A few years back around this time during weekends, my husband and I would argue about where or how we should spend our days off. Where to eat, what else are we going to buy at the mall to satisfy our temporary materialistic need, whether we should attend that invitation abiding our social obligations that seems so far off in distance or just plainly stay at home, do a bit of gardening and lazying off with that flower girl. At the end of the day, whatever we did at the comfort of everything we possessed at that time, whether we ate at an slightly-expensive place or bought something new, eventually did not matter to me. Its not what you think, I love my life during the weekdays. The work’s great and an adventure itself but was quite thwarted with the weekends. Until we started climbing.
I’ve been contemplating whether I should or not write about this life changing journey, because yeah, its such a mainstream thing to work out and talk about it. Everybody’s been talking about my recent obvious weight loss, it was a big subject I couldn’t escape from during Raya season. As much as I’m happy about it, there were times when I felt really embarrassed when people kept mentioning it, as if I was one of the girls who starve my way into size 8. The thing is, I barely lost any kilo even after a year of climbing. Until out of the blue I just realized I could not be eating the way I did anymore, my metabolism isn’t the same as it was 6-7 years ago when I could spray a whip cream into my mouth and not gain an ounce. So I decided to educate myself with the food; limiting my daily intake but still maintaining all types of food I’ve been having – rice, cakes, lauk-pauk, kuih and what not. I figured that if I want to lose them kilos, its not going to be a dependence on a product or a short cut people normally take, but rather a habitual shift.
The thing is, I was totally contented with my figure before all of this losses episode. My BMI didn’t state that I was overweight and I fit most of the stuff I had before I was pregnant. But looking back, I think it was all denial. Denial, comparing myself with worse, ignorance, lustful, you name it – I was all that. I also don’t exactly have a skinny gene, suffice to say most of my family members are obese or nearing that. And the fact that I was back from “starvation” after 5 years in England didn’t help either. Most of the time I ate as if I have a flight back to the land of sandwiches or fish & chips the next day. It was bad. So I decided to try and diet for the first time in my life. Diet. A foreign word to me it might as well be German. The process was surprisingly a breeze, you just need a will power to choose iced barley over iced milo occasionally, learn that 2 karipaps is almost equal as a small pack of nasi lemak, that sometimes when you’re hungry you’re probably just thirsty and stop snacking unhealthily. The general rules are pretty well known. All it takes is you.
We were at Jesselton Park in Penang yesterday, a newly bolted climbing area and the drive from Sungai Petani was obviously close. Some of the senior climbers who drove up from KL just for this rock trip were so welcoming. We just knew them from one or two hangouts in Batu Cave but it is as if we’d known them for awhile. Few encounters with them and the next thing we knew we were either invited to a rock trip, to enter a competition or just plain dinner as if we’ve been part of the gang for ages. The climbers are usually very friendly, positive and motivating, I’d never encounter any real competition amongst them which is very unlikely in other sports. Anyway, getting to the climbing spot needed a little hike. Daisy was so natural when we hiked in Yangshuo and stayed put when we were climbing so I brought her along. Pretty magical, I would describe the place. The granite was wet from the rain so it shined when the light hits. The wall was sheltered from the trees above and those surrounded, there was a little stream just next to the sitting area so Daisy was happy to be occupied dipping her feet in the shallow water. As a hangout spot, it was perfection. Except that the routes there are slightly above the grade of my beginner standard. But I managed to climb one, the hardest I’ve ever tried on rock before we rushed back to our cars when the rain poured heavily after few hours there. Its days like that makes me feel so psyched!
I have a lot to thank Allah. One of it was for that fated day we accidentally started climbing. Its a cliché heard around the rock, climbing saved my life, but it can. It gave me a better understanding about my body, my physical limits and mental abilities. Taught me how to stay motivated, get out of my comfort zone to progress and just enjoy the journey. Have fun a little, life’s too short to be serious all the time, I’d hear my own voice at the back of my head. In some ways it also made my marriage a happier one; saved me from all the insecurities bullshit I had and fought about a lot previously, bringing back “something in common” in us as a couple and we just couldn’t be happier spending our weekends together covered in sweat, dirt, chalk and occasionally comparing calluses. All that whilst our child keeping it real with the nature and learn a thing or two being outside. It has led to all great things and liberated me from life’s artificial needs – well, that needs are still there and visit once in a while, but it transformed from Prada and Marc Jacobs into err,.. maybe just The North Face. Or Patagonia, Prana, Arc’teryx or La Sportiva. (Eh banyak pulak.) But yeah, I don’t fuss about the latest fashion as I used to anymore. Back then when Fakhrul would describe me as a “slightly heavier spoiled brat” who needed to have some trendy must-haves in her wardrobe, I just now buy 5 plain comfy tops of the same kind in different colors to wear everyday and am OK with that.
