Friday, 6 December 2013

by Chin Wye Mun, Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum. From a two day camp outside the city to conquering Mount Kinabalu; Cempaka has always found ways to challenge our minds, our bodies and our souls, particularly in their expeditions. This year, to commemorate 30 years of Cempaka, the Pearl Expedition was held on the 30th of November. 

Pearl was basically a large-scale treasure hunt starting from our Damansara campus, moving on to Cempaka International Ladies College (CILC) and ending at Cempaka Cheras. All Cempakans were encouraged to take part in the one-day expedition - teachers, parents and even ex-Cempakans! Thankfully for all those 'oldies' out there whose energy levels don't quite match a teenager's, the Pearl expedition didn't require hanging onto a rope for your dear life as you trek up a slippery slope in the foggy conditions at three in the morning. Neither did it involve having to sit all alone in the middle of a dark forest filled with insects (and ghosts?) - but it was definitely an expedition to remember. 

Participants were required to form teams of four, with one designated driver and one designated navigator. There were 30 questions in total. All of them were challenging riddles with answers that could be found in our surrounding area (shop names and signs). There were also eight tasks to do along the way and four 'treasures' to bring back. Five Road Safety questions were also included, all of which would be added to the final score of each team. 

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

I was relieved to find that we would be spending most of our time in the car and looking out for the answers, but not so when I found we had to be in Damansara by 7 AM (or 6 AM for the “kiasu” teams). So on that fine Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:40 AM and armed with our bright yellow Pearl polo shirts, my mother and I were raring to go. We hopped into the car and drove through the darkness to the Damansara car park to meet up with our fellow teammates, Ezzamel and Amanda.

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

I honestly expected more cars to be there already, knowing the competitive nature of Cempakans. To my surprise, however, we were the second car to arrive. We chatted with the team in front of us - fellow senior Brandon Koh, his teammates Niroshan and Dean, and his mother. Soon after, more cars started to arrive and lined up neatly at the car park. Before I knew it, all teams seemed to have arrived and the sun was beginning to rise. 

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

At around 7:15 AM, Dr. Rizal gave us our final briefing and we were also given snacks, water, our clues and directions (or tulips). A photography session was taken with everyone popping their heads out of their cars, smiles and all before Dato’ Freida flagged us off.

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

To be honest, the questions weren’t simple at all. Most of them required some really hard thinking. There were lots of head scratching moments and dazed gazing around at the various shop lots around us. After the first couple of questions though, we started to get the hang of solving the questions. I'm pretty sure people were staring at the multitudes of yellow polo-shirt people sticking their heads out of car windows to look at closed shop-lot signs or running around taking pictures of the most random thing. It’s hard to imagine we spent half the day driving around, solving riddles but it all passed in a flash. And I will always remember all the great Eureka moments we had - we'd point at the answer excitedly, then quickly point in another direction in case another team had seen us. 

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

This went on for hours, with the occasional stop to buy our treasures. Our journey went on quite smoothly with my mother controlling the steering wheel, me in passenger’s seat with the tulips in hand, Amanda in charge of food and googling at the back and Ezzamel helping answer questions. This was until we realized we were going on for a pretty long time without spotting the landmark stated on the directions. 

“Eh, we’ve been going on for quite a while.....,” I pointed out, worry starting to creep up my spine. 

“Yeah....,” my mother said, trying to hide her concern. 

“We haven’t passed any Piggies Steamboat right?” I asked.

“Nope.” everyone answered.

And at that point, we were lost. 

“Where are we?”, “Check the Google Maps la!”, “Don’t you have the directions?”, “There, the sign says Puchong what”, “I followed the tulips! Slight right then go straight right?” - Generally this was the chatter in the car right then. 

Thanks to Google Maps and GPS, we got ourselves back on track. We faced a couple other hiccups throughout the journey to CILC but everything was okay in the end and we still managed to arrive in CILC on time, where we were met with Tasks 4 to 6. 

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

The tasks were set to mirror annual events in Cempaka - namely, Swimming Gala, Sports Day and Games Carnival. Having a diversity of team members who can swim, run and play netball, we succeeded in all tasks quickly and were back on the road in no time. 

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

Forward to Cheras! The route was unfamiliar, but even worse, traffic was starting to build and we were already quite short on time, having cut it quite close upon arrival in CILC. I was worried about being penalized more than solving the questions. However, with good friends, good food and good music, the jam seemed to ease up and my worries subsided.

We solved the last few questions, sacrificing some and making guesses due to the time constraints before heading straight to Cheras. Running with bags of oil and Tiger biscuits in hand (the treasures we had to buy), we rushed to the station outside the North Hall to hand them in. Later that night, we learned that he treasures we had to buy -all in which the four houses were either incoporated into the clue or the item itself; would to be sent as part of the Haiyan Relief fund. From there, we were directed into the North Hall for our last two tasks - recreating a Cempaka Box Office Production and embodying “Nothing is impossible!” in one single photo. 

During these tasks, we saw creativity, talent, humour and the determination of Cempakans - just how far they’d go given simple instructions. It was definitely fun to see the adults let go a bit and monkey-around - literally, as the popular choice was Tarzan. Skits you should definitely see would be Puan Farah's group, where the ladies showed off their old-school dance moves as Alif (the thorn among the roses), acted as Hairspray's Corny Collins host. Also watch out for the ballet antics from numerous teams acting Belle and the ever popular Lion King scene. After showing our Nothing Is impossible photo to Dr. Rizal, we were all given collar pins to mirror the annual Commencements, thus marking the end of the Pearl Expedition 2013. 


Or not quite the end. Teams returned to Cheras later that night for the Dinner and Results Ceremony where  answers were revealed and winners announced. After we beat ourselves up at careless mistakes and missed opportunities, we settled to be glad with the fact that we were close to placing in the Top Ten. The top prize went to Team RHGP which consisted of none other than Encik Hisham, Encik Raphael and two other Cempaka alumni. There was also a slight twist, where the last team (no names mentioned!) was presented with a towel, signifying Cempaka's annual Big Splash event where the losing house's captains would be thrown into the pool.

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul 

All in all, I have no regrets whatsoever joining Pearl Expedition. And not having placed has driven my teammates and I to come back next year, better than ever. Who knew sitting in the car, racking our brains could be so tiring? I would also like to give a special mention to all the drivers for Pearl. Really, how could you all stand driving almost non-stop for 6 hours or so? Hopefully your navigator didn’t take you on a wild goose chase round and round and hopefully you had fun, no matter what the result. 

I think one of the best parts was also seeing all the teams so enthusiastic about the expedition. Twitter was buzzing with pictures and tweets from the teams. It was especially heartwarming to see families and alumni come back and participate in the hunt. I guess no matter where life takes you, you never forget your roots.
by Wye Mun Chin 22:37 6 comments | in , , , ,


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