Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Come Back Kid

Work is in progress to process the photographs. Stay tune…

Running in the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon (“KLIM”) event always have special meaning to me. I ran my first full marathon in KLIM in 2004. That was a good start to gauge what my capability was. Nevertheless, with the timing of 4:26, I was satisfied to complete my maiden marathon then.
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After seven marathons later with the best timing of 3:51, I run in the KLIM 2008 on Sunday 30 March with a mixed feeling – I ran 10km only in this event. I felt great to complete that simple 10km with a timing of 55 minutes. But I was not complaining. In this KLIM, I finally recovered from my heel injury sustained for more than a year since my last Singapore International Marathon (SIM) in 2006 – out of action in road running events.

Dayabumi Car Parking

I decided to do something different. I decided to park my car at the basement car park of Daya Bumi Building (which is very near to Dataran Merdeka) since the nearby parking would have been filled by those full marathon and half marathon runners starting at 4:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. respectively.

I arrived at the car park at 5:45 a.m. Yes! I was early. I wanted to wave at those friends who would be running in the half marathon category. Approaching the car park, it gave a strange feeling as there weren’t any runners or any moving vehicles there.

When I approached the entrance of the car parking, pressing the auto-gate button gave no response. Oh No! I have to park elsewhere. After making a big turn, caught in the traffic jam at Federal Highway (closure of road for the full marathon), I finally parked at Padang Merbuk car park – which was almost 500 meters away.
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2007 record was two minutes slower

Champion of Marathon Runners
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The 10km run attracted a very good turn-up. At 6:30 a.m., runners began to enter into the starting area. The moment was getting tensed with the announcement of top marathon runners approaching the finishing line. The fastest one retuned with a timing of 2:15. The champion was a Kenyan runner keenly pursuit by another Kenyan runner who was only a few meters behind. Subsequently, the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th… until 11th – all were Kenyan runners. By that time, the 10km run was flagged off at 7:00 a.m. sharp.

Adidas Response CSH 16
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The first 500 meters was difficult to run fast as there were too many runners. I have to maneuver within the crowd to overtake those slower runners in front of me. I was wearing my brand new Adidas Response CSH 16 running shoes, courtesy of Mr. Krishnan of Adidas Malaysia.
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For the entire run, I did not push hard. Seeing a friend in front, I just run my own race and not trying to overtake him/her. I was most satisfied with the Adidas running shoes. It was a very quiet running shoes with superb cushioning. I truly enjoyed my run knowing that for every step forward, the impact was cushioned by the new shoes.
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Water Station
It was exceeding requirement. There were three water stations for the 10km event: the first one located at Jalan Bukit Binking; second one near entrance of Kuala Lumpur Tower; third one along Jalan Sultan Ismail before we turned left to Jalan TAR. Since the 10km route eventually merged with the half and full marathon routes, these water stations were also serving half and full marathon runners. I saw wastage by the 10km runners by throwing away the unfinished bottle.
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Chantelle Wong running in 2007 KLIM (middle)

Adidas Water Sprinkler System
The water vapor cooling system (of previous years) became a water sprinkler system. It was located Opposite Concord Hotel along Jalan Sultan Ismail. A runner would run through a short stretch of showers, sure would wet and cool the whole body.

At the Finishing Point
Getting used to running half or full marathon, I went to the wrong filtering path without much thought. Luckily, I was reminded by official to run at the correct track for 10km finishing area. There were only five runners in front of me waiting in line for the registration. I was given a certificate and a medal. Another 15 minutes later, I could see that the queue was almost 100 meters long.
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L-R: Hoo, Weng, Steven, KC
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Photographer
The usual photographers from Pacesetters were Jason Lee and Chan Wing Kai. I saw ChanWK was running in the 10km and later started to take photos while still donning his running vest and shorts. Since I was not taking photos, I have the time to chat with other runners’ friends. Standing near to the goody bags collection point was indeed a strategic area – sure would be able to see them and shake hands with them.

