A Simple Guide to Conquering Mt.Fuji

Article by: Muhammad Alif

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For those people out there who are still haven’t climbed Fuji and wishing to do so, well this guide is made for you to read and comprehend. I am not an experienced hiker myself but yeah, for the experience I had during my 2 days ascending and descending Fuji, it won’t hurt to share some tips and tricks for the pleasure of your upcoming trip! (Disclaimer: The guide will be solely based on my experience climbing it, thus, you might find it incomplete though I will try my best to make it as useful as possible)
Therefore, shall we begin?

Introduction to Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji or also known as Fuji-san by the Japanese, is the tallest mountain and also an active volcano in Japan reaching the height of 3776.24m, where the temperature at the peak can go as low as 2⁰C (based on my experience) during the summer. The seasonal climb would be during the summer as the off-season climb would be the time other than summer. Lol. Well, during summer, the ice on the mountain melts away, so you can climb a bit easier. Or maybe much easier, depending on your body’s fitness.

 

Preparations to climb Mt. Fuji

So what should you bring to climb this tallest mountain in Japan? Well, here are some things that you can equip yourselves to help you out during your journey.

  • A torchlight/ a headlight
    • If you are climbing at night (to see the sunrise), or descending at night (after watching the sunset), this is a must. I mean, the trail to climb Fuji is not like a regular street road or something, it is dark at night, and there is no street lamp or something. If you are very stingy, just buy it from the Lawson or Daiso for a hundred yen.
  • A jacket(s)
    • I myself went for about 2 layers including my windbreaker on the outermost layer. It is not about the cold temperature. It is about the chilling-to-the-bone wind blowing stronger as you are getting closer to the top, especially at night.
  • Cap/beanie
    • I went for the hike with my beanie. Well, I am weak to cold temperature, so it was very useful to cover my ears and protect it from the chilling wind.
  • Gloves
    • One reason is to help yourself go against the low temperature. And the other one is to protect your hand from the sharp rocks. Well, don’t we climb on our feet? Yeah you do, but on some stage, the road was roughly just some rocks, without gravels, and you might want to use your hands to grip as well.
  • Hiking shoes
    • To be honest, I went climbing Fuji with a Nike street shoes that I have used going back and forth to the university every day and I must admit that I regretted doing that. Yeah sure, as long as you have a shoes to protect your feet from the sharp rocks, it would be OK but, you might suffer on the inside. You might not feel anything much during climbing as the suffering starts during the descending part. Therefore, for the best Fuji climbing experience, get a proper hiking foot wear will ya!
  • Foods
    • The climb to the top itself will take you at least 6 hours even for the shortest trail. You need some foods to help gain your energy back even during the descending part. So pack yourself some snacks (the more the better) to recharge yourself at every checkpoint, and some heavy foods, it can be home cooked rice or anything as long as it is able to fill your stomach like a regular meal. For the snacks, it can be anything that help your mouth chew something, such as junk foods, or maybe for a healthier option, some fruits maybe? I recommend bananas as they are sold almost everywhere and cheap as well.
  • Water
    • Dude you are going to need water! Whether it is a night climbing or a day climbing, both need you to always be hydrated. At least 2 liters. Or 2 bottles.
  • Raincoat
    • Better safe than sorry, because the weather on the mountain changes easily and you don’t want to be dripping wet soaked in wet clothes during the chilling climb. Make sure to check the weather before climbing for an easier trip back and forth.
  • Power bank
    • This is actually quite optional if you are not into your phone that much considering that you have better equipments to take pictures etc. But, for your information, your phone’s battery will run out pretty quickly on the mountain, some says it is due to the low temperature, therefore, better turn it off, or put it into flight mode during the climb, or simply just bring your power banks along!
  • Trekking pole
    • Not really compulsory, but will help you a lot during the ascend and the descend. I decided not to buy it though. Not sure how effective it is but based on the comparison between my climbing speed with those with the poles, I am much slower, or probably because I was not in my fittest condition lol but then whatever! Get it if you feel like it!
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My clothes during my trip.

 

 

Getting to Fuji

There are technically lots of ways to get yourself to the foot of Mt. Fuji, and this is where the guide is going to be a little bit incomplete. For those who are from Tokyo, or wanting to visit Fuji from the Kantou region, well, read this!

Do you have a car?
Yes? Then drive it straight up the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station and park your vehicles there!
Yes but there is a traffic restriction* Well then get yourself to the Kawaguchiko Station and park somewhere nearby and ride the bus up to the 5th Station!

