A Slow Slow Climb – Sabah Trip #3

November 25, 2015 at 12:36 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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A note from Itchyfingers:
This is another long-overdued post. During our stay in Penang this June for the Pisang Relay Run, we learned from the TV about the Sabah Earthquake. :(  Like most people, we did not expect earthquake to happen and could happen in Malaysia. Though Itchyfingers did not attempt the climb to Mount Kinabalu when we visited the park last June, we could almost feel the helplessness of those climbers who were injured or stranded on the mountain. It was even sadder to know that 18 primary school students from Singapore died on the mountain. Hence Itchyfingers thought it was inappropriate to post our trip during that sad period. Itchyfingers had a minor accident when we were in the park, but it was really nothing compared to what these earthquake victims had gone through. May these young souls rest in peace.


One of the reasons for visiting the Kinabalu National Park was to look for the montane pitcher plants. Tisu Boy read that we were supposed to be able to find the largest pitcher plant, the Nepenthes rajah, at Mersilau Resort. That was why he decided that we should stay here and not at the other resorts nearer to the Park HQ.

Remember we mentioned about this path along the covered walkway to and from our room? It led into the forest and had a DO NOT ENTER sign. After reading the guidebook we realised this was the path to see the Nepenthes rajah! But it seemed like we would need some permit to enter….

We confirmed at the ranger station that it was called the Nepenthes Trail and was indeed the path to see Nepenthes rajah. Unfortunately, it had to be temporarily closed due to a recent landslide! :O

There are two main starting points for the climb to the Summit: the Timpohon Gate (located 5.5 km from Kinabalu Park Headquarters, at an altitude of 1,866 metres and the Mesilau Nature Resort, which was where we were. It was supposed to be the more challenging one cos the starting point is slightly higher in elevation, then crosses a ridge, adding about two kilometres to the ascent and making the total elevation gain slightly higher. The two trails meet about two kilometres before Laban Rata, where climbers usually stay for the night.

Trail map from the official website

Since we weren’t prepared and didn’t book any guide to climb the mountain, we were told that we could still walk up the trail as far to the Layang-layang Hut. But a return trip may take us about 5hours! The gate would also be closed at 4pm. It was already close to 10am. Not really possible for us to finish the whole trail and return before gate closes without rushing, or unless we do not take any photos. We decided that we would just walk a portion of it for the experience.

RM10 per person for this loop trail

Some other people with itchy fingers arranged these flowers in a heart shape outside the ranger office. We had lots of these flowers outside our room!

A hairy caterpillar was spotted when we began our ascent slightly after 10am

Looked like a pretty easy walk from here!

But slowly, the steps got higher….still manageable!

Knowing that we would not be able to finish the whole loop before the gate closed, we took our own sweet time taking photos…

Lots of small montane orchids

So pretty!

So small were some of these orchids that one could easily have missed them unless you slowed down and look around

The whole trail was 5.5km, and at every 500m there was supposed to have a marker. But since we were at our snail speed taking photos….

It took Itchyfingers 40minutes to reach the first 5oo metres! Incredible! :p

The trail was mostly quiet, as all the climbers had already left early in the morning after their breakfast. Hence we were not in anyone’s way climbing up so slowly. There were only another Indian couple who came up later than us. They didn’t carry any big bags with them and were not taking photos, so very soon they passed us.

Quiet except for the sound of cicadas….

More and more steps…Bag getting so heavy…hahha

Looks like wings! :D

As we went higher, we could see mist coming in. Could feel a bit more chilly too…Wonder if we missed the next 500 meter marker?

Closed to two hours after we started our climb, we finally reached 1km! Record breaking slow! Haha!

We heard some sound and thought we had caught up with the Indian couple. Soon, we reached a pavilion and saw a Caucasian couple resting there instead.

It was really foggy now especially when we looked across the valley.

Time for a selfie! :D

Nice colours!

These flowers were quite common up here!

We were lamenting that until now there were no pitcher plants to be found…Then…

We spotted a pitcher! But these looked like the Slender Pitcher we have back home…

Then we spotted more pitcher plants! They were so tiny, about 4cm tall only! :O

A closer look…We spent a fair bit of time admiring and taking photos…

Getting tired and hungry…It was already quarter to one in the afternoon…

Aiyo, so rocky….The Indian couple were nowhere to be seen…Don’t think they could finish the loop too cos they were panting really hard even without heavy bags…

More pitcher plants! :D

Begonia leaves

We spent so much time shooting the pitchers and other plants. Finally we reached the next distance marker!

1.20pm! Finally reached 1.5km!!

It was around this time that we finally saw the Indian Couple again. They said they walked to the 2km marker – it was supposed to be down all the way there. But that also meant that we would have to climb up all the way on our return trip. They told us they saw something, but we couldn’t catch that properly. :p

We took a look at the terrain ahead….

