A few years back, my friends and I decided to climb Mount Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. With little previous experience, I packed my bag with water, snacks, extra clothes and a mini headlamp. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. Why nervous? Well, that was because just as I was about to climb the guide mentioned that Asthmatics and people with medical conditions should take care as there was a history of deaths related to medical complications. Now I am an asthmatic who takes steroid inhalers and I have had open heart surgery when I was little. A moment of panic came across me and I started to doubt myself and my abilities. Maybe I’m not suited for this? This was years before I started meditating again and smack bang in the middle of my pessimistic phase but a little drive inside of me gave me the little push. The thoughts passed and I felt like I would regret not doing it. Nothing will happen!
We trekked 6Km on the first day to the rest stop at Laban Rata and I was in love with the whole experience. Climbing higher and higher, I started to feel more invigorated. It was truly a great experience. The path changed from smooth slopes to uneven steps. The view was amazing each step higher I got. slowly creeping up above clouds.
At the rest stop, we were welcomed to a buffet to stock up for the next day. People from all around the world had come there to wait until the next morning before starting the last bit of the trek to the peak just in time for the sunrise.
At the time of our stay, there was no heating or hot water. I remember sleeping in my hoodie with leggings under my tracksuit bottoms and a wooly hat on my head. I so could have done with a boyfriend at the time. I could have used him as a hot water bottle and kept myself warm.
We were lucky because a few days before we ran into someone at the hotel and he had suggested we get altitude sickness tablets. I understand that this is probably obvious to those who frequently climb mountains, but to newbies, this was not a concept we had considered. We were lucky compared to many others at the rest stop because next morning quite a few of the trekkers had to terminate their adventure at the hands of altitude sickness.
Early morning we set off again. headlamps strapped to our heads we climbed the mountain. We had reached the last rest point at 7km when a few of the guides started smoking. Within a few minutes, my dear little asthma kicked in. I could feel my chest tighten and I felt like I was wheezing. I decided to not continue and told my friends to go on ahead of me. I mean, how could I continue at this rate. Cigarettes have always been one of my biggest triggers. The inhalers had no effect. I know it was a wise decision but I was absolutely gutted. Trekked 7km out of a total 8.2km and I couldn’t do the last 1.2km. I did get to see a pretty amazing sunrise and made friends with a few other people that couldn’t climb further.
At the time I was very disappointed. It felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything just because I didn’t complete the last 1.2km. I was so focused on the 1.2km rather than the 7km I had climbed. Only years later I realised that was wrong. Had I given up at the start of the trek, maybe then I could say I hadn’t achieved anything. I learned more about my self, met new people and had climbed to an altitude greater than 3,000Km. I got to see amazing views and I learned that I should appreciate every experience more.
Life lesson to self: try to look at the positive more otherwise the perception of what you see/ experience can be greatly skewed towards the negative and that will be all that you will see. The perceptive can greatly affect the experience.