Tuesday, March 30, 2010


After months reading and learning on stock market investment and observing the market, finally today I made the plunge. Just bought 4,000 shares of Fajarbaru Builders Group Bhd's stocks.

Was not in my watch list, but still proceeded with the purchase. Seems like a good prospect. In fact Kenanga research also has a buy status for this counter. They are bidding for the new LCCT project and if they win the contract, I'm pretty sure it's price will soar.

But as of now, the counter has dropped by 4 cents from my purchase price. A bit unnerving, but I'll try my best not to panic, get tough and put more confidence into it.

Energizer Nite Run - 27 Mar 2010

We did it! We finished it in 1 hour 23 minutes, well below the qualifying time of 1 hour 30 minutes. Even though my GPS reported less than 10km, but still it was an achievement, especially for Anis who did a 10km run for the first time. The farthest she had run during training was 7.5 km. So that was a good achievement.

As for me, it gave me a different perspective of such race. I noticed so many people did the run just for the fun of it. Taking their own sweet time & taking opportunity to socialise and meet new friends. Things that I never noticed before, since I would be so focused on my target time and gasping for breath.

For our effort, we got this

Next, KL International Marathon!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trip to KK, Day 4: The reward

The last activity of our KK trip. Original plan was to go rafting at Sg. Padas, but almost every single local we met told us that water level was low and not so good for rafting. So Anis arranged with our travel guide for island hopping instead.

The day started a bit late for all of us. We all needed extra rest after the previous days strenous activity. Only around 10:30AM that we all left from KK in a boat to our first destination. The boat ride took only about 10 minutes or so, and we were in Pulau Sapi. A very nice place indeed and a big difference from the view we had for the past 2 days. We didn't spent much time here, only some photo shoots and we were off to Pulau Manukan.

Just arrived at Pulau Sapi

Pulau Sapi entrance

Another 5 minutes boat ride and we reached Pulau Manukan already, so easy & convenient. By then, we were already very hungry. We grabbed lunch from one of the food stalls on the island. Lunch by the sea, with the sound of the waves pounding on the beach, the wind blowing into our face, it was just so nice and calming.

Welcome to Pulau Manukan!

Always ready for an emergency

After lunch, the compulsory island activity, snorkelling! This is one activity that I really enjoy. Swimming around the beautiful colourful fishes, just had to be aware of jellyfish. There were signboards reminding visitors that it was jellyfish season. But was lucky didn't enountered any. Other also enjoyed other activities, para-sailing & jet-skiing.

Beautiful scenery

More beautiful scenery

A guide to the fishes around the area

It was close to 4:00PM when we made our move to our last destination, Pulau Mamutik. Since we were all exhausted after Pulau Manukan, we only spent some time taking photos on the beach. After almost a day enjoying ourselves on the beaches, we left for KK around 5:00PM. Already quite late by then.

An interesting piece of history of Pulau Mamutik

The compulsory entrance photo

Later that night, we all went out for dinner at the famous KK pasar malam by the sea. Forgot what's the name of the place. We all had a rather OK seafood dinner. Not as fresh as we would like, but we still enjoyed it though.

Fahizam eyeing the big prawns

What a nice & relaxed day for all of us. A fitting reward for the hardship we went through the 2 days before.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trip to KK, Day 3: We came, we saw, we conquered!

*You may click on the photos for bigger version*

THE day for us.

The day started very early. We were all already awake by 1:30AM, despite going to bed at around 10:30PM the night before. We had to wake up early since we're supposed to meet our guide at the Laban Rata cafe at 2:30AM for the trek to the summit.

Again, we had to trek down the stairs to the cafe for our breakfast, which is technically a supper considering the time. All of us had a good 'breakfast' to fuel ourselves to the summit!

By then, it was already 3:00AM and Pak Jo was already complaining. But we were all very excited! Then we had to climb back up the very same stairs we went down for breakfast since the summit trail is actually just next to our hostel. We were told the climb to the summit would be 2.7km. The first 700m on wooden stairs and natural rocky terrain. Then the rest of it will be on rock surface and we will require to use ropes to climb up, that is the rope section.

The first 700m was a bit slow. The stairs was quite narrow and there were just too many people trying to climb up at the same time. There was a group of elderly Japanese tourists going up as well, slowing things down a bit for the rest of the climbers. But more on the Japs later.

