The stars at night are like fairy dust, there are so many. The vastness of the country, the green and golden plains, the silhouettes of sharp trees against immense, empty can feel your soul expanding. The animals - things you have only seen in the zoo, roaming freely, masters of their own space. Brightly-coloured birds popping out of the bush like confetti. From the tent, lying in your silken sleeping bag, just listening to all the sounds of the natural world - the calls and hoots and thudding of hoofs, the wind through the leaves, the crackle of the campfire. Absolutely magical. - Min

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stairs 19 Nov

We had a full turnout for stairs on 19 Nov. All 5 of us. On a Friday night!

After a month of stairs, we have settled on a 3 set pattern. Going up the Pinnacle twice, taking a rest and after 3 sets, we've gone up 6 times. Takes about 2 hours to complete the whole routine.

Gets really boring climbing stairs so sometimes we break into conversation or into song but even that peters off when we run out of breath. It's like a looong upward march and after what feels like forever, we reach the 50th floor.

On the 50th floor, Cheryl, Su and I will sit on the floor looking like we need medical aid. Min does her stretches. Bhaskaran always manages to look quite fresh.

Then Min calls for the lift, so that we can start climbing all over again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Row for your life

Gary offered me a sailing experience. My first one on board a boat.

I jumped at it. Took urgent leave. When the leave got approved, they asked me what it was for.

"Going sailing", the words fell off my tongue with absolute conviction that this was worth putting the rest of my life on hold.

The sea was calm and the sunset was breathtaking. I tried my hand at putting up the sails - steering and navigating. I was dizzy, this must be rapture? When I started to recognize it as sea sickness, I thought to myself that altitude sickness is going to be a bit like that. Maybe worse.

Figure that going to Kili is a bit like that. Taking many urgent days off
to endure the hardship and cold. I can sense the fatigue and splitting headache a mile away and still out of sight.

Can't help but row for my life towards it.

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart's little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks-when you hear that unmistakable pounding-when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plu
nging and steaming-then row, row for your life toward it. - West Wind #2 by Mary Oliver

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

T word

The dream

Training is the substance which makes a dream come true - dreaming about an impossible to reach physical goal, doing what you have to do to reach there and at the end of the journey, to come out of it a changed person.

The journey to Kili doesn't start at the foot of the mountain. It takes place right here. The fat girl's training guide will take anyone from flab to fabulously fit so you will be in your best shape ever. Whatever the chances of reaching the summit, you will have conquered your own personal fitness Everest even before starting the climb.

The reality

You can fall off the wagon, with the training.

Post Kinabalu, in the exuberance, I ate too much and exercised too little. My heart sank as the arrow on the scale floated upwards. So it was time to get back on the wagon.

Training objective

Kili is a marathon and not a sprint - walking with a small pack for 6-8 hrs a day for a number of days. The training objective would be to walk for 6 hrs (3hrs fast walking) without feeling muscle stiffness the next day. Doing whatever so long as it gets the legs and heart in top condition and avoiding injury.

The secret

But the secret that we won't admit to anyone. The secret which will confirm that we really are gluttons for punishment and have very twisted minds is this.

We like it. Stairs.

Every Monday evening at Singapore's tallest HDB flat. 2 training sessions so far. There is nothing quite like a punishing stair session going 5 x up the Pinnacle to numb the Monday blues and uplift your week.

Views from the 50th.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

loan receipt

It has been 3 weeks holding on to this guidebook by Mr Henry Stedman - The trekking guide to Africa's highest mountain.

I went to the National Library specifically looking for a guidebook on Kilimanjaro. Scanning the bookshelves, it took some time but as if it was meant to be, I found it.

There was only one copy. Dog eared and tatty, I flipped the pages and found loan receipts from other people who had also borrowed the book. Names of strangers I did not know. Just like me they had the uncertainty and desire?

I read the book, leaving the loan receipts from the others in there.

These loan receipts intrigued me, sometimes even more than the text inside the book. Who were these people? Did they go to Kilimanjaro eventually? What sort of mountains did they move to make this trip?

Their names - ordinary.

"Lim Guak Hoon"

Desk bound office workers. Perhaps they do accounts or law. Taking annual leave, breaking their piggy banks, vacating all other obligations to fly out on jet plane from Singapore to Tanzania to climb a mountain with a back pack full of dreams.

So heartwarming it was to see their loan receipts in there, I will be pitching my loan receipt in there too. Perhaps the next person who finds it, won't pitch my loan receipt into the dustbin and leaves his loan receipt in there too for the next person to find.