My Life’s Recreations & Escapes

We all need to get away from our problems and responsibilities from time to time. Recreation and escape can be a tactical retreat which will enable us to come back better and stronger later. Thus to live a productive life and keep anxiety at a minimum, we need to have adequate recreation and escape.

There are many ways we can do this. It is important that we begin to do things we like to do and that give us pleasure. But too often they are things we have always wanted to do but couldn’t seem to find time for.

Throughout the whole of my working life as an engineering consultant, though I worked like a workaholic in the office, I had always found time for recreation and escape. I believed that a workaholic’s obsession with work without recreation and escape would destroy his interpersonal life, ruin his health and eventually leave him desolate.

For recreation, I swam, played squash and snooker with friends at the Lake Club during lunch-breaks or in the evenings. I also practiced tai-chi thrice a week early in the mornings for five years. My office staff formed a sports club with some younger staff participating in football and others in racket games like badminton, squash and tennis. I joined the staff mainly in badminton and squash.

However, I gave up snooker and all racket games in my mid forties and took up jogging instead. I participated in a number of Petaling Jaya half-marathons and two Kuala Lumpur full marathons. In my early fifties I stopped jogging and taking part in running marathons. Instead I took up golf and scuba diving.

In my working life, I also spent many evenings in pubs if I did not have other activities; but not because I was an alcoholic. After a hectic day in the office, I would very much like to go home to my family as a normal human being without the stress and pressure of work, though sometimes not very sober!

These were my many recreations during my working life and I never got into an anxiety rut by failing to play. I still believe that if one is anxious, one suffers such mental anguish that one cannot enjoy oneself. And not enjoying oneself tends to make one more anxious and depressed.

As for escape during my working life, I visited construction sites monthly in areas away from home to attend progress meetings with contractors and clients. Also I would travel overseas with my family for a short vacation at least twice a year.

When a workaholic retires from work, he often suffers from a very common emotional disturbance called withdrawal. This person will isolate himself from friends, reneges on responsibilities, and turn off life. He becomes unresponsive, incommunicative, and unproductive.

There are hundreds of things people can do for recreation after retirement. For me, I enjoy mountain trekking/traveling, scuba diving and playing golf. These forms of recreation/play require companions and I am lucky to have different groups of them, each for a specific recreation. But these forms of recreation need physical strength and fitness. To maintain my fitness, I walk in Bt Kiara, do some workouts in my home-gym or tend to my garden and carp pond. When I engage in these activities, my mind is clear of all that has been preoccupying me and I become totally absorbed in carrying out my activities which provide great satisfaction and enjoyment. Besides these, I also attained unexpected successes in mountain trekking and golf.

The trek to Mt. Everest's North Face has won two awards in Malaysia. In early 2003 it gained two entries in the Malaysia Book Of Records (MBR). One was for "Highest Altitude Trekking" awarded to four Malaysian trekkers and the other was for "The oldest to trek to Mt. Everest's North Face" awarded to me. For this feat, I gained yet another award in 2004. This time I was among the selected few to receive the MBR Award Trophy from Prime Minister, Y.A.B. Dato' Seri Abdullah Hj. Ahmad Badawi, during the MBR Awards Night held in Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel Grand Ballroom on 2nd March 2004 in conjunction with the launch of MBR Gold Edition.

In Mountain trekking, the highest summit I had conquered was Island Peak, Nepal (6,160m)


I also achieved a couple of achievements in golf. In 2002, I won the Chairman’s Trophy. And I scored a hole-in-one on 17th April, 2004, my wife’s birthday!

Besides these recreational activities, I am pleased that I’ve been given the golden opportunity to escape from the hustle and hassle of city life for two or three days every fortnightly. I am a major shareholder of a small plantation in Johor which I took over the management about ten years ago. I replanted the rubber plantation with oil palms eight years ago and three years later when the palms began to bear fruits, I engaged a contractor to harvest the fruits and maintain the plantation. I drive to the plantation once in a fortnight just to oversee harvesting by the contractor and selling the fruits to a palm collector. It is a simple undertaking; but what I love most is that a 2-hour drive from home in Petaling Jaya can transport me to a tranquil environment where the hurly-burly of city living can suddenly seem so very far away. It is a place where I can relive the peace and serenity of my carefree childhood days.

My escape to the oil palm plantation not only gives peace and quiet but also unexpected financial returns, resulting from bumper harvests and high COP prices in 2007 and 2008.


All the above recreations and escapes provide me with great satisfaction and enjoyment and have added a new dimension of richness to my life. I treasure them as islands of refuge and refreshment and they have become a major source of pleasure.

As age is catching up, the days to perform and to enjoy these activities are numbered. But I’ve already started to engage in non-physical activities; hobbies that I do alone. I started writing and maintaining a website for a number of years now and I hope a book or two would be published one day. I am also planning to take up my childhood hobby – Chinese brush painting. I hope I will still find satisfaction, reward, fulfillment and escape in these hobbies to last me for the rest of my twilight years.

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