Monday, February 6, 2017


"Omg! 2 month old baby mati dikelar?!"
"WHY? Wait, who did it?"
"the mother."
"oh, okay. I get it."
" GET IT?"
"normal people just don't do that."

Yes, I do. I get it. And before you jump into a tirade about how it's abnormal behaviour and is totally psychotic, take a moment to just understand the position of a new mother.

No matter how much a new baby is anticipated, the birth of one is a totally different ballgame. Everyone talks about how beautiful it is to have a baby, how amazing it is, how magical -- nobody ever talks about the darkness and confusion, the feeling of loss. Of course, for some, it's a total fairy tale but that's not the case for everyone.

Having a baby means having your life turned around in the blink of an eye. You go to the hospital one day in a lot of pain and the next day, all of a sudden, you're home with an extra person in your arms, screaming, and you have no idea what to do. If you're lucky, you get a total angel who sleeps all day and all night, feeds at specific times and doesn't make a peep. If you're not so lucky, you get what I got: A baby who sleeps all day while help is at hand and screams all night, from dusk to dawn, when you're left to deal with it on your own.

And that's exactly my experience with him. Imagine having gone through 9 months of carrying a baby, hours of labour pains, and not to mention having to deal with the pain of healing op wounds. At the same time, I'm trying to be that person who perseveres and breastfeed exclusively for six whole months only to learn that my supply is short and to have about a million people throw around their opinions about what I should feed my child to stop him from crying. Meanwhile, I'm getting zero sleep at night because he just screams and screams in the quiet of the night and all I hear other than his voice is the voice inside my head, screaming just as loudly as he was, considering giving up.

You don't know. You don't know the madness and you won't know until you have a screaming child of your own.

I snapped out of it because I had a lot of hands-on family and friends who didn't just call or text to check in but physically took him away from me at the times when I'm closest to breaking. I don't know if they were aware but they saved me. They were truly a godsend.

I'm sure some idiot will conclude that I don't love my child. That idiot would be wrong. Despite my nonchalant parenting, I'd take a bullet for my boy.

In that darkness, though, Lord knows what a person is capable of. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu: An Adventure (Day 1)

My eyes flew open and the first thing I saw was my phone. 6.11am. I stared at it silently, taking in the thundering sound outside. It was pouring and I couldn’t help but think back to those two days I spent being drenched 80% of the time—and I missed it.


We started our climb on a Friday. Having checked the weather forecast, we were expecting a storm, especially since it rained all day the day before; Instead, we were greeted with clear blue skies and happy looking climbers, all excited to start the trip. We had some breakfast, picked up our lunch, and stuffed everything in our bags. Joe arrived and introduced us to our guide, Ramzilan. He would be the one to take us up and down the mountain as well as carry our bags during the trip. With everything sorted, we headed out to the Timpohon Gate.

 Bright and sunny start to Day 1!

Ramzilan briefly explained the trail to us and laid out some ground rules: be respectful of the forest, don’t make too much noise, and stay on the trail. At about 9am, off we went. With a total lack of training and conditioning, I was SUUUUPER slow, stopping for a few second every few minutes to just catch my breath. But Ramzilan stuck with me as Jehan hurried on ahead, and I just held my tongue from complaining. I signed up for this myself, after all.

I don’t remember how far in we were exactly but it was early on into the trail that we came to a clearing. On the left was a gorge, the old ruined trail visibly hanging on the sides; Straight ahead a stretch of steps and then, a clear, breathtaking view of the majesty herself.
earthquake ruins           

first glimpse    

When we reached the top of the steps and looked behind us and were astounded by the view, yet again. I remember thinking that if for no other reason, this has already made whatever pain is to come worth it. We stopped to take it all in as we “allowed” porters to pass by.


My plans to snap the climb pretty much died some point after that as my phone conked out and wouldn’t switch itself back on, but we continued the journey and stopped at the huts for no more than two minutes each as we had to keep time and make sure we reached Laban Rata by 4pm because Jehan made a bet with her friend that she would. When we got to Layang-Layang, it was almost 12pm. We sat and had our lunch: an apple, a fat sandwich, a hard-boiled egg, a chicken wing and some strawberry cookies. I only had the sandwich, apple and cookies and saved the rest for later, knowing I’d definitely feel peckish after dinner.

We loaded up on heat rubs, refilled our water bottles and powered on; And by powered on I really mean whine and question our life choices with every step. You see, the first 4 kilometers from Timpohon to Layang-Layang was—while not an absolute breeze—quite bearable. The final 2 kilometers from Layang-Layang to Laban Rata, not so much. The trail was steep and the landscape changes rapidly from green to red rocks and alien like tress, to slippery boulders.

 no turning back 

Believe me when I say, my previously speedy sister had slowed down considerably, especially as it soon started to drizzle. At some point she was the one asking “whose bright idea was this?!” to which I could only reply “YOU, you idiot!” We spent the next three hours pestering Ramzilan on how far we’d gone and how much more distance we had to cover and what time he thinks we would reach Laban Rata. Needless to say, Ramzilan quickly found his friends and walked further and further behind us, keeping his distance to escape the harassment.