All I care now is about that route I failed to send and how much I can’t wait to repeat again.
Oh what is it with being 30 something and this yearn to get out of this routine and do something amazing?
I wished that when I was younger and the world was still better, my parents would’ve taken me hiking. Would’ve exposed me to the real things instead of the artificial needs from the malls or those travels through a typical tourist’s eyes. Would’ve taught me that life lessons are not just merely what we learn in schools or what an individual called teacher said, but everything you can experience outside of it. My parents – the typical urban parents who now don’t understand why I wouldn’t do the same to my child.
Also, how do you recover from an amazing trip? How do you go back to work or sleep on your bed or do same old thing? Because even after months have passed, I’m still clinging to the photos and the memories in Yangshuo that almost did not happen. There was something magical about that trip and I figured that it was mostly because we were cut off from the social networks; the Facebook, Twitter and whatnot were all blocked in China. To add salt to the injuries, all the chargers to our iPhones, Mac Book and iPad did not work either. The only thing that worked was Elly’s power bank which charged our iPhones very slowly and there were three on constant que, so we only saved it all for photos during the day. Imagine those nights tired of cycling, hiking, bamboo rafting or climbing – we were left with nothing to do but talking to each other, lying on the bed and doing what all family should be doing on a holiday – connecting.
I think this was the only trip that I really couldn’t be bothered to carry around my camera. As beautiful as the place is, I just wanted to enjoy the experience. I didn’t want to be caught up with the pressure of getting great shots but rather kept it all in. And actually, the iPhone sufficed. Plus, I quite enjoyed being in the pictures lately. Uhuh!
After all those months of working without a break, an episode of nasty food poisoning 3 days before the trip and climbing on the same old rocks, Yangshuo needed to happen to me. Its totally amazing and surprising at the same time how a perfect trip actually could be so effortless and cheap. If UberFacts is believable, it says that studies show the key to happiness is spending your money on experiences rather than possessions. And that was exactly what Yangshuo was to us. Especially that it was a great one.
There’s nothing quite like this time of the year.
The days off from work, the absence of emails and phone calls. The havoc of getting the kids to stand still for a decent picture, the laughter of your kid running around on the fresh mowed lawn. The look on your parents’ eyes and that constant smile on their faces. The food consumed, the content in the bowls on the tables that get you excited. The thought of it took one month of fasting to lose a kilo and 3 days of Raya to gain two! The traffic up north and God forbid, the traffic down south soon. The catching up with the ones you rarely met, the conversations with the ones you regularly see.
Yeah. Nothing quite like Aidilfitri.
Wishing you an awesome hari Raya. Maaf zahir batin, as usual!
Hi, white empty space. Has it really been that long?
I really don’t know where to start first. Shall I fill you up with the progress I’ve made with rock climbing, my pursuit of healthiness for proper weight loss or the recent adventures I made to exotic China? Or shall I just put up one photo that can say it all like the one I put up there?
Sometimes I think there’s a reason to why I haven’t been writing. Time would be an easy target to blame. Works been piling up. The company’s expanding. Alhamdulillah, projects won recently are pretty outstanding. Experience and skills walk hand in hand with responsibilities. There is almost no room for fun but despite that, I actually have a lot from doing it. You know what they say, being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them. Some days I suck it up, most days I quite enjoy it.
That would be an easy one. An understandable excuse.
When the truth is, maybe I haven’t been writing because I don’t feel the need to. I even question – should I share this little unimportant information about my life to others just because I had been all this while? Will people care? Its not like I cure cancer or banish poverty. I go to work like others do, play with my kid, have deep conversations with my husband, catch up with friends, go places when there’s a traveling urge, pushing physical limits climbing walls and go to sleep at the end of the day. Are all that worth writing in this white empty space in which every words I will be held accountable for? Its easy to find people who takes life as for show nowadays. I really don’t want to turn into one of them or have people misinterpret me that way.
Then again, I figured out that maybe this feeling and wonderment is simply what it is – contentment. I’m content and OK with just doing things and go about with my life without having to tell people openly that I do what I do. I know it, I experienced it and maybe that is all that matters.
P/S: Sorry to those who had been writing in personally. This would be my reply.