Archive for August, 2007

Personal Tent

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

The day before, we went for an acclimitisation hike trying to hit the base of the ‘killer’ scree slope of Camp 1 (or lakeside camp) but we stopped short of 1.5hrs of destination and turned back. By far, it was the most demoralising tasks that I have ever undertaken in my life. I know that it was demoralising when half the time I was hoping to see the never ending point and the morale dropped 50% after Kami (our chief sherpa guide) said that we were still 3.5hrs away from where we want to be. By then, I was gripped by a pressing headache. Felt like the Monkey God (Sun Wu Kong) with the metal crown pressing tightly against his forehead. At some point, we were debating to go on or not, whether the altitude gained was worthwhile or not, Yihui decided that we would go on until 1230hrs and turned backed.

Well, we had been walking since 8am, bypassed the ‘vivo city’ a mega campsite 20mins walk from us; ice blocks filled with morraine and ice formations and crossed a side of the mountain that could give us an idea of the scree slope of what we were going to climb; where we could see Camp 1 on the snow line. During dinner time, Kim Boon asked us what do we think of Camp 1 and no one made any sounds. Guessed that each of us were in deep thoughts on how to overcome this journey; we have to clear the scree slope at least 4 times. I was seriously doubting whether I can overcome it, but I figured out if Mark Inglis (the double amputee Everest summitteer) can do it, I don’t see why I can’t. Fatigue and exhaustion are bound to have, sooner or later, I’ll reach it.

Climbing gives you the weirdest dream. I dreamt that I had sashimi amongst all the things that I had dreamt. Slices of salmon (orange slices with white strips) and maguro filled up my plate and I was savouring each of them with wasabi and soy sauce. Then, my eyes opened up to a brightly lit orange ceiling and I found myself in a sleeping bag; far away from any possible sushi restaurant in this part of the world. I was rudely jolted back to reality that I have not finished climbing this mountain. Waking up at 6.30am; I felt a bit warm, for the first time that I was here in ABC, realised that the snowfall was not as heavy the previous night. Went out and was pleasantly surprised to see 5 pheasants roaming in our campsite. I took a lot of photos of them; they really provided a welcome change to the greyish, white dreary background of our campsite. They were plump and fluffy and I was happy just taking close up shots of them. According to the book ‘Medicine for Mountaineering’, birds can fly higher for much longer periods, but no mammals, including humans, live permanently above 5300m, suggesting that this is the upper limit to which they can acclimitise. This might explain why we only see alpine sparrow, pigeon and crows and now pheasants. Alpine, a convenient word that we coin for the birds that we saw. No baca, no marmots, no rabbits, no deers on this height that ABC was on.

Today, we tested our climbing gear, crampons and boots, down suits and harness. I was super disturbed that my harness was denounced as one that would give me a lot of inconveniences especially when we had to put on and remove it for peeing. At that altitude, every single movement is going to take up a lot of energy. One has to find every way to conserve our energy, including weighing every single item that we are going to carry up. Have to travel ultra light, no unnecessary item to bring up. This is one important lesson that I will not repeat in Everest.

Hello from Cho Oyu Advanced Base Camp!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Hello everyone!

Today is our 3rd day at Cho Oyu’s Advanced Base Camp (ABC) and it has been snowing non-stop for the past 2 days. Today is the first good weather day where the sun can finally be seen! Thank you for all the emails you guys sent and i apologise if i am not able to reply to all of you as all of us have limited time using the laptop…..but we should be glad and thankful that at least we can send out and receive email updates!

Our campsite here at ABC is built mainly on rocks, rocks and more rocks and it is nearly impossible to navigate around in my fake black crocs that i had hoped to be able to walk around in. At 5,660m, hardly any action goes by without panting. Although our toilet tents are located a mere 5min away (depending on how much you pant, and how urgent your toilet need is), walking to the toilet tent seems like an expedition in itself.

