Aren’t resolutions largely written at the start of the year and consigned to the rubbish bin by the end of it?
Apparently not. Well, certainly not for Mentakab, Pahang-born Umadevi Vengdesh, at least.
The 37-year-old went for the long shot – she aspired to hike up to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) in Nepal, which is a cool 4,130m above sea level … and returned unscathed to tell the tale.
“I always try to see my resolutions through, though not all of them get fulfilled,” confessed the marketing head of a unit trust firm, when she was back from her trek recently.
The eight-day journey was part of her winning entry in an insurance conglomerate’s competition (AllianzDare2bHealthy), in which aspirants were required to send in a video of them narrating their health-driven resolutions. Umadevi was clear in her desire to scale the Himalayas to ABC, and she reckons that’s what bagged her the prize. “It was a simple, one-minute video, and I guess, compared to some of the other entries, mine seemed to the point,” she said.
And while she had prior hiking experience, like scaling Mount Kinabalu and Mount Rinjani in Indonesia, to aid her in the process of tackling ABC, this was an entirely different ball game. She was whipped into shape for five months by a sponsored personal trainer, who taught her everything here, even dealing with altitude sickness.
“The training was once a week for an hour, but I had to put in my own time, too. I had to start lifting weights to strengthen my core, learn breathing exercises to deal with the thin air, and I also went on hikes with friends,” she said, explaining that all this came in handy in her Nepalese adventure. Her hike was smooth and uncomplicated, and unlike her Kinabalu excursion, which caused her heart rate to increase, the friendly Nepalese and gorgeous sights set her at ease all the way.
Her greatest adventure actually came in the build-up to the hike. Firstly, she almost missed her connecting flight from capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, and was forced to engage in Amazing Race-like shenanigans. “I made the connecting flight five minutes before take-off, running with my 15kg bag. My friends who followed me on Instagram were amazed at what I went through,” she revealed.
But well before she even got to Nepal, she had to deal with family, needing to explain her crazy plan. A self-proclaimed daddy’s girl, Umadevi had to allay her father’s anxiety. “He was very worried about the trip, and in fact, three days after I left, he couldn’t get me on the phone and began to panic. He was not pleased I went to Kinabalu last year, either,” she said with a chuckle. Mum was a different proposition altogether, the epitome of Zen calmness.
Perhaps most daunting was dealing with the pressure of expectation … or worse, failure.
“I was worried I would disappoint my friends, family, sponsor … and even myself,” she said, relating how her mind had become numb from a flurry of thoughts. But she knew she couldn’t let doubt creep in and be crippled by it, and instead, chose to ride her enthusiasm for adventure.
Umadevi developed problems in both knees as the departure date loomed, and so began consuming glucosamine supplements in the hope of alleviating her condition, and also prepared knee guards for the hike. But just as she braced herself for the inevitable, when she began her hike, she was suddenly pain-free.
“I was mentally prepared to take on the pain, but in the end, all I suffered from was muscle ache, which is totally normal,” she explained, still perplexed at how everything went perfectly to plan.
“The whole experience was life-changing for me. The simple things in life tend to be the ones we can extract the greatest experiences from,” she said. She should know.
After all, as a child, she was exposed to the flora and fauna in the nearby jungles of her home in Mentakab. By her own admission, Umadevi is not one of those girly girls who would scream at the sight of a cockroach.
She reckons if more people put their mind to it, they could achieve anything they want. “Never give up. Perseverance truly pays,” she said, sharing her wisdom.
Would she do it again? In a heartbeat, she says.
In fact, she’s already planning to trek to the Everest Base Camp (EBC), which is 5,380m above sea level, in a year’s time.
She recommends that everyone see their resolutions through and try something new because there is reward at the end.
“We have to step out of our comfort zones to see the best things in life.”