This time, at the summit of Bt Timah!
On 6th June 2009, 18 pupils and 3 staff departed for Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to begin the expedition. Excitement could be felt among the pupils as we boarded our flight to our destination. The first day ended in a flurry as we took time to settle down in our lodge.
One for the whole group!
Forming new buddies?
What were you saying, Jun Keat?
Er, why are they still skipping?
On 8th June 2009, we departed from our lodging to take on the challenge presented by Mt Kinabalu (4095.2m). We set off for our challenge from Timpohon Gate, at the height of 1866.4m, at around 8am. Along the trail, we saw many magnificent sights. Words could not describe the beauty of our surroundings while pictures just simply do not do justice to the real sights of nature.
I'm up here!
Resting among the clouds!
Can I touch the clouds, Mr Yaidi?
To take away the toll of the hike from the pupils, they were told to count the number of rest huts they saw along the way. Trying to keep count of these huts (7 in total) took their mind away from the exhaustion that they were feeling. By 5.45pm, all of the pupils managed to reach Pendant Hut (our lodging) safely, though some of them were more tired than others. We had our dinner which was followed by the safety briefing from the trainers. The briefing was for the final push to the summit and the descent by Via Ferrata. By 9pm, all of us were soundly asleep to prepare our body for the final push.
In the wee morning of 9th June, at about 1am, 9 pupils woke up to 'cross the last hurdle'. While many of you were sleeping soundly on your warm beds, we had to bundle up with many layers of warm clothing to keep ourselves warm. It was not enough! We had to use some heat packs before we were sufficiently warm.
At around 2am, we slowly made our way up to the summit. Along the way, the group was split up into 2 smaller groups. I and 5 other pupils, who were feeling much better than the rest, proceeded at a faster pace to the summit. The other 4 pupils took longer rests. They were left behind so that they were able to proceed at their own pace.
For the 6 of us, the challenge of completing the climb was constantly in our minds. Darkness descended around us, with lights from our headtorches to guide us. We had to bear in mind that every step we took brought us closer to the top of Mt Kinabalu. After about 4 hours of arduous climbing, 5 pupils and I, along with our guides, successfully conquered Mt Kinabalu and reached its summit.
Resting for awhile before moving again.
We made it! FINALLY!! Time: 5.40am
What a magnificent sight!!
As we stood at the peak, overlooking the mountain, we took photographs of our achievement. As I stood there, watching the sun rise over the horizon, words could not describe my pride for the pupils' successes. I was awed by the beauty that was presented before me. As someone who is passionate in nature and outdoor activities, the scene will be one that I will keep imprinted in my mind for a very long time.
After a while, we began our descent to Sayat-Sayat Hut. This was the pit stop before we went for Via Ferrata. What is Via Ferrata? I cannot find the words to describe what we went through this part of the journey. Just look at the photographs to see what I mean.
Be careful now!!
This is our 'summit'!!
We're up there!Look closely for orange spots.
After safely descending Via Ferrata, we finally regrouped at Pendant Hut. We discovered that the other group with Mr Jahan had reached Sayat- Sayat Hut at about the same time that we reached the summit (at about 5.40am). They were then advised by the local guide not to proceed to the summit as they would not be able to reach Timpohon Gate (the starting point) before dark. As it was a concern for the safety of the pupils, Mr Jahan made the painful decision to abort their attempt.
On 10th June, we made our way to Poring Hot Spring for some 'Rest & Relax'. Along the way, we saw signs put up by the roadside, stating that the world's biggest flower, the Rafflesia, was in bloom. Not wanting to miss a rare opportunity, we took the chance to witness the blooming Rafflesia flowers before proceeding to the hot spring. At the hot spring, we soaked our aching feet into the soothing warm waters.
Rafflesia in bloom!!
The next day, we set off to Singapore from Kota Kinabalu. If they were buzzing with excitement of the anticipated trip at the start of our trip, the pupils were still talking about their experiences at Mt Kinabalu during the flight home. Even Mr Jahan, Ms Lee and I, together with our guides from Singapore, were reminiscing about the trip too.
Time to go home.
The expedition had been a life- changing experience for everybody on the trip. They transformed from simply being an ordinary child to a 'celebrity'. Many trekkers were amazed to see the pupils during the hike. They kept asking the pupils their ages and some trekkers even took photographs with them to show their friends and children. I tried not to take the limelight away from them and stayed in a corner, observing them with pride. The trekkers who asked me about the summit, I directed them to one of the 5 pupils who was with me. You should be there to see their reactions of disbelief, respect and awe.
To those who reached the summit, congratulations to all of you! The experience of Mt Kinabalu is yours forever. Reflect on your performance on the expedition. It will help you in your daily lives for many years to come.
To those who did not go but trained with us, we thank you for your support. Without you, our training sessions would not be fun and lively. Thank you very much!
To Mr Chia, we thank you for your faith and belief in us and also for your ever-continuing support.
To Mr Daniel, Mr Yap, our organiser (X-trekkers), Ms Shiau Wei, Ms Syuhaidah and others who had helped us in one way or another, we thank you for organising a smooth and successful expedition.
To teachers and parents who had sent us off and everybody else who had wished us well, we thank you for your support and wishes.
To my wife and Mr Jahan's wife, we thank you for enduring our absence. Your presence are never far away from us.
To Mr Jahan and Ms Lee , I thank you for a great job done.
To Mr Jahan, a pact is made and a promise to be kept. We shall return!
Next time, your turn!