Yen Tu Challenge and the lesson learned

1068 meter in height, 6 km in length with thousands of stone stair-cases through the mountain, 4 hours walking up, and a few great lessons, reflection from it. And I’m going to share with you what I learned from this experience in this blog post.

The top of Yen Tu mountain

But before going any further, you can take a moment to see my face after walking up for 4 hours as below. Exhausted? Nah… Can’t explain what it is. It is more than a great feeling and experience that I had chance to go through. FYI. The whole body and clothes were soaked with sweat and rain drops after all.

Tired body, great feeling at the same time, after finishing trekking

During the trip to Hanoi last week to receive Sao Khue award for KMS Technology Vietnam, I decided to do something different this time. I heard about Yen Tu mountain, where there has many great pagodas and temples built from the time of King Tran Nhan Tong in the 12th century. And I thought that would be a great one to explore. 1068 meter at the top (Dong Pagoda), 6 km in length for the trek with thousands of stair-cases through the mountain.

Yen Tu mountain

I flew out from Saigon to Hanoi on Fri. The flight was delayed. And I could only be able to go to bed at 1:30 am. 5:30am, woke up. 6 am, breakfast with a small glass of fresh milk, a  small dish of fruit, and another small glass of apple juice. 6:20 am, ready to go. 9:30am arrived at the foot of Yen Tu mountain. Great… let me started.

I’m now 37 years old, in good health condition with great BMI of 24 (categorized as Healthy Weight :)). I carried with me two bottles of water in the belt as below, plus a Canon Rebel T2i. This was the first time ever I did the trek (and it was a 4-6 hours one from what I learned from the Internet).

Stuff to carry for the long trek that I prepared

Fast or slow?

I eagerly started it. Fast steps going up. It was a great feeling to start the challenge, always, I would say. It was only 30 minutes, before I felt like I can’t lift my legs anymore. Yes, it was only just 30 minutes. And I knew that I still had 3-4 hours more to reach the destination, the top. I started to count: 1, 2, 3, stop, switched leg to start again, 1, 2, 3 and switched, and 1, 2, 3 and switched, and 1,2,3 and… stopped :). And wait for a bit, I started the process again… that slow.

Where it all starts

Fast or Slow? Which one is better? None of them. The suitable one is the best.

I had realized that the pace I started was not that suitable. Because of the excitement and the not-knowing about the trek (for how long and how hard it was), I did start it fast and became exhausted right after 30 minutes only. This lesson is very true in life. Fast or Slow? Which one is better? None of them. The suitable one is the best. Simple as it is, right? Many times you have to be fast, the other times you have to be slow. And many other times, it would be in between. It really depends on what you want to do, the context, the situation, and your condition. And on that day to walk up to Yen Tu’s top I had to adjust the pace correspondingly after I got this lesson on the way up, if I really wanted to finish the trek.

You think you are strong? Think about it once again 😉

After changing the “tactics”, I continued my walk a bit slowly. On the way, a group of old people caught me up. They quickly walked pass me toward the top. I observed that one of the ladies was quite old. So, I tried to overhear their talks, out of curiosity. “How old are you?” asked by a person on the way down to the old lady. “74”. Ha ha… That was a great medicine to boost me up. I can’t imagine how I would look like at 74 and if I can be that healthy to walk that fast like the lady. 

That’s something to think about for me. While I can’t change the fact that my body is getting old, I’m certain I should be in a better condition once I get old, if I mind about my health today. Yes, today. You can only change the future from what you do today, right at this moment. Think about it. And if you don’t act at this moment, how come you hope you’ll have a good health or great future tomorrow?

Happy for her

You can only change the future from what you do today, right at this moment. Do it.

Once I nearly get to the top (about 100 meters away), I bumped into the other great group  of people. Sitting and resting on a big stone, this charming lady (see the picture above) had a great smile. From her story, I got to know she started walking up from the foot of Yen Tu from 9am (I started 30 minutes after her group). It was around 12:30pm at that time. So, it had been 4 hours for her to get up this high. And this was the 2nd time for her to climb up to the top this way. She’s from Hanoi. “How old are you?” asked by me. “Nearly 80, I’m 79 now.” replied by the lady. 

I laughed happily to know that and asked her if I could take a photo of her to show to young people like me to inspire them to do this trek one day. That was how I got her on the picture above.

If you think you’re strong, think it once again and challenge yourselves to be like her, I would suggest. It’s not something hard to do, but it is something that need your discipline to do exercises regularly. 3 times per week, 30 mins each time, and assure you get sweating. Pick anything. Any sport like soccer, badminton, tennis, swimming, … Or something easy like wearing your running shoes and … run. Isn’t that simple? Do it now, before it becomes too late.

Team vs. Individual?

Continuing with my trekking, as I was walking up slowly, a young group caught me on the way up. I joined them a bit and felt great. As I didn’t feel like I was alone doing this trek alone. Then, I was encouraged by the power of the crowd. And at the same time I also had to push myself to walk harder, faster to keep pace with the group, not to be left behind. After awhile, I started questioning myself. Do I have to do this? It was a good exercise to stress myself to work harder than myself :). Yet, is it the right thing to do? And is it the only way to stress my capability? I didn’t have the answer at that moment. Yet, I was pretty sure that I walked because I didn’t want to be left behind. I walked and kept up with the pace of the group, because I didn’t want to lose face with those newly met people. And I thought that was the reason I didn’t feel right and started questioning. 

