WELL, it started about six months ago when I was browsing through AirAsia for cheap tickets, it was so cheap it costs me less than $200 for a return ticket from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore for a month from June 3 to July 2.
Ever since then, I have been preparing myself physically, mentally and socially, through the aid of Facebook to search for friends, for this trip. I have trained hard for rock climbing and I cannot stress how much I have to thank my parents and family for their financial and motivational support.
Not only them, also to His Majesty's Government for the infinite welfare provision, BARA Sports Climbing Club (BSCC) and Aliyapp Sdn Berhad for the climbing facility and equipment, Institut Teknologi Brunei for the moral support and Adinin Groups of Companies for the outstanding financial support to BSCC! Most importantly, Alhamdulillah, I thank Allah for granting me the opportunity to on this trip and for giving me health and wealth in many different ways.
The day before the journey started, a group of eight BSCC members, led by Adiman Hj Wahid (BARA President), went on a trip to Bt Patoi in Temburong in search of climbable boulders. To my surprise, we actually found some and managed to climb one route, though none of us made an ascent of the route. That only makes us want to climb there again!
The next day was my flight day and despite the rough excursion from the previous day, I still managed to get my things together. Not only that, the moment I landed in Kuala Lumpur, I immediately went to Asia's largest climbing gym which is Camp5! I could feel the thrill going through my spines on my way to the gym located in OneUtama (which had a direct bus from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).
As I entered the gym, I was in awe of the surrounding and also very excited because Hafzanizam, a Malaysian professional climber, was there as well! After signing up, I took out my gears out and started climbing! All the time I was thinking if this was real, because it was just yesterday when I went to Bt Patoi ... and now I am a few thousand miles away from Brunei. So that week went on with rest days and lots of climbing! Met a lot of great Malaysian climbers and as well a number of international climbers from Italy, Japan, Turkey, Iran and Holland.
Next event was planned by a Malaysian friend of mine, who went to Brunei late last year to play for the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament a weekend at Batu Caves! When I saw Batu Caves from the highway, I was stunned by the beauty of the rocks and how it stood out in the centre of a large city. As we arrived at the foot of Batu Caves Damai Area (this facility has several climbing areas there), I met two fellow climbers called Abang Stone and Abang Yen, a well-known climber who has bolted thousands of rocks in Malaysia. So I showed him pictures of our Bt Patoi trip and he was impressed by the sudden re-appearance of the Brunei climbing scene, then gave me advice on how to proceed.
Well, I was not there just to meet climbers but also to experience climbing natural rocks. So, Abang Stone set me up with a few equipment and a rope. We proceeded with climbing easy routes first and we did a lot of lead climbs but what I like most was the multi-pitch climb that we did at Damai. It was thrilling, exciting and extreme in one package! The weekend went on from easy to hard routes.
Malaysia offers plenty of climbing places and gyms, I visited two; first one being Camp5 and the second being MadMonkeyz over at Ampang. I did not really climbed there but for sure it would have been great if Brunei had such a gym like that.
I did not only climbed in KL, I also went to Melaka for a short climb at Ayer Keroh and also Sabah Indoor Climbing Gym. Both offered great places to climb.
The next chapter of this trip happened in Singapore. I had trainings, a climbing course and a bouldering competition. For me, Singapore has a great climbing scene where the standards of competitions just keeps getting higher and higher each year. Just months before my trip, I checked that there will be a competition called "PumpFest" held in Singapore. Not wanting to miss the chance, I signed up for the novice category along with my brother, Hadi Sulaiman, who signed up for the intermediate category because the novice was full by the time he signed up. This was my first competition ever, however, my brother actually experienced his first competition back in Malaysia during ClimbFest with a number of BARA Sports Climbing Club (BSCC) members just a few weeks back. Even so, both of us wanted to do this for the experience rather than to win.
As it started, PumpFest was so intense since there were hundreds of climbers participating and almost 90 per cent are really experienced and very fit. At the end of the competition, I ranked 97 out of 166 while my brother ranked 47 out of 66. Well, not bad for a first timer. During the first few days in Singapore, we met Rozihan Anwar who has been in Brunei twice, first trip for conducting a course at Penanjong Kem Climbing Wall and second for conducting a course at Tasek Lama Climbing Wall, he gave us a training regime, which was actually for young Outram secondary school climbers and yet I almost could not keep up with the training.
In between training, he would brief me about bits and pieces of the Wall Supervisor Climbing Course I was undertaking. I also met a couple SEA Games climber namely Janice Ng Li and Binbin Zhang. Both are strong female climbers and they inspired me to become a better rock climber. The Singapore chapter ended with a few climbs at Onsight Climbing Gym and Yishun Climbing Wall.
There are just so many things that I learnt during this trip, like ethics of different climbers and how to adapt in these different environments. Most of all, I appreciate all the friends I have made that has helped me in many ways and those that has taught me the tips and tricks to climbing.
While most importantly, I am grateful to live in Brunei, and to have such supportive parents albeit knowing the dangers that lurks around the outside world is actually very scary.
My advice to those who want to go abroad to do rock climbing is to initially do an indepth research and find trustful friends. I end my article with a quote from David Graham, a famous climber who keeps on inspiring me to do the impossible, "I may have small arms, but I will find a way".
The Brunei Times
Sunday, August 12, 2012
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