Our toilet tents are located down a steep drop from our tents and really, i believe fixing a rope leading all the way there would be much safer. At night, i have taken to peeing in my tent (using a pee device and into a ziplock bag of course!) so as to save the trouble of dressing and trekking to the toilet. It’s times like these that I really miss my toilet at home, and even my office’s toilet. 😛

The past few days at ABC have been spent sorting out our gear and packing our high camp food. The amount of food we have in store is quite riduculous and i think it is definitely enough to keep us alive for at least 6 months.

All of us have our own “happy” food, basically food to keep us happy and sane when we are climbing. We have stuff like XO sauce, Marmite (i’ve developed a liking to licking marmite off a teaspoon :-P), mamee, hello panda biscuit (the vanilla flavour kind), bak kwa and of course the shrimp paste that my mum so lovingly prepared for me. It’s especially sweet because she specially prepared the shrimp paste for me although she does not really support and approve of my mountaineering stuff. (she still doesn’t understand why I can’t stay home and help mop the floor). Thanks mummy – i promise to help mop the floor when I return!

The rest of the time is simply spent resting, playing bridge and “decorating” our tents. It is important for us to feel comfortable here at ABC as we will be here for the next month or so. Some of the climbing sherpas have beautiful “walkways” lined with pebbles and some plants leading into the tent vestibule – which is truly amazing if you see the amount of effort that goes into the construction.. Some of us tried ‘renovating’ our tents to create a nice walkway but I felt super tired after moving like 5 rocks. Sigh.

My average heart rate here is about 105-110 bpm (as compared to 62 bpm recorded in Kathmandu – 1800m) and percentage of oxygen saturation is about 78% (as compared to 98% in Kathmandu). Our bodies are definitely working harder at this altitude to try and circulate more oxygenated blood around the body. We are actually the first team to arrive here so it’s been relatively peaceful and quiet…. we feel as if we have the whole place to ourselves!

However, the peace will be disrupted about a week later when the other expedition teams (consisting of about 500 climbers) arrive! It will definitely feel like Orchard Road then…. Tomorrow we will be running through our technical ropework before moving up to Camp 1 (6,400m) the day after. That’s when the real climbing begins! For now, i’m looking forward to the setting up of the shower tent (complete with shower head and heater) so that we can have our first bath in like1 week! – that is if the weather is good.

To all the MIR peeps – thank you for all your encouragement and especially the useful advice from Terence, Yenkai and Ernest 🙂

To Darrel – Glad the ITE students are progressing well in their training!

To RGS ODAC – thanks for all your well wishes and i look forward to sharing more when i return!

To Kenneth & Cheng Puay – ermmm i’ve already pee-ed inside my tent already 😛

Thanks for all your prayers and till the next update! Do read more about our dispatches on http://www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/swe1/

Cheers
Yihui
Cho Oyu Advanced Base Camp
28 Aug 07, 11.40am

Frost Nip!

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Suffered a tiny frost nip at my right ear..my team mates said that it was because my hair was too short..I do not enjoying itchy scalp hair and with a long expedition with no shower facilities in sight, I would rather keep my hair extremely short. With a lot of moisturisers applied on it, it should heal in no time.

Also, bought a pair of sunglassess in Shona (the shop in Kathmandu) that I can use over my spectacles.. had been trying to find one in Singapore but the sunglassess frames were not suitable for me and it is very expensive to make prescription lenses..so was very glad to find this new pair of sunglassess that would be perfect for my usage.I only hope that it will hold good of its ability to block off the harmful sunrays as Cho Oyu’s long snow fields are known to cause snow blindness on its climbers..anyway, this pair of sunglassess will serve as my backup sunglassess if for whatever reason, I could not use the contact lens.

A not-very-cool-looking eyewear but it should serve the purpose well. check out my ‘gong gong’ look.

And I should be keeping myself busy with the early birthday gift that Jane and Yihui has given me..Medicine for Mountaineering and Other Wilderness Activities 5th Edition…it is definitely a more useful book than the 8th habit by Stephen Covey (Jane, don’t sulk)…hahaha..

