Friday, December 18, 2015

New Zealand Trip, Part 1

2015 has been a rough year for me. It has been a rough year for everyone I think. Personally, I have had to deal with some tough issues. But they are easily dwarfed by the major issues, conflicts and troubles engulfing not only my country but the world at large today. Whenever I read the news, my heart sank a little further. Sometimes, I did come across some feel-good news (mostly about people's kindness and efforts to build bridges) but by and large, the hateful rhetoric blanketed and suffocated me.

I badly needed to get away from it all and find some peace. Thus the trip to New Zealand (that had been planned months earlier) couldn't have come at a better time. Besides, I couldn't wait to see Kakak again.

Kakak left for New Zealand in February 2015 to further her studies and since then, I have been drifting without my anchor. I've always considered my older sister to be one of my greatest blessings in life. She's my best friend, my partner in crime, my confidant and my pillar of strength all rolled into one.

She always listens attentively whenever I have something to say, regardless of how trivial it is or how long-winded I may be. She always laughs heartily at my jokes even though they are not particularly funny. We can understand each other almost telepathically. And since we have complementary attributes, we make the best team:
She's the driver, I'm the navigator.
She's the doer, I'm the planner.
She cooks and I wash the dishes.
So yeah, for the past 30 years, we have lived in a perfect symbiotic harmony.

But then she left for NZ and I was all alone. It wasn't easy and I missed her so much. Incidentally, at around the same time, a close colleague (and one of my favourite people in the world), Kak Safrina, went on an extended medical leave. I keenly felt both losses. But the ordeal has taught me that I shouldn't depend on the creation too much. It was Allah's way of teaching me to rely on Him alone. It was a very painful (but necessary) lesson for me to learn.

So, coming back to the New Zealand trip. Below are some of the things I've reflected on so far:

Travel is glamorous only in retrospect!

Though we looked happy and cheerful in our pictures, we encountered many hardships along the way. Those pictures only paint half the story. Our plane was delayed, our passports were misplaced, our luggage was lost and we had to travel hundreds of kilometres in order to retrieve it.
Then I got extremely sick on the journey to and fro Milford Sound. My stomach just couldn't handle the ten-hour journey by coach and though the scenery along the way was breathtaking, I just couldn't enjoy it and wished for the bus ride to end as quickly as possible.

But that's the essence of travelling, isn't it? In order to experience something wonderfully out-of-the-ordinary, you must be prepared to sacrifice comfort and familiarity. Brene Brown said something similar: "If you choose to be courageous, then you have to let go off the need for comfort, because you can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both."

I think when it comes to travelling, besides forgoing comfort, you also have to make do with less certainty and be ready accept whatever comes your way. Things will NEVER go exactly as planned and you're foolish if you think that you can control every aspect of your trip. It's a lot like life; You can sulk all you want or get angry or depressed when things don't go your way OR you can accept that disruptions are inevitable and that Allah is the best of planners.

The good always overrides the bad in the end

The best part about the trip so far is being on the road with my sister and mum. We rented a car and drove from Christchurch to Queenstown, often stopping to admire the view and take lots of pictures. Hours on the road were spent updating Kakak with the latest news from home and relating the funny things our nieces and nephews had done or said.

Kakak had also compiled our favourite songs in a playlist and we listened and sang along to these songs while driving. I thought that driving in a foreign country would be tricky but so far it has been smooth sailing, alhamdulillah. It's only maddening to have to drive at 100km/h even though the road is clear of any traffic. This rule is incomprehensible to Malaysian drivers who are mostly speed demons on the highways.

We also met a lot of wonderful people along the way and ate delicious food. But I think I'll save these two topics for Part 2 :)

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Bukit Tabur

I posted on Instagram that I was planning to hike Bukit Tabur today and was wondering whether anyone would like to join me.
Later that night, I suddenly woke up at 3.30 a.m. Out of habit, I reached for my phone and was alarmed when I read the text below:
Teacher, if it rains tomorrow and you decide to go for a hike anyways, even though the rain has stopped, then, i have a reminder for you: do not try to cross the path where you're stuck okay? Do not even try to jump over or something because it looks like you can reach there by jumping but you actually can't, well if you're fully equipped, that's a different thing because i live somewhere near there and the ambulance truck always comes and save the ppl ( the victims usually end up breaking a few bones) I really do not want that to happen to my teacher. Please do not post this, don't even think about it 😏. I know you'll probably screenshot and all 😏😏😏. Anyways have fun teacher and stay safe. :) (u can tell how much i actually care about you now, even though, I'm a shitty *** student to most of the teachers but that doesn't mean I don't care about em) i typed so long for youuuu 😂.
goodnight teacher and stay hydrated 💪🏽
Please disregard the fact that I did exactly what H had told me not to (i.e. post his message). 

I couldn't sleep well after that. I was tossing and turning while contemplating whether to go ahead with the climb.

I didn't have a good feeling about it and I truly feared for my safety. Though I had successfully scaled Bukit Tabur before, this time, I couldn't shake off the feeling that I would not make it out safely.

To calm my nerves, I made wudu' and recited some dua. Then I tried to resume my interrupted sleep. But I promised myself to back out of the trip if I was still feeling uneasy later.

Alhamdulillah, an hour and a half later, I woke up feeling much calmer. Plus, since it didn't rain last night, my fears were somewhat assuaged.
So I made my way to the meeting point in Melawati and met the people I was going to hike with. 

I've never met Mat, Jas & Ikhwan prior to today and was a bit apprehensive about hiking with total strangers but these three were super friendly so I was immediately put at ease.

We climbed Tabur East at a leisurely pace and were rewarded with the picturesque scenery below:

I'm glad I went ahead with the climb and got to experience such beauty but H's message made me realise that I should never underestimate a climb even though I had successfully scaled the peak before.

One should always be humble and have proper reverence for nature. And to always remember that:
لاحول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم
(There is no strength nor power except for Allah)