Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The first three numbers refer to the weight the load, in kilograms of the 'backpacks', from left to right. The number 14 is the age of the kid in the picture. He too, is a porter, carrying supply up the mountain trail of Gunung Kinabalu.

They are paid RM3.50 per kg!

Three fucking ringgit and fifty fucking cents per kg!

I could not believe what I had heard. I felt like crying. I felt like they really got the shitty end of the bargain, such measly pay for such back breaking work. I was really really sad. I wanted to give them a hug. But I supposed we were too macho for that. Instead, I shook their hands. 

We talked a bit more. They told us they used to get only three rnggit per kg. The wage got increased not long ago. They told us they carried rubbish on the way down. They told us they work six days a week, up and down the mountain. Though their accounts were cheerful and high spirited, my heart still sank deeper and deeper listening to them. Then seeing them snacking on cucumber, which was part of their load, my friend gave them our homemade trail mix of nuts and dried fruits. They thanked us profusely.

Later, we met them again at Laban Rata, the base camp where climbers spend a night before attempting the summit. I gave them my sweets, the least that I could do, at that time.

And now I want to share their stories here. 

No comments: