Party People, here is a quick one. A few days ago I successfully summitted Mount Kinabalu (4095m) in Borneo. This place is billed as the highest peak in SE Asia (although it looks to me like the northern border of Burma touches the Himalayas, though foreigners are prohibited from going there… technicalities). To climb this peak requires 2 “honest” days’ work, I’d say. I didn’t have to “leave it all on the mountain”, but it was no pushover either. This climb is very popular. Many people fly to Borneo just to do it. As such, the whole thing is quite organized/civilized. And very controlled — you *must* have a guide, you *must* stay in the lodge halfway up, etc. The lodge is pretty plush for my tastes: hot-water showers and buffet meals. Actually, this is probably the nicest place I’ve stayed and best meal I’ve had in a long time. Final verdict: An all-around great climb.
Sunset half-way up Mount Kinabalu
On the summit at 5am with my two trekking partners. I met these two ladies just the day before the climb. They were great to trek with — very strong and good company. I get so lucky with the the people I meet. In the middle, Amelie (Canada) practically ran up to the summit — you can do that when you’re 22 (I’m not jealous, though). It was all I could manage to keep her headlamp in view on the way up. As a result of this, we were the first group on the summit that day. On the right, Kate (Australia) announced before we started that she had never climbed a mountain in her life! I will never forget, at the 0.5km mark of the trail, only 5 minutes into our climb, she turned to me and said, “This is the highest I’ve ever been.” Whoa! Well, in the next 12 hours she would double her elevation. Well done.
I’m including this pic just for laughs. Check out the drawings. One level above stick figures. What is the guy on the right doing? Dancing? I almost peed my pants. “Dance or I’ll shoot!” Haha.
Before my quads had healed I ripped over to Singapore for a quick visit. This place is modern, populated, busy, and super-clean. I think the latter is the result of strict laws/fines for offenders. Works for me. When all the other tourists were visiting the zoo and museums, I went water-skiing (that’s the kind of tourist I am). I read that Singapore has a “cable waterski” lake. I love to waterski and have not made any turns since last July, so I decided to give it a go. It might be hard to imagine, but this place doesn’t use any boats. It has a cable system mounted about 15m above lake which drags skiers in circles. I couldn’t get used to this non-boat form of waterskiing and bit it hard several times. The “walk of shame” I had to do from the far side of the lake after I crashed was especially embarrassing after I told the worker that “I had been skiing for 25 years and knew what I was doing” :) Honestly though, they had this thing at “wakeboard” speed and I was on a slalom ski, plowing water around the whole lake (I have more excuses where that one came from).
Me and the “HO Pinnacle” waterski I used. I believe this ski was top-of-the-line in the early 90s.
Actually, I did visit the musem and zoo as well. Both were excellent. The difference between the average visitor and I is that I can demo a 3-level museum in about half an hour. I try to hang out longer and take more in, but it doesn’t work. It’s something I know I need to work on it… Kudos to Singapore for being the first city in Asia where I could safely drink the tap water. I loved that.
I came across this poem in the Asian Civilizations Musem (see? Proof I went to the museum). Mom and Dad, sorry I’m so bad at the first sentence. Regarding the second, I’m in The Philippines, don’t worry about a thing :)
Show me the Green Man! … street-post sign in Singapore
I just touched down in Manila, Phillipines. My first impression: dirty. But, one needs to take into account that I just came from Singapore, where I would feel comfortable eating off the street, it’s so clean. As I travel more I realize that my first impression of a place is always dependent on where I just came from.
Prostitution is rampant here. They call the girls Guest Relations Officers (GROs). Haha, Filipinos have a sense of humour. I had an interesting experience about an hour ago. I met a local guy on the street named Tony. He’s basically a pimp. After taking a long time to explain to him that I didn’t need a girl, we had a good conversation about his business model. Interesting. I may be overstating it a bit, but I think we bonded. As I left he made big motions with his arms and said, “This my neighborhood… if anybody give you trouble, tell them you friend of Tony’s”. I feel safer in Manila knowing that Tony’s got my back.
For all of you back home who are watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, I heard that are awesome, and I’m very jealous of you.