December 31, 2008 – The year 2008 came and will be gone in a matter of hours. It has been a good year with its usual ups and downs. It was less turbulent as compared with 2007 but equally memorable. There are many personal highlights of which my top ten would be:-
1. Meeting New People – Since joining a Facebook group in exploring waterfalls, we have met numerous new friends who are young and positive. We have met people who would go out and enjoy life and not arm chair addicts who sit back and complain about life.
2. Controlling my lumber degenerative disease and heel bursitis – With the increased physical activities, I have managed to minimise the acute back pains and also the heel problems which I experienced in 2007. A year ago, I was worried that I would be semi mobile by 2009 with all the pain I experienced. By 2008 has given me hope that 2009 could be better.
3. Outdoor Trips – We finally did more trekking and more outdoor trips in 2008 than we ever did ptiot tp 2008. Before 2008, we would have factored 3 or 4 treks or outdoor trips for the year as a target activity. But in 2008, we have accomplished trips/treks to Broga Hill (2x), Bukit Sapu Tangan, Lata Kijang (2x), Maxwell Hill, Kg Kuantan, Gunung Senyum (3x), Gunung Jebak Puyuh, Sg Lembing, Lata Berkelah, Tanglir Falls, Lata Khong, Sg Ampang Waterfalls, Gunung Berembun, Gapoi Falls, Lata Charok, Perdik Falls, Sg Chongkak, Lata Denkong and Pos Brook. I wouldn’t have believed I would be doing so much if you asked me in January 2008.
4. Visit to Tehran – My visit to Tehran, Iran in May 2008 was an eye opener. Iran is definitely not what the media has stereotyped. I found Iranians to be very warm, friendly and open.
5. Camping in the wilderness – We have overcame our initial apprehension about camping in the wilderness and we had a fabulous time camping in Lata Kijang. It was an experience with nature that no media can replace.
6. Ushering in 2008 – we started 2008 with a big bang by celebrating at the Beach Club with another couple. We consumed one bottle of whiskey and half a bottle of brandy between the four of us and 1st January 2008 really start on a great note and gave us the momentum to continue.
7. Trekking for Raflessia – The Rafflesia trip was also a great hightlight for the year. Sleeping out in an open temple stage in the cold of Cameron Highlands, walking in the rain to the pasar malam, trekking in the mud, coming across dead musang and tiger paw prints, swimming in the cold waterfalls and finally finding the Rafflesia Kerri, all made up an unforgetable adventure.
8. Trekking in Gunung Jebak Puyuh – Just the two of us, trekking through the leech infested jungle of Jebak Puyuh. It was so peaceful and we were really close to nature and to imagine that the Pahang State Government has sold to YTL the rights to build a cement plant in the middle of a Forest Reserve.
9. Winning a 10 year law suit – I finally won on behalf of my company a ten year law suit against a Yemeni trading house for abandoning our cargo in Syria. It was a ten years long legal battle of many court postponements and change of lawyers.
10. Industry Changes – While 2008 was a great year for personal accomplishments, it was not favorable for any career advancements or betterment. I saw a stagnant market and many acquisitions within the MDF industry. Merbok was sold to Dongwha. Hume and Takeuchi was sold to Evergreen. While others grew or consolidated in size, my company remained a single entity and we will have to battle against more challenging odds in 2009. But I view 2008 as an highlight as it is not always that we get to see a whole indutsry change in one year.
It has been a fabulous year and I do look forward to a better but more challening 2009.