Happy Tioman Memories

tioman sunset

My favorite holiday was when I went to Pulau Tioman during my childhood years. I went with my dad, mum, younger brother and youngest sister. I was only 14 but for some reason I remember the trip vividly. Perhaps because I learned to snorkel for the first time during that trip, or because I have a memory of clinging onto my dad for dear life in the waters (although I was wearing a life jacket) or because I was just feeling happy and excited during the holiday. We don’t need a specific reason to be happy don’t we?

We departed from Singapore to Mersing via bus. The journey was about 2 hours, after which we took a ferry from Mersing to Pulau Tioman as the island is only accessible via sea transportation. My siblings and me were so excited that we were going on holiday! No matter how busy my parents were with work, they will always make sure to bring us on a holiday at least once or twice a year during our school holidays.

As for us kids, it didn’t matter how near or far they brought us, as long as it was a holiday and it was out of the country. Sometimes we would go just as one family, and sometimes we would go in a bigger group with the rest of my cousins, uncles and aunties. Alhamdulillah, I have happy memories of my childhood holidays which I have to be thankful for my parents for planning and organizing these trips for us.

At Tioman Island, we stayed in this very rustic 2-bedroom chalet with one bathroom. I remember seeing big ants in the bathroom (like I said, very rustic…) and avoiding it while showering. Surprisingly, I wasn’t very scared of it, just a little squirmy haha. It was also football season so I have a memory of my dad going to the open-air restaurant watching the match (there was no TV in our chalet, hotel policy – must be the no distractions kind of chalet) together with a couple of guys while we hung around enjoying the cooling sea breeze. Ahh I also remember the delicious seafood that was served, it was so fresh and yummy.

Recently, I went to Tioman Island again in 2011 and was pleasantly surprised to find that the resort had been expanded and renovated. In addition to the chalet, they added more types of rooms such as honeymoon suite and deluxe chalet which comprised of 2-storeys; this was where we stayed for my recent trip with my cousins. However, I am glad that although they have expanded the place and have had more visitors these years, the quality of the island still maintains somewhat the same as 10 years ago.

Renggis Island, where we went for snorkeling, still had beautifully maintained corals and clear waters. I say this because this is different from Manukan Island in Sabah, where the influx of visitors have led to a deterioration in the quality of corals and snorkeling experience there isn’t fun because you can’t really see anything much due to the less clear waters. But I guess that is just for the overpopulated tourist spots in Sabah because I do know that Sabah has amazing waters as well and I have not experienced it yet – like scuba diving at Sandakan one day please.

Daily Prompt: Memories of Holidays Past

My Kinabalu Story: Chapter 3 – Summit & Descend

We woke up at 12 am and proceeded to the canteen to gather and start our climb to the summit. It was really cold by then and I had 4 layers of clothing Рthermal wear, 2 layers of outerwear plus my adidas windbreaker-like jacket and gloves. Wore thermal leggings as well and then proper track pants. For my headscarf I had 3 layers of outerwear; a knitted inner, a ninja (so my neck is extra protected as well), and my thick pashmina shawl. Alhamdulillah, all this layering paid off because it kept me warm. Temperature was minus 3 degrees! Since we would be climbing in the dark we had to wear a headlight as you can see below. All set to go!

gear up for summit

Something funny happened after this though. Our group was supposed to gather at Gunting Lagadan hut before we all leave together to start climbing, but silly me had followed this Japanese group in front of me and missed the path to Gunting Lagadan hut! Slenger seh. After a while something seemed amiss as I knew I was supposed to stop somewhere first, but somehow as it was dark and I was not sure where the hut was plus I was too scared to turn back, I continued on…

guys at gunting lagadan hut

My group at Gunting Lagadan Hut – with the exception of me who had unabashedly started climbing without them. I promise it was completely unintentional. At all. Starting with them would have been more comforting (I mean like D-U-H, although in hindsight having a headstart might have prevented me from suffering from AMS and disallowed me to deal with any nervousness or anxieties while waiting to start). But no worries, I soon caught up with some of them especially Bai and Wan, the 2 fastest climbers in the team.

sampai gate

Taken during the day, but this is the gate near Gunting Lagadan hut that starts the climb to the summit. The one that I missed while climbing up at night… So once you see this gate on the way down, you know rest is near!

path to summit

The steep uphill path towards the summit (taken after I descended and managed to take a breather). No more walking or hiking here, but climbing, bouldering, however way you can think to navigate your way up. This part was truly mental strength 80%, physical strength 20%.

me at summit

Finally reached the summit of Low’s Peak at about 6+ am Alhamdulillah. It was no longer very dark and the sun had started to appear. Felt extremely thankful Allah allowed me to climb His mountain and reach His summit. The sun had already risen by the time we reached, so we could not sit down and see the sunrise. Which was absolutely fine with us! The view was just breathtaking. Magical that is Allah’s creations.

mus ez me sg flag

Whose “brilliant” idea was this?! (note: sarcasm) There, that guy on the left. Funnily enough, a Caucasion climber saw and said to us, “Hey you guys from Singapore! Cool!” Ya must tell the whole world right Ezriel? Haha. Malu seh.

south peak

View of the beautiful South Peak. Subhanallah. Simply amazing.

sunrise mt k

A glimpse of the sunrise from afar. A contradiction of man-made creation, fading away and God’s creations standing tall and magnificent.

the other side

The other side of the summit, where some climbers sat to enjoy the view and take a break from a night’s worth of climbing.

