Standing at 4101 metres or 13,455 feet high, Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is the highest mountain in South East Asia. It has some of the richest flora in the world, the giant red blossom called the Rafflesia, one of the world's largest flower with a diameter over 170cm, can be found here. More than 250 bird species have been recorded and small mammals like mountain squirrels, tree shrews and bats inhabit the mountain. The climb begins with a lowland dipterocarp forest to the montane oak and conifer forest at the middle and eventually to the rocky alphine plateau summit. Lodging is available along the climb, with the highest at 12,500 feet, the Sayat Hut. Despite the majestic height, Mount Kinabalu is one of the world's easiest mountain to climb. No special skills or equipment are needed and it usually takes 2 to 3 days to complete. With extra time to spend, visitors can trek down the graded paths through rich lowland forest leading to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves. The famous Poring Hot Springs are another main attraction. They were developed first by the Japanese during W.W. II, and today the springs are piped into several open air, Japanese style baths. The hot springs contain sulphur water which has curative properties for skin diseases.

For more precise information, visit Malaysia National Park at Or Howard Lim's Guide to Mount Kinabalu Summit at


I view the distant peaks. Even if my love came to me, Would I be any happier? The peaks neither speak nor smile; But what happiness, O what joy! - New Song in the Mountain by Yun Son-do (1587-1671)

Mention the word adventure and one will naturally think of mountaineering, biking, canoeing and so on. Very often, we have heard or spoken of someone being an adventurer. We talk about how the Singapore Everest Team being the adventurer who climbed the Everest or how that Ms X is too unadventurous to try trekking at Mt. Ophir. Bedok CC Youth Group has once tried to define adventure as "any activities that are unusual exciting and challenging with calculated risk." But is adventure really just that? Have we been too insular to categorize them into just a form or type of activity. Have we been going around labeling people and looking up to them as adventurer just because they have trekked the perilous mountain, canoed the rough sea and biked the rugged terrain. We are too often limited by our own perspective and understanding, to judge people by what they have done and failed to see the internal force that motivate them, i.e. who they are. Sometimes we may need to shift this paradigm to understand that adventre is very often a form of spirit. That is, the spirit that come from within, the inspiration to venture beyond our comfort zone, to take up the risk in challenging the norm, the openness to learn and grow. One may not need to be strong and smart to be an adventurer, for adventure can be in any form...
Yes, yes, I know, why all these rambling from abi? Well, because this is exactly the sentiment I felt over at Korea. For friends joked and teased whenever I mentioned my Korea trip. Some were surprised to find out that it was the first adventure group to Korea (trust me, even the Korean were surprise that our photo appeared in their newspaper) And to many of them, Korea is more like a sight-seeing place, and has nothing to offer in adventure activities. Wrong they may be because in Korea wherever one walks, drives or flies, one sees the rivers, the hills, the mountains and "..the distant peaks". And this is precisely what I did over at Korea - water rafting and mountain trekking. I have tried water rafting at 2 rivers - Tonggang and Hantan rivers and trekked 2 picturesque mountains - Mt. Odaesan and Soraksan. But no, this is not the adventure I intent to write about...
For the adventure lies in my love affair with Korea. To immerge myself in a country that is enchanting and exquisite in its own way. Korea, refers as "Sam chi' on li kum su kang san," or the land of "3000 li of rivers and mountains embroidered on silk" has scenic tapestry - delicately shaded with silken green rice terraces, swaths of amber grain, and pointilist vegetable patches winding hither and thither along cold blue rivers and craggy mountain passes. Its inner beauty of Korea is colored with its legendary history and unique culture. Centuries of existence in the shadow of stronger neighbors have filled Korea's history with a turbulence that belies the "Land of Morning Calm." Located at a strategic crossroads of northeast Asia, the Korean Peninsular has been trampled on by armies of Chinese and Japanese, Mongols and Manchus, Russians and Americans. Despite these constant onslaughts, Koreans have maintained a distinct political and cultural identity. Koreans have borrowed many attributes of Chinese civiliation and in turn, transmitted elements of Japan. Still, Korea is neither China in miniature nor an offshoot of Japan. Koreans' ability to preserve their identity, and produce artistic, scientific and literary achievement of great distinction while enduring the depredations of intruders has been inspiring.
Korea today shows many faces. A superficial overlay of Western thought patterns has changed the outward appearance of many, yet the old ways of thinking remains strong in the minds of most people, regardless of their education and rank. Koreans are fiercely nationalistic, not shallowly patriotic, and exhibits a touching reverence for the natural beauties of Korea's mountain-riven, storm-tormented land. Koreans can be seen in his best light as warm, friendly, cheerful and light-spirited. Walking down the cities, you may hear the sound of hearty and inebriated voices singing to the clickety-clack of chopsticks being beaten against the edge of the table...a scene you do not see in Singapore. "In Korea, there is no logic...instead there is emotion, intuitional insight and a soulful spirit."