*according to the website www.fujisan-climb.jp, there is a period of restriction where personal vehicles are not allowed to go up till the 5th Station. Probably to avoid road congestion.

For those not owning any personal vehicles such as myself, feel free to take a train ride to the Kawaguchiko Station, and then you can ride the bus up to the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station. As for me, I didn’t arrive in time and too late for the last bus trip (8pm), so I went with a cab instead. The price was, yeah, a cab, in a country called Japan, man, it is absolutely not cheap! It was around 12k yen. Thankfully, I shared it with another 3 passengers, one is my friend, and the other 2 were some tourists arriving late just like me wanting to climb Fuji as well. Such luck!

*make sure to check the bus schedule properly!

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The Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station is the one closest to Tokyo.

 

The climbing

After reaching the 5th Station, pay a visit to the information centre to get a map and some briefing from the rangers there. Not sure if it is compulsory but, better safe than sorry! After all, we are the tourists! 🙂

There are 4 different trails available in order to reach the summit and the shortest trail would be the Fujinomiya Trail, will take you at least 5 hours to reach the top, while the longest trail, the Gotemba Trail will take you at least 7 hours. And for those who are from the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station will not use any of those mentioned trails and will instead use the Yoshida Trail that will at least take you 6 hours to reach the summit. Lol. But worry not as the Yoshida Trail is probably the easiest trail out of the 4 trails available (and also the most crowded!).

I took the Yoshida Trail and made it to the 9th Station which is the last station before the top and eventually made it to the top itself. You can rest at every station to help catch your breath before going onto the next climb. The last ascend, which is the climb after the 9th Station in order to reach the summit would probably be the hardest climb of all the climbs during the Fuji hike as the number of climbers increases dramatically because the climbers from another trail (Subashiri Trail) will merge together with those from the Yoshida Trail and the road will be surprisingly congested (probably during the peak of the climbing season). The last climb is also known as the summit attack. Well, you attack the summit. Eh hehe.

*the 9th Station is also known as the old 8th Station.

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The 4 trails available to get to the top of Fuji.

Reaching the summit is one thing, and holding off against the strong wind and chilling temperature is another thing. If you have extra cash to spend on, you might want to try the restaurant situated on top of Fuji, not sure what the name of the restaurant was, but you can enjoy yourself some hot meals, and hot chocolate drinks! But remember! Only if you have some extra cash! Because the price is outrageous! Well of course! They probably climb Fuji every single day to restock supplies lol.

 

 

The descend

Descending on Yoshida Trail will take at least 4 hours, or 3 hours and a half if you are fast. This is where the road won’t be easy for those who wear sneakers or other improper foot wears. The road is slippery as it is made of gravel rocks, and every time you slide, you hurt your feet. You will be reminded a lot of times, to only follow the Yoshida Trail during the descend and not to turn into other trail, (supposedly Subashiri Trail) as it will lead you to Shizuoka, an absolutely different region, and the Kawaguchiko Station is not there and you will end up extremely far away from your starting point.

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The slippery gravels+dirt+sand

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Expenditures (transportations)
Train – 4000 yen (direct from home, back and forth)
Taxi – 12000 yen (to the 5th Station, shared by 4 person)
Bus – 1300 yen (from the 5th Station to Kawaguchiko Station)

Final words

I guess that is all what you need to know in order to climb Mt. Fuji. You might find a much better guide on the internet or somewhere else, but this one right here is written based on my own experience of climbing it. To be honest, the climb was very tiring, and the descend was very excruciating, but overall, being able to conquer Fuji is something worth hurting my feet for. Indeed. Have fun climbing!

Dog Days

Article by : Koh Hui Xin

Summer in Japan, as we may know is so hot that it’s sometimes unbearable. It’s humid, the sunrays are strong and temperatures can go up to 35 degrees Celsius and sometimes even higher. Not to mention the amazing voices of summer – the screeching of a kind of bug called Semi (cicada).

Let’s forget about the heat and talk about fun summer events. Summer events are one of the most anticipated events in the whole year. Music festivals, Bon Odori, Natsu matsuri (summer festivals, something like pasar malam) and the main focus of today, HANABI TAIKAI (firework displays).

Hanabi Taikais are usually and held in summer and rarely in other seasons. It is an event that teenagers and couples have been waiting for the throughout the whole year. It is said to be one of the best memories one could have during their teenage years. Hanabi Taikai is an important event in teenage romance and school genre light novels, manga and anime. It adds a little touch of what you call “SeiShun” (youth) in Japanese.