Friendship Bridge

Monday, August 20th, 2007

20 Aug 2007
Nyalam

Friendship Bridge

I will like to bring you back to our journey from Nepal to Tibet. I was very excited as I knew that I would have a chance to cross the all time famous Friendship Bridge. Some 15yrs ago, I was suppose to have joined a group of friends on a backpacking trip from Nepal to China, via the silk road, but did not get to do it as I could not get leave from work. And since then, I did not have a chance to do it. So, I am glad I managed it this time 🙂 The bridge stands at 1770m a.s.l. At the middle of the bridge, there is a line separating Nepal from China! There are some interesting history about the bridge which I have read, but forgot! Will write it down on my return trip and update here :p

Back to our days at Nyalam, we spent two days here at 3655m a.s.l. We did two acclimatization walk up to 4180m. The team is going strong and steady. After dinner, I went to check my emails and was sadden to know that my good friend, Ivy is not feeling that well and has been hospitalized! After some verifications with Chee Meng, I was told that she was down with irregular fever and has been suspected to have dengue 🙁

Dengue fever is not to be taken lightly. Late last month, a friend cum business associates was hit by dengue and did not survive the ordeal. I pray that Ivy will get well soon and be her usual bubbly self. Pray that she’ll get well quickly to resume running as running is one of her favourite sporting activities.

As I crossed the friendship bridge, I was thinking of my friends back in Singapore 🙂


Friendship Bridge – sign board


Joanne & PG at Friendship Bridge


Ivy & Jones – Kelvin peeping from the back

Second Acclimatization Climb at Nyalam

Monday, August 20th, 2007

We had an early start this morning and climbed up to a high point of 4200m with hopes of seeing Xixabangma in the distance. The weather was good for a change and it was actually cool rather than freezing for once. Unfortunately though, we were unable to see Xixa due to clouds in the distance. Oh well, always another time.

Even though it was our first time up at that altitude for this expedition and having not had much rest, I thought the team did great! We made the ascent in good time, none the worse for wear and in really good spirits. =)

At the top, we staged a couple of (in our opinion) hilarious “lifestyle in the mountains” type photographs to show off our sponsored marmot gear in publicity shots as part of our sponsorship duties. That, coupled with the 200 postcards we’ve been signing, has upped the ante on our amazing superstar status. Hurhur.

Speaking of postcards, we’re sending out about 200 totally gorgeous postcards specially designed by Esther, to sponsors, friends and supporters of the team, so look out for yours in the mail if you’re related to us in some way! =)  

So life on the climb has been good so far and now that the rain has cleared, our remaining gripe has to be the permeating smell of pee and poop that pervades our lodge. Someone had the brilliant idea of building a really basic, non-flush, no-proper-door squat toilet on the ROOF. Why on earth pee and poop are made to flow through the building into the sewers, is anyone’s guess. As a result, the entire lodge smells like pee and poop. The only place safe from olfactory suicide is our room and that’s only cuz the smell of our accumulated grime masks everything else. Anyway, rather than whinge about the permanent stench, it has become a source of mirth whenever we attempt to make the distance from lodge entrance to room in the shortest time possible,.all the while trying not to breathe in the noxious fumes. The collective ability to laugh at almost everything keeps us all sane.

And we are officially scaring everyone with our power eating. We actually eat more than a table of Sherpas or caucasians. Never let it be said that girls eat less than guys. I suspect that after our climb, we’ll each be eating rice straight from the giant serving bowl. I’ve got to say, being on a climb is a ticket to unrestricted eating, cuz the physical exertion, altitude and cold burns much more than we can humanly eat anyway. After yesterday’s first acclimatization climb, we ate 3 heaped plates of fried potatoes alone, and that’s just one dish out of 6.

So it’s on to Tingri tomorrow via 4WD. We’ll be there for two days and following that, we’ll arrive at base camp, where the next blog update will be made. In the meantime, do check out the team’s expedition progress update at www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/swe1 for more info on how we’re doing.

Hope everyone’s great in Singapore!

xoxo
yihui and jane at 4200m! =)
yihui and jane at 4200m! =)

Hello from Tibet!