Descend.

This was the exact route we walked and climbed, in the dark… Lucky thing we climbed in the dark, so we could not see the steepness of the boulder!

night climb morning view

We started to descend from the summit after about 30-45 minutes. It was still chilly (still had my gloves on) and also had to give other climbers the chance for space. The temperature was starting to rise and although it was still chilly, it started to get warmer bit by bit.

najib and duo uncle man to summit

Saw some of my group members coming up while we were climbing down. I started to take more photos and climbed down leisurely while the two brothers, who had patiently waited for me during the hike up zoomed on and left me alone started to descend quickly. Since I couldn’t take pictures during the hike up due to the darkness, I relished this opportunity to snap away! Furthermore, my toes were starting to hurt wearing the rubber shoes…

me and kasree

With Kasree, one of our senior guides. He’s very experienced this guy and told me to stick closely to the rope. He shared with me that Kinabalu weather can be very unpredictable, one moment it can be sunny and the next it may start being really foggy, start to rain heavily or become very windy. That’s why we are encouraged to climb with windbreakers on. Alhamdulillah and fortunately, we had good weather throughout our journey although Abang Amirul did mention the possibility of rain seeing that it rained the day before we started our climb.

me between peaks

Yeah and then I asked Kasree to take a photo of me in between two peaks…

sayat sayat check point

Sayat Sayat Check Point, which is the final checkpoint before the summit. Here, there is an officer-in-charge inside the booth and he will record all the names of the climbers as well as check their name tags. This is for the certificate and for tracking and safety purposes.

nenek japan

Super amazed and inspired with this lady from Japan. She was much faster than me all the way climbing down, I felt like a weakling… She and her climbing partners continued leisurely climbing down while chatting in Japanese. I was trailing along behind them when I did not feel like walking alone and also nobody else was behind me! I enjoyed their company, even if I could not understand a single word they said…

timpohon gate

Reaching soon! Halfway there…

me at timpohon

Finally arrived at the end of our climb. Yes InsyaAllah, if God wills I will definitely come again ūüôā

terima kasih sudi datang lagi

(Signboard says, “Thank You Please Come Again” in Malay).

mardmood: This¬†post is part of the series ‚ÄúMy Kinabalu Story‚ÄĚ based on my expedition to Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia on 26th September to 1st October 2012. For more chapters go to ‚ÄėKinabalu Khronicles‚Äô in the Categories section.

Choosing To Be And Stay Happy

imam-ali-bin-abi-talib-ra-on-grief-over-the-past

5 Things I’m thankful for today:

1. I’m thankful to be getting married to my wonderful musician, IT-geek fianc√© (I still find it weird to call him my fianc√©, can you imagine calling him, err, my husband? Feels so “adult”… I knew him since 6 years ago in polytechnic back when we were in our late teenage years so sometimes it feels surreal that we are actually getting married soon (it does not help that we are both leaning on the petite sized spectrum).¬†There are times when I am frustrated over the wedding plans and things not happening the way I want it to be… But I am reminding myself to be thankful for these moments and embrace it insyaAllah. After all, like Ameera from Muzlimbuzz says, the challenges are necessary.

2. I’m thankful I was able to perform my umrah, or mini pilgrimage in 2009. It is Hajj season now and due to the current renovations happening in Makkah causing space constraints in the areas of the Masjidil Haram, the quota for pilgrims this year has shrunk tremendously. The impact this brings to a¬†small country like Singapore is that many would have to wait for¬†a long queue – at least 5 years – despite having sufficient amount of savings and preparations for Hajj. Even though I have not done my Hajj, I am thankful that at least God gave me the opportunity to step into the sacred lands of Makkah and Madinah. Even though it¬†was only for a short period of time (13 days), for me¬†it was¬†the most memorable¬†trip of a lifetime.

3. I’m thankful for my cats.¬†As I am typing this, Kak Long is sitting on my lap¬†about to doze off soon. Having cats made me see that even cats have feelings and their own personalities. I have 4 cats at home and they couldn’t be any more different despite having the same DNA. And having cats gives you the opportunity to do good deeds, as taking care of animals are considered good deeds as well. That was why Abu Hurairah r.a., the Prophet’s companion decided to keep cats as pets. His name¬†“Abu Hurairah” is actually a title given by the¬†Prophet s.a.w.¬†which means “Father of Cats” because he always had a cat following him wherever he went!

4. I’m thankful for my Don’t Be Sad classes every Tuesday nights. I always look forward to the class after a long day at work, especially if the day happened to have had some problems or issues that could give me a headache. Last Tuesday, Ustaz went through with us the contents and meanings of Surah Ad-Dhuha, which means “Morning Light”. In it he reminds us that Allah can overturn one’s condition as He is the One who provides all sustenance. And that the Hereafter will be better than the present…

5. I’m thankful for coming across this saying, “Wealth is not determined by abundance of possessions, but wealth is the richness of the soul.” As human beings we don’t consciously choose to be happy so it is a conscious effort to be happy *and* stay happy. The best thing is that we¬†forget sometimes¬†we don’t have to have much to be happy.¬†I’m choosing happiness, and so should you! ūüôā