Friday, October 27, 2006

I Came, I Saw, I (almost) Conquered- part 3

Sorry for not posting the last few days. Long weekends maketh a person lazy. hehe! Hope eveyrone had a wonderful time recharging the last couple of days.

I Came, I Saw, I (almost) Conquered- part 2

I Came, I Saw, I (almost) Conquered- part 1

The beautiful sunrise which I missed.....

Without me to slow down the pace, hubby amazed the guide and overtook about 70% of the other climbers to reach the summit before surmise. He took pictures of dawn breaking over the mountain for me.....

Descending from the summit. Don't you think it looks very 'futuristic' and 'moon-like'?

We started climbing down after 7am. In daylight, I could see properly how the top of the mountain looks like and what I was doing at 3am in the morning. Laban Rata seemed so, very, very far away.

The thought of a warm breakfast was very, very appealing though. With the help of the guide, we were back to Laban Rata by 9am. The hall was already humming with activites and climbers having a toast with each other. I was still feeling every sore with myself for not pushing myself during the final stretch to reach the summit though hubby kept comforting me.

Anyway, there was no time for self pity because we were setting off an hour later for the descent- which meant at least another 6 hours of walking.

The climb down was rather uneventful except for the fact that hubby was amazed at the way I just kept going, almost non-stop. I told that if I stopped any longer than necessary, I'll never make it down. My jelly legs were really very wobbly by then and every muscle was hurting, some in places that I didn't even know I had muscles in.

But we saw some beautiful flowers along the way, including the second largest pitcher plant.

We finally reached Kinabalu Park's HQ by 4pm where we would be staying for another night. I was wincing with pain with every step I took and "walking" like a crab as someone said. Early night that night.....

The next day, we checked out and went to Poring HotSprings, which is also within Kinabalu Park. This place supposedly has hot sulphur springs that's good for soaking aching legs, and surprise, surprise more walks... hahaha!

We only went to the nearest waterfall, which is a very small one and because of the lack of rain, the waterfall was more like a waterwhimper. Lots of butterflies though.

The canopy walkway was supposed to be the highest in Malaysia but with my wobbly legs, I thought it best not to do it lest I fall off the walkway with my crab walk. Hahaha!

NO MORE long walks!!!

We booked a private room with jacuzzi. The facilities in it were a little err.. lacking. The toilet door was falling off. There was no toilet paper. The floor was a little flooded. There were cobwebs in the ceiling. I shan't go on. BUT, the place was spacious and for RM$20, I supposed we can't complain much.

A last view of KK

We were back by 5pm in KK to spend our last night there.

The next day, we were at a lost as to what to do. Our flight wasn't till 9pm at night and there REALLY isn't anything to do in KK itself. Then we spotted these brochures about island hopping. A day on the beach sounds good to us.

And we did not regret it. The water was crystal clear and you can do snorkelling, with lots of fishes to look at. We were told it was even better in the morning. Still, with 3 islands to choose from, there was plenty of space for everyone.... If anyone of you are thinking of going, I would strongly advise to spend the whole day here and either just hop from island to island or laze on one island.

The last boat back to the mainland was at 5pm, with another 2 hours to go, we decided to chill out and a have a drink at the 5 star resort hotel- Nexus Sutera Harbour..

Ahhh... it was a perfect end to a wonderful, memorable, if aching holiday.. Now, if only there was a hunky, young masseur around.

Would we go back to Sabah again? Yes, for the wild life and nature and diving (hubby's interest). To climb Mt Kinabalu again- probably not...

My only regret, as I've said, was not reaching the summit. I wanted to blame this on my age but there were many others, who were obviously older than me, who made it that I can't use this excuse.

So I think I'll blame it on my physical disadvantage- my short legs!


Hubby looking longingly at the mountain. One more time?

Me looking very much like a 'pau' and totally unglam whereas hubby was ultra cool. Sigh.. it's so unfair.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I Came, I Saw, I (almost) Conquered- part 2

I Came, I Saw, I (almost) Conquered- part 1

This photo was taken about halfway through our climb. You can see that there's less vegetation because of the altitude.