You can know that Hanabi Taikai is a big deal when department stores and boutiques sell yukatas and accessories. Hair salons around your neighborhood offer promotion plans to do your hairdo and help wear your yukata neatly.

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Yukata Set

 

 

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Hair Accessory

 

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Yukata

 

The largest firework display in the whole of Japan during this season is the Sumida River Hanabi Taikai which is located near the Skytree~Asakusa area in Tokyo. It fires a total of 20000 fireworks. You should be mentally and physically prepared for any Hanabi Taikai as loads of people will gather in the designated area.

If you feel that joining the huge crowd is not the thing for you, there are also other firework displays in Tokyo which attracts a big crowd too but not as overwhelming as the Sumida River Hanabi Taikai. In Tokyo, other places like Itabashi, Edogawa, Arakawa are also nice spots to catch the summer firework displays.

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Invite your friends and dress up in yukata for HANABI TAIKAI! Enjoy the summer that’s left guys!

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EID MUBARAK !

Article by : Amalina Tajudin

       I am sure all of us know that Hari Raya Aidilfitri marks the end of Ramadhan and is an important religious day celebrated by Muslims worldwide. During Hari Raya in Malaysia, many Muslims and even non-Muslims return to their hometown or “balik kampung” to be with their families and loved ones. Also, during Hari Raya, Malaysians always break the record for hours of traffic jams on the highway every year. For me, going through the hassle is worth it because after braving the congested roads, not only that you are able to meet your long-time-no-see family members, but you can also feed your stomach with a myriad of traditional Malay delicacies such as ketupat, rendang and satay.

Those are some of the common situations in Malaysia. How about in Japan? I had collected some surveys from my friends who study in Japan about their experiences celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Japan for the first time. Let’s take a look…

  1. Class, seminar or test on the first day of Hari Raya.

I consider myself immensely lucky because I got the chance to celebrate my first Hari Raya in Japan with my friends at the Embassy of Malaysia in Shibuya. In countries outside Malaysia, the Embassy is the only place where you can get a variety of Malaysian food and feast like in the heaven with other Malaysians. Based on the surveys that I conducted on my friends, 60% of them got classes/exams while only 40% of them had the chance to celebrate their first Hari Raya in Japan. The 40% of them went to either the nearest mosque or their seniors’ houses. There were also students who enveloped themselves in the futon (Japanese blanket), choosing not to go anywhere. These are common situations for students as there is no special holiday to commemorate Hari Raya in Japan.

  1. Homemade food or bento (Japanese-style packed lunch) during Hari Raya.

In Japan, you will not find people selling Kuih Raya, Lemang or Rendang by the street. So here, we have to prepare the dishes by ourselves. It is actually a good experience to try cooking traditional Malay delicacies for the first time in our lives. Rendang, Nasi Minyak and Nasi Briyani are some of the famous food that Malaysian students in Japan usually cook either by using Brahim’s instant food, or herbs that can be purchased online via Baticrom shop. However, there are also students who simply eat Japanese food like Onigiri (Japanese rice ball) or buy bento from the convenience store during Hari Raya. This is due to the lack of time to make traditional food, and the need to rush to class during Hari Raya. I know it sounds pathetic but that is the reality when you live overseas far away from your family.  

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                                                       Homemade traditional Malay food

 

  1. Unpredictable natural disaster.

Japan has been the site of some of the 10 worst natural disasters of the 21st century – tsunamis, floods, typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, among others. Japan suffers from 1500 earthquakes every year, but thus far, I have never experienced (God forbid!) any natural disasters during Hari Raya in Japan. But there was this one year when some of my friends who live outside Tokyo could not go anywhere – even to class – during Hari Raya because of the typhoon at their place. In Japan, when it comes to typhoon, usually, class will be cancelled as the trains and other public transportations cannot be operated.


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                                              It was raining heavily during my first Hari Raya in Japan