We were already struggling on the first stage of the climb. The stair was rather steep. And then we reached the 'rope section'. Now things got very scary indeed. We had to hang by the rope, stepping only on a narrow ledge by the rocky mountain side. With a deep drop behind us! With the dark surrounding, depending only on our headlights, things got even scarier. Luckily the really steep and difficult section was not very long. I admit, I was quite worried at this section, since even a slight slip of the footing or slip of the rope grip would mean tumbling down to an almost certain death. Having said that, our guide was able to jump around on one foot on this particularly steep section *damn*

Then it was on rock surface all the way up. It was not very steep, but the cold condition and the sheer distance we had to cover was rather intimidating. Additionally, we barely had enough rest from yesterday's 10-hour long climb. And the thin air at such altitude exacerbates things further. By now the sun was already rising, which meant we were quite late. We started early so we could catch the sunrise at the summit, but we were barely halfway there.

The sun was already up. We were only halfway there

Despite that, still, take photo hehehe

But we were not alone. Our group of Anis, Sue and myself was constantly being accompanied by the group of the elderly Japs. Despite of their age, they certainly had a strong determination to reach the summit. And we being much younger just simply cannot ignore that and see that as a challenge to continue to the summit!

After walking for more than 3 hours, we were literally dragging our feet, but the summit was still not yet in sight. We saw the 'summit' from afar and tried our best to reach it, accompanied by encouragement words from climbers descending from the summit. Already!? *sigh*

Special shot by our guide. Never realized the South Peak photo on our RM1 note

Little did we know, the 'summit' we saw was actually the 8km mark. From there on, there's still 700m to the summit! From that point, we could clearly see people standing on the summit and they all looked no bigger than tiny little ants. It was really that far! Never remembered 700m being that far away.

But we summoned all the energy left in our body and made our best attempt to reach the summit. We were already that near, no way we're gonna give up! Not when the elderly Japs were carrying on! I had to literally push Anis to help her move. Until the Sayang Kinabalu song played on the MP3 player. That gave us a sudden burst of energy and encouragement for our last 100m climb to the peak! It's all about the mentality really.

The last section was rather difficult and we had to be very, very careful. We were surrounded by big rock boulders and nothing else. Nothing at all to cushion a fall. Nevertheless, we made it to the summit! Yay!

We made it to the peak!! That metal signboard actually is damn cold

Spent almost 30 minutes on the summit, for pictures and enjoying the breathtaking view around us. We were lucky the weather was very kind to us and the view was clear, even though it was already about 9:00AM by then.

View of the South Peak from Low's Peak (4095.2m)

Then it was the dreaded walk down. On the way down to the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint, we were more or less on our own over the mountain top. Only the four of us, Anis, Sue, Pak Jo and myself. And with the sun shining gloriously onto the mountain face, it was now that I realized the scale of the place. The mountain top area was really a vast, wide open rocky terrain. Doesn't look like it from afar.

Last view of Low's Peak, with a nice blue sky

To give you an idea of the sheer scale of the place

The 8 km mark. The summit seemed so far away. Not a very encouraging sight while on the way up

In the background, that's the fake summit we saw from afar, which actually is the 8 km mark

We were the last climbers past the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint and the ranger manning the place locked the gates behind us and accompanied us for the descent to Laban Rata. He shared with us his experience working on the mountain. Going up from Laban Rata to Sayat-Sayat checkpoint on daily basis, for the past 9 years. On the way down, bumped into several climbers going to the top on their day-trek. And again met Mohd. Nor, he was also on the way up.

At the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint

We were so relieved when finally we safely reached Laban Rata cafe. We missed the breakfast by a long shot. It was already 1:00PM. But they were kind enough to accept our meal vouchers in exchange for fried rice. Special mention, the RM10.35 canned F&N soft drinks tasted soooooo nice compared back in KL. Dunno why hahaha!

Only at around 3:00PM we started our descent to the bottom. We chose the shorter Timpohon trail this time around. Everything was going fine, until after about 2 km when Erwan complaining of knee pain, which is rather common when going down such steep stairs. Another kilometer passed by and Anis started complaining of fatigue. No amount of chocolate and energy drinks helped. But we pushed on. Stopping for rests regularly. Later I found out she skipped the fried rice lunch at Laban Rata. That explained it. She was just too exhausted.

At Layang-Layang hut, just after the T-junction, again we met Mohd Nor, on his way down. Fahizam then took off with the group for the descent while the rest of us stayed together in our group.

Another kilometer passed-by and Anis started vomitting. She already called it quits, but that's simply not an option in the middle of the mountain jungle! We have to make our way down by any means. With assistance from Pak Jo, we pushed on. By then, we had another casualty, Irma was having wobbly feet as well and would at any time just simply fall to the ground. She was also suffering from total exhaustion, also because of skipping lunch at Laban Rata. It was not a pretty sight. 3 out of 5 were injured or severely fatigued. The rest of us just tried to encourage the group to push on as it was already getting dark, which reminded us of Nuang experience.

But pushed we did and we managed to reach Timpohon gate at 8:45PM. In total, we trekked for 16 hours in one day! 10 hours from Laban Rata to the summit and back, then 6 hours going down to Timpohon gate. That's 26 hours in two freaking days! No wonder we were so fatigued by then.

After the long-ish journey in the van to KK, we all retreated back to our next stay, Kinabalu Backpackers lodge. Relieved and proud that the climb was already behind us. We all reached the highest peak in South East Asia! 6 of us attempted and all 6 made it to the top! Bravo!

Trip to KK, Day 2: Kinabalu, here we come!

*You may click on the photos for bigger version*

Our day started quite late, for Kinabalu climbing that is. We were all awake before 6:30AM to get ready. The guys had to forego our morning shower since the water heater was broken and the tap water was bone-chillingly cold, as Erwan said, "Boleh bela penguin dalam bilik air".

After a quick breakfast, we were off to the climb starting point, with mixed feelings, joy and anxiety. Our only thought was, "Will we be able to make it to the summit, safely?". After about 15 minutes or so, we were at the Mesilau trail head. Our guide, Pak Jo, gave us a short briefing. What to expect, where to stop, what's the target. Since we chose the slightly longer Mesilau trail, there's 8 km of climbing to our next stop, Laban Rata. And we targeted to reach there before the sun sets. The trail via Timpohon gate is about 2 km shorter.

Listening to the briefing by Pak Jo

Me at the Mesilau trail head signboard

After weighing our bags (mine was 8kg), in case we need the guide to bring our bag (which later proved needed), and a short prayer, we were off. Together with another rather large group of climbers. But we started quite late, at 9:00AM.

After just 10 minutes or so climbing, Anis complained of severe chest pain again and started vomitting. She tried to push but was clearly struggling and suffering. There were only the two of us, while the rest were already way ahead, eager for the climb. And our guide was behind. Seeing her suffering, I even suggested to abort the climb and turn back since chest pain is something very, very serious and not to be taken lightly. But she was determined to reach the summit, so we pushed on.

Before the guide caught up with us, helped to carry Anis' bag. Not easy

But not as bad as that porter in the background. Check our the load he's carrying

After our body has warmed up and Anis' bag passed to our guide, her condition improved and her pain subsided. Phew!

Hours flew by walking in the forest. We caught up with Sue by the 2nd hut. There were rest huts at every km of the trail, each is uniquely named with water supply available. But there were reminders that due to the dry season, water supply may not be adequate and climbers were advised to carry enough water for the climb.

Each hut has a unique name. This one named Bambu

The no-water sign

We took our time for the climb. At times we were going down instead of going up, until we reached the 3 km mark. By then we had already been trekking for about 3 hours or so. So far so good. By my calculation, if we managed to keep up the pace, we would reach Laban Rata before the sun sets.

Little did we know, after that the trail became more challenging. No more going downhill, the only way forward is way up! But we were relieved that the trail was not as steep or challenging as Nuang. So the training paid off for us,at least mentally. The dry and caked mud trail floor also made climbing rather easy.

But the view was really amazing! We passed by a small waterfall, became even smaller due to the dry season. But still, a photo opportunity for us. There was also a suspension bridge along the way. At many places there were wooden stairs, which made the trail even more interesting and easier to traverse. Additionally, by that time the mountain area was engulfed in thick cloud giving a cottony white backdrop throughout our climb. At certain places, with the scenic trees, nice backdrop and the slight mist in the air provided a perfect photo opportunity for us. Needless to say, we took lots and lots of photos.

