I Was Almost Choked To Death…

by Patrick Liew on August 27, 2018

I Was Almost Choked To Death…

“Why do you wake up at 4am to track up a mountain in total darkness? Why walk up a steep slope with no sight and feel of the destination and at a temperature of about four degree Celsius ?

“Why do the trip in a strange land and among strange people who speak a strange language? Why put your life at risk?”

If you had asked me these questions before the experience that I’m about to share with you, I would probably have told you, “There is an adventurous spirit in me.”

If you stared at me long enough, I would probably admit to you, “Ok, there’s a streak of foolishness in me.

“You can call it madness but what’s the difference between that and an adventurous spirit?”

It happened on my first trip to Yogjakarta in 1991 and I was there on a business trip.

Someone had told me about a mystical mountain, Mount Bromo and it sat on what the locals called ‘segura wadi’ or a sea of sand.

The mountain has a height of about 2,329 metres of splendour. The nature reserve around it has been protected since 1919.

From a distance, it was perpetually shrouded in mist. It seemed to be sleeping behind mesmerising landscapes and shadows.

Mount Bromo stood like a wise sage beckoning me and many others to climb its slope. A call to go there and indulge in mysterious beauty and reflect on the vicissitudes of life.

I was hooked but the catch was I need to wake up before 4am.

I had to track up the mountain if I wanted to experience what was said to be one of the most breathtaking sunrises.

It was not until I hit the track that I realised I would be walking in total darkness.

It was so dark that I could not even see my fingers when I stretched out my hands in front of me.

Along the way, I was offered by different strangers to ride on horses to the top.

For some unknown reasons, even though the price was relatively inexpensive, I did not accept the offers.

Soon, I was joined by different people.

We were walking close to one another, and all of us were mad or should I say, we were suffering from different degrees of insanity.


It was a long walk or what seemed like a long walk because of the darkness and unfamiliar terrains.

I could not recall most parts of the journey as my mind was running through different thoughts and imaginations.

All I remembered was that at one point a commanding voice ordered everybody to sit on the ground.

It was damp because of the morning dew and not the most comfortable place to sit.

Soon, streaks of golden rays started to pierce through the back of the distant horizon.

More rays gradually appeared, forming a magnificent sight against the dark expanse of the sky.

Shortly after, I discovered we were sitting on a ridge, overseeing the crater of an active volcano.

Every now and then, it would send tiny plumes of volcanic smoke into the air.

The amazing phenomenon was like being serenaded by a wonderful orchestra. It touched a tender part of my soul.

All around me was a dramatic scene of stunning beauty and serenity.

I felt like I had been transported into a beautiful portrait.

The only difference was I had a 360 degree view of the sensational landscape.

The track back to the hotel was just as magical.

It was like passing through an extraordinary fantasy.

I was walking on silky sheets of windswept and powdery sand.

A dreamland created by an out-of-the-world but exceptional Artist.

The paradise-like feeling literally took my breaths away.

Little did I knew that the sulphuric content of the atmosphere was abnormally high.

I was unconsciously breathing in more minute particles than my asthma-prone lungs could handle.

For the next five days, I had to lie in bed. I could hardly breathe and the medicine prescribed by the local doctor did not provide much relief.

I felt like I was on my dying bed, gasping for breath as I prayed to the good Lord to spare my life.

The glimpse of paradise or what felt like paradise was not enough to make me let go of my earthly life.

There were more beauty around me that I have not explored.

More wonders that I have not experienced and it would be a waste of my life if I didn’t go full out to enjoy much more beauty in my lifetime.

I was quickened to pursue the awes and wonders that are around me and beyond.

Be enthralled by nature’s captivating masterpieces – beauty that no humans can reproduce.

These works of natural art are mostly within easy reach.

What’s not easy is to free my mind to reach out to them, and to have the mindfulness to be aware of the beauty and wonders of life and to savour them fully.

I want to be in constant worship of our Creator. Praise Him for all the goodness that He has created around me.

In the final analysis, life is not measured by moments but by experiences.

The magical experiences that we spin throughout our life will make for a rich tapestry of true living.

We should therefore collect beautiful experiences and not possessions.

Create magical experiences for the people around us.

And collect wonderful memories so that we will have wonderful stories to tell in the future.

These beautiful memories will warm our hearts and especially during the evenings of our lives.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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