  1. There’s no place like HOME.

Japan is a giant in the eyes of the world. Japanese trains are among the world’s most punctual with an average delay of just 18 seconds! Japan is also the largest automobile producer in the world. To top it off, Japan has also produced 18 Nobel Prize winners. With such sterling records, Japan is indeed an appealing  place that all of us are supposed to love, but still, all we can think about during Hari Raya is home, right? Celebrating Hari Raya, albeit in a seemingly perfect country, is not comparable to celebrating it in our hometown. Away from my hometown, there is no Hari Raya holiday and there is nowhere to go to collect “duit raya” – money given by the elderlies to the young ones during Hari Raya. Yes, I am still eligible to collect “duit raya” as I am single and a student. Aside from that, it is only in my home country that donning “Baju Kurung” is viewed perfectly normal. I still remember on the way to the Embassy, there were too many eyes staring at us as we walked in our “Baju Kurung” – the Malay traditional garment commonly seen worn during Hari Raya. It was, not to mention, awkward that we felt as if we were walking ads promoting Hari Raya in Japan. But the awkwardness subsided as soon as we caught the sight of our friends; the sheer happiness of gathering with friends made us forget about the unusual looks received. Besides, usually in Malaysia, after going to one house, we will hop to other houses before going back home by night. But here, after going to the Embassy, you only have two choices: first is to go somewhere with your friends to have fun to make up for the celebration, or second, to go back home and skype with family in Malaysia while wiping your tears away when they are not looking.

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                        This picture was taken before performing Solat Sunat Aidilfitri together at Embassy

 

Talk about miles…….

And we are far apart…….

But talk about the heart…….

And we are close together.

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN

The Wonderlust – Kyoto

Article by: Tenten Sim

Konnichiwa! From spotting a geisha along the Gion street, the beauty of historical architecture to the most exquisite Japanese cuisine and the list goes on.

This is a city where you feel spiritually clean and sense of inner peace, in case you watch KungFu Panda haha! There are just so much things you couldn’t miss in Kyoto!

1- Visit Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion).

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Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Admission fees: 400yen

Opens daily unless stated otherwise.

2-Walk like a philosopher on the Philosopher’s walk.
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3-Visit the Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion)

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Opening hours: 8:30am-5pm (9am-4:30pm from Dec to Feb)

Admission fees: 500yen

Opens daily unless stated otherwise.

4-Be in awe of the beauty of Arashiyama
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5-Visit the famous shrine for love luck: Shimogamo Shrine

 

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Japanese couple having traditional wedding ceremony.

 

6-Visit Kiyomizudera and stroll along the kiyomizusaka.

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Japanese girls queuing up for famous cream puff in kiyomizusaka.

 

7-Rent a kimono, act like a geisha and then selfie in Gion old street.

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You can reserve your maiko session at

http://www.maiko-henshin.com/en/about/

8-Visit Yasaka Shrine and Jishu shrine.

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9-In Jishu shrine, walk from the love stone till the other side with your eyes closed under your friend guidance.

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10-Visit Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, the famous scene in Memoirs of a Geisha.

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11-Eat matcha ice-cream, matcha cream puff, everything matcha.

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12-Have lunch at Michelin one star Hirokawa Unagi-ya.
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13-Eat all the tofu! From silk tofu, sesame tofu to tofu skin sashimi you name it.

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14-Lose yourself in the sea of souvenirs.

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Personal recommendation: Kyoto Baumkuchen, the perfect blend of Kyoto Uji-matcha and soymilk.

 

Of course Kyoto has a lot more to offer and the places above are just few of the famous spots. What are you waiting for? Let’s plan your trip to Kyoto!

 

 

Your writer,

Tenten

It’s Dad’s Day

Article by: Izzati Azmi


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It’s Dad Appreciation Day. Don’t let your dad feel unappreciated, especially on father’s day. Take some time to call your dad, send him a text, snapchat him even and if he’s not here anymore, pray for him the best prayer you know. Anything goes, just let him know he matters. This is the day that being cheesy with dads are acceptable.
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But if you think that was a bit too cheesy for you, maybe you could add “and can I have some more money?” because face it, Dads = $$. Also, malls do father’ day celebration discounts, and not only on Dad-stuff. (A hint for you, Abah 😉 )
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Dear Dads,
For all the late nights meetings,
And all the ‘outstations’,
Being busy most of the time,
Thank you. We know you’re stressed and appreciate your hard work. We may not show it, we may even complaint about it, but we do appreciate it.

Dear Dads,
For all the rebelling that we kids do,
And all the ignorant decisions we make despite your advices,
And all the house-wrecking we did that we say we didn’t
We’re really sorry. We never meant it if we say ‘I Hate You’, and regret all the arguments we’ve had. Despite all the bad things we say/do, we love you nonetheless (please don’t disown me).

And Dear Dads,
Despite the tacky clothes and the same style that you never change,
Despite the embarrassing act you do publicly,
Despite you forgetting our birthdays (we know you’d only knew because of Mum),
Despite the classic TV shows that everyone except you watches and we had no control of the remote..because..superiority.
And despite when you said “My little girl has grown up. When did this happened?”.
I Love You. Please, never change (piggyback me around the house again, please). And please keep doing those embarrassing acts, because you’re the only person, we’d hate to admit it but, do it best and we like it (and mum too).

And finally, an advice to young dads out there. How do you know if you’re ‘dad’ enough? Heres’ how:
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Why, puasa?

Why, puasa?
Article by: Ruiz Asri

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Well, why?
Simon Sinek, in his TEDTalk video which has received an outstanding 27 million views on TED’s website (https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action) – that makes it the 3rd most watched video on TED, introduces a simple yet powerful rule which he calls “The Golden Circle”. In short, Sinek argues that in all human endeavor, the “Why”of that effort is most important, even more so than the “How” and “What” of that effort.

Extending this thought, an important question that begs to be answered in this month of Ramadhan is: Why fast?

I am pretty convinced that most people, in the Malaysian muslim context at least, can tell you WHAT is fasting, and HOW to do it. One question, however, is seldom asked; and it may just be one of the more important questions to ask: why fast?

Now, I have to clarify that my question is NOT to ask Muslims why they fast during Ramadhan. I believe that your Muslim friends will be helpful to tell you that Ramadhan is the month during which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. It was commanded by Allah via the Quranic verses (Surah Al Baqarah 2:183), that Muslims ought fast during the month of Ramadhan. This explicit commandment by Allah, by a matter of faith acts sufficient as the logical reasoning behind why Muslims fast during this month.

My question, instead, is: why the act of fasting?

Why did not God decree that Muslims should do something else?
Why not command that Muslims pray 10 times a day in addition to their five daily prayers?
Why not meditation? Why not volunteer work?
Of all the things that God could command Muslims to do, He chose “fasting”.

So, once again – why fast?

When you are fasting, especially under this summer heat and humidity, the hunger that clutches onto you is a bold presence that demands your attention. Every time you swallow your saliva, thirst introduces itself even more harshly that the previous time. It does not matter who you are – Hunger and Thirst do not discriminate, and this pair is persistent in telling your biology to drink and eat up.

But for those who fast, despite your body scolding you to stop starving yourself from food and water, despite your dire urges to fulfil the basic of your survivalistic needs – you keep it under control.

“No, stop. Not till sunset.”

That is you telling yourself to shut up, and be patient. That is you exercising your will to overcome your urges and cravings. There is this “willpower” inside you that undergoes training when you fast. The more you train this “willpower” of yours, the stronger it grows. When the time comes where you are challenged to will yourself to do what is difficult but morally right, to fight your desires and act righteously; that is when this “training” will prove you useful.

The toughest of our Malaysian soldiers (e.g. Special Forces Malaysia Commando GGK

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9KULN_KYfw) are built by undergoing strenous training regimes under gruelling conditions. For these soldiers, their training programs are essential to enhance their physical ability and hone their mental endurance for the battlefield. They undergo such rigorous exercises so that when their call of duty arrives, they will be up to face the challenge.

As how a standard of physical and mental ability is demanded of Malaysian soldiers, it would seem that God too has raised the bar for Muslims and set a higher level of “willpower” requirement for Muslims. Fasting for a whole month? It seems to me like Muslims have a “willpower” training regime built in their religion.

But that IS the point of fasting.
That is the WHY of fasting.

I have come to reason, and to believe, that fasting was decreed for Muslims in order to enhance the individual’s willpower. Within that one month of fasting, you diligently train your willpower to become stronger, so that during difficult times ahead and when challenges come to face you, you will be able push yourself to do what is right, to do what is best.

Noone wants to control what they eat, and rather just eat ice cream all the time – but it is important to maintain your health.
Noone desires to study textbooks, and rather just play games all day – but that is how you hone your knowledge.
Noone likes to go to break their sweat for work, and rather just get easy money – but that is the way to earn an honest living.

If you are capable of blocking your wants, and denying yourself even the most fundamental of your needs, using your willpower to bend your actions in the right direction; you are among those who have strong willpower. And from what I have come to known, “strong willpower” is what winners and heroes are made of.

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights”- Muhammad Ali

Quoting the legend in boxing, I believe that many would agree with his words that training is such a vital part in preparing for any fight. Your training will determine your winning or losing of the fights to come. And of all the fights to prepare for, what other fight is more important than the fight against your own self-will?

So fight, fast.

Reference:

1) Ramadan in Allah’s Words – How to Approach Ramadan – Nouman Ali Khan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OoHj6aEzmU

2) Start with why — how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

3)  Special Forces Malaysia Commando GGK – History Channel Documentary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9KULN_KYfwd.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);