The Kimpuyut suspension bridge

Anis and Sue on the suspension bridge

The wooden stairs. They helped

We then reached the place dubbed as Lord of The Ring place. I have never watched LoTR, so I can't compare. But the view at this area was just breathtaking! With the rolling hills in the distance and deep ravine overlooking the surrounding towns, way down below. The trees were beautiful with some of them draped with old man's beard leaf. I found out about that old man beard thingy later when I watched Surviroman on Discovery. We spent quite a lot of time taking photos. By then, we were the last group for the climb.

The mountain side covered in clouds

The town of Kundasang, way down there

More clouds. Notice the sole tree covered with old man beard leaf

This is why we chose the longer trail, nicer view

Nice trees

Then we reached the T-junction, the meeting point between Mesilau and Timpohon trails. But right before that, our guide pointed to us a cluster of monkey pot plants, slightly hidden by the trailside. Of course, more photos.

Sue and Anis love it when the trail heads down ;)

Nice background for portrait

Monkey pots!

At the T-junction, it was already quite late. We risk of not being able to make it before dark. So we pushed a bit. We met Mohd. Nor, the climber on a quest to climb Kinabalu 111-times. We stopped him for a quick photo and wished him luck. Anis and myself left Sue behind, accompanied by our guide. After hours of climbing and even more photos, we were nearer to our target. The view was simply breahtaking. With the great Mount Kinabalu standing proud in front of us and the cottony white clouds below us. By then, it was already getting dark. Luckily we had our headlights ready. Some were not and had to share our light or walk in the near dark to reach Laban Rata.

Anis and Sue with Pak Jo, our guide

The T-junction signboard

That's Mohd Nor on his way down

A picture perfect view of Kinabalu

Above the clouds!

Me above the clouds! I was wearing two layers of T-shirt by then

Superb view

I have never been so relieved to see a lighted small hut up ahead. We knew our pain for the day was almost over, or so we thought. The first hut was not the Laban Rata chalet. The chalet itself was about another 100-200m away. We summoned the last drop of energy we had and dragged our feet to reach Laban Rata at 7:00PM, where Fahizam, Erwan & Irma were already waiting in the cosy cafe, with another 100 climbers or so. It was already dark outside and very cold too. So we had our jackets on already. Sue joined us barely 15 minutes later, accompanied by tears of sheer relief and joy. We had good dinner at the cafe, even though it was just a simple buffet.

Getting dark on the way up, but nice view of the sunset

Finally, we reached Laban Rata!

But little did we know, our sleeping quarters, Gunting Lagadan hut is actually another 10-15 minutes trek up *sigh* And more bad news, there was an electrical problem and the heater (both air and water) was not working! We had to sleep in the cold, with our warm clothing on and again for us guys, without shower. We were too tired to smell ourselves anyway.

Tomorrow will be D-day for us, so we need all the rest we can get.

Trip to KK, Day 1: Hello Kundasang

*You may click on the photos for bigger version*

Drama right from the start. We barely made on time it to LCCT for our 9:25AM flight to KK. But we waited for another friend and that almost caused all of us to miss the flight. At the last minute, we (Anis, Irma, Sue, Erwan & myself) decided to make our move and left Zefry behind.

At LCCT. From left: Sue, Irma, Anis

The moment we arrived at KK, Fahizam who took a separate flight from JB was already there. So in the end, 8 planned for the climb, only 6 actually made it to KK. Not really a good start. Our tour guide, Pak Mail, was already waiting for us at the airport, with the ubiquitous white tourist van. After about 2 hours journey, with a bried stop for lunch and some quick shopping, we reached our accomodation for the night, Rose Cabin, Kundasang.

Rose Cabin, Kundasang

Later in the evening, we all took a leisurely walk around the sleepy town of Kundasang, with it's abundance of cabbage. Cabbage was almost everywhere! After dinner, we all retreated back to our hotel for early rest.
Mt. Kinabalu in our background. From left: Fahizam, Anis, Irma, Sue, Erwan

Sleepy town of Kundasang

The mountain we have to conquer!

But later that night, Anis experienced a worrying chest pain which required a quick trip to the nearest hospital, Hospital Ranau, about 18km away. The doctor and hospital staff were very friendly. After check-ups, the doctor advised it was just due to cold weather. And she was given the green light to climb Mt. Kinabalu, with proper warm clothing. Was so relieved. Afraid the group will be reduced even further to 4 people and the climb have not even started!