November 25, 2010

Of confidence, arrogance and stupidity

Recently I met a guy I used to work with many years ago. I admired him because while struggling in the corporate world he was such a confident person full of enthusiasms. I worked with him for a while and I knew then he will go far. As I have expected, he is now a high level executive in an international company. I am glad to that he is successful now but on the other hand I am disappointed to see that he has turned into quite an arrogant person.

I really hate to see people who started well with confidence, believing in themselves and knowing that they are doing a good job but when they achieved success somehow they changed displaying arrogance. Too bad when someone has financial power, authority, status and influence, it is so easy to slip from confidence to arrogance. 

Maybe it is none of my business how people become when they are successful but let me talk a bit about confidence and arrogance. So what is confidence and what is arrogance?

I would say that those who are confident don’t need to tell others that they are confident. They just do what they are comfortable with and display their abilities without exaggerations.  On the other hand, those who are arrogant often compelled to show off and display an attitude telling everyone that they are the best. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and many people often mistakenly displayed their arrogance thinking that they are showing confidence.

Let me put it this way ...  if you walk as if you rule the world and everyone has to know what you have done, that is arrogance. Confidence is when you walk as if you don’t care who rules the world and it is totally okay if other people knows nothing about what you have accomplished. 

Yes confidence is good but then there are those who are too confident. Too much confidence blinds them from common sense and leads them straight to stupidity. Let me tell you a joke to illustrate my point.

There was a man who was so confident of his religion and his faith in God that he was sure God is with him always and will help him through difficult times. One day his village was flooded and all the villagers left but he refused to leave. When the flood got worse, a boat came and offered to take him to safety but he refused to go saying “Don’t worry, God will come and save me”. Later another boat came to save him but again he refused to go saying “I have faith in God and I know God will come to save me”. When the flood water rises further, he went to the roof of his house and waited. Then another boat came by and again offered to save him but he refused yet again saying “I am very confident that God will come and save me soon”.

Finally he drowned, went to heaven and disappointedly said to God “I prayed to you every day, I lived my life religiously and have done nothing wrong. I have so much faith and confidence in you and yet you did not come to save me during the flood. Then God said “I am very glad that you have shown such great confidence in me but I can’t help you if you are plain stupid. Look, I tried to save you. I sent three boats to you but you just refused to get on to the boats!”. 

Do you see my point? I am sure you do.

We all have different views of things that we do and how we live our lives. I can only say that if we know how to tread between the lines of arrogance, confidence and stupidity, we will be a much better person. 

November 05, 2010

Trekking Bukit Kutu


Bukit Kutu, nestled among the mountains in Kuala Kubu Bahru is an interesting place … although it is called a “bukit” (hill), its height at 3456 feet above sea level can actually classify it as a “gunung” (mountain). The local orang asli Temuans (indigenous people) used to call it Bukit Sekutu. According to sources from the internet, it was then renamed Treachers’s Hill by the British and made a station with a colonial bungalow built at the peak. While the nearby Fraser’s Hill flourished, this hill station somehow faded into oblivion and the colonial bungalow was abandoned. Later, new maps no longer show the name “Treacher’s Hill” but instead call it Bukit Kutu.

Many years ago this trail was quite notorious for trekkers as it was easy to get lost inside the jungle. It was also famous (as the name suggest) for the “kutu” meaning ticks (in Malay) and fleas as well as the abundance of blood sucking leeches found in the area. But now, the trail is marked out clearly by trekkers all the way to the peak and with good insect and leech repellent, this trail, though fairly tough, is an enjoyable trail for trekkers looking for a good place to trek.

How to get there? First, head straight to Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) and from KKB head towards Fraser’s Hill. From KKB to Fraser, the drive will take you alongside the KKB Water Dam. Driving along the road, keep a look out for a turning on the right side of the road into Kampung Pertak. This turning is just after a concrete bridge … sometimes there are people fishing along the side of this bridge. After turning into Kampung Pertak (it is a local Temuan kampung), you can see little “chalet” type kampung houses. Drive straight until you see a steel bridge. You can park your car in a small open space nearby. This is the first steel bridge and is where you start to trek.

Group photo before the climb ...from left, EM Shiek, GT Lim, CK Lim, ML Lim, CT Lim, Ms Yap, Steven Chin and Mr Hoh

On 16OCT2010, 8 of us in two cars headed for Bukit Kutu … we reached Kampung Pertak at about 8.30am. At the first steel bridge, we parked our car at a nearby open area. We crossed the bridge and started to trek into the forest on a muddy road. This road is used by vehicles going in and out of the nearby rubber estates and plantations. We walked along the mud road until we reached the second steel bridge. This second bridge has collapsed at the mid-section but still it can be used to cross the river.

We continued to trek for a short while when we came to the upper side of the river and here there is no bridge. The river is just about knee deep and one can walk across it but we did not want to take off our shoes so we walked on top of various rocks and small boulders to cross the river. After crossing the river, the trail leads into the jungle. There are some wild durians trees at the beginning of the trail. On our previous trip to this place, it was the end of the durian season and the trees were bearing their last batch of durians. Good for us, we found several tasty durians and had a good durian feast. This time, no durians … so headed straight into the jungle.

The upper side of the river .. no bridge here

Crossing a small stream heading into the jungle

From here, we crossed a couple of small streams and then the trail starts to lead up quite steeply. It was all the way up for quite a while and we saw plenty of bamboos along the way. In just about 2 hours (since we started) we managed to reach the “big rock”. This is a popular rest area for trekkers. This resting place is actually beside a very big boulder, almost 8 storeys high … it is HUGE! It casted out like a huge roof and provided a nice, cool and dry resting area for trekkers.

We rested for a while and then continue to hike up. We know we still have a third of the journey to trek to the peak. The trail from the big rock is a lot easier apart from the initial steep climb for a short distance and then it was a fairly easy trek all the way to the peak. Finally, we reached the open resting area at the peak. All in all it took us just about 3 hours to reach the peak. This is where the old colonial bungalow used to be … now only the tall chimney is left standing with several foundation structures and a couple of wells (or maybe some sort of bunkers).

The chimney ... remnants of the old colonial bungalow

An old staircase and one of the wells (or could it be a bunker?)

This is not really the highest point yet … the highest point of Bukit Kutu is just another short climb up to the top of a large boulder. We rested for a while at the open area and then went up to the very peak at 3456 feet above sea level. From here we could see the surrounding jungles and mountains of the nearby Fraser’s Hill area as well as the sleepy Kuala Kubu Bahru town.

For this hike, we brought along a young coconut tree and we planted it at the open area. Hopefully it will grow well to provide shade and bear fruits for thirsty trekkers in the future. We spent about 45 minutes at the peak and after a good rest and a quick lunch, we began our descent. The trek down was uneventful and quite fast as we did not really stop to rest. Our minds were fixed on getting out of the jungle and straight to the river at the first steel bridge for a cool refreshing dip. We made it to the river in 2 hours 30 minutes. The cool water was an appropriate reward for a long tiring trek. We took time to enjoy ourselves in the water and we also brought bread to feed the fresh water fishes which came in the hundreds to our delight.

Enjoying the cool water after a tiring trek

Very relaxing

Steven Chin enjoying the dip and Ms Yap freshening up

After washing up at the river we were all hungry again and it was time to pay a visit to the nearby Ulu Yam town for a good meal including a large bowl of the famous Ulu Yam “Lor Meen” before heading home. Though very tired, we were all happy to have accomplished another good trek and already looking forward to trek Bukit Kutu again soon.