Archive for May, 2008

Your Everest; My Everest

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Of course, I have been following closely on the climbing news of Mount Everest this season. We seem to have missed the best climbing season of all. Never mind, I reminded myself, the mountain is always there.

And of course, I followed Linda’s progress on her attempt on Mount Everest. She is the first woman climber from Singapore to climb the world’s highest.

Linda did not just make an attempt on Mount Everest, she climbed it. It does not matter if one summit or not, the journey in itself is remarkable. In 1998, David Lim led the first Singapore team to scale Mount Everest, and he had successfully placed two climbers on the summit. David did not summit Mount Everest in 1998, he led another expedition in year 2000, and again, he did not get to the top. However, often in our local reports on mountaineering related matters, it has always been reported that David Lim has climbed Mount Everest. Well, I have no doubts about it. Therefore, the same connotation shall be accorded to Linda as well. Linda Tan has climbed Mount Everest. No one can take that away from her.

In a recent report on AsiaOne about Linda’s Everest quest, I read comments posted by readers. As in most cases, there are some who would support, some would condemn. For those with kind words, we thank them; to those who condemn, we can ignore it and move on. But we cannot ignore the fact that those condemning remarks can be hurting. If one cannot understand why climbers climb, and still want an answer to it, then try looking at it from a different view. Why are there people who would commit time and money to do a MBA, a PHD? Why would people stay in a queue for hours or even days just so to be mocked by the superstar judges? I do not have the answers for that and I will not question them. I admire their efforts, their guts. I admire them for taking action. I respect their intention, I respect their dreams.


Why climb? I have posted this quote before:

One cannot stay on the summit forever
One has to come down again.
So why bother in the first place? Just this.

What is above knows what is below
But what is below does not know what is above.
One climbs, one sees
One descends and sees no longer
But one has seen!

There is an art of conducting one’s self in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.

When one can no longer see,
One does at least still know.

~ Rene Daumal

Climbing is a metaphor to our life journey. Climbing is more than having an awesome view; it is more than a thrill; it is beyond the summit.

Frankly, if you asked me why I choose to climb Mount Everest, (other than being the world’s highest and that it is a mountain) I cannot give you an absolute answer to it. As my teammate, Lihui, said “Mt. Everest is a mountain, not the mountain’.

We explore challenges and test our limits in different ways. There is no one challenge that is greater than the other. Each of us has our own Everest.



Wednesday, May 28th, 2008


  • ~ Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
  • ~ Be decisive even if it means you will sometimes be wrong.
  • ~ Know when to keep silent; know when to speak up.
  • ~ Have a grateful heart, acknowledge those who help you. No one makes it alone.
  • ~ Take charge of your attitude; do not let someone else choose it for you.
  • ~ Happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  • ~ Focus on making things better, not bigger.
  • ~ Do not be afraid to say: “I don’t know”, “I made a mistake”, “I need help”.
  • ~ Never give up on the things you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts!


Twin Sisters

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I have heard of friends who told me that they have met a “mini-joanne” somewhere out there. Once, Jane and Yihui told me that they have a friend from NUS who looks like me. I was wondering if the circle of friends were refering to the same person.

I have been curious about this “mini-joanne”. What is meant by “mini-joanne”? Is she a mini version of me? and in what ways?

Ironically, she has already presented herself around me for quite sometime just that I was slow to notice. She is Chew Yien, a bubbly sunshine girl. Like Jane and Yihui, Chew Yien is also one of the NUS Make It Real programme participants. Apart from mountaineering, she does adventure racing, I think she dives too (ok, I only know this much of her so far:)) She took part in the adventure races I organised, mainly Ace Adventure Challenge, Adventure Singapore, SAFRA AVventura Race…wow.. the lists never end! This little iron lady is very active in all the adventure activities! (ahem .. so am I!)

I finally took noticed of her at the SAFRA AVventura Race in 2006. She took part in the race, and I have captured her in my camera. When browsing through the photos, I spotted her and mistook her as me. I was curious about how I would appeared in the race as a participant when I was one of the race officials. At that instance, I fully agree that she resembles me in appearance to some extend, and I could finally put her face to “mini-joanne”!

chiuyen.JPG Joanne or Chew Yien?

Well, as if looking alike is not enough, we do have the same interest, at least on mountain climbing & adventure racing. We have met in Lombok climbing the same mountain just weeks ago. Of course, we would not let the chance slip, we took a photo together.

chiu-yen-and-joanne.JPG Chew Yien and Joanne, photo courtesy of Melissa Mak

I must say, the above photo did not fully portray the resemblance in us. You probably need to see us in person. Anyway, Chew Yien was whining about being nicknamed as “mini-joanne” and that I should be nicknamed as “Big Chew Yien” instead. Hello girl, yours truly existed before you, so it’s obvious you know!

