WHEN I was a teenager, I hated the outdoors. In fact, a friend and I signed up for the Red Crescent Society just so that we could escape from having to participate in our school’s Sports Day, and sit under the shades pretending to man the first aid kit while eating Mat Kool’s “Lidah Jelly” instead.
I was, however, part of the cheerleading squad, and that summed up the only outdoorsy thing I liked in secondary school.
But when I enrolled in college as an undergraduate in geology, my life changed because the subject is all about the outdoors.
Each semester, a subject was dedicated to weeks of fieldwork stints, staying at campsites, mapping the AustralianOutback on foot and getting a shower only once every two days. But then again, that was how I fell in love with the outdoors and having adventures in nature.
As I started a career in the city, I began to realise the price one would have to pay for a nine-to-five job. You spend hours each day sitting in front of a computer, and some days you don’t even get to see the sun.
To avoid feeling too much like a vegetable, I began browsing through options for an outdoor hobby. I had a strict criteria though – it had to be nature-friendly, therapeutic, healthy and, more importantly, cheap. This boiled down to a obvious choice —hiking.
THE COUNTRY, ELEVATED
First of all, let’s take a moment to recognise how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful country with countless nature trails.
For instance, one can easily list at least 10 trails within the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur alone.
Aside from the fact that the tropical weather basically means you can hike all year round, you will probably never see that much green during a trek compared to anywhere else in the world. And, yes, I have done my research.
Secondly, hiking really is the best bargain you can get if you’re looking for something that works your whole body (Gisele Bundchen legs, here I come!), gives you a dose of healthy adrenalineand lots of fresh air. And the cherry on top of the cake? It’s usually free.
To begin, one should always assess one’s physical capabilities. It doesn’t hurt to train before you hike, especially if the most physical activity you’ve done for the past few months was trying to open a bag of chips.
Training is importantif you’re planninga more treacherous hike, as this allows your body to be familiar with the physical exertion you’re about to perform.
That way, you’ll reduce your chances of being that girl who cried halfway through the hike and spent the rest of the week walking like she dislocated her pelvis.
It’s always a good idea to bring essentials, particularly water, snacks and Band-Aids on a hike.
Given the humid local weather, expect to sweat so much that it’ll feel like you have perspired half your body weight, and this calls for sufficient amounts of water to replace the fluids lost.
A dose of snacks can help give you a jolt of energy, and any adventurous girl knows that Band-Aids are crucial for activities like these. I once wore new hiking boots for a climb, and ended up with excruciating blisters because I did not remember to bring Band-Aids.
SEE IT TO LOVE IT
As you begin your hike, it is important to remember that you’re doing this for enjoyment, so there is no need to feel like you should force yourself beyond what you can do.
There will always be that friend who seems like he is related to an Energizer Bunny, sprinting upwards towards the peak like a gazelle.
Don’t feel pressured to compete. Try to focus on your own strength and enjoy the beautiful routes and scenery – that’s the best part of the activity.
Thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, we forget that we have such a beautiful backyard.
In the years I have lived in Kuala Lumpur, I’ve tried a lot of hiking trails within the vicinity of the city and they have all been rather amazing. All you have to do is a little bit of research. Wherever you are in the country, chances are there will be a trek nearby that offers magnificent routes.
And, eventually, when you do reach the top of the hill or mountain, don’t forget to inhale as much as you can and gaze at the gorgeous, exotic scenery that is our country.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING MODERN DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING, ALL DONE OF COURSE, WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM