Good Habits: Hiking

By Andrea Pavee

As a child I was very active, especially in dance and extra-curricular activities. All that panned when I joined the workforce, got married, and started a family of my own.

About 16 years ago, I faced a medical crisis which caused an early onset of diabetes. There is nothing like a medical condition to bring reality crashing down!

To help me keep my blood sugar levels down, my Endocrinologist suggested exercise as part of my medical plan.

In Asia, sugar is a staple in many cultures.

Hidden sugars can also be found in almost all cooking and condiments, in addition to desserts. To navigate the path to a sugar-free meal plan takes a lot of planning, re-education of good eating habits, and the taming of the tongue.  

After the dreadful diagnosis, I set out to obey the good doctor’s orders. However, after a number of children, and the total lack of an active lifestyle, my weight had ballooned plus, I was terribly unfit.

Of all the exercise options out there, I found jungle hiking best suited to me. While it was hard going initially, I persevered. Now, after 16 years I can safely say that jungle hiking is entrenched into my psyche.

It was not love at first sight, or step. It took me a long time to get used to the rhythm and flow of the jungle. The terrain is uneven and hiking up hills is very tough. Plus, the mosquitoes (whom I have affectionately called groupies) are voluminous! However, the payoff is inestimable and worth every drop of sweat, and every kilometer of effort.

I would encourage everyone to give it a try. It may not be your cup of tea, but it is good to give it a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.

If you are up to it, here are a few tips which may prove useful.

Stamina Layers Like An Onion

Like the layers of an onion, stamina is built layer by layer, over time and with a lot of effort.

Do not let your huffing and puffing put you off what may be a hidden gem of a hobby. In time, with effort and exertion, you will be climbing hills with less effort, and enjoying yourself while at it.

You Are Not Alone

The jungle contains huge amounts of flora and fauna. While we avoid mosquitoes or bugs at home, the jungle is their home.  Observing them in their natural surrounds has a beauty of its own.

As for mosquitoes, the best way to avoid their bite is to keep up your pace. Mosquito repellent does not work very well in the jungle.

Gear Up, Head Out

Using the proper attire when hiking is both a good, and safe way of walking.

Invest in good hiking shoes, walking poles and proper sports attire for safety, security and comfort.

After a few falls, my Orthopedic Surgeon told me to use walking poles so that I would not have to suffer any “Gasing Hill Specials”, which was how he affectionately coined my many misadventures.

Walking poles provide balance and act as an anchor for slippery and steep trails.

Other items of use would be a lightweight backpack for your water bottle, car keys, and phone. Purchasing a sturdy raincoat is a good investment, too. Then you can hike any time, all the time.


p.s. Our local jungle, Gasing Hill, amongst many others, barred hikers from entry during the Malaysian Movement Control Order. The wait to go back was interminably long. Restrictions have since been lifted, and I have gone back “home”.

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