Meeting An Old, Wise Man

Mt Kinabalu. How beautiful art thou.

While making my way down from the mountain, I kept up with an old Australian man who was trotting down the mountain at a brisk pace.

Actually, he was walking down at a far quicker speed than I was comfortable with. But we were having a very interesting conversation. And despite protests from my quivering hamstrings, I forced myself to keep up.

He told me stories of his younger days, when he had visited Laos in the 1960s, spent months in Pattaya before it became the seedy town it is today, travelled Vietnam with just a little knapsack, got robbed in Phillipines in the early 1970s, and spent nights at a roach-infested hostel in Angkor Watt before the rise of accommodation with any form of star-ratings.

"And where have you travelled to?" he asked me.

"Erm, nowhere interesting," I replied, already over-flowing with paiseh-ness.

Here was this old Australian man, who has visited and travelled to far more places in my own region than I have. And during the days when travel was not half as comfortable or cheap as it is today.

"Well, you should start with the countries in South East Asia," he chirped. "I really don't think there are more beautiful countries anywhere else in the world."

The conversation ended there. I had to stop at a rest hut to stretch my leg muscles, which were trembling from bearing my lump of weight all the way down.

The old man showed me a few stretches I should do.

"Catch up with me after," he said.

Then the old man, easily more than twice my age, went on briskly walking down.

Needless to say, I never managed to catch up.