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Hello folks! Yes I know I was supposed to update from Kathmandu, but the past few days have been such a mad rush that I’ve had no time. I’ve been super tired running around these past few days and up until today, I’ve either had no sleep, or been surviving on 4 hours a day. The night before I flew to Kathmandu, I squeezed in a final training session fuelled by plenty of paranoia about fitness. Did a spinning class, a 15km run and then a weights session, followed by no sleep that night and on the plane, making for a very woozy brain that was in no shape to form a coherent blog entry.

Shall do a quick day by day update to fill you guys in:

16 Aug
Arrived in Kathmandu and it looks exactly the same! It’s my 4th trip to Nepal in 5 years and other than the amount of traffic on the congested roads, everything is the same, down to the street hustlers trying to sell mini wooden mandolins. Some of the shopkeepers actually recognize us, down to when we last came and for which climb.

The first thing we did was to check out our barrels of gear that had been air freighted earlier, to make sure that nothing was missing. We’re organizing our expedition logistics together with an american outfit known as “International Mountain Guides”, which uses a local nepal climbing company, “Great Escapes”, to organize things on the nepali side. So upon arrival, we went to the store at the Great Escapes office and man was i amazed. The store was the size of a HDB living room and it was packed full, literally, from floor to ceiling with all our stuff. Talk about a heavyweight expedition. The rest of the day was pretty much spent packing and buying up last bits of equipment and the odd knick knack. I’m terrible in Nepal. I have a great weakness for traditional Nepali and Tibetan silver jewelry and I end up buying heaps of earrings and bracelets cuz they’re so intricate, they’re nothing like what you’ll normally find in Singapore and totally affordable. Plus, I like to think that I’m single-handedy shoring up this cottage industry.

I totally love Nepal. It’s seriously a mess, it’s dirty and small, but also very very colourful and the ppl are really hospitable. Despite the sleepiness, fatigue, aching muscles and foggy brain, boy, did it feel good to be back!

Dinner was at this fantastic pizza place called “Fire and Ice”. It’s almost like a pre/post expedition ritual to eat there. The pizzas are the thin crust, wood-fired variety, are huge and cost like, $6 each. Cheers to cheap and good food in Kathmandu! We also met another all- womens team at the restaurant. They’re from Croatia and surprise surprise, they’re climbing Cho Oyu too! Looks like we’ll be seeing more of them very soon, and I thought we were the first team of the season to arrive.

It’s good to arrive early by the way, not that it’s a kiasu Singaporean thing. Cuz Cho Oyu is such a popular 8000er, the base camp is usually chock full of climbers. This autumn season’s estimate of climbers is 700, I kid you not. Hence, arriving earlier means being able to choose the best site for base camp and eventuallly, being able to climb and get off the mountain ahead of the general fray, so with some luck, we’ll be able to avoid dangerous bottlenecks.

17 Aug
More packing today (there’s never an end to packing it seems) and there was some free time in the afternoon so I took a cab to Nepal’s famous Monkey Temple (it’s the one with the buddha eyes on the white stupa that is always photographed on the cover of travel guides) and made a prayer for a safe expedition. Let’s hope I have accumulated enough bits of good karma for whoever is up there to watch over us. Lihui has taken a really practical approach to divine intervention and says she will pray to whoever is closest at the moment.

I also bought books from “Barnes and Noble” haha. It’s great!!! Thamel, the touristy part of Kathmandu, where we do most of our shopping and eating, has wonderful stores that stocks original books that cost half of what they do in kino and there’s classics and most of the prize-winning fiction titles, plus the mandatory climbing books. I actually managed to buy Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” and Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss”. I bought 4 books in all, bringing my book tally for Cho Oyu to 12! More to read during recovery periods at base camp.