We started to climb at about 9.30am and it nearly killed me within the first kilometre! The steps were as high as my knees! Added to that, my backpack must have weighed at least 7 kg! And because I thought it would be cold (it will get colder higher up in the mountain), I wore my thermal underwear, only to find myself sweating away profusely as I huffed and puffed my way up. Some parts were relatively easy (by this, I mean the ground was fairly flat) and other parts were tougher (when I couldn't find any cracks to put my feet or the steps were really high). During these tough moments, I would tell hubby in my grumpiest voice: "I'm not doing any more mountain climbing!"
But despite my ranting and ravings, the scenery was really, really beautiful, especially when you looked down and beyond and all you see are trees and flowers, and all you hear are the birds and the crickets. I only wished I was fitter and could have enjoyed all these more.

We could see all the other mountains nearby. It was truely a beautiful sight.
I must have irritated the guide no end with my most frequently asked question: "How far more to go?"
Along the way, we met groups who were either going up or coming down. Besides the Caucasians, the Asians were mainly from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and of course Malaysia. Basically people from countries where mountain/ hill climbing is the norm. Strangely though, there were no handsome young hunks!!! Where were they? I thought I would be able to meet some handsome young men but all those I met were rather elderly, unless you are interested in young teenagers. (Whoops! hubby is going to kill me for this! hehe!)

Laban of the only two accomodation at the top. Not your usual resort...
I was never happier when I finally saw Laban Rata, our stop for the night, and if I have the energy, I would have done a little dance. As it was, I could just about drag myself into the hall. By now, it was cold as Laban Rata was 3,353m high. It was about 4.30pm and we've been walking for the last 7 hours. Really all I want to do was to have a cup of tea and a shower.
Well, the tea is not a problem but the shower.... was a slight problem
Because of the dry season, they had run out of water, so they had to pump more water up from down below. So no water till about 7pm and no hot water either. Also, only two bathrooms will be opened, to be shared amongst all the 100 or so guests, both male and female... But the weather was so cold and the water even colder that nobody took their time in the shower. For me, I was out within 10 mins. Ok, I was probably not very clean, but then neither were all the other 90+ people. Nobody is going to bother.
To compensate for the lack of water heater, they had the room heated up and boy, it was really heated up. It was like going from the freezer (after the shower) to the boiling pot (the room). Oh, forgot to say that that they are all dorms (except for 2 VIP rooms which have already been booked). It was 6 people to a room. I've not slept in a dorm for a long, long time. Luckily for us, there was only one other person in our room, which we called the jolly green man, as he was a very big size guy wearing a green t-shirt. Whilst both of us were having a migraine coping with the heat, he had covered himself up completely with a blanket and gone off to bed by 7.30pm. Amazing!
Now that I've done all the complaining, hehe, I can quite safely say that the view up there at Laban Rata is beyond description. Just look at the photo.

Side note 2: we had bought some beer back during our night stay at Kinabalu Park but could not finish them, so we lugged two cans of Tiger (or rather hubby did) up to the mountain and we were determined not to bring them down with us. We must have looked like two alcoholics to the other guests, who were basically having a cup of very safe tea or coffee.
We had our beer after our shower and were in bed by 9pm. We were supposed to set off for the summit at 2.30am, so that means we will have to be up by 1.30am, with about 4 and 1/2 hours of sleep. But it was so hot and stuffy in the room that both of us couldn't really sleep and were up by 1am and went down to the hall for a breath of fresh air. Actually by then, quite a lot of people were already up and about. Considering that there were about 100 of us, sharing 2 bathrooms and 4 toilets, all of us were determined to beat the queue.
By 2.30am, we were all wrapped up in our winter wear and armed with our camera, binoculars, water and a torchlight, we met our guide and set off, together with almost everyone. It would be another 1km to the last control station and from there, 1.7km to the summit. To catch the sunrise, we have to be there by 6am.

It was the hardest part of the whole journey.

Not only was I tired with the 7 hours of hard trekking the day before, I was doing the toughest 1km trek in near pitch darkness. A few gave up along the way. At one part, there was nothing to hold on to except the rope. It was pretty scary when all you have is this little torchlight and you are trying to see where to put your next step, knowing full well that if you missed your step, you would be rolling down the mountain. Ok, before I frighten off everyone, it's actually not so bad when it's daylight but when you are tired, hungry and it's dark... every fear is magnified 100 times.