Have you ever wonder how two person can be alike when they have no connections in all ways other than sharing the same interest?

A luxurious experience

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008


Work, training and regular meet up for team matters had taken up lots of personal space. I can hardly breathe, and have been trying very hard to finish a book I have started months ago – Untill I Find You by John Irving. I have come to realize that having a good time reading a good book is a luxury for many of us. Nevertheless, my recent work trip to Mount Rinjani in Lombok was a good break. That was my 7th trip to Lombok since 1997.

Lombok, situated west of Bali, has much similarity with Bali. At least, both islands have a beach called KUTA. Over the years, Lombok has increased its visibility to tourists and promotes itself as an “unspoiled Bali”. The infamous Bali bomb in 2002 had affected Lombok’s tourism in some ways.

Lombok is dominated by centrally located Mount Rinjani, which rises to 3726m. The island’s inhabitants are mostly the Sasak people, who are closely related to the Balinese (language & race), except that the Sasak people are Muslim, while the Balinese are Hindus. There are also a small percentage of Chinese, and Javanese in Lombok.


Landscape of Sembalun Lawang (photo courtesy of Ms. Hayati Sofian)


I have only been to Bali once and that was in 1998. I am not sure if the beaches in Lombok are better than Bali, but Lombok has a bigger volcano, and varied landscapes.

Bali’s highest point is Gunung Agung at 3142m. The weather of the surrounding rainforests of Bali is almost always cloudy, and the potentially awesome view of the entire island spread out beneath is extremely rare. On the other hand, Mount Rinjani is often visible above the clouds.

Here, I’ll share with you the scenic views surrounding Mount Rinjani, and perhaps, perhaps one day, you will consider Lombok as one of your climb & travel destinations. Getting to Lombok is easy, SilkAir has direct flights to Lombok.


And not forgetting to introduce the wonderful climbing mates I have with me this time 🙂 .




The Flora



and Fauna





img_3311.JPG The start of trek to base camp


img_3403.JPG With Eng Kiat, Cindy and Claris

img_3381.JPG With Xiao Ping

img_3322.JPG Adeline & Belle

img_3336.JPG Siti & Lee Ing

img_3409.JPG My good trekking Buddy!

img_3426.JPG At the Crater Rim, 2600m a.s.l. (Polar AXN 300), view of summit trail on the background

img_3474.JPG View of Segara Anak at dusk

basecamp-by-yati.jpg Base camp (courtesy of Ms. Hayati)

img_3507.JPG Start of trek to the summit at 3.30am, with Irene in the lead

img_3513.JPG Hayati, with her camera 🙂 enroute to summit

img_3514.JPG Susan, enroute to summit, going strong

img_3527.JPG Ariffin, the self-motivated chap who can go without sleep for 48hrs and still perform his best.

sea-of-clouds-by-yati.jpg Clouds surrounding Mt. Rinjani (courtesy of Ms. Hayati)

img_3559.JPG A line of determined people trekking up to the summit

lake-view-from-summit-by-yati.jpg Summit view of Segara Anak (courtesy of Ms. Hayati)

dsc_73671.jpg With Kyan at the summit of Mt. Rinjani (courtesy of Mr. Nicholas Kwok)

img_3589.JPG With my trekking guides & crew

img_3600.JPG Descent with Jaslin from summit

segara-anak-by-yati.jpg Another beautiful view of Segara Anak (courtesy of Ms. Hayati)

img_3631.JPG With Sharlene, a positive young lady, enroute to the lake

at-the-segara-anak-by-yati.jpg The lake, Segara Anak (courtesy of Ms. Hayati)

the-team-by-yati.jpg The team, at the campsite at Segara Anak

img_3586.JPG The team, at the summit of Mt. Rinjani

The successful ascent of Mount Rinjani by more than 20 climbers did not come by chance. The team trained for 3 months prior to the trip. It was a total commitment by everyone – Thursday evening stairs climb at Commonwealth 40-storey HDB block, and Saturday trek circuit at Bukit Timah! Kudos to everyone.

If you ever wonder are they regular trekkers, I can tell you, more than 50% of them are trekking for the first time or have little exposure to climbing mountains. Their determination and humility on Mount Rinjani will guide me through my journey to scale Mount Everest.

Say Cheese, everybody! You too can climb a mountain.