In the evening, we celebrated Joanne and Peh Gee’s birthdays at this rooftop restaurant with a name i can’t remember. We had fantastic HUGE HUGE HUGE grilled steak for like $7! We ate steak to puking point. Thanks to the huge numbers of ang moh visitors to Kathmandu, the locals have learnt how to make a really good steak. So prior to the dinner, Lihui, Yihui and myself took a detour to search for a birthday cake for the two and we ended up with a cross between a stale brownie and a bar of soap. I should have known something wasn’t right when the “cake” landed on the tray with a solid sounding “thwack” when Yihui took it off the window display. Fortunately, no one died.

18 Aug
We finally moved off to Tibet on a 5 hour road trip by bus to the border at Kodari. We had a lunch of traditional Nepali “dahl bhat”, which is a mountain of rice with green curry at a small eatery by the side of the road. We also met our sherpas and surprise surprise, one of them, Jamling, climbed with yihui and myself on Island Peak in 2004! I’m feeling totally confident about our sherpa team. All of them have summitted Everest at least twice and they’re super experienced, so we’re in good hands.

After lunch, we walked the rest of the way into Tibet. It was kinda surrel to simply cross the “Friendship Bridge” and there we were in Tibet, China. Even the signs switched from Nepali to Chinese over that 50m span.

In Tibet, we transferred to 2 Toyata land cruisers and made our way to Zhangmu, a Tibetan border town. suffice to say that cleanliness or orderliness are not top on the priority list, but at this juncture, we’re all so used to grimy sleeping places, rickety wooden floorboards and hole-in-the-ground toilets that no one batted an eyelid. Hey, it’s all part of the climbing experience in the himalayas. No 5 star Chamonix ski resorts here.

Plus I have something else to crow about!!! Our communications system works!!!! Even though we had to take turns leaning out of the window in a precarious position, with the satellite phone and mobile satellite moden held exactly due West in order to get a signal. So now we have internet on the go for future updates once the team arrives at Cho Oyu advanced base camp! (digress: Cho Oyu’s original “base camp” is actually just a stop over point and expeditions typically make base at advanced base camp, about a day’s climb up.

19 Aug
We woke up at the ungodly hour of 3am to move out by 4am on the 4WDs to the next Tibetan town of Nyalam. There are roadworks going on , which means that the roads are only open for a certain number of hours a day, hence the early start. The road condition was so bad, I can’t even begin to describe it, although I must say that after a few years of climbing in Nepal and China, nothing is too horrible anymore. So even on a 4WD, the bumping was so bad I fell off my seat a few times. Yihui and Joanne, sitting by the left and right windows, received a copious number of hard knocks on the head. To illustrate how bad the road was, the mini bus that took our sherpas was so heavy in comparison to the 4WDs that the mini bus couldn’t get past some of the pot holes and rock piles. At one point, all the sherpas came down and had to manually clear the road of rocks and boulders in the freezing rain, just so the mini bus could proceed.

Although I must say, there were the exciting moments when we literally drove through waterfalls coming off the mountain. At the first waterfall we drove through, Yihui forgot to wind up her window all the way and got wet. Haha. Also, there are the gushing rivers that crossed the partially completed roads that we had to drive through and it was pretty exciting to go downhill, splash into the river for a bit and come up the other side, all the while bouncing about like shrimp in a pan.

So now we’re at Nyalam at 3650m. The food is good and everyone is eating like starved refugees, which is a good sign of acclimatization that I hope will continue way up higher. We all average three bowls of rice each at every meal and double plates of whatever is served. I think we’re beginning to shock the locals who probably haven’t seen girls eat this much.

This afternoon, we went on our first acclimatization climb up to 3980m onto a small ridge. It was a pretty good 3 hour trip, tiring enough to get our hearts pumping and the muscles moving to aid in the production of red blood cells. Active acclimatization is the way to go to speed up the body’s adjustment to altitude by producing more red blood cells. Our two trainers and mentors who are along with us for the climb, were really pleased at how well we handled the challenging terrain and at how quickly we’re adjusting to the altitude. Yay! Tomorrow, we’ll be heading up for another acclimatization climb, but longer, for about 4 hours and we hope to cross another ridge and maybe we’ll get to see Xixabangma if the low clouds clear.