Me hanging on for my dear life... and I'm not joking...

By 5am, I had reached the last control check point- Sayat Sayat Hut. This was at 3,668.1m and I have been climbing for more than 2 hours. I just couldn't go on anymore. It will probably be one of my few regrets in life...but I told hubby to carry on without me. I'll wait for him at the hut, where there were 3 other girls huddling together.
The hut was really very rundown and it had a musty smell about it. It was also cold but I was too dead tired to care anymore. I fell asleep only to wake up an hour later to find my fingers frozen cold (despite wearing thick gloves). I am definitely not suited to the cold climate!
I could see sunrays shining through the windows. Hurray!!!! Dawn at last! I wonder where hubby was and if he made it to the summit in time....

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The woman at the carrot cake stall at 'my' coffeeshop last night made me a very happy person.

When my food was ready, she said: "来,妹妹,你的." *

I haven't been called a 妹妹 for the longest time. Needless to say, I was walking away with a smile on my face. The carrot cake tasted extra delicious.


*妹妹- younger sister... a term you use if you don't know that person well and she seems to be younger than you. Like using the term uncle or auntie.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Julia

Not sure what she is doing now...

Probably shopping in Myeongdong or having lunch in Gorilla or maybe eating one of those delicious cake in O'sulloc. Whatever it is, I'm sure she is having a great time... eating all my favorite food in Korea. See my post here

Or maybe, she's just sipping coffee in one of those posh cafe in Apgujeong...looking out for good looking actors...

Sigh... I know she already saw one yesterday... This man----->

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIA! Many, many happy returns!

And for the other pretty girl.... looking forward to seeing a brand new you soon.... ^^

Just in case you ladies want to have some nice cakes and are reading this blog... check out the KNTO site here

The Plaza Hotel sells specially made Sam Soon and Sam Shik cakes.... yummy....

Can't wait to see you girls and catch up on all the news. : )


생일 축하합니다!

Happy Birthay!

p/s- Could you please either bring back either my main dish or any of my side dishes....*hoping*

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Came, I Saw, I (almost) Conquered- part 1

I posted this sometime last year, shortly after my 'walking' experience. Whilst going through my emails, I came upon this and decided to post it here, to relive that trip. To those who have read it before, err... maybe you want to read my kimchi blog instead. hehe! ^^

Written on 1st March 2005
Tim and I had a very eventful holiday week (well, it was more eventful for me than for him).

Our interests are quite similar. We both love nature and animals and don't mind going for walks. However, his definition of walk sometimes goes a little further than mine. So when he suggested climbing Mt Kota Kinabalu (which basically, is the highest mountain in SEAsia), I was a little apprehensive. But he assured me, I quote: "No problem, you can do it. Everyone says it's easy!" I have reminded him of this assurance that conned me into going, with every aching opportunity.

We decided to try out one of those budget airline for this trip. We took Air Asia, which was basically ok except for the troublesome fact that you HAVE to travel to Senai airport. We also did not know that it was free seating till we got on the plane and realised that most of the good seats were taken. No wonder everyone was queuing up at the gate earlier! Jetstar and Value Air definitely better but unfortunately, they don't fly to Sabah.

Mt Kinabalu is in Sabah and part of East Malaysia. Compared to Sarawak, Sabah seems less laid back, We covered the national museum and the Bird Sanctuary within one afternoon (frankly speaking, Singapore's Sungei Buloh is much better in terms of birds viewing). The museum is adequate and we spent a very pleasant lunch hour in the park just behind the museum, where they had put up lots of traditional houses. It was a very nice surrounding, except for the Chinese pop music that the guard was blaring away on his radio.

KK is pretty boring but beyond KK, there's lots to do, particularly if you're into nature, adventure or sports. However, the view from our hotel was quite something. And it was a little more happenning along the waterfront..if you are into cafes, food and drinking. View from Hyatt Hotel.

Anyway, after spending 2 rather uneventful nights in KK, we were off to the exciting part of our holiday on Sunday morning. Along the way, we had our first view of Mt Kinabalu. I must say it looks magnificent and rather scarily high.

