Back in April 2004, the Rockrats had planned a trip to Krabi which was cancelled at the last minute after some news about riots in the Southern border of Thailand. Extremely disappointed by the cancellation (especially since most of us had arrange our leave so we could score nine full days off for the trip), the Rockrats planned a marathon climbing trip that began from the summits of Genting First World Rock Climbing Gym all the way down to Singapore.
Although I followed them up to Genting for the start of this marathon trip, I parted ways with the Rockrats while they passed KL on their way down to Singapore. I had planned to fly up to Phuket, then travel down to Ao Nang by cab and take a boat across to West Railay.
Originally, we had booked an entire bus to ferry us from KL to Hatyai (on the Southern border of Thailand) because we had that many people confirmed going. Eventually, one by one began dropping out of the trip as news of the riots along the Southern border of Thailand sounded more and more hostile.
The funny thing was that I remember saying I would still be confirmed going as long as there was one other person going. In the end I agreed to pull out when I was told no one else was left on the bus but me. But after talking to a few others, they also said they had said the same thing – they would still go as long as someone else was willing to go. Here’s the strange part – we were all told we were the only ones left on the bus so we all agreed to cancel. Sounded rather fishy to me but I think someone didn’t want any of us to go…
Since I had already locked in my leave, I figured it would be quite safe to fly over the border and travel down from the north. And quite frankly, I saw no hint of riots while I was there.
Anyway, Simian Boy wrote an excellent trip report of what the Rockrats got up to while I was in Krabi. Told with his usual tongue-in-cheek style, I thought this was too funny to keep locked up in the archives of my rock climbing folders. Enjoy…
Friday, April 30, 2004.
We were supposed to go to Krabi today, but everyone was a little uneasy with the unstable situation with muslim rebels near the southern border. Between breakfast and dinner time, all 24 passengers on the bus had pulled out of the trip.
We met at the SS2 to figure out what to do next. Adrian suggested we bring 4 bottles of booze to Genting to see what would happen, and for some reason that sounded like the best of ideas at that moment so that’s what we did.
He-whose-name-shall-remain-unnamed decided to play bartender and managed to get most of the boys to drink an unhealthy amount of vodka and whiskey. As the hours went by, it was becoming apparent that the ladies were not drinking enough to get stupid with their items of clothing, so card games were thrown into the mix, but alas it never moved beyond chor-tai-ti. The boys, however were not faring so well with the sweet poison in their blood. The bartender himself was told to keep his clothes on by the owner of the apartment when he started acting out a joke involving a stripper. Undaunted, the barkeep went on to try to talk the boys into a game where some unlucky participant has to eat a cracker with ungodly bodily secretions in place of cheese dip. Inebriated though we were, we did not let this happen – as far as I can recall anyway. Poor Jason discovered that immunity to alcohol wasn’t one of his mutant powers and spent most of the night and following morning trying to transfer the contents of his stomach to the toilet bowl, but not through the usual channels. CJ felt the urge to join him in the early morning, but because his sleeping bag had ideas of its own, he almost didn’t make it to the bathroom.
Saturday, May 1, 2004.
The morning, among other things, always comes too soon when you’ve had too much to drink. We were all so out of it. The barkeep woke up with unexplainable cracker crumbs on his lips and some mysterious white gunk on his chin. We’d have gone straight back to bed if we weren’t so climb-starved from our failed trip to Thailand. We were on a mission to try all the climbs between Pahang and Singapore before the weekend was over and that meant there was little time to lose.
So it was with this sense of purpose that we valiantly attempted the overhanging walls at First World, despite the states our bodies were in. Boy, was that ever a pathetic sight! We were tired and sleepy and filled to the brim with roti canai but that didn’t stop us trying. We climbed with the grace of ten elephants. It was probably the first time in climbing history when a mantle move was employed to get up a 5B gym climb. Jason sat out the whole climbing session, although ‘sat’ was probably the wrong word for it since he was in his sleeping bag. A crowd gathered round, not so much to see us climb, but to see if he was alive. Meanwhile, the rest of us trashed ourselves on the wall, slowly but bravely moving up the climbs like salmons swimming up a waterfall. I guess we were all dehydrated,…well all except for me who had the foresight to drink about 5 gallons of water the night before, which meant I got rid of most of the alcohol from my body, but it also meant I spent more time emptying my bladder than sleeping. I think the only ones who got in some decent climbs were the ones who drove up in the morning (Mike, Kim, Clyda and Evelyn) but then they had been sober the night before and that’s cheating, I say.