I think this is possibly the expedition that I’ve felt the best about. We’re all getting very efficient at moving out and taking care of ourselves and when we arrived at Zhangmu and Nyalam, I think the sherpas were surprised to see us carrying our own duffel bags up 4 storeys to our room, all managing well without help. Totally proud of how efficient everyone is on this climb. I suppose with the experience of past climbs behind us, everyone is very much in sync. Best of all, because this time the team is really small, with only 5 climbers, it’s a nice cosy atmosphere and at both Zhangmu and Nyalam, we got 5-person rooms so everyone is merrily together. Cramped, but enjoying the camaraderie.

At this moment, everything is going well and the only dampener, literally, is the weather. It’s been raining almost 24 hours a day since we arrived in Kathmandu and according to the locals, this is the first time in a billion years that it has rained in Nyalam. I’m crossing my fingers that the rainfall is the worst manifestation of this year’s reported La Nina over South Asia. I’m hoping that by the time we actually get to Cho Oyu, the weather will clear up.

So I’m blogging from an internet cafe in Nyalam right now to save on the data allotment on our comms system, so this may be the first and last detailed blog entry till I come back to Nyalam after the climb.

In the meantime, check out http://www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/swe1/ for progress updates from the team. Thanks to uber cool contact 3.0 software, we’re able to send dispatches and images really quickly from our satellie internet system.

Do check back here as well for my personal updates and click on the links on the right to go to the blogs of my other lovely team mates. I like Peh Gee’s header photo the best and she actually managed to look cool. By the way, “Hannibal” refers to the famous Carthaginian general, not as in “Lector”. I also like Esther’s header background alot. Very Mondrian/Lichtenstein-esque.

Miss everyone back home loads, especially daddy kyo who I hope is wasting away, pining for me intensely. which I doubt. Haha. Blog again soon!

Seeya guys soon!

xoxo

Satellite Modem

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

it’s amazing. our mobile satellite modem works! i’m uploading this from a dingy 5-person room in Tibet.
we crossed the border from nepal into tibet this afternoon over the “friendship bridge”. we’re currently at changmu for one night and we’ll be making an overland journey via 4wd to nylam tomorrow morning at 430am. roadworks along the way to nylam mean that the roads are only open for a certain number of hours a day, hence the early start.

the team is doing fine and eating mountains of food.

will update again, this is a short test despatch to confirm that the system actually works. =)

Greetings from Kathmandu

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Dear friends

Once again, I am back to Kathmandu. A place filled with travallers from all over the world.
The moment I stepped into the airport, memories of my past visits flashed in.

The weather here for the past two days are similiar to Singapore’s – warm and rainy, but minus the humidity, so not too bad. We had to either carry an umbrella or put on our sponsored Marmot goretex shell when moving around Thamel.

Traffic here is terrible, horns can be heard everywhere and anytime. The drivers here do not practice any rules. I have witnessed a scene where 5 small taxis (size of a mini-copper), each heading on one another, trying to drive through a narrow cross junction. No one was willing to give way, and later, another few motorbikes added to the jam. Thank goodness I was able to squeeze in-between gaps to move on. Traffic situation was much bettter in the winter, I believe so :p

We are staying in Hotel Tibet, about 3km away from Thamel. To go to Thamel, we have to take a taxi. Walking is another alternative, but but … 🙂 The taxi fare is 50 ruppees one way. Taxi drivers will first quote at 100rupees and it is your wits and generousity that make that final deal.

We are moving away from Kathmandu today. Base on our planned schedule, we are suppose to leave on the 19th, anyhow, the necessary stuff already settled, so we decided to leave Kathmandu as soon as we can. We have stayed in Kathmandu for 2days. I did not apply for an entry visa, my other teammates did – paid S$65 for that when in Singapore. Nepal now offers 3days free entry to most nationalities, so I save on that 🙂

I am feeling good, just that I needed more sleep to compensate those lost hours for the last 2 weeks. I think I complaint to some of you that I had chest tightness, or even Asthma. I no longer feel that way anymore. Eating form major part of my activities here in Kathmandu, feel like I am putting on weight!