Mount Kota Kinabalu

We checked into the Kinabalu Park HQ. Kinabalu Park, with Mt Kinabalu within it, is Malaysia's 1st world heritage site. There are beautiful lodgings at the Park's HQ and most climbers will stay for at least a night here before starting off for the climb the next day. The room is spacious, roomy though a little basic. But the views more than made up for it.

Hill Lodge- one of the accomodation at the Park

The park has hundreds of wild orchids, including the world's smallest orchid, as well as numerous pitcher plants and the famous, rare Rafflesia. It has beautiful and vast biodiversity, ranging from the lowland rainforest to the bare granite. The temperature ranges from the normal tropical 30's deg C to the freezing cold of below 0 deg C. There are also many trails that you can wonder on your own (in case you are not crazy enough to attempt the mountain) and we tried out one on our own in the afternoon. Although on hindsight, I should have just stayed put inside our lodgings and enjoy the view as I would be walking ALOT the following 2 days.

The view of the mountain right outside our front door was a sight to behold! At night, the sky was brilliantly clear and you could see all the stars as well as the beautiful moon. Definitely cannot get that kind of view in Singapore. Sigh....

View of the mountain from outside our room

The next morning we were off at about 8.30am. The summit trail starts at the Timpohon Gate, which is 1,829m high. Our guide must have thought I was very fit because he began to walk at a rather fast pace (well, fast for me anyway. Considering that for every step he took, I have to take two steps!)

Oh, before I continue, just a few things to point out.

A) We have to get a guide as well as a permit.

B) We have to carry our own luggage on the 6km trek up the mountain to our next lodging for the night before the final summit. That means no unnecessary stuff like toner, cleanser, cosmetic etc.... But you have to carry the necessary things like warm clothes (temp is below zero on the summit), raincoat (it can rain within minutes), and lots of water! Bottled water costs about 5 times as much up there because they are carried all the way up by the locals who are paid about RM$3 per kilo for food. Some of these porters wear only slippers and they cover 12 km within an afternoon- up and down to Laban Rata, the lodging in the mountain!

C) If you really, really do not want to carry your own barangs- barangs, you can hire a porter to do it for you. Cost RM$7 per kilo. But then why attempt to climb the mountain if you are going to pay someone to carry your things?

Side note: One of the list of things to bring was toilet paper and dear hubby brought along a big, fat, brand, new roll, thinking that we would need it throughout the whole 4 days. Turned out we only need it at Laban Rata. So this very special roll of toilet paper has been to Mt Kinabalu and back. hahaha!

These porter are amazing. They walk up the mountain in shorts and slippers, carrying heavy stuff like water and food for Laban Rata, the only accomodation up in the mountain. Whilst we take about 7 to 8 hours to do this trail, dressed in protective gear, often armed with a walking stick and with many rest stops, these porters take only about slightly more than an hour to do so. Incredible!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How much is that doggie in the.... moon

Well, I was looking forward to looking at a nice, big,round, clear moon on Friday night and what do I get? A hazy, blurry moon. The $%34#@&^ haze from Indonesia had made everything all hazy. So instead of a nice romantic-filled night, gazing at the moon, it became a let's-light-the-lanterns-now-and-shut-the-the windows quick night.

Well.... I was determind to light my lanterns, which I was really looking forward to... so...

Hubby thought I was overdoing it a bit. Really meh? But it's only four lanterns what? Not many right? Afterall, mid-autumn festival comes only once a year. :p

Actually, I would have loved to light up this lantern which I bought especially. This is the old fashion type that I grew up with. Made of cellophane, it's brightly coloured and came in all sorts of shapes and models. It's still being sold nowadays but not as common anymore. Most parents buy their children the safer version- electric bulbs. Personally, I think having a lantern without candles...just isn't a lantern. Oh... I didn't light this lantern in the end as I noticed that holder was too near the bodyframe. The whole lantern would have gone up in flames if I did.

Not that the other lanterns didn't. Went up in flames that is.

Oh yeah... I almost burned down our balcony as one of the paper lanterns caught fire. It was hubby to the rescue as I was just flapping my arms and going:" ohh... ohh...." Good thing I didn't go: "Ottoke? Ottoke?"