Looking at the time, we decided that we could not afford the time to the 2km marker. For most people, going downhill is easier than going uphill. But for this clumsy Itchyfingers, I always have a problem going down cos of a phobia of slipping down…That went  back years ago when I went trekking in Nepal and slipped and fell on the first day of the trek! Hahah….embarrassing! So, although going uphill is more tiring, I think I still prefer that… :p Anyway, with my kinda speed for going downhill, I don’t think we could reach 2km fast enough for us to turn around and make it back to the gate at 4pm. We were really getting hungry. So we decided to head back to the pavilion for a rest and snack.

Back at the pavilion, the fog had cleared up a bit…

Could see some waterfall! :p

Tisu Boy was busy taking photos of the waterfall while I was already sitting comfortably in the pavilion munching my muesli bar…So engrossed that he didn’t notice the roof of the pavilion and just jumped down, knocking his head against it quite hard! :D Hahahah!!! Now who was the clumsy one?? :D Good to be shorter sometimes…hahaha 

It was already half past two when we took our snack. So we had about 1.5hr to return to the gate…But Tisu Boy was still taking photos of plants that he missed along the way. :o


And this clumsy Tisu person was having weak knees negotiating the big rocks down….Gotta use the tripod leg as a walking stick…By now, Tisu Boy was also feeling the burden of his camera and bag and had to use the makeshift walking stick too…

The sky was getting a bit dark, seemed like going to rain anytime, so we had to hurry! By the time we finally reached the bottom at the gate, it was already 3.40pm! The caterpillar was still on the same piece of leave! :p Made it in time! But I think we also made it as the slowest people to climb this trail and still unable to finish it within 5 hours! Hahahah!!!!

Also see related posts:
> A Different Garden – Sabah Trip #2
> So Near Yet So Far – Sabah Trio #1

Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2015

September 15, 2015 at 12:17 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers has always wanted to join the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run to try out its many challenging inclined slopes along the route but somehow it always clashed with some other runs or dates that we couldn’t make it. This year, we finally signed up for it after deciding to try a new run.

Unfortunately, thanks to our neighboring country’s annual oil palm plantation burning, our usually clean air has been badly polluted. The sky had been covered by haze for at least a week now and getting worse. The organiser had to pre-empt participants of a possible scaled down event if the haze reached a PSI reading of over 100.

Alas, at 5am on Sunday morning, a final announcement was made that the 10km competitive run was to be cancelled, and the 6km run will be changed to a fun walk, so the participants would not be over-exerting ourselves under the bad weather condition. It was very disappointing when I woke up at 6am to read the message, but Itchyfingers decided to go ahead and join in the walk anyway.

The shuttle bus pick-up point at Expo took about 20 minutes to reach Changi Village, and by the time we walked to the starting point a few traffic lights away, it was already past 7.45am. So if the 10km run wasn’t cancelled, a lot of us would have been late for the run…

My first time walking this route…hahah

We were more than three minutes late….

Many people were seen taking photos with the huge yellow ribbon tied on lamp posts and trees. Itchyfingers also want! Hahah….

We were not supposed to take photos of prison facilities but I guess an unused old prison site is ok?

Walking on the Road to Acceptance, to give ex-offenders a second chance in life…This was one of the upslopes…

Took about half an hour to reach 2km! Didn’t even see the 1km marker!

Soon we reached the “Happily Ever After Running (in this case, ‘Walking’) Trail”

The first fairy tale characters were the Ugly Ducklings…Will you be kind to it and accept it? If yes, say “Quack”!

When we saw this, we thought it was a replica since it was inside a restaurant….

But apparently, it is the real thing!

Itchyfingers fooling around again….

Was looking for real birds…

Then realised Ugly Ducklings had turned into Beautiful Swans…hahaha…. 

We passed by Changi Chapel and Museum, which Itchyfingers visited few years back

These Princesses appeared without warning and they were popular! I thought it was cleared and ran in to take photo, but apparently the other guy still hasn’t had enough yet! Hahah….

The sign came too late! Hahaha….I think I missed the Frog Prince…

Didn’t turn on my GPS so lost count of how long we walked….Before we knew it, we were at the end of the 6km walk….Did I miss the distance markers again? This is the old Changi Prison Gate

Wow! We took so long for our leisurely walk and photo taking!

After this finishing point, we had to walk quite a distance to the tentage to collect our finishing medals….Was wondering why made us walk so long…Then we realised only 6km runners were supposed to walk so far…For 10km runners, we had a separate finishing point which was just next to the carnival tentage….

The unused 10km finishing point…Next year, ok? Next year we will pass through you!