After all our whining, we finally reached Laban Rata at 3pm sharp, an hour ahead of our target time and we couldn’t have been happier. We checked into our room at the Laban Rata guesthouse, showered in freezing cold water, changed into clean clothes, and waited for dinner time.

we're here! (THANK GOD!)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu: Top 10 Tips for Noobs!

Before I begin, I must first make it very clear that I’m writing as an ABSOLUTE MOUNTAINEERING AMATEUR. Also, I did not summit.

Here are 10 tips for climbing Mt. Kinabalu as a newbie!

1.       Train!

You will meet people in your life who will tell you Mt. Kinabalu is an easy one to conquer. I beg to differ. The above is only true if you are physically fit, and even then, there’s still the weather, the cold, and fatigue to consider.

TRAIN! Don’t be like me. I trained halfheartedly, doing only one climb up Bukit Saga and a few up FRIM’s Canopy Walk.

Find trails with lots of stairs and varied difficulty levels to prepare yourself because the new Timpohon trail will have you struggling to the very last second.

Last stretch of 20 something steps before you reach the gate. I really wanted to just collapse right here :'D

2.       Be prepared

          It’s more than just being physically ready; you have to also be mentally and emotionally
          prepared. She WILL drain you and there will be so many instances when you might feel like
          throwing in the towel. Don’t let her faze you. Keep telling yourself you can and keep moving.

          Also, be medically prepared. You want to bring along paracetamol and/or altitude meds to
          combat altitude sickness, flu meds if you’re prone to colds due to chilly weather, and heat rubs

3.       Pack SMART

When I was packing for this trip, I found so many lists online that asks you to bring what I feel (after the climb) is TOO MUCH. You don’t want to be carrying extra weight and you honestly DON’T need 4 pairs of tees. 

Bring only what you absolutely need because when you get there, you’ll be adding bulk to your backpack with your packed lunch and water.

Here’s what I packed for a 2D1N trip:

a.       Worn on Day 1 of the climb
-          1 long-sleeved thermal top
-          1 lightweight short-sleeved tee
-          1 long weatherproof pants
-          1 pair of socks
-          1 pair of hiking shoes
-          Headscarf
b.      Clean pair of underwear
c.       1 long-sleeved thermal top
d.      1 lightweight long-sleeved fleece top
e.      1 pair of socks
f.        1 pair of thermal socks
g.       1 pair of tights
h.      1 buff
i.        Headlamp + extra batteries (NEED)
j.       1 Weatherproof windbreaker
k.      1 pair of gloves (NEED)
l.        Snacks
j.   Toiletries (facial wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, moisturiser & sunscreen [NEED- i know you can't see the sun but you'll be so close to it, it WILL burn you])
k. Phone charger

We reached Laban Rata and checked in at a pretty good time so we could brave the cold water and shower, after which we changed into clean clothes so we could sleep in them. The next morning, all we did was layer on our dirty clothes to keep us warm during the summit climb.

4.       Respect the Mountain

The Sabahans, especially the men and women who work and live on and around the Mountain consider her to be a sacred entity.

Even if you cannot bring yourself to believe what they believe, at the very least, respect it.

There are washrooms aplenty up there and there’s really no need for making loud noises.

5.       Be friendly

Get acquainted with those who are ascending and descending the same day as you are. You don’t know how much this will help you along the way.

I made friends with many climbers up there. Did I take down their contacts? No. Do I plan to see them again? Not really. But, we did do a good job of looking out for each other throughout the climb; be it sharing snacks, sending out reports of injury, or even emergency “oh-crap-blood-is-coming-out-of-my-vag-when-it-shouldn’t” needs.

You will NEED these people, so, be friendly!

With my travel buddy, Jehan, our Malim, Gilan, and his friend, Azizi

6.       Buddy-up!

Sometimes, if you’re unlucky, your travel partners will either be absolute snails who can’t keep up with you or total Sonics (the Hedgehog, people) who leave you behind. If that happens, don’t worry! Refer to my last tip.

All those friends you’ve made? Well, time to find one who’s as slow or as fast as you and buddy up! BE A LEECH, especially if you’re alone.

Remember: the more buddies you have, the less likely it will be for someone to find you dead on the trail. Or worse, for no one to find you at all. Sounds dramatic, but shit happens.