I know, I know, not very helpful and bright right? Luckily, there wasn't much damage. Whew! And that was really the end of the Mid-Autumn festival.

If you want to know more about this festival, you can go to Jos's post. She's written a comprehensive post on this subject. ^^

Sad to say, the haze was just as bad on Saturday...bleah....

Luckily, it cleared on Sunday and we went to the this Dog event organised by the SPCA held at the Bishan Park. hehe! The dogs are so cute.. Well..actually, the owners are just as cute. hehehe!

But I really like this dog.. I'm sure Julia will agree with me. hehehe!

Oh... what's the dog got to do with the moon?

Hubby insists there's no rabbit or moon fairy on the moon... only cheese. You will have to watch Wallace and Gromit- A Grand Day Out to know what I'm talking about.

From the official W&G site:

Btw, the song that I'm playing now is called "月亮代表我的心”(The moon represents my heart) by Teresa Teng. It's a classic that's been sung many times by other singers But just like Moon River, the original version is still the best. Teresa's voice is crystal clear.

For those still eating their mooncakes (and you know who you are), remember, too many round mooncakes maketh a round body.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Chinese Garden and Mid-Autum Festival

For the past few years, I've been meaning to visit the Chinese Garden during the Mid-autumn or Mooncake festival but just never seemed to get around to doing so. Everytime I look at the photos of the various lanterns on display in the newspaper, I regretted not going. This year, I was determind to do so.

And so on Tuesday night, both hubby and I made a trip out to Jurong to the Chinese Garden to look at the lanterns on display.

It has been years since I went to the Chinese Garden. I think the last time must have been when I was in Primary or Secondary school, during one of those school outings. There just doesn't seemed to be enough of a pull for me to want to travel all the way there. I have very hazy memories of this place..except for the pagoda.

One of the entrance

There are 2 themes this year.... insects (????) and icons of the world. I gotta to admit that some of these 'insects' are pretty cute.

And some of the icons...I don't think I need to say what they are.

Of course, the Chinese icon (The Great Wall, with a flapping dragon and phoenix) is one of the biggest and the most elaborate.... like all things Chinese.

There were various stalls set up... including one from Osim.. offering free massage. Hmmm.... There are the usual stuff.. like sparklers, lights, ice-cream etc being sold. They also had a sort of fun fair going on..mainly for the kids. There weren't really many 'traditional Chinese' stalls. Maybe there are more during the weekend. The one stall that is traditional was this dough figure maker. Cute right?

The one thing that I did remember about the Chinese Garden was the 7 story pagoda. I don't recall this pair of 3-story pagoda. They looked rather pretty though, especially with the reflection in the water. Of course there were lots of people taking photos. A group of teenagers was attempting to try to take a self-timer photo by placing the camera below, with them on the 2nd level!

I was just telling hubby, somehow in my distant memory, the 7-story pagoda seemed larger than it is now. I think it will look really pretty on Friday, with the full moon. We climbed to the top and looked at all the twinkling lights below us. It would have been rather romantic..except that you're sharing this romantic view with about 20 people. That didn't seemed to stop a young couple though, who was quite 'busy'. I'm sure there are lots of dark bushes in the garden below. Must be the moonlight.

It was rather busy for a Tuesday night so I dread to think of the crowd during the weekend. I wish I had a lantern whilst I was there. I saw many in the crowd holding one but just couldn't figure out where they were being sold. Although I must say most of them (especially the children) were holding a football lantern???!!! But really, I guess it was not so strange on hindsight now... as we used to have lanterns like ultraman, hello kitty, boat etc. That's why we loved lanterns then because they came in so many shapes and sizes.

The pond here has lots of koi....all looking rather fat and plump. ^^

I think I would have enjoyed myself better if I could have walked around the place at a much slower pace and also visit the Japanese Garden, which was just next door. As it is, it felt just a tiny, tiny bit of a let-down. And it wasn't cheap either. During this festive season, it's $8 for adults during weekdays and $10 during weekends. Ouch!

One of the last photo before we left.. hehehe! How do you like my warrior? Yes, I was bored.