Late in the afternoon, we gave up on all that overhanging nonsense at Genting and decided to try and find some slabs in Singapore instead. We had it all figured out – we’d leave around dinner time and reach by midnight. We’d climb on Sunday and because Allsports is closed on Sunday, we’d shop for gear on Monday instead. For some reason, Kim got it into her head that nobody is supposed to participate in any sports on Sunday in Singapore. Since she’s new, we made sure she felt like part of the group by making her cop an embarrassing amount of flak for thinking that.
So we came down the hill, dropped off all the extra weight from our cars (dirty laundry, unneeded equipment, Shen), and drove down with sleepy eyes and weary minds to visit Kiat Hong’s folks at JB because we were too skint to rent a room. After what seems like 20 stops and 10 change of drivers, we arrive at Mr.Tey’s house six hours behind schedule, upholding what is beginning to become a climbing tradition.
Sunday, May 2, 2004.
The sleep is a little better this morning. We wake up in time to go climb at the Dairy Farm. Kiat Hong stayed home to spend more time with her family and Kim went shopping. The remaining eight of us took six hours to attempt (and generally fail) to climb three ten-meter routes at the Dairy Farm at Bukit Timah, Singapore. Out of the three routes, one remained unfinished by any of us, one was climbed by Lai (hangdog) and Jason (toprope), while the last one was something we all managed to climb but the fact that it was named “Boring and Pointless (6A+)” didn’t do much for our already deflated egos.
Feeling beaten, discouraged and badly in need of showers, we headed back across the border to find Kiat Hong’s family had cooked us a nice feast of … I forgot what it’s called but it’s like Pan Mee except, nicer. Yum! I can still taste it in my mind.
Just when I thought that was the highlight of the day, something happens that almost made me glad we didn’t go to Thailand. We were all feeling clean and fresh after showering and had hijacked the living room from Kiat Hong’s family to watch the telly and as we were flipping through the channels, we came across an advertisement for the Van Helsing movie. Kim got all excited about the movie and started asking if it was out already and when would it be out, etc. Jason, sitting next to her on the couch, put his arm on the back rest – his hand coming inches from the back of her neck – put on his Don Juan-expression and (God, it doesn’t do it justice even attempting to describe it here!) goes something like “So, you want to catch this movie?”
There was a moment of post-apocalyptic silence as we all just stared in disbelief before we broke out in this huge laughter of atomic proportions. Kim laughed along after a moment of awkwardness. At first, I figured maybe Jason hadn’t realised the appearance he had taken on with his body language and all. I would have given an arm to have had my camera with me then so I could have captured the moment, but it was in my backpack and as I started to realise Jason hadn’t moved (yet), I went to retrieve it but alas, I was too slow. Jason had retracted his arm and was explaining how he was joking and pretty much how we should be laughing at his joke and not him while Kim had moved to the kitchen where she spent the next hour enduring the heat from a yam-cake-cooking stove and discussing the finer points of yam with Mrs. Tey until she (or perhaps Mrs. Tey) couldn’t take the heat any longer. When she came back out to the living room, she sat on the floor, staying clear of all couches as though she has developed a new phobia.
Sorry Jason and Kim, I know I shouldn’t be finding this funny and I know it is insensitive and childish of me and I ought to just let it go and forget about it and move on but … you should have seen the look on your faces!
But, hey – look on the bright side – at least you now know how to make yam cake.
Monday, May 3, 2004.
Adrian had mentioned that he’d like to get back home before too late in the night. I decided to help us keep good time by waking everyone up at 8am, and keeping a semi-rigid schedule in my head and reminding people how much time they had left, so here’s pretty much what happened…
7:45am – Started waking people up and lying to them about the time.
8:30am – The last of the living dead decides to wake up, so we’re all making good time so far.
9:00am – Breakfast outside. It was good except Lai for some inexplicable reason, kept sending everyone’s orders back whenever they came so we kept having to order again and hope the frustrated food stall owners didn’t give us any ‘special sauce’ with our noodles.
