Thursday, 10 April 2014

by Natasha Wong & Cheryl Loh, Sophomore Cempaka, Class of 2016

While most students enjoyed their weekends relaxing with indoor plumbing, nice warm bed sheets, and the luxury of modern technology, a rare few of us (around 200 actually) volunteered to endure a 3-day 2-night expedition in the jungle. Our main objective - conquering the summit of Gunung Liang, Perak. Marooned with mosquitoes, bees, leeches and a plethora of other insects guaranteed to make even the toughest person squeal, it was certainly a wake up call to the few of us who took the wonderful appliances we have at home for granted (mosquito mats and repellant included). This was none other than the Silver Expedition of 2014.

The journey to the foot of Gunung Liang wasn’t too bad. It was only after the two hour bus ride that the expedition really started. Carrying our heavy bags, we endured a four-hour hike to the base camp through treacherous and dense terrain, which resulted in blood, tears and sweat. (The blood part not necessarily ours alone but also including the blood of the vicious, pesky mosquitoes) Reaching our campsite, we were exhausted, out of breath and dreaming of a warm, soothing shower. Fat chance of that happening as though, for there wasn't a shower head in sight. We “washed up” by splashing water on our hands, feet and face. And do not even get me started on the toilet arrangements.

When night befell, at least a good night's sleep awaited us at the end of the challenging day - or so we thought. The night proved to have its own set of challenges. Including fighting for space to sleep on the uneven, poky ground, and worst of all, the rain. We woke up, damp, soaked and chilled to the bone.

Photo credit: Encik Khairul


In the morning, with our shirts still drying from the night's downpour on our backs, we set off to our first checkpoint deceivingly and puzzlingly enough named '7-Eleven'. And unless the convenience stores usually come swarming with mosquitoes, the checkpoint and the store has nothing in common. The journey resumed with another taxing hike that lasted three hours. The path this time was slight more treacherous, with thorns jutting from the branches all around, scratching you if your focus ever falters. After a short break at the resting place, we continued our quest to reach the peak. 



Photo credit: Encik Khairul

Once we bypassed a certain point, our guide decided to leave us to trek the mountain unsupervised. It wasn’t too bad for a while - besides the fact that every 100m or so, we’d have a moment where we’d think we had reached the peak, only to realize it was just another hill. Our hopes of having lunch definitely had to wait for quite a while. We made jokes at first, but after the third hill or so, we began to panic. Were we lost? Or was there simply more ground to cover. After that seed of doubt entered our minds, it spread, causing us to shout for our guide, blowing our whistles as hard as we could. But after all of the mental and physical torture, we finally saw it. The very sight of the peak managed to rejuvenate us, filling us with a renewed vigour to strive and persevere. The view took our breaths and even our fatigue away.

Photo credit: Encik Khairul

Unfortunate situations became sort of a recurring trend in this trip, and the joy sadly didn’t last for very long. Within minutes, rain started pouring again. Combined with the cool air of the altitude we were at, the cold was utterly unbearable. All of us were drenched and shivering as we navigated downwards through the path. Dealing both the extremely steep terrain, muddy ground and shivering limbs, it was a wonder if you didn't slip at least a billion times or so.

Photo credit: Encik Khairul

Although it had been hours, the rain had never let up, deciding to rain on our parade and happiness of reaching the peak. As it was a tough hike down, we didn’t have enough time to even go into the river to wash up. This resulted in us having to go to sleep, soaked for the second night in a row. I could definitely get used to this. Not. 

We woke awakened by a weird buzzing by our ears. It was the buzzing of an immense swarm of bees that surrounded the whole camp. Needless to say, we were definitely eager to get out of the place. Trying to ward the bees away however, many of us resulted in bandages and itchy welts. 

We were glad to leave the bee-riddled camp, but it was just leaping from one challenge to another, as we had to endure the four-hour hike again with our heavy bags back down to the foot of Gunung Liang. Well, what goes up has to come down eventually. Upon arrival, we were happy to see that food was prepared and ready for us to devour. Soon after, we boarded the bus and began the journey back home, where we were ecstatic to be reunited again with the wonderful luxuries that we had definitely taken advantage of all this time.

Photo credit: Encik Khairul

The entire experience in hindsight was truly one of survival and perseverance. Being thrown into the jungle, enduring the harsh weather conditions, and finding your way through the dense foliage was something that we wouldn’t have been able to fully experience without the opportunity of this expedition. The expedition proved to be an eventful one, pushing us to our very limits in mind, body and soul. In total, 30 or so of us had made it. A small achievement it may seem, reaching the peak of Gunung Liang in comparison to some other huge mountains like Mount Kinabalu, but the experience we had garnered from this hike (minus the bee stings) was truly priceless. 
by Unknown 19:10 1 comment | in , , , ,

1 comment:

  1. Is Hunting with a crossbow old-school today? Senior hunters will probably disagree with that. Truly that hunting with a gun is standard and high-efficient, yet hunting with a best crossbow is special pulsating experience.

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