7.       Listen to your Malim (FERREALZ!)

           I don’t even know why I have to say this but apparently, A LOT of people don’t listen to their              guides. Guys, they do the trail two to four times a week. They know it like the back of their

           Do you really still need me to convince you on this one?

Mr. Fantastic, Gilan

8.       Take your time

You’ll hear all the local guides and porters repeat this: “Pelan-pelan aja” which translates to “just go slow”.

The key is to as much as possible not stop moving. Just keep going forward at your own pace. It’s not a race and there’s much to see if you lift your eyes up and look around.

I moved really slowly during my descend from Sayat-Sayat in order to enjoy the view.

9.       Understand your limits

You know yourself better than anyone. Yes, sometimes we need a little encouragement but at times you just have to know when you’ve reached your limits and stop there.

I couldn’t summit even though I reached Sayat-Sayat in time because I couldn’t breathe properly due to my asthma. Also, the ropes scared the bejesus out of me. And so, that was where I stopped my summit climb and waited to soak up the sunrise.

The rope leading up to the summit.

10.   Bring more cash than you think you might need

In the case of injury or fatigue, someone will need to carry you up or down the mountain to save you. This will cost you a pretty penny (About RM 300/km heading down and RM 600/km heading up) and just in case this happens, you want to be prepared. 

I realise I haven’t actually shared about the trip but I just wanted to get these out there while I still remember every last detail.

If you ARE making the trip soon, I hope you find this helpful.
Have fun!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hakeem Turns 2!

*Okay honestly though, his birthday was two months ago. Unfortunately it fell on the first day of Hari Raya so obviously, the whole month wouldn't have worked out for us considering all the open houses we had to attend.

Shahrul and I initially planned to have a nice little afternoon picnic party in Lake Gardens with the sun shining and on pretty green grass but the week before the party, the API hit an all time high. Schools were advised to close and we had to find a different venue. Scratch that. We had to SCRAMBLE to find a different venue. It was madness.

Most places were full because everyone suddenly had to have their parties/events indoors and we were clearly the last ones to think of every single venue out there. We got lucky when Hello Deer gave us a call saying one party pulled out and they now had morning and lunch slots open. Not my ideal time preference but considering our options -- or lack thereof, we had to snatch it up quickly.

We are so glad we did as there couldn't have been a more perfect venue for our little do (except for parking). We stuck to the "picnic party" theme and did everything the same way except indoors.

Obviously, seeing as how I was preparing all food items on my own, that morning was sort of a mad dash. We were supposed to be at the location to set up an hour before the party but... That wasn't gonna happen. By the time we got there, it was already 1pm: party time. Thankfully, my AJK Kecantikan was already on location and had arranged all the furniture as well as started on decorations.

So now that decorations were pretty much done, I had to move on to setting up the food. I had poured over the menu for many weeks and planned exactly how I'd execute it. Alas, I fell short. There were supposed to be Victoria Sandwich slices (Pocoyo's Jam Sandwiches) which I didn't have the time to make at all and some chocolate Smarties cupcakes (Elly's Cupcakes) which I dropped while unloading the car *cries*.  All that's left were the sandwiches, pasta, potato salad, watermelon sticks, fish biscuits and marshmallows for the kids.

Doesn't Pocoyo look pretty with his head propped up on his shoulders like a normal human being? Well, he spent fifteen minutes deciding whether or not he liked it that way. He then decided, "Nope. Head on shoulders is too mainstream. I'mma behead myself."

Ah, well! Still edible. On with the party! Some guests had actually come in while we were working on setting up but thank goodness they were close friends so they were put to work as well. Hehe.

We set up a bubble station for the kids. I made my own bubble solution, poured it into an empty butter tub I wrapped with craft paper, put some paper cups on the side for the kids to refill as they please, and some bubble wands I got from the trusty Daiso. Love the wands as they are easy to use for kids who don't yet know how to blow bubbles with the normal wands. These came in large packs of 10! So worth it. The kids definitely enjoyed those bubbles though one friend (adult, thank goodness) accidentally drank some solution thinking it was juice *facepalm*

We also set up a little finger painting corner for the kids to get their hands dirty.

What kid wouldn't enjoy being able to make a mess and getting away with it, right?

Everything worked out for the best in the end and it looked like everyone had fun, especially the kids. Diyana Lynda Shoots got some very good shots of the party and I love so many that I've been spamming on Instagram so I guess I'll just share 'em all here instead

Big thanks to everyone who came. It was so nice to have all of you with us. Thank you Diyana and Lynda for capturing the event so beautifully. And HUGE props to my wonderful friends and siblings who were so helpful that day. 

*Diyana Lynda Shoots are building their portfolio and is offering FREE photography services for your events till December. 


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