Just some information on the Chinese Garden:
Built in 1975 and designed by Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, a well-known architect from Taiwan, the Chinese Garden's concept is based on Chinese gardening art. The main characteristic is the integration of splendid architectural features with the natural environment. The Chinese Garden is modelled along the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping.

Taken from They have more information about the garden on their site.

You can see some photos from this site

What are you going to be doing this Friday night?

I'm all prepared already..

I've got my lanterns, my mooncake, my pomelo, my tea....and my hubby... hahaha!

Happy Mooncake festival everyone! ^^

Monday, October 02, 2006

Children's Day

Did you know that it was Children's Day yesterday? Those with children in the primary school level and below would know. There would have been lots of celebrations in school on Friday and it would have been half day for them.

Anyway, as in every year, the volunteers at SHG- CDAC would plan food and games for the kids. And so on Saturday, 30th September, our kids got to celebrate Children's Day one more time. (See my blog on SHG & CDAC here)

Actually, there were lots of activities going on that day as CDAC had a couple of events on as well. The kids were having a wild time watching and participating in the fun. Naturally, they were alll distracted and it required conjoling, stern warning and bribery to get the kids to even study for that just one hour.

Finally, at 3.40pm, the kids were let off and it was time to party!

The Food Spread

Food for the kids...volunteers not included and... close encounter of the food kind

The Kids
What were they playing?

I discovered that they have a Hello Kitty version of the game UNO..I think I very 'suaku'.

Two of my charges- the boys in red t-shirt and striped t-shirt.

The Games
You know, kids will be kids, whether you are 10 or 13. When we thought of the games, we were alittle hesistant as we weren't sure if the kids would find it interesting. But guess what, they enjoyed themselves immensely. There were different stations and points were awarded for how well they do at the stations.

This proved to be more difficult than we thought for the kids as not many of them could do it. I tried it and managed to knock down the hahaha! Well, all the cans did fall but no points.

A look of concentration as he attempted to pick up as many marbles as possible. I was quite amazed as most of them were quite adept at this..though they weren't necessarily holding the chopsticks right way.

This was probably one of the easiest game.... mini basketball.

Memory game- you have to match the cards. Obviously some did better than others. Hehe! I like this kind of game and often play it on my PDA.

The kids were supposed to fold their own paper aeroplanes and fly them. This was easier said than done but I think the boys enjoyed it especially. When was the last time you fold a paper aeroplane?

We thought this would be difficult for the kids but they seemed to have no problem as well. Should have asked them put 2 bean bags on their head. hahaha!

Waiting for the results....who won the top prize? That was the one most important question.

And the answer is......... Nicole!

I think his winning points was in the bean bag station where he managed to do 15 times. Nicole is in Primary 6. Rather naughty but I must say quite good looking. Don't know whether he will become more trouble when he goes to Secondary 1 next year. I suspect there will be girls problem...if he doesn't have them already.

The brothers

I really like this photo. The older brother is now in Secondary one. For the past 3 years, he has been been coming to CDAC. This is his 4th year now. And ever since I can remember, he has always been scolded by all of us for being naughty, for being rude, for being a sore looser, for crying easily. And yet, he still comes to the centre on a Saturday afternoon when he could be out with his new friends. I mean, when you are 13, do you really want to hang around younger kids and do work on a Saturday afternoon? But he and some other kids that we've been teaching still come down and seemed to enjoy it too. If nothing else, it keeps them off the street and the danger of mixing with undesirable characters. I guess we must have been doing something right somewhere along the way.

His little brother is in Primary 4 this year and is just as naughty. I've been taking him for the last few months when I waa recalled back to help out. Often, I have to tell him not to behave like a gangster. But boys will be boys and there are often fights and quarrels amongst them. But 10 minutes later, they will be sitting next to each other and be the best of pals. So it's a real test of judgement to decide if you should play mediator when quarrels break out.

But I really like the kids I've been teaching and hope that they will benefit from their brief interaction with me.

The whole gang

Volunteers and children.

Children are always a treasure and it is a joy to watch them enjoying themselves. That's what childhood should be about.

Happy belated Children's Day to all... the young and the young-at-heart.