K2, also known Godwin-Austen, height 8,611 metre, 2nd highest mountain in the world. Although slightly shorter than Everest, it is regarded as a far more difficult and challenging climb. This picture was taken from Broad Peak base camp. Trek to K2 Base Camp/Concordia in Pakistan I have been planning to do trekking in Northern mountains of Pakistan for many years back since I was at my age of twenties. I have heard a lot about the famous Karakoram Highway, Rakaposhi etc from guide book and peoples I know. However, I just don't want to see the slide show , photos but I also want to do it. However, there are many uncertainities in my mind that almost leave me no choice to cancel/postphone the trip Finally. I ignored all the uncertainities and decided to go on since I have been putting so much effort on planning this trip. I flew from Singapore to Islamabad via K.L and Lahore by Pakistan airline on 16/July, arrived Islamabad Inter'l airport on early morning, my feeling was full of curiousity and excitment because that was my first trip to Pakistan, I will be happy to meet the giant mountains very soon. Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, in contrast to its twin city, Rawalpindi, Islamabad is a quiet and peaceful garden city in northean areas. I was arranged to meet other team members, Alex and his girlfriend, Miryam, from Switzerland, .S.Sanim, a retired airforce officer living in Rawapindi, at my agent office, and follow a briefing meeting at the Tourism office. At the evening, my agent Mr.Malik drove us to the Margalla hills to view the surrounding of the city and the beautiful Faisal Mosque. Later. We had our 1st and very delicious dinner at Kabul restauant, famous of its roast beef. With help of Mr.Malik, we got the confirmed seat ticket for the scenic flight from Islamabad to Skardu, the flight offers a spectacular aerial view the massif of Nanga Parbat, at 8,125 metre, the world's nine highest mountain and Rakaposhi, we were glad to be invited to the pilot cockpit to view the beautiful mountains and a glimpse of K2, the highest in Karakoram. The trek is tough and demanding, but not difficult, it was rated as Grade D in trekking standards, trekking for several days over rugged terrain, with glaciated moraine changing on every level we reach, climbing up and down the scree slopes, we always watch out the dangers of rock fall and put extra cautioned when travel on glaciers for the hidden crevasses, weather is very extreme in day and night, several time of river crossing on the fast freezing current, eventhough of all these, we were rewarded an everchanging panorama views on every stage, Paiju Peak (6,610), Uli Biaho (6,417), Great Trango Tower (6,286) Cathedral Towers, the view are magnificent. We were also enjoyed the stay with each other, the jokes and fun, during the journey, we have also met other groups and share experience with them, they are from different countries, speaking different languages with its own culture, but our goal are same, love the nature and enjoy trekking. The trek to Concordia is indeed a trek into the throne room of the mountain gods, as Galen Rowell proclaimed, the 70km walk took us eight days to reach Concordia, a junction point surrounded by numerous mountains and meet of five glaciers. Its offer a magnificient view of the four 8,000 peaks in Karakoram, K2 (8,611), Broad Peak (8,047) & the Gasherbrum range, but there are receives strong winds and is the coldest camp on the Baltoro glacier. On 29/July, the most exciting day of the trip, trek to K2 B.C, it was covered by a long & tiring day to the base camp and back to Concordia, everyone was exhausted but we were very glad because we all made it. We moved on faster pace on the return trip as we have already acculimatisated. To avoid the repeating routes, you may try to cross the Gondogora La, 5,940 metre but you must have prior acclimatisation and some basic mountaineering skill with proper equipment is required. To me, it is not only a achievement to complete the trek but also help me to build up confident and looking challenge ahead.


Suggest further reading :
01. Trekking in the Karakoram & Hindukush, Lonely Planet
02. Amongst the mountain god, Action Asia, Oct/Nov/97

* Special thanks to Jocasta, I won't make it without her patience, support and encouragement.