First time collected a medal and felt no sense of achievement…hahaha….Maybe the achievement is having survived walking in the hazy condition….

The medal featured the old Changi Prison Gate

Will definitely try to come back again next year for the 10km run!

The Little Red Brick – SG50 Lego Exhibition

August 22, 2015 at 12:43 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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This year is Singapore’s 50th year of national building. As part of the Jubilee Celebration, there are many events organised around the island. Itchyfingers just went to this ‘Past Forward’ Exhibition, held at Singapore National Library. There are three parts to this exhibition: ‘The Little Red Brick’, ‘3D Printing Singapura Stories’ and ‘The Singapore March’. But I must say that most people were attracted first to the many Lego models, cos I was there also just to check out the Legos…hahah

Since it is the SG50 celebration (Singapore 50), a lot of events revolve around the number “50”. There were apparently 50 showcases of people’s memories of Singapore, presented in the form of Lego models here. Din count, so can’t confirm…hahah…

Old school radio, a peranakan tingkat (or the tiffin box),  the gem biscuit in tin and the old school calendar, all made with Lego bricks!

So cute!

Game & Watch, a cool toy of yesteryear! :D

One of my favorites – the old school mosaic playgrounds! Remember the Dragon, Pelican, Elephant and Watermelon? They left out the Seal… Sadly the Pelican is no more…. :( Why couldn’t they preserve the beautiful Pelican at least as a sculpture?

The Watermelon playgrounds. In recent year, there are some local designers who made these old playgrounds into collar pins or bags for sale…wonder if there is any copyright issue?

The iconic red-bricked National Library that, sadly, had given way to a stupid tunnel and finally another building for SMU…

Inside the old library…wow the library cards are huge! :D

Another one of my favourite Lego models…the makeshift chinese opera stage, complete with opera actors and audiences

So cute, look at the zigzag, comical-looking, snake-like dragons on both sides…they even put in the name of the acts on the black board…hahah

Backstage was as interesting as the front, with actors busy putting on their makeups and robes. At the left were the musicians. Kids were shown here skipping ropes. Street operas used to be common in the older days as main entertainment. But with the introduction of more televisions, cinemas and later, computer games, it is now a dying trade….

Open air movie screening! Looked so hip and cool! Hahaha….A lot of reflection on the casing, so very tough to take closeups…

The Samsui Women. These iron ladies from Sanshui of Guangdong (Canton) Province in China, came to Singapore between the 1920s and the 1940s and worked in construction sites as hard laborers, carrying heavy loads. Their hard work contributed to Singapore’s development, both as a colony and as a nation. Our true pioneers! 

These women were referred to as 红头巾, which translates as “red bandana”, a reference to the trademark red cloth hats that they wore. Today, most of these Samsui Women have either passed on or went back to their hometown in China. Only a handful retired here in Singapore

Remember the Little Red House at Katong? Only went to this bakery twice before it was closed for development in 2003. But it stood there for many years with nothing being done to it! Only recently did the paper report some updates on the development

Another favourite piece. Shophouses at Koon Seng Road near Joo Chiat

So nice! Even the otherwise ugly wheeler bins looked cool here

Tiong Bahru pre-war flats!

Came with its own grumpy ice-cream man! Hahah. These uncles are still a common sight now, and long queues can sometimes be seen at those along Orchard Road on a hot day!

Talking about queue…more than 1.2 million people braved rain and shine, day and night in March this year, to pay our last respect to our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House. This queue looked way too short…Itchyfingers braved through the whole Friday night for nine hours to pay our few seconds of respect…were you there too? Er, the flag didn’t look so good though….


The old bus stop! I love the pink and red Bougainvillea flowers!!! The flags here were much nicer! I didn’t take the old double-decker bus beside it… :(

Who could have forgotten the KTM train that once passed through the heart of our island just few years back? This train against the Bukit Timah station must had brought back lots of memories for many people….The old railway track is now the Green Corridor. Itchyfingers just did our first Green Corridor Run early this year!

This Merlion looked very comical… :D

But this one looked worse…I thought it was an elephant at first glance! The sprouting water looked more like an elephant’s trunk…hahah…and since when did we have a white standing Buddha figure in town? Hahaha….

They should really stop at one…The bigger Singa looked fine…but the smaller one….hahahahah…..

We have to thank these Men in Green for protecting our homes. Here, a typical scene of parents sending off their teenage boys to be enlisted into the army

There was a small section on 3D printing, which was quite neglected..haha

First National Day Parade in 1966

Great World – a popular place for entertainment in the past

Overall, it was quite an interesting exhibition that certainly brought back quite a lot of memories. There were still many others that were not featured here, so do pop by the National Library foyer from now till 28 August to see them! :)

Also see related post:
> Building a LovingSG

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