Pacesetters Booth
I have a difficult time looking for the booth. It was located at the far end across the field. From far, it looked like a bungalow lot with lots of land surrounding it. One has to walk across the field to reach there. I took the opportunity to renew my membership for another three years which entitled me to a Pacesetters yellow T-shirt of quick-dry material. There were many runners registered for membership and for the next running event – New Balance 15km Run.
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It was indeed a great morning participating in the KLIM. Not only that the run was fun, I was there meeting friends and talking for another three hours, much longer than I run. Long time ago, when I was running only 10km races, I thought that I would never be able to run a full marathon. On Sunday, I was running 10km again. This time, knowing very well that it is possible to run full marathon races.

Written by KC
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Note: All photos above are filepix taken in KLIM 2007
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Visit to the Dark Caves - 16 March 2008

Written by Linda Trivino

The idea of visiting the Dark Caves was thrown at us for nearly 2 months ago but no one really bothered about it. Firstly, as members of Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia (PACM) our main interest is running. Secondly, a visit to the Dark Caves would mean walking on mud, meeting bats with guano, soiling our sneakers and clothes. Not very exciting, I guess.

It was during one of our regular breakfasts of nasi lemak at Tanglin after a Sunday run that the idea of visiting the Dark Caves revived again. The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) organises visits to the Dark Caves located immediately adjacent to the temple cave in Batu Caves every 3rd Sunday of the month.

Left: Yuk Horng, Sharon, Tammy, Linda, PK & Shirley

Our group of six (comprising Yuk Horng, Sharon, Tammy, PK, Shirley and me) finally decided to go. No one was that keen to find out more but I did and what I discovered was not that pleasant. There would be encounters with lots of cave cockroaches, millipedes and other crawlies besides bats and their guano. My first reaction was to find an excuse to “chicken out” but no, Tammy would not allow that. She’s smarter than that, so I had to endure this fear of the unknown in silence.

The day of the visit arrived and as punctuality has always been important in our group, we gathered at the meeting point of the Pigeon Square in Batu Caves at the designated time. We were advised to dress in old clothes and pants with good sturdy shoes (no jeans or slippers allowed). Compulsory items for each individual are a helmet (can be rented from Batu Caves), head lamp or torch light, and spare batteries for standby. Other optional items are hand gloves, elbow and knee pads.


After a short briefing, our 3 guides from MNS together with other participants from other walks of life were ready to start our visit. The first segment of the visit centred on educational aspects of the cave. The objectives of MNS in organising this sort of outing is to instil in us some form of environmental awareness and conservation especially to our caves.

The visit began with a short walk around the drier part of the cave which also caters for short tourists’ visit. We were then briefed on the formation of limestone cave which focussed on the formation of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, pillars and the types of fauna that can be found in the caves. This lasted for about 40 minutes.

Next on the agenda was the “adventure to the unknown” the part that I dreaded most. I took one more pleading glance at Tammy hoping to see whether I could cancel this part. I even told her if she wanted to back out I would sit with her. No chance! She’s one smart cookie!


The guides then led us to a tiny little crevice, fit only for a cat or rat to go through. We waited to be led elsewhere but the guides told us that was where we had to crawl to get to the other part of the cave. Everyone was silent, too stunned to even object. I bet thoughts of despair raced through our minds. Since the gap is so narrow, only one person is allowed each time. One of the guides demonstrated this movement by lying flat on his stomach and using only his hands and feet to manoeuvre. His crawl seemed so smooth but little did we know how much pain we had to endure.

Nevertheless, we obeyed and we crawled for our dear lives. Some gaps were even too narrow for our helmets to go through so we had to twist and turn our heads sideways. It was frightening, challenging and tough. We felt the bruises immediately. The plus point we had was our fitness level. All those Sundays of running paid off.

Next, we had to tackle a vertical climb. Again, this was challenging but the assistance of the guides with their words of encouragement made every obstacle a success. Our regular Gasing Hill climb seem like a breeze in comparison to this rather low but vertical ascent.


The grand finale of the visit was walking on the muddy floors to get out. Our sneakers and pants were covered with rich vibrant hues of brown and grey colours. There was no other way but this way to walk as the dryer areas are too slippery for comfort. Unless one is willing to fall hard and twist their ankles to save soiling their sneakers, there is no other alternative. Since we treasure our ankles for the forth coming KL International Marathon we went for the mud!