9:30am – 2nd Breakfast at Mr. Tey’s house. Yam cake and red bean soup. How did they know my favourites?
10:30am – Across the border to Singapore again and at Safra. The lady at the counter was this sweet old lady with sweet old granny glasses who took her sweet freaking time processing our tickets so it took awhile before we could climb. I was waiting for her to finish doing that while everyone went off to deposit their breakfast at Safra’s five-star lavatories. I was holding mine in and I didn’t know how much longer I could keep it in when Adrian (fast as always) came out of the toilet to relief me of slowpoke-waiting duty.
11:00am – At the Safra walls finally. Okay, I figure we can get in some good climbs in two hours so I figured we’d leave at about 1pm. No problem. Only one of the routes had no ropes on it. I started to traverse on the warmup walls but that was getting me tired. Well screw that! If I was going to get tired, I was going to get tired climbing. So I took the rope and grabbed a belayer (Jason) and led up the juggiest wall (6A+ I think). Forgot to bring my chalkbag but as it turns out that worked to my advantage because it made me climb the steep parts in a hurry.
Everyone looked very tired climbing at Safra. I felt it too. I climbed about 5 routes and had to really flail up the last 3. I think it’s the heat. The little rocks and gravel they use to lay the ground under the climbing walls really act like a big stove slowly cooking us as we climb. I went through my 1.5 litres of drinking water in the first hour.
Richard pointed out that when we finished climbing, the whole place had quietened down. It was true. When we were on the wall, you could hear us yelling encouragement, spraying beta, making excuses and lastly, but most loudly, making rude complaints about the climbs (mostly juggy 6A and 6B climbs). Then we came off the walls and while waiting for everyone to finish cleaning and packing up, a few of us watched the hardcore Singaporeans train quietly. Some of them were climbing for difficulty training while some of them were training their endurance by climbing up and down on lead (unclipping on the way down) on what looked like 6C routes. They had a clever way of unclipping the rope with one hand which was to push the gate open with the rope (effectively clipping both sides of the rope and letting it all fall through the biner) which was much better than what we used to do (hold the gate open and then try to dig the rope out). We learn something new every day.
2:00pm – With everyone clean and packed, we leave the sweet overhanging walls of Safra.
2:20pm – We leave the Safra parking lot when Derek finally figures out the way to Peninsula Plaza.
3:00-ish pm – Yay, Peninsula Plaza. New rock shoes, here I come! But first, we eat.
4:00pm – With money in our pockets and food in our tummies, we head up towards Allsports but are sucked into two other equipment shops on the way up.
There’s something about the one-eyed shopkeep at Allsports and his assistant Igor (don’t know his real name) that just rubs me the wrong way every time we go there. Somebody mentioned that we cancelled our trip to Krabi and Igor said if we were afraid of dying we shouldn’t be climbing. What has that got to do with the price of eggs? Anyway, none of us could find any good shoes to get there. Richard pointed out how much more expensive the prices have become at Allsports. Some of the items he bought a few months ago have doubled in price. Same goods, same crappy service, new inflated prices. We ended up mostly buying Mad Rock shoes from Campers Corner instead.
8:30pm – We head out of Singapore to have dinner in JB.
11:30pm – We leave JB to go back home to KL. I found out that those chemical heat packs that Su Chin uses to warm her hands can feel uncomfortably hot if you sit on them. Derek slipped one on my seat as I was getting into the car. It took me half an hour before I realised what had happened. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the car or the air conditioner and I thought to myself – boy, this is going to be a long journey. Then I thought maybe I was dehydrated and just needed to drink more water. But soon, it became obvious that it was something else because, not only did it feel like my body was burning up, it felt like one of my ass cheeks was on fire. I was like “WTF, why’s it so hot under here?” and then I heard Su Chin, Derek and CJ laughing their heads off. Su Chin tried to play that prank back on Derek at the next stop but he was on to us.
4:00am – Derek, Adrian and Lai got us all safely home, keeping each other awake with the walkie talkies. Derek had to be especially alert. He had to hold back on a lot of crotch jokes because Kiat Hong’s mom was awake in Adrian’s car.
It’s been a fun few days. I doubt it could have been any more fun even if we did go to Thailand.