Team Tortoise are Cheryl, Min, Opus, Elaine and Carrie

5 torts making their slow and steady ascent up Mt Kinabalu...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bad grrls

Cheryl sent me a text. She was bringing her colleague, Kim Lian for stair climb on Thursday, 8 July.

“She is 52 and super fit. She has climbed many mountains and is preparing to climb another in Aug. She’ll provide good motivation not to be malu-ed by her!”.

Kim Lian came with a large backpack and well worn hiking boots. In her bag, she had several large bottles of water and I don’t know what else (rocks?) but it weighed about 12 kgs. On her ankles, more weights. She was training for her climb coming climb to a mountain in Sze Chuan. She started trekking 7 years ago. Her first ascent to Kinabalu was unsuccessful due to altitude sickness but she went back again a month later with renewed determination - walking slowly and made it to the summit.

I always thought that altitude sickness was an all or nothing. Either you could take the high altitude and continue climbing mountains or you couldn’t take it and never again try to climb a mountain. But here was living example, that altitude sickness could be overcome by trying and trying again.

Couldn’t help asking about her training regime. Every week she climbs a rock wall, lifts weights at the gym and staircase trains on her own. Her Bukit Timah hill training on the weekend comprises doing one loop up with weights on her back and ankles, 3 times up and down the killer staircases near the summit. One round isn’t enough. They would stop for lunch and then return for the same thing all over again. As part of their training, they learn rappelling, rope tying skills and snow walking.



On our way to the train station, I told her that my dream was to go to Nepal. To one day walk the Annapurna circuit and see the breathtaking views. A trek there would take at least 2 weeks but I couldn’t do it right now with 2 young kids.

Leave the kids with the husband, maid, get your mom to come in. If you don’t do it, you never will.

Do you have kids?

Yes, two. 19 and 20 years old.

Then she paused and laughed, don’t let me teach you all the bad things.

She didn’t have to teach me. I was already hatching in my head, grand plans. But to have a 52 year old, mother of 2 who had gone to bad bad places tell me that it was okay; okay to be bad?

That felt really good.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

3 July trek from Bukit Timah to Macritchie

We heard about the secret trail from Bukit Timah to Macritchie but wasn't sure the way to go. With some direction from our very knowledgeable guide, Cheryl, we were on our way.

The route we went by was the Kampong Trail but there is no kampong. Basically, you bash through a clearing in some jungle and then you follow the trail until you hit Macritchie. The route is about 11 km and takes about 3 hours to complete but within the first 15 minutes of walking, it started to rain.

The sneakers started to squelch and the umbrellas came out. If it rains on the mountain, it would be 10x worse with strong winds, the cold and the unrelenting steps.

Lillian gave me a talk on genetically modified food and steroid chickens which was more terrifying than the storm.

After more than an hour, a few turned back to Bukit Timah. Min and I continued. It was quite fun going down the rocky path on slippery teva sandals, the rainwater gushing between the toes. There was no one else on the path because the rain chased everyone away. With some active imagination, you're in the rain soaked Amazon rain forest. Adventure!

By the time we reached Macritchie, the rain had stopped. We walked along the wooden boardwalk and peered at our tortoise peers who were swimming happily in the reservoir. We took a turn out and found ourselves abruptly on the Thomson Road expressway. It was pretty alienating. The buses, more in the Amazon rain forest.

Too bad the adventure had to end.

* Thank you very much Cheryl for guiding us!