Showing posts with label Vacation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacation. Show all posts

Feb 16, 2010

Conquering the Milford Track

In early 1991, before the kids came along, my husband and I went to New Zealand for a holiday. We went with another couple friend of ours. Apart from touring on our own by car, we had decided to do the Milford Track - the unguided walk. I have to admit that my husband and I were ill-prepared for this 'hike'. But somehow I was luckier because I happened to buy shoes just before we set off. 

It was a walk like no other walk I had dreamed of.  We were prepared somewhat for the cold and the snow but not quite for the realty of it.  When we started out, there were few others with us, but we soon fell far behind. It wasn't a race of course.  We had some sort of a well-worn trail (no signs), a general direction to follow; we had to make our own way to the basic shelter stops for each night.  The back pack I was carrying was heavy, we were over-prepared trackers with extra dry food and clothes. On the first day of walking, it was sunny yet cold but still the weight of the backpack took it's toll. I fell head first, face down literally after climbing up a bank.  Thankfully I only cut my lip slightly and tasted some earth. When we got to the first shelter, all we wanted to do was find a bunk and not move ever !. But of course that was not possible.

No room service here, we took turns to prepare food as a couple, can you imagine having ice water to wash up with (no such thing as heaters up there on the track). But then you didn't perspire in those temperatures. Of the lot of walkers I think we were the most creative when it came to food.  We had instant noodles and rice while the rest ate mostly bread, soup and biscuits. You had to walk out the shelter to get to the toilets and wash basins. As we got higher, we had to cross crude rope bridges, cut across shallow streams and even brave the cold rain.  It was quite an adventure, we came across no animals, it was amidst gorgeous scenery and wonderful air.

It was I think the 3th day that we finally reached the mountain top and found ourselves actually dragging our feet through knee-high snow. The picture you see above is a photo of the actual picture taken of us at the top, the two figures in red, my friend and me (standing). Thank goodness the camera did not freeze up.
It was exhilirating, it was magnificent, to see God's beautiful earth in the raw, surrounded by peaks and snow. We were lucky because we had the sun out mostly.

The last day was a little tense because we were afraid of missing the ferry. We had to push ourselves to make good time.  If the ferry left we would have had to camp out in the open to wait til the next day. Now that, we didn't come prepared for.  Of course by then our bags were lighter. My husband's feet were suffering because he had worn the wrong kind of shoes, the rest of us were just tired with bones aching from the exercise.
It was 5 (or 6) days if I recall correctly, we had made it to the end and made it safely back, aching bones and all. It was a feat.

Dec 6, 2009

A Good Cool Break Away.....

I took a break with the kids and my folks during the week. We drove to Cameron Highlands which is somewhere(Perak-Pahang) in the middle of Malaysia. It was a 7 hour drive all the way from home across the causeway to the top of the mountain 'Gunung Brinchang' 2000m(1666ft) above sea level.  Miles and miles of oil palms is what we drove past.
It was a packed car filled with bags, kids and adults. My dad and I took turns driving. We stayed at the top most town of Brinchang.
The last time I went there, was some 30+ years ago. What I remembered most about the place was the cold cold wind, the big roses and beautiful larger than usual flowers. Then, it was sparsely populated with shop house - 2 storey buildings,  rather sleepy atmosphere surrounded by hectares and hectares of tea plantations and vegetable farms. Along the winding road, you still find the 'orang asli' the original natives to the area, selling forest durians, wild honey and other exotic fruits.

This time round, WOW, the town was like 5 times the size, with lots more buildings, hotels and shops and lots more traffic. Commercialisation had to catch up I suppose.  The weather was the same - cold cold wind and beautiful (it was a little wet, but it didn't dampen our mood..) Thank goodness for hot water.. 
Tea plantations and vegetable farms all still there, but this time round there were strawberry farms additionally as well as apiaries (bee farms). We managed to do and see everything - tea plantations, honey making, tea leave processing, picked strawberries, half of which was eaten by my youngest at the hotel.
Well of course with car travel up and down and winding roads some of us got sick  (yours truly included).. but then no pain no gain !..
Colours just seem richer and more vibrant, courtesy of the climate up there, colourful flowers everywhere, we checked out the huge roses and hibiscus and the butterfly farm. There was a mini carnival at night, my son took his first ferris wheel ride and enjoyed it thoroughly as any kid would.
We managed to drive to the summit area on the second day... got lost in the process,.. luckily we didn't get stuck in the mud., managed a 3-point turn in extremely tight conditions(mud tracks)..didn't quite have to travel through forest terrain... but alas when we reached the TOP we were literally standing in the CLOUDS, wonderfully chilly BUT no scenery to take in since we were lost in FLUFF..


A different sort of 'tiring' for me, but it was a good break away from tensions, stress, phone calls, emails, the pc, work, worries and even the sun which we missed mostly while we were up there. The children were at ease eventhough they couldn't leave mischief at home (it had to come along!)
Thank you dear God for the safe safe journey to and fro, the beauty, the time, the cool weather, the food, the family.

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