Four hours later, when we finally made our exit, six of us marched out with a new found pride. Though we emerged looking like coal miners, we have achieved the experience of a lifetime. We felt a certain “high” that we were able to handle some unknown obstacles and we gained both mental and physical strength.

A day after the visit, the aches started, the bruises appeared more significantly but we are also scouting for the next cave to explore! We just love adventures and yes we want more cave visits!

Written by Linda Trivino


Posted by KC







Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Unexpected Goodbye

By Geraldine

It was a thunderstorm afternoon on Tuesday 18 March. Fitri was shouting across the backyard, “Hujan! Hujan!” That was 3.00pm and the last we ever heard from her.

Some memories of Fitri’s chirpy and cheerful singing ringed in my ear. She was an Indonesian maid of my immediate back neighbour. There was never an alley between our houses so it was convenient for the maids to chat and announce their presence when they did their morning chores.

It rained again this afternoon at the same time as I vividly rewound the events that unfolded yesterday.
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Oh! She must have died a most horrible and painful death as she was found sprawled in the living room. She was a mother and a wife. The perpetuator(s) was known to her, it seemed, as there were no forced entry. Even if she did scream, the thunderstorm would have drowned her cries. It was almost a perfect time for a perfect crime.

Her tragedy was reported in the mainstream papers today. A homicide so close to home – my backyard – seemed surreal. Houses that are being robbed and burgled are so commonplace which now pales against this tragedy.

Someone whom I know by sight, she used to sit at the entrance of the second gate to the TTDI Park where she would enjoy her chitter chatter with other makciks. That was usually the time I would be doing the evening runs.

At the prime of her life, she will be sadly missed by those who know her.
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Geraldine - Participating in Pacesetters-GE30k on 20 January 2008 at Lake Gardens
Photo courtesy of Jason Lee

It was a little emotional time for me to write this short article. When I run this Sunday 30 March (Kuala Lumpur International Marathon), I'll run with her in mind. I just hope I'll be able to finish the route before the sun comes up.

Written by Geraldine
19 March 08

Posted by KC

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

SIKKIM – Goechala Trek: Itinerary

Fellow Trekkers,
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This is the itinerary for the 14-day trekking trip at Geochala Treks in Sikkim.

Estimated cost for this adventure trek ex BKK (Bangkok) is about RM 5,600.00 per pax.

Thanks/Rgds,
Carina

Samiti Lake

Itinerary

Day 01: BKK/CCU 0940-1040 hrs, CCU/IXB 1345-1445. Transfer to Kalimpong, overnite.
Day 02: Morning drive to Yuksom.
Day 03: Trek to Sachen 2000m (3/4 hrs)
Day 04: Trek to Bakhim 2745m (2/3 hrs) or further to Tsokha (total 3/4 hours)
Day 05: Bakhim to Dzongri 3990m (5/6 hrs); or from Tsokha to Dzongri (5/6 hrs)
Day 06: Dzongri acclimazation
Day 07: Dzongri to Thangsing 3900m (4/5 hrs)
Day 08: Thangsing to Lamune 4000m (3/4 hrs)
Day 09: Goechala to Thangsing (4800 - 3900m long day)
Day 10: Thangsing to Tsokha (4/5 hrs)
Day 11: Tsokha to Yuksom (3/4 hrs). Drive to Darjeeling (4/5 hrs)
Day 12: Darjeeling
Day 13: Drive to NJP for overnight train to CCU on 2nd class aircond coach.
Day 14: Arrive in CCU. Transfer to airport CCU/BKK 1220-1640
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From Dzongri to Thansing

Organizer: Carina Tan 012-3133 717
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Posted by KC
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Monday, March 24, 2008

SIKKIM – Goechala Trek

Proposed Trekking Date: 12 to 25 October 2008

Organizer: Carina Tan 012-3133 717

Calling all trekkers: If you are interested, please contact Carina via handphone or email
carina_oem@yahoo.com

In view of the peak season in October, please confirm early by April to avoid disappointment. Important: Good fitness level is required.
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Sikkim, the most populat and well-known trek route in Sikkim - Goecha La trek takes the trekker up-close for a spectacular view of the mighty Khanchenjunga amidst a majestic panorama of the other lesser Himalayan giants within its range of mountains.

