I had posted a photo on social media of a lovely romantic table setting with twinkling city lights in the night sky background.

Our friends were trying to guess which fancy rooftop restaurant in Kuala Lumpur had been the venue for our Valentine’s night dinner – much to our amusement.

But instead of splashing out for an overpriced dinner in a crowded restaurant – with tables packed ever closer together to accommodate more customers – we had actually decided to go hiking.

We have our special spot in the hills of Alam Damai, Cheras, KL, a little gem overlooking the city’s lights. The hill just had lots of trees, there was no electricity. Yet for this special night, I wanted to create a magical setting for the place.

My mind got busy, analysing various possibilities. Everything had to be packed into our hiking and shopping bags and carried up by foot. What should we bring?

I suddenly recalled our foldable camping table set (complete with four chairs) which we had bought for our family camping trips, stashed somewhere in the yard. That was dusted off and mobilised for romantic duty.

Many of the writers friends were trying to guess which fancy rooftop restaurant in KL this was.

Many of the writers friends were trying to guess which fancy rooftop restaurant in KL this was.

Then the whole idea of a proper table setting came about: white table cloth, a three-tiered cake stand, two wine glasses, two red candles and some flowers in a vase. Carefully, I dismantled my cake stand to be packed and transported. Searching through my wardrobe, I picked a few dresses and my golden high heels too for the hike.

To save time, I decided not to cook but bought some treats from a nearby bakery. My hubby Adrian Yeong was enthusiastic and packed up his camera and tripod. Another couple, our hiking friends Chrizztal Lee and Hiew Hon Ming, were also going to join us.

But, as evening turned to night, the skies started to pour. WhatsApp messages were exchanged with our friends, who were thinking of cancelling the hike, not knowing the extent of preparation I had put in.

“We’re already here. It’s Valentines! Come, the rain will stop!” was how I managed to convince them to come.

Sure enough, the rain petered out and we hiked up the hill with our LED lights in the cool weather. The hike took us less than 20 minutes, yet I was sweating as I had carried a heavier load than usual.

Once we reached the peak, we built up our outdoor “restaurant”. I set everything up on the table while my husband got his tripod and camera ready. Thanks to portable speakers, romantic music filled the air.

Exercise before romance. Adrian Yeong hiking up the steep slopes en route to the dinner.

Exercise before romance. Adrian Yeong hiking up the steep slopes en route to the dinner.

Hon Ming lit up the place, adjusting various LED lights to perfection – it could not be too bright nor too dim. Adrian tested the lighting many times by taking a few shots. When we were done with the setting, Chrizztal and I changed out from our hiking gear into our dresses.

We had a gala time with fun photography before settling down to enjoy our hard-carried up romantic dinner, which included cakes and sushi.

We even had our own “barista coffee”, thanks to our portable bean grinder, camping stove and Aeropress coffee machine. All this was washed down with good Chinese tea.

It was more than five-star luxury. As we hikers like to say, being out in nature is “a million-star experience”, and all without GST or service charges mind you.

Hiking and love

I’ve been married to a loving husband for the last 23 years and God has blessed us with six children. Yet, I strongly believe in keeping our romance alive.

Work stress and family commitments often take huge chunks of our lives, and many people become robots who no longer know how to enjoy each other’s company.

Couples too often separate as they drift apart due to lack of communication and understanding. I realised that to keep romance alive, it’s important to have regular time together.

My little suggestion for couples is to have “we time” not just during birthdays, Valentine’s Day or Anniversary Day – that would only be four times a year but there are 52 weeks annually!

It would be great to enjoy each other’s company by picking up an activity both love to do – just like before the kids came. It’s never too late.

I’m so glad that through our leisure hiking, Adrian and I can have a 4-in-1 experience: exercise to maintain our health, practise artistic photography to keep memories alive, enjoy delicious food and also have “we time” amidst serene green natural settings.

The writer and her husband Adrian Yeong at dinner at a hill in Alam Damai, Cheras, KL, after their special Valentine hike.

We’ve stood together through thick and thin, through various storms of life. “We time” is important to nurture our relationship and we regularly go hiking together every week (often with our kids and other friends too) to maintain our hearts – for both physical and emotional health.

Life can be this simple and beautiful. Create your memories and make them happen.

Celebrate your love always. Happy Valentines Day!

And the husband says…

“I was of course elated and excited to have celebrated Valentine’s Day by hiking, something which we both love doing,” said Adrian Yeong, the writer’s husband.

“When Jessy suggested doing this special hike, little did I know what she had up her sleeves. But being a creative person, I was confident that she knew how to set things up beautifully.

“I left the concept and execution to her. My part was to carry up my camera and decide what lens to use. It was quite a challenge because it was windy after the rain and our candles kept getting blown out!” he added.

“All in all, we had a great time celebrating this romantic night without burning a hole in our pockets. We were glad that our friends came along to celebrate too. Together, we have etched a beautiful memory to savour throughout our lives.”