the mountain was intimidating to be honest. I was nervous like hell haha but there were two boys who will bring us up, they were friendly and seemed experience. So we hesitantly agreed, we had no choice remember?
Hey Rani, please behave okay. Jangan bagi jatuh please
And here we go! Chalo Raju!
Rahman was the one who made the introductions and like any local, he started the conversation with this one question "Where are you from?" He speaks fluent English and asked lot of questions about us, what are we doing for living, do we travel often and so on. And looking at him, I wondered what life is really like. Everything about life here is different than life as we know it.
Rahman (on the left), he's a medical student in one of the universities in Kashmir and during winter break, he always come back to his village and worked as a tourist guide who received daily wages which I believe just only small amount of Rupees. But at least, it can help him and his family a bit, I think. And here in small part or Kashmir, every kid walks 5 to 10 km one way to go to the only school. Sobs. They had lived quite an adventurous life. Stories of struggle and hardship in the midst of what feel like heaven is way too difficult for me to digest.
He also told us that he enjoyed taking visitors into the hills and forest trails. "But you are walking, and we are riding a pony, won't you get tired"?
I can't remember how many times I was asking, are you tired? He was just smiling and said no. And at that moment, I was thinking about my brothers at home, felt like crying for no reason.
It looks familiar, isn't it? Macam Switzerland those green houses
On the way up, we can see many people passed by, some of them I can see enjoy their ride to the fullest. Well it is an enjoyable experience if you know how to ride or most importantly how to control the pony. Hehe. Rahman taught us the basic of pony riding like how to stop a pony, change the direction and make him go faster. I can say that by now I am sooo expert at how to make a pony stop. Hahaha. Senang sajork.
There were also general talks about other places in Kashmir especially Gulmarg. I told him that we will be going tomorrow. And he said you should, a must visit.
After half an hour or so, the tedious and most difficult journey started. This is the most steepest part. And now I was thinking, walking would have been a better option.
"Can I walk?" I said. And of course Rahman said no, it was steep. I actually screamed now and then because sometimes the pony would speed up and only slow down within seconds just to drink water. Duh. How dare you! While I was still on the pony, my anxiety had reached a tipping point and the next thing I knew, we already reached our destination; Baisaran Valley or Mini Switzerland. Thank god! Haha.
Can't you see a whole lot of snow welcomed us? The views up here were splendid
And this is a very common sight in Kashmir :)
After almost 30 minutes we spent our time in Baisaran valley, its time go back. And going down again was another adventure. Haha. The steepness slightly terrified than before. And as result, Fana fell off a pony. Hahaha. I was ahead of her and straight away looking back, what hepenggg girl? How comeeeee. Hehe. Another half of the journey was easiest, alhamdulillah.
As we said our goodbyes, Rahman asked us when we would be visiting again. And we said next year (but we have not visited yet, tsk). He was just smiling. Their hospitality surpassed anything I had ever imagined. Can't help but to help them a bit, if you know what I mean.
So yes, sometimes the people you randomly meet on the road give you an impact. Actually before I went to India, I was telling myself, I won't be giving any tips to anyone (kedeks at first), but... end up I had to call CIMB from Jaipur just to activate my overseas withdrawal. Haha. Cashless.
To be continued.