ISSUE Magazine

Can We Be Frank? Up the Mountain by Raina Ng

Excuse me while I kiss the sky. 

Hendrix sang. And I thought, so should I. Kiss the Sky I mean.

So, what have you achieved?

Ahhh, the dreaded questions we all ask ourselves. I only had two goals, to travel the world and to fall in love, and then to do something really really meaningful.

But clock-a-ticking, all I had done was….

What, what have you done?


By now I should have a clear idea of what I was here to achieve.

Maybe you should be doing.


How about go up the mountain?

Yea, climbing the mountain was not my idea, it was Frank’s. I just took it literally and decided we would climb Kinabalu for a start. Leading up to the climb I had no one but Frank to blame for torturing myself. I frowned and whined and whinged each training session.

But I have decided, so I will.

I will have to finish.


It is easy with a goal. With clear purpose every suffering has a reason. And it is clear that these sufferings were temporary, and necessary towards achieving. So the day came, and we, Frank and I, flew into Kota Kinabalu.


We were picked up by the travel agents that had arranged the climb for us and were taken to Mount Kinabalu park.


We walked around the park, spoke to some travelers. A couple, wife from Zimbabwe, and her British husband living in Australia. We whipped up a nice chat about people, and travels. They had been to base camp, Everest.

Now, that Frank is not something we will be doing, thought I.


We chatted about Zimbabwe, and Mugabe. And then the mountain.

“I am terrified,” she said. “Apprehensive”

I am too really. It is a lot of effort and I did not want to… fail.

Early night. I don’t remember sleeping, just waking and a nice comforting hot shower in the common bathroom. And then we were off to the meeting area.

“My name is Jano, I will be your guide.”

Oh goodie. His name was actually Januarius and for the life of me I now cannot remember if he were Kadazan, or something else. We talked for a bit.

“I will help you with your bag if you need so don’t worry.”

Thank you. I need all the help I could get.

Then we were off. Up the mountain.

Up the mountain.

And I walked. And walked. And then I pushed, and I pushed.

That is the thing with having a purpose. You push. You fight to arrive…

…at base camp. Laban Rata.

“You did really well today, so have a good rest, have your dinner and a good sleep, see you at 2am.”

I have half a mind to stay asleep at 2am.

No you do not.

No hot water. Great. Sticky, muddy, and no hot shower. Cold shower. And once again, I do not remember sleeping. We shared a room with some Danish girls who were about 18. Off to see the world first before Uni.

I think we all got to do that. That is what our twenties are for. Explore. And figure out the mysteries.

To lose our innocence and naivety. To figure out that our ideals are, ideals. It is necessary I reckon. Not so bad if we hold onto them.

2am. Darkness. Frank forgot I had a fear of heights.


As you can see I am not so enthusiastic about this.

Yup. I am though. Tough for you. 

Jano appeared. And off we went, together with the masses. Trudging. Up what seems a million steps. If heaven is this way I fear I might not reach. Is hell any good?

No. Its apparently a lake of fire.


Mmm. You better get your ass up there.

Moan, groan, heavy hearted, heavy footed. And the worse part was, I could not see anything more than a metre ahead.


No, uncertain steps.


There was a part of the journey where my shoe failed to grip and I slipped. Jano and a few other guides caught me, and helped me with my footing. Gloves on, pulled on the string. Am not so good with heights, slippery slopes and leaning in awkward positions.

I feel like I am falling.

This is how it feels like sometimes. But eyes on the mountain girl.

Thoughts wandered. Even with a goal it sometimes feel a little bit off balance. A little unstable. All limbs required.

And then the sky lightened.

And I could see the mountain.

We trudged. Incline.

7km. 8km.

Yoo-hoo we made it.

I stood. On an incline, in wonder.

We made it and I still cannot believe it.

I was on top of the mountain. Looking down. The view was clearer. And it was beautiful.

The freshness of the morning reached out to grab my senses by the nose. And then the beauty permeated. This was a beauty that did not creep up slowly. It just invaded. And then it broke down walls.

There is something about beauty. It reaches out with hungry hands and grabs the soul by the shoulders to whisper softly, gently into its depth. The eyes I saw my world with melted away and my lens changed.

From portrait to landscape.

Perspectives change when you are on the mountain don’t it sweetpea?

Smug. Hate it when Frank gets smug.

“You are really lucky,” Jano said, “my family we live in that village down there, and my wife has never been up here because she can’t she has asthma and is not strong enough to get up here.”

Blessed I was.

Jano spoke of other travelers he had brought up here. The ones that made it, and the ones that did not.

And he told stories of the spirits villagers had set free on the mountain. The sacrificial chickens too.

But the mountain smiles at me.

“Look, the mountain watches over you as you descent.”

I squinted and I looked. Hah, of course. The wise mountain. The mountain bears her visitors graciously and shares herself with them. She shares something sacred that the open eyes see, the open ear hears and the open heart receives.

And then the descent.

Do I need to talk about the painful descent? Well it was painful. I was teary and frustrated because it seemed neverending. And my legs killed me. Literally.

But something happened. I think I left my twenties behind.

Leave it behind.

And Frank sang it. That U2 song.

Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind

With each painful step I abandoned something.

There was a sort of awakening through painful descent. I left behind the insecurities I held onto in my twenties. The nagging women and pointing fingers. I left behind people’s words that at one point seemed to important but held me behind the “you cannot do it” bar.

I left behind the things I had thought I achieved, and the things I held myself captive for not achieving. I left behind unimportant dreams, the ones that were puffy and fluffy.

I left it all behind and came down, empowered.

You left your self-importance behind.

Funny huh Frank?

You just did something you never thought you would.

So I should just keep on climbing mountains.

Turn those peaks you envision into reality.

What if I can’t.

Just do it.

What if those peaks ain’t as pretty as I thought they would be?

Come down and climb another one.

Right so let us find our mountains.


And climb them.

Walk on.

Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

You can only do that up mountains.

Yes Frank, we will be climbing mountains.

Raina writes. She was also lucky enough to stumble uponWritersClubKL. They say she found it, but really it was sitting right there, ready to be stumbled upon. She just picked it up.

This entry was written by Raina and published on 04/09/2012 at 12:53. It’s filed under Essays, ISSUE4, Musings, Raina Ng, Travel, Writings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Can We Be Frank? Up the Mountain by Raina Ng

  1. Kye on said:

    I love mountains, I love “climbing” them– which is what I call trudging slowly up against the side that is least treacherous. When I am climbing, I see the peak, (or the most climbable peak) and it is a constant reminder that I need to keep going– to reach this awesome goal! And then when I reach the peak, and I look below, I realize how insignificant the goal was! The mountain doesn’t care, it’s been there since dinosaurs for all I know. The mountain has seen people come and go…

    Then after a few hours of climbing, a few moments of inhaling in “accomplishment” it’s time to go back down. I love it, I love feeling small like that!

  2. Pingback: Sunday Postscripts: The Issue is… « writersclubkl

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