It all started with a conversation over dinner. The 2-day/1-night weekend trip to James’ resort, The Village at Mesilau up at Mt. Kinabalu for the alumni in the tourism industry was conceptualised and subsequently confirmed by Serena, the president of our alumni association and two fellow alumni James and Roger.
I was initially not interested to join the trip but a week or two later, I changed my mind as I realised it had been more than 10 years since my last trip to Mt. Kinabalu (unbelievable I know!) and this would be a great chance for me to revisit and see what has changed over the years. Besides, I knew the cool and fresh mountain air would do me good.
The organisation of the whole trip was in good hands from the arrangements of the accommodation, food, transportation to the itinerary for the two days. We were told we would be twin-sharing in houses with 3 bedrooms, a barbeque with lots of merry-making beverages was expected in the evening after a trek along Mesilau River in the afternoon. We would go for a second trek in the morning after before we departed for Kota Kinabalu.
Excitement and anticipation for a great trip was detected from the text messages flying around in the two days prior to the weekend but what we were never prepared for or anticipated was what James had in store for us where the trekking was concerned. Not a single one of us, of course except James’ best pal Roger who had been to the resort before had any inkling of what kind of excitement we were going to experience, or the kind of memory that we were going to create!
I got a lift from James in the morning of Saturday and we arrived at The Village ahead of the rest of the gang. I had plenty of time to explore the garden filled with colourful flowers that James’ dad has painstakingly planted over a period of two years around the resort built with reclaimed materials. I roamed around the place until the rest started to arrive from 1:30pm onwards.
There were 11 of us altogether with 10 alumni plus Tommy’s friend Richie not including Roger’s and Mike’s respective young families. Before the sumptuous lunch we were introduced to one another as not everybody knew each other being graduates from different years. This fact was unbeknown to Richie until the second day and he admitted that it had impressed him even more after seeing how we helped one another and the care and concern demonstrated during the hike.
We took our sweet time and did not start our journey until 3:30pm…
This was where our REAL adventure begun…
Here was the commencement of the EPIC journey, the “exodus”…
We completed what for most of us, the toughest hike ever after dark and got back to the resort at 7:00pm. The whole journey of only 5 km took us 3.5 hours to complete and out of that we spent 2.5 hours in the 1.5 km boulder river trail. Needless to say we were absolutely knackered!
the day after…
Majority of us could not handle another trek the next day and decided just to take it easy to enjoy the cool weather and to nurse our painful muscles. Furthermore, there was a light shower in the morning.
We went down to the river again at the back of the resort when the rain had stopped and everything seemed so serene… it was a little hard for me to think that this was the same river that we struggled going upstream just the day before.
The earthquake might have caused a lot of damage to the mountain, taken lives, changed the course of this river and altered the landscape forever but we human are overcomers. After the pain and the loss, we picked up the pieces and moved on.
Our conquest of the hike upstream yesterday demonstrated the exact human fighting spirit. Most of us were not prepared for the hike, physically or mentally. What took place really was due to a host’s enthusiasm and eagerness to showcase what the nature has to offer and his overestimation of the physical strength of a bunch of urbanites comprised mainly of office bound career women. Despite of all that, we completed the trail; drenched or not, drained or not, we made it!
We fell, we got up; we slipped, we lifted ourselves up or were pulled up by the strong hands of our comrades; we were exhausted beyond words and we struggled but we marched on and forged ahead.
In the end, all the guys with better and stronger physique admitted that this was their toughest trekking challenge ever and what impressed them the most was the ladies’ courage and determination to finish the course and there was never a “prima donna” in sight. The ladies accepted the compliments graciously and thanked the gentlemen for their ever-readiness to lend a helping hand along the way. They have never been prouder of themselves; the sense of achievements and the ability to overcome all was simply exhilarating!
How we conquered, helped one another and bonded — those are truly the precious memories that we will hold on to for a long time to come.
We lingered on at the river bank, breathed in the fresh cool air and absorbed the view in front of us with a totally refreshed and renewed perspective. While strolling along, I stumbled upon this…
When we got back to the resort, I looked around and saw these…
there is life, and that, is enlightenment!
— END —
(an amazing trip to Mesilau, 27 – 28.02.2016 )
To my comrades — what can I say, you are incredible and what a great bunch you are!
James – thank you for the lift, the chit chat in the car and your great hospitality! Thank you also for pulling us up all those big boulders and keeping your cool throughout the hike. Refine the trekking arrangements for the enjoyment of others and I’m sure in due course you will not be short of takers for the challenge! The Village is a great place to stay, keep up the good work! May God bless you and in all that you do so that you can be a blessing to others!
(please convey our sincere thanks to your worker Freddie again, he played an instrumental part in the adventure!)
Serena – thank you for initiating this trip! Truly history in the making and memories to treasure!
Karen, Theresa & Rose – thank you for taking care of our stomach, being encouragers and suppliers of love and care!
Tommy & Richie – thank you for being the “sweepers” trailing behind to look out for us during the hike! Appreciation to Tommy for being an excellent cook and to Richie for keeping us entertained.
Roger – thank you for all the amazing photos!
Michael – thank you for giving us a helping hand during the hike when needed!
Vivienne – thank you for keeping me company!