5:30 am

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I brace myself before opening the door of the teahouse for the blast of frigid morning air to hit my face. Unsurprisingly, it's completely dark outdoors. I haven't brought a headlight or a torch hehehe. Luckily my night vision isn't too bad, and I manage to get by with the ambient light from Zoha's torch (she's right behind me).

The light illuminates only the two steps immediately ahead of me so I have no idea how much more we have left to climb. It's silent all around save for the sounds of trekking poles hitting the ground and the crunch our boots are making as we step on snow and fallen leaves.

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