That is the sort of scene one would expect to see on the way up to the peak of Mount Kinabalu. However, it didn't happen. Not this time. Maybe next time.
That next time would mean undergoing massive shedding of those "spare tyres", marked improvement in health and stamina, and lots of viagra to pump more hormonal excitement in life.
Do be careful with those viagra. Over heard here the political grapevine that one politician in Sandakan had a bit too much viagra and experienced heart attack twice in recent times.
That is strange.
Viagra is supposed to help one's heart problem. Perhaps, strange things do happen with a little too much excitement with glamour and someone outside one's age group.
Amidst the surreal and mystical surrounding near Mount Kinabalu, there are quite few viagras to invigorate one's soul and spirit without the suicidal attempt to the peak before reaching the right fitness.
There is nature, culture and history.
And, that kept us with something to do and see as we absorbed the fresh cool mountain air of Mount Kinabalu over the two nights and three days stay there.
It was only up there that we learn to understand why Sabah is called the Land Beneath the Wind. Everywhere we go in in the countryside, one will notice the sight of mist covered mountain tops.
After the excitement of taking photos of Mount Kinabalu that Saturday morning, the first thing we did was to head for Ranau for gas and breakfast.
It was mid-morning at around 7:30 AM by the time we left Celyn Resort.
From that day onward, we break journey with the other car in our convoy. It is easier for them and us to allow them to set their own preferred style of accommodation and schedule.
Ranau is the district town in this mountainous area of Mount Kinabalu. The town thrived during the largest mining project in Malaysia, the Mamut Copper Mine. The mine has ceased operation since 1999 after it was injected to a PLC.
Forgot the PLC's name but it had something to do with one Gerakan-linked corporate player, one Dato Joseph Chong. His corporate empire was crumbling and it was heard that he split for South America, Equador. Mamut and Ranau was only collateral damage in his corporate chess game.
Those days the roadside souvenier stalls were selling rocks from Mamut.
Since then, tourism has thrived in the Ranau district and Kundasang town center was recently built. Thanks to the great effort of Sabah Tourism Board. After the heydays of timber play in the 90s, Sabah had to diversify it's overdependent economy on timber and related industry.
In this trip, we saw the great work of STB in developing tourism product, and attracting investors in building accommodation and other support facilities. The better road system one find in Sabah today certainly helped.
Our first stop was the Poring Hot Spring of the Kinabalu Park for some relaxing dip in the spa-like pools .
Poring is a Kadazandusun word for a certain specie of bamboo. The hot spring is situated in the lowland rainforest area. It is known for it's therapeutic properties. The claim is that the sulphate minerals in the water could ease aching muscles.
It is practically a must visit for returned climbers of Mount Kinabalu and we shared our dipping pool with few just returned Japanese climbers.
Coming from Kuala Lumpur and it's stressful daily life, it is as good as returning from a Mount Kinabalu climb.
We stayed practically half a day dipping and lazying in the "spa". For a RM5 adult entry fee, that is a better bargain than any health spa in Kuala Lumpur. What more with the beautiful natural surrounding. One just can't compare.
The hot spring water had to be mixed first with colder water pumped from the nearby stream to achieve the lukewarm relaxing temperature.
When the last time we came, we saw visitors boiling eggs in the hotwater. For safety reasons, it is not allowed any more.
We've done the canopy walk before, so not keen in tiring ourselves.
The canopy walk requires quite a distance uphill to reach near the top of those very tall forest trees. It will take several stops to catch one's breath.
If one has vertigo, it is not recommended. The view down can be quite scary. It must be something like 400-500 metre down.
After a while and our muscles feeling relaxed, we left Poring for a nearby river at Kampong Luanti for a unique experience of fish therapy. We thought it is like those fish therapy one find in Kuala Lumpur where small fishes nimbled and "cleaned" one's feet.
No, it is not.
It is big fishes and in an actual river.
Every group was given a number and when one's number is called, the group can spent 15 minutes in the river to get one's feet nibbled by these large fish.
It's quite an experience to feel big fishes nibbling on our feet. Sometimes one feel the sharp teeth poking, but it is fairly safe. One can hear loud screams of excitements of children and adults reacting to this unique experience.
The spa is operated by the local Dusun community and we were told that it is a local pantang against catching the fishes.
It is quite logical and we've read this happening in some Quranic stories of past prophets. By not catching the fishes, it is not afraid of human and become quite tame. No real novelty there except discipline and cooperation.
We would believe the kampong elders would fabricate some tales of misfortune to psychologically scare off anyone pondering of catching the fishes.
Nevertheless, it is amazing how tame these fish are.
By the time our turn is over, we were quite hungry and went to Sabah Tea Plantation for lunch.
The restaurant has a spectacular view of the mountains. More so with the great weather. The food is good and fairly priced for a tourist spot. Isn't it a real pleasure to have good food and great view together?
After lunch we drove around the accessible area of the plantation and notice a garden memorial just in front of the Plantation Office. As we came close to it, we were given a pleasant surprise.
This is one of the memorial for the Ranau-Sandakan Death March of 1942-45 called the Quailey's Hill Memorial.
It reminded of our cancelled plan to attend an annual memorial and follow the trail of the Sandakan Death March in the middle of the year. Alas, it was only held in 2010 and not an annual affair. .
After the fall of Singapore to Japan in 1942 during the World War II, some 2,700 of the Allied contingent was sent to POW camps in Sandakan to make an airfield there with only their bare hands.
By January 1945, the Japanese decided to move about 500 of the fittest prisoners to Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) to act as coolie labourers but only to halt at Ranau. The Allied forces had air control at the west coast by then.
There was several batches of prisoners moved through the same route. Conditions were terrible. No food, no medicine and finally more than 2,400 of these British and Australian POWS and 3,600 Indonesian civil slave labourers died in Ranau.
The next day, before leaving for Kota Kinabalu, we stopped over at the Kundasang War Memorial near the newly built Kundasang town centre.
It is inside an old fort. On the outside, it is unassuming but it is awesome and beautiful inside.
It is divided into three gardens - Australian, British and Borneo - to represent the three groups of nationalities killed.
And there is one memorial for all the POWS with a list of all the names.
Savour the view.
The memorial is built from money from the British and Australian together with public donation from abroad, probably the family of the deceased.
Sometimes we wonder, why can't the government built such memorial sites for our fallen millitary and police heroes to commemorate them. It is also preserving history.
Our last trip to the Bukit Kepong site was really dissappointing.
Worse still, our government never bothered to put up a memorial at the Bukit Candu battle site, where the legendary feat of Leftenen Adnan Saidi and his Batallion 1, Askar Melayu Diraja men, battling to their last drop of blood to refuse to surrender in their defense of Singapore.
Singapore was then part of Tanah Melayu or Malaya, but it is the Singaporean government and citizens that appreciated the bravery of these Malay men and preserved this piece of "our" history.
Shame on us. Our history now become the ownership of others.
Before leaving the Mount Kinabalu to return to Kota Kinabalu, we stopped over at the UNESCO Heritage Site of Kinabalu Park.
This is to get a real close look of Mount Kinabalu's to pay homage to the symbol of Sabah.
There is a nice elevated viewing platform built at the end of the park. To go any further, one needs a climbing permit and it is for serious climbers.
The top of Mount Kinabalu is constantly being covered by mist. One has to wait for the right moment for the mist to clear away temporarily to photograph the peak.
Now you see it ...
And now you don't.
By the next time around, we hope we do not need to look at the peak from a distance but physically be there.
And break the record!