The Goechala trail starts at Yuksam, at altitude of 6000 ft in sub-tropic moss-laden forests of pine, magnolia and rhododendron steadily progressing upwards through wild and uninhabited alpine landscapes from Dzongri to Thansing, Samiti Lake has enchanting view of Mt. Pandim and other peaks. Finally moves up to to Goechala Pass, opposite to the eastern phase of Khangchendzonga (8435 m) 3rd highest mountain in the world.
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Dzongri_Top_View of Khanchenjunga and other peaks

Sunset view of Mt. Khanchenjunga

Camping Tents


About Sikkim
Sikkim is a very small hilly state in the Eastern Himalayas, extending approximately 114 km from north to south and 64km from east to west, surrounded by vast stretches of Tibetan Plateau in the North, Chumbi Valley of Tibet and the kingdom of Bhutan in the east, Darjeeling district of West Bengal in the south and the kingdom in Nepal in the west.


The state being a part of inner ranges of the mountains of Himalayaa has no open valley and no plains but caried elevations ranging from 300 to 8583 mtrs above means sea level consisting of lower hill, middle and higher hills, alpine zones and snow bound land, the highest elevation 8583 mtrs. being the top of the Mt. Kangchendzonga itself.

Stay tune for the itinerary...

Posted by KC

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pacesetters Club Annual Dinner 2008

Please click here to view 156 photos by courtesy of WENG.
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Lots of activity at the registration counter

The posh banquet hall of Bangsar Seafood Garden Restaurant

Hoo, ChinYH, Meng, KC and Eric (standing)

Sook Ying and Agnes Chin

Fun time at the dinner. Weng is next to the lady with long hair

I wish that I could fly ... Creative Sports Attire Contestants

All the leng chai and leng lui

Only table with the most red and all the guys are in red (including yours truly, KC)
The guys (L-R): Jason Thiang, Lok, KC, KK Onn, Dr. William Chan
The gals (L-R): Tan Pek Moi (hidden), Vivian Lau, Julia (emcee) and SH Tan
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Brewing up a potent cocktail for the Yuky Contest.
Ingredients: petai, wasabi, chenchalu, chili source, garlic, etc

Bottom-up ... the winner with the fastest time to gulp down the 'yuky' stuff

Hmmm... it is indeed tough to swallow this 'yuky' cocktail.
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Congratulation to En. Rustam Affandi for being elected the Club President of Pacesetters Club 2008-2009. Wish that you will take the Club to greater height.
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Posted by KC

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Finding My Mojo

By Mercedes the “Ewok”

I think every runner goes through a phase where they wonder “Why am I running? What am I running for? Why am I waking up at 5 am in the morning to ‘suffer’?” These questions go on and on and the answers are of course just as endless as they are inspiring. We all know why we run – it makes us feel good and it is good for us and because we can - simple!

So what happens when even these simple logical answers do not seem to inspire us to run longer and faster? We try to look for our mojo or our reason/motivation to run.


So I looked and I looked; I questioned and I queried; I tried to remember what inspired and spurred me on those early mornings when I could have been snoozing in bed but instead was up before the sun came up and running. A long lay off due to an injury and stress from work (aren’t we all stressed from work?) were some of the factors I was looking for my mojo but surely I could “bounce back” like I hear from everyone else, right? Yet after starting another (running) programme for an upcoming marathon, I felt tired and lethargic and completely uninspired and totally unmotivated.

Yes, I kept up with the training programme albeit half heartedly as I remembered reading that the most important factor in (effective) running is consistency so even though I was not making great progress with my training runs, the very least is that I stay reasonably fit.
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Then a friend who complained to me about an injury prompted me to read my old magazines and books to find the “cure” and prevention steps and whilst doing so, I came across some old and interesting articles on running which sparked and rekindled the “old flame” I have for running. I passed on the (injury) articles to my friend and her happy look made me feel encouraged.

Then I read my old log book and realized that at the beginning of each running programme I also felt tired and fatigued as my body and legs tried to familiarize itself with the new heavier load. Then I also read in the old articles mentioned above that I am only to add 10% increase in mileage per week, perhaps I have been adding too many miles too soon.
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And then I slept and slept and slept in the weekends and also earlier at night to take into account the extra stress my body was going through…

And then I met some old friends who ran alongside with me “forcing” me to abandon a pre-planned training run but at the end of the run, I remembered what it was like to run among friends and capture the spirit of all that camaraderie. Then another friend commented that if I was in Star Wars I would be an “ewok” (the furry creatures that brought down the sophisticated storm troopers and machines in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back). OK, at this point you are probably wondering – “Ewok?” Has this writer gone bonkers? Well, I like things simple, and the ewoks are simple creatures that used simple ancient tools and clever tricks to bring down sophisticated machines and army.
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And then I remembered to write about my runs and what it means to me, writing is simple like running, put pen to paper and voila! You have your own unique article. Writing an article is also a commitment much like running where we commit ourselves to a race and train weeks and months for it.

And so this morning – I ran and ran and ran and my freckles are popping up everywhere but I am happy, my body is relaxed, my heart beat is steady and movements, fluid – the kind of “high” every runner seeks! Yup! I found my mojo (again!) - Why do I run? Because it is simple, just simply lace up your shoes and put one foot ahead of the other, enjoy the run be it long or short, absorb in the surroundings, say “hi” to your fellow runners and after the run, just let the feel-good endorphins flow for that phenomenal satisfied feeling! And of course rest well thereafter.

Happy running!

By Mercedes the “Ewok”
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Note by KC:
Mercedes is a girl's name of Spanish origin. At one glance, it looks like Mercedes-Benz, the brand name of German automobile models and engines built by Daimler AG Company.

The writer is an avid Star Wars fan who runs fast and writes well. According to Mercedes, the name was given to her by another girl runner who noticed a pattern on the back of her vest that looked like the symbol of the Mercedes-Benz. There is an actress named Mercedes Ruhl who won an academy award a few years ago.

If you watch the movie "10000 BC" (showing currently in cinemas), the scars inflicted on the lead actress's hand bear the geometric sign of stars in the night sky – a force to be reckon with.

Go watch 10000 BC. It is such a refreshing movie with awesome scenery of ice-caped mountain that later transformed to lush forest and finally to desert scenes. The final quarter of the movie was a big surprise!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gunung Datuk - The Story

Please here to view photos by courtesy of Woo, who is one of the members in the trekking trip.
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Waiting at Senawang Toll
It was an exciting moment as the team members would not know how big the group was. Whenever a car slowed down, all were eagerly looking for familiar faces. Tony’s transport eventually arrived – much like VVIP – signaling the start of journey en route to Gunung Datuk.

Director-Cameraman
This time, with Weng around, I passed the camera to him to be the cameraman. I became the director asking him to take shots from this or that angle. Without the camera – of getting the job done to record the event in photos – I felt much light and easy. Light not because of unloading the heavy and bulky Nikon camera, but in term of responsibility.

Dr. Hamdan, Chiew Hong, Yee Choi and Yours truly

Dr. Hamdan
He was seen doing stretching exercise that looks like pushing the Kelisa car away. Looking at the car number plate of WKC, I quipped that since my initial is KC, I should buy a car number plate with LKC (Leong) to highlight ownership proudly. The response was that I should look for a car from Labuan (possibly starts with letter L”).
Strong Wind
According to Weng, the wing is always blowing strongly at the first few months of the year in this part of the country. Climbing up the big rock in a precarious position with the strong wind blowing was really quite an experience. At certain stretch, even when we were trekking in the jungle, it was very cooling with the wind blowing.Taking photo of Laksaman Hang Tuah's footprint

A Very Helpful Teenager
BRAVO to this teenager! He has been helping and directing (human) traffic for trekkers going up and down the narrow passage. Standing precariously at the side of the cliff against strong wind, he seemed very steady and doing the job well. He deserved rounds of applauses.
Making Chinese Tea
Other than spending time enjoying the superb view, Chiew Hong was also busy brewing Chinese tea. Well, I was offered a cup of tea by him… Hmmm… sipping freshly brewed Chinese tea at the peak did taste fantastic.


