#HungryForAdventure roadtrip with Mercedes Benz Malaysia
Posted on September 19 2017
At Kinabalu Park post-hike with Daniel Woodroof (ex-race driver & TV Host), Mark Raine (Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia), Mishall Nair (Malaysia SME Pillars lifestyle magazine)
When was the last time you went on an adventure? Hui Mathews embarked on one with SME Malaysia and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah - from coconut coolers & catamarans alongside the beach, road-tripping through fog, floods & torrential tropical thunderstorms with the new GLC 200 SUV, to climbing through Kinabalu Park mossy jungle trails, get hungry for adventure by reading her experience here.
Recently someone asked me if I regret leaving my well-paying corporate consulting job with The Boston Consulting Group in 2014 to focus on ash be nimble. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the salary (and the stress of making sure I can pay my team every month), however, I've had the opportunity to do what I love in the fitness industry, get exposure to a whole new world of people and I get to do a lot of fun media features and photoshoots to share my journey being an entrepreneur / mother / runner like what I did last year with Malaysia SME Pillars Magazine, which got me invited to the #HungryForAdventure roadtrip with Mercedes Benz. The irony of it is that if I stayed in corporate, I would probably be able to afford that GLC 200 in a heartbeat ;)
On that note I was just lamenting to a friend that I really needed a baby-free break but on an entrepreneur's bootstrapping salary, it was incredibly difficult to find time AND justify budget to go somewhere nice (and pay for extra babysitting). Even finding time to do an evening muay thai class has proven difficult! So I finally got off my butt, got extra babysitting arranged and did my first class since stopping for pregnancy 3 years ago. While struggling to lift my arms to move some stock around our ash be nimble studio, I got a message from the Malaysia SME newspaper team:
"We would like to invite you as we embark on the journey to discover the ultimate adventure with the #hungryforadventure road trip with an exceptional 3 days 2 nights SUV driving experience in the depths of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
With each SUV offering ultimate driving comfort with slightly different concept, design and features, we want you to feed your hunger for adventure with its dynamic handling and great agility. Challenge yourself with thrilling activities like jungle trekking, water sports and many others that will give you the euphoric feeling that you’ve never experienced.
Aside from the road trip, we are also excited to announce a new addition to the GLC variant that continues to offer an exciting option to complement the unique lifestyle of our customers. The #hungryforadventure road trip takes place from 28-30 August 2017."
It was like the universe heard me, and threw in a few of my favourite things for free.
Baby-free holiday? Check
Favourite place in Malaysia: Kota Kinabalu? Check
Hiking and trails involved? Check
Beach time and water sports? Check
Luxury items I can only dream of as a bootstrapping entrepreneur? Check
Trying to get some work done in between activities & test drives - spoilt at the Shangrila Rasa Ria rooms outdoor jacuzzi (usually would have to share this with baby)
Day 1 Monday 28 August 2017
Media launch + launch at Hap Seng Star, Kota Kinabalu as soon as we touched down! Met some wonderful people while lining up to collect our keys and find out who our driving partners were, as 2 people were assigned to each car. There was a range of media and personalities from lifestyle and automotive publications and Mercedes teams from around South East Asia: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines & Cambodia.
We had a range of cars to test drive and take turns using: the GLC 200, GLC 250, AMG GLE 43, AMG GLC 43! I couldn't resist wanting to rip off the plastic protective sticker off the GPS screen.
The roadtrip theme was HungryForAdventure - and I love the little touches the team put together to make these little sturdy & hispter seats for the press conference.
My driving buddy was Mishall Nair, ex-lawyer and now writer for Malaysia SME Pillars magazine that features lifestyle products and startups. We took a bit of time checking out the safety and driving features of the car, and spent a bit of time setting up bluetooth so we could get Spotify going! Discovering your driving buddy has the same music taste was a good omen that we were going to have a great time together!
We spent about 1 hour in rush hour traffic and a bit of rain as we drove out of Kota Kinabalu town to Shangrila Rasa Ria resort. Just in time for the sunset and a little welcome drink at Sampan Bar, complimentary thanks to Brendan - the F&B director!
Day 2 Tuesday 29 August 2017
Day 2 saw an early start to make the 2 hour drive up to Kinabalu Park. Clear blue skies provided an amazing view of Mount Kinabalu in the foreground, making for perfect road trip conditions and photo opportunities! We put the sun roof down and enjoyed the cool mountain breeze while cruising along sturdily.
Driving in a convoy was quite an experience! Traffic was light early in the morning so we had ample opportunity to put the cars to the test. I have been up to Kinabalu Park twice before in normal van transport so having the GLC 200 made all the difference - the engine hummed quietly even as we revved uphill while hugging the multiple corners along the windy mountain roads. Effortless and smooth over some of the sections of the road undergoing repairs.