My team celebrated Peh Gee’s and my birthday last evening. We had dinner at Le Bistrol, the beer garden cafe next to Kathmandu Guesthouse and Barnes bookshop (if you can recall :)). We also met up with our Mera trip’s (Swet’s trip) guide, Lobsang! We had dinner together.

We will go to Zhangmu (Tibet, China) and rest there for a day or maybe two and will proceed to Nyalam thereafter. We will stock up more of our basecamp food from Zhangmu. Our last civilisation will be at Tingri, and will start our acclimatization walk then. Oh, we had started our Diamox feast …Dr Mok wants us to do that. We are drinking lots of water and visiting the loo very often!

Alright, I got to go. I’ll try to write again.

Thanks for all your support and well wishes.

Cheers,
Joanne
Hotel Tibet
Kathmandu, 5:50am
18 Aug 2007


Transfer from Hotel Tibet to Kodari – Border to China

Grandmother has passed on

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Was busy packing the whole night on 15 Aug 2007..when my father broke the news to us..Grandmother has passed on..

My paternal grandmother who had been suffering from a weak heart (only one quarter of it was functioning) and diabetes that weakened her legs so much that she cannot move around for long; had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair had moved on after struggling with her sickness for quite some time.

As such, during last weekend, we went up to Ipoh to spend some time with her, as I do not know whether will she still be around by the time I return..

She was a simple woman whose life revolved around her family. She did not like to travel and was contented with simple indulgences such as playing cards and smoking..She was illiterate and started off her life as a rubber tapper when she showed me once how rubber was being taped..it was a hard life where one had to wake up in the wee hours in the morning to make a few cuttings on the tree to let the latex drip into the cup. After which, the backbreaking job of collecting the latex from the cups..tried as hard as I could, I could not get the latex out from the cuts which I had made (in fact, the tree was in danger of being ‘killed’ by me). A rubber tapper’s life is difficult.

She could cook very well and made very good herbal soup and kaya..over the years, as sickness ravaged her body, she relegated this job to the maid..and we did not have the chance to taste her excellent culinary skills. Eventhough she could no longer stand for long in the kitchen, she still fried two eggs for us upon our brother’s request during our last dinner with her in Ipoh..

Although some said that she favoured sons over daughters, I had never felt that her love for me was any lesser from my brother. She constantly lamented on my singlehood and urged me to settle down so that I have someone to take care of me..and she cried whenever she thought about this..I guess that this remained her unfulfilled wish and it stayed as a regret in my heart that I could not let her go in peace.

Grief was a feeling that I had not experienced before..but I know that it’s a feeling of sadness that will not go away..that it will bring tears whenever one thinks about the person…

There is ever this regret that I did not spend enough time to hold her hand, to hug her and talk to her when I had the chance to do so…even the time I spent in Ipoh, I was so concerned that I did not spend enough time on training that I went to train in a nearby hill with my backpack instead of being with her which the rest of my family did. Or that I had wanted to come back earlier to Singapore so as to settle my packing and communications stuff instead of staying on for that few extra hours with her.

Even as I can accept that life still had to move on, lessons had to be learnt, regrets for us to keep, it still does not negate the feelings of sadness and sense of loss that will not go away with the passage of time.

t-24 hours…

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

man…this is it! we’re leaving for cho oyu in exactly 24 hours from now. these couple of days have been such an awful frenzy. it’s 6am and i haven’t slept since yesterday. been up all night packing all my gear. well this IS an improvement from previous climbs. at least i’m not packing hours just before the flight.

gosh. this is it! the first 8000er! we’re in the big time baby! at this point, looking at my huge bags blocking the living room passage, i’m completely psyched, but also a little apprehensive and rightly so. eight weeks! i’m going to miss my parents, my dad’s yummy soups and most of all, kyo.

i try to remind myself that it’s only 2 months out of many many many more months together, so what the heck.

whoppee! next update from kathmandu! =D




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