Fruits
There were lots of food and fruits that the trekkers could not finish. Two big and timely ripen pelangan banana caught my attention. I asked who the owner was before I set my hand on them. PK Chan quipped: “I was thinking to offer RM 1 each to anyone who could help to finish the two bananas.” So I quipped: I should have waited a bit longer for the offer.

PK Chan and Lai Kuan

Refresh at the Base
While waiting for the rest to finish washing, the group was joking that in order to ask other members to speed up washing, just shout “Fire!” I quipped that another phrase that we should not mention was: The transport has left for lunch! They might rush out half naked chasing for their transport.


Shy lah... Kathy and Rose

King of the Goat (Road)
On the way for lunch, in the country, the goats were sitting very close to the road next to their grazing territory. One quipped that they must have seen those teenagers sitting next to the road (in the evening) chatting.

Lunch
We went to Pedas for lunch arranged by Lai Kuan who recommended that the dried “kam heong’ fish head and the fried brinjal dishes were superb. The restaurant was too small to accommodate 27 of us. So, three tables were arranged at the corridor of the shops spanning across two other shops. PK Chan was sitting just next to the wash basin. He quipped that a fee would be imposed for washing hands there. For six dishes, it cost only RM 11.50 each – reasonably cheap and delicious.

Lunch at Pedas town

Best Things in Life
While having lunch, I told those in the same table that one of the best things in life is to go trekking together and then adjourn for lunch that follows, and enjoy the good food. Talking about best things in life, I also told them this joke:

The best thing in life is to work in an American company, marry a Japanese wife and eat Chinese food.

Reason: American company – pay well with lots of benefits; Japanese wife – very obedient, everything is ‘Haik, Haik” with no complaint; Chinese food – very tasty, loaded with Ajinomoto; just like the whole group was having delicious lunch then.

The worst thing in life is to work in a Chinaman company, marry an American wife and eat Japanese food.

Reason: Chinaman company – slave driver, work till you d-i-i-i-i-e; American wife – look for other men, lots of headache; Japanese food – raw and cold, difficult to eat.

Unique plant at the track of Gunung Datuk

For the Record
Kuala Lumpur to Senawang Toll = Travelling time is about one hour
From Senawang Toll to Gunung Datuk = 40 km (about 35 minutes)
Ascent to peak of Gunung Datuk = 1 hr 15 min
Descent = 45 minutes
Gate Fee = RM 3 (inclusive of toilet facility)

Progress
This is a series of local trekking trips preparing trekkers going for Annapurna Base Camp trekking in Nepal from 28 April 2008 of which yours truly is the Team Lead. As for Tony, the Mountain Sifu, he is also organizing a local trekking trip to Mulu in May 2008. So far, the progress is going on fine.

Written by KC

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Trekking at Gunung Datuk

Please click here to view photos taken by WENG and yours truly (KC).

Part 1 of photo album

Part 2 of photo album

Note: Press Ctrl key and Click URL above to open a new tab; click Slideshow; press F11. If you have a broadband connection, click Download Album to download all photos at one go. It will be saved in default location at My Documents\ My Pictures\ Downloaded Albums.


Click here for the mini album from Kathy.

A group photo before the start of climb at Gunung Datuk, Rembau, on Saturday 15 March 2008. Quite a big group - 27 trekkers! Click photo album for a much bigger frame.

The group marches on!

Taking a rest - Michelle (L3), Cindy, Mun, Yours truly (L4), Woo, Tony (in light blue shirt), ...

The pose (Kathy, Jason, KC, Dr. Hamdan, Chooi Lin) while other trekkers are in the thick of action in climbing up the big rock at the background

Another group of happy teenagers are already at the peak of Gunung Datuk

The Peak with a panorama view

Hmmm... the watermellon taste fantastic. Kelly, Rose, Lai Kuan, Jason, Chiew Hong

Lai Kuan and Agnes

Posing next to the footprint of Hang Tuah - Cindy, Mun, Lian Lee and Michelle.

Circuit for Climbaton at Negeri Sembilan, anyone?
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Posted by KC
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