The clouds were starting to roll in as we started our hike. In our hiking group was Daniel Woodroof, ex-race driver, Thoriq Azmi from Top Gear and Mishall Nair. We decided to speed things up, break away from the group and asked our guide Bobby to take us on a 5km trail run! I'm clearly the oldest in the group as I didn't even know how to dab proper.
Park guide Bobby is 42 (can't you tell?) and already has 2 kids! :) What a champion. He took us along Silau-Silau trail and a bit of Bukit Tupai trail. He stepped nimbly and quick, neatly avoiding mud patches, puddles and loose slate. The trails were dense and wet and at time slippery, which made for a nice and challenging run with the constant incline.
We were pretty hungry by the time lunch rolled around, and so did the storm clouds. I loved how Mercedes team, the filming crew and road-trippers had a lot of fun together. I certainly enjoyed getting to know everyone, and learnt a lot about the automotive industry, and specifically the automotive media industry!
At Kundasang waiting for lunch post-hike with from left: Amanda Goh (Executive, PR & Marketing Communication - Mercedes-Benz Cars Malaysia), Mishall Nair (Malaysia SME Pillars lifestyle magazine), Thoriq Azmi (Top Gear Malaysia), Daniel Woodroof (ex-race driver & TV Host), Quinten Kessler (Videographer)
There were at least 24-25 Mercedes SUV's parked in here! What a feat & a pleasant sight - that sea of monochrome metal, chrome and glass.
After lunch, we had an interesting drive back down from Kinabalu Park, with the fog rolling in and a thunderstorm setting down on the mountain. At times the visibility was less than 50 meters. The GLC 200 maintained its handling with the wet, foggy and downhill roads. The fog lights cut through the thick fog, and I never felt safer! At points, the traffic built up, and although it was raining and there were some uneven roads with gravel and running streams of water, when opportunity presented to overtake, the GLC perfectly executed these maneuvers with enough thrust and stability, which made it easier, safer and quicker for us to get back down to the resort.
From left to right: me, Daniel Veerapan (Music Director for KL 2017), Chelsia Ng (Artiste & Actor), Mishall Nair (Malaysia SME), Daniel Woodroof (Race Driver, TV Host), Thoriq Azmi (Top Gear Malaysia), Steffi de Sousa (Women's Weekly)
Day 3 Wednesday 30 August 2017
I attempted to get up for a beach run but that clearly didn't happen. Mercedes team had set up a fun morning of water sports for us to enjoy before we had to wrap up and head back to the airport!
Went on a mini catamaran (those bright yellow + blue sails) that could go up to 80km/h, but we opted to stay safe at about 30km/h. Apparently you can get struck by lightning easily on these babies so we jumped off as soon as the thunder set in!
Got my need for speed settled with a spin in these jet ski. At one point had a photographer riding pillion so he could take photos of other people out on the ocean.
Challenged one of the Singaporean media to a kayak race. His kiasu-ness set in so I clearly didn't win but we had a great time getting a good tan!
Burnt, happy and ready to go home! With my Singaporean media friends! From driving to hiking to water sports, loved that I could just live in my ash be nimble sports bras, shorts, tanks and skirts!
Before this trip I would never have thought of myself as a Mercedes kinda girl. I've always associated it with something an older guy my dad's age would get, but I think Mercedes have changed the game, making it more relevant, functional and accessible to people like me. Plus, something that doesn't feel too precious to take me to my trail races in rural areas makes it all the more appealing.
Thank you team Mercedes Malaysia for thoroughly spoiling me this trip and for putting all the things that I love and need into one awesome holiday package. To media and crew and especially Malaysia SME, thank you for the enjoyable and ultra-fun company!
It was quite a nice touch to celebrate the eve of Merdeka (Malaysia's Independence Day) with a bunch of fun-loving and interesting Malaysians from all walks of life. Getting to enjoy an incredibly scenic and powerful drive up to Kinabalu without worrying about potholes, getting my dose of trail running and beach activities, AND getting to wear my ash be nimble sportswear about 99% of the time, in my favourite state of Sabah, without baby in tow, was definitely my idea of the perfect adventure-holiday!
Till the next adventure...
Just realised we've got a bit of everything Malaysian in this poster-worthy photo: Cina, Melayu, India Dan Lain-lain :) Till the next adventure...
From left: me, Thoriq Azmi (Top Gear Malaysia), Mishall Nair (Malaysia SME Pillars lifestyle magazine), Daniel Woodroof (ex-race driver & TV Host)