I walked not because of me, but because of others. It came to a bigger concern. In this life, many times, we don’t really live our lives. We live someone’s else life. Is it the best way? Or we just followed our inertia of what were asked by others, not by ourselves. Is it living? Or many times, it was just that we have to at least be as good as others, as rich as others, as famous as others, if not more than them. Because of others, not because of… US. 

I suggest you think more about this. Do you want to live others’ lives or do you want to live yours? If you want to live yours, stop and think more about it. Don’t let the inertia or demands of others confuse you. You’re unique and special in this world. And you need to find yourself back, if you lost it or if you are losing it by living someone else’s life.

Left or right. Make a choice. You can’t take both.

At any point of time, the only person I have to deal with is me. Period. And being alone can help me reflect better about that truth.

After having that feeling, I decided to separate from the group at the next T-junction. I didn’t know, at first,  if that was a good decision or not. At that moment, fog was all around. I couldn’t see anything beyond 10 meters. And on that day, there were very few people on the trek. So, basically, if I separated, I went on alone. And that was the reality. Being alone is always scared, isn’t it? Especially on a rainy day in the middle of the forest and mountain. That was the challenge. And that was once I felt the great thing about being among “gang”, to feel safer. 

Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I learned. While we thought that it should be good being surrounded with friends and people, most of our time during the day is to be all alone with… ourselves. Think carefully. You talk to you the most, you listen to you the most and you spend most of the time with you. So, it’s not abnormal, if you would be all alone out there. The context with team, co-workers, friends may make you think you spend less time with you. But I don’t believe so. At any point of time, the only person you have to deal and spend time with is you. Period. And being alone can help you reflect better about that truth. ME is the biggest challenge of me. The best thing is that I can control the big ME inside me. It is certainly not the easy thing to do. I get angry. I get old. I get bored. I get tired… whether I want it or not. What can I do about it? That’s a big question that I won’t address in this blog. Yet, I have to learn to deal with that in each and everyday.

Going back to the trek, after a first few moments of hesitation, worries, I decided to just go up ahead. Frankly, at many other moments, once being all alone up there, I had thought about quitting (no one would know, except the ME inside me would know if I quit). My legs and body were so tired. And then, I thought about why I decided to do this at the beginning: To go up there. And quickly, I just firmly decided to challenge myself to finish that. Keep going baby, keep going.

Focus on a few next steps, assure the right direction

You don’t have to be able to look that far. And many times, you can’t.

Many times, on the way, I heard people asked the ones going down: “How long far to get to the top?”, “How much more to get to Dong pagoda?” I had my phone tracking my walking using Google’s My Track as well. And a few times, while I didn’t ask those questions, I opened my phone and tried to see where I was on the map and how long far. Same same questions… Different mechanism :). I guessed that how I love technology. Yet, once I think more about that I saw one thing. Does it really help to look around and to ask such those questions? Does it really help you to improve anything? People might say “Nearly there”, yet it was not. Others told the truth that it was still far away. And some of the answers, we weren’t even able to justify whether it was right or wrong :). Then, why did we have to care about it, ask about it? Whatever the answer it was, I still had to walk up. It didn’t change much. Yet, if I lose my focus and find information like that, it just took away a bit of my energy.

The lesson I realized from this was that if you believe and decide to do one thing, focus on a few next steps, while assure that you are navigating the right direction. That should be it. And you’ll do things much easier and more effectively. Don’t lose your energy by looking around and finding those unnecessary answers. This works very well in everything, including doing business.

Can’t express it, you have to experience it

If you want to share some thing great to anyone, do not just by telling the story, encourage them to do it instead. The best experience is by doing it, not by hearing it, I believe.

And this is the final thing. I felt overwhelmed by being up there, walking up there. Though I couldn’t see much father than 10 meters, it was just beautiful to be up there. I took quite many pictures both using my Canon and the phone. Then, I found out those pictures were not as beautiful as what I saw. How come the camera could capture everything? It may be able to capture a lot of information like the colours, the shapes, … Yet, it failed capturing a lot of things. And it was not realistic to expect a camera to do it anyway :), no matter how great the photographer is.

It was great up there. No words, no means can express it to anyone else, unless they had to be up there and feel it, experience it directly. Period. That was what I learned once reviewing the pictures up there, right at that moment, nearly at the top of Yen Tu.

If you want to share some thing great to anyone, do not just by telling the story, sharing the pictures, instead encourage them to do it. The best experience is by doing it, not by hearing it, I believe.

I guess this is the longest blog post ever I have written. And it comes to the end now. 1068 meter in height, 6 km in length with thousands of stone stair-cases through the mountain, 4 hours walking up, and a few great lessons, reflection for me from it. I would suggest you, yes YOU (I’m talking to you :)), to do it as well, if you have a chance. I’m certain that you’ll like it, whether you do it alone or with the group.

One thought on “Yen Tu Challenge and the lesson learned

Leave a Reply