Hard Times? Think Again.

November 8, 2009 § 3 Comments

If I were to write an account of what I went through for the past 4 days, it would take up at least a few pages. Those experiences, emotions and opportunities might be my first and last ones, because I don’t know whether I would be able to go through the same things again in my entire life. Ever since we have became a family, my classmates and I have been exposed to many different opportunities, whereby by the end of each activity, we would definitely learn and gain some things that are valuable and indescribable through merely words. Every moment is so worth to be captured and appreciated.  There are so many significant highlights, because through this trip I have learnt to see things differently. It is every little things that strengthen the bond between us. After this second-camping-in-just-one-week, the main thing I have realized is : Hard Times? Think Again.

Initially, our class was to have a whole-week trip to Sarawak on November. But, due to several unavoidable reasons, the trip was postponed to early January next year. Therefore, for this semester, we had an edu-trip to Dabong, Kelantan compromising of four parts; school visit, mini research, hiking, and community service.

The village of Dabong started to develop since their Stong Waterfall became the world-wide attraction. The Stong Waterfall is claimed to be the highest waterfall in South East Asia. Sekolah Menengah Dabong was situated in the little village, which is about 170km from Kota Bharu. The nearest town is 54km away, Jeli. So, you can imagine that the whole place mainly consists of large lands of plantations and trees only. Students whose homes are far deep in the places are provided with hostels. The use of English Language there is not satisfactory, so we went there with a hope that they would not see English as a burden. It is true that teachers had to play a thousand roles. We were the translators, music producers, directors, dance choreographers, motivators, educators, siblings; anything and everything so that the students could understand and enjoy their time with us. The laughter that we shared will always be in my mind. By the time of the school visit, I was really touched when one of my group students came and hugged me, crying.

A small tour around the village brought us to a very friendly businessman, whose roti canai stall is near to the school. We obtained some unexpected facts about the education system there. Being a rural school, they faced difficulties in catching up and coping with the continuous changes in education. Many of us would not have realized how much they tried to struggle and keep track of academic changes, with so many facilities lacking there. Just imagine how much they were left behind in terms of technology and knowledge due to their geographic location and socioeconomic factors.  Yet, the trends of future education show that students are expected to prepare themselves for the global challenges. What an irony.

It was raining like nobody’s business, yet the original plan was not canceled. According to Dabong villagers, it has been raining non-stop for several days. We were pretty worried and uneasy, imagining the 2 hours hiking in the rain.  We moved in 5 groups, with 3 lecturers and 2 hill guides watching an eye on us. At the base of the Stong Waterfall was a resort which is now out of business. There are 2 trails that led us from the resort directly to Baha Camp, our campsite – Jungle Trail and Waterfall Trail. Looking at the rainy season, we could not take the Waterfall Trail because the water is at a very dangerous flow. Everyone of us carried a load each, according to our personal strength. The packets of rice, food and tents were our loads. We were all drenched by the time we arrived at the campsite, and in just 10 minutes we were separated into two groups; one to build the tents and the other to start cooking. We could not do much activities there because it was raining most of the time. As usual, I had the difficulty to sleep at night. Together with another two friends, I was awake for almost the whole night. We chit-chatted with one of the guides until 4.20 am, with only a torchlight surrounded by total darkness. I was very shocked to discover that he was only 19! He shared so many information with us, and some secrets he admitted that he never told anyone. Lol. Then we tried to sleep with our hands and arms resting on the table but we ended up shivering even though we sat close to each other. The temperature at that height was around 24 degree Celsius, and the breeze from the waterfall beside the campsite made it unbearable. Freezing cold. Being the unsleepable ones benefited us, because we were the first few to view the sunrise there. (:

One unforgettable experience was the opportunity to stand at the View Point, whereby the view of the sky and the whole Dabong village is spectacular. The waterfall is just beside us, and it was the most beautiful moment of my life. I could understand why they tried so hard to protect the place. Currently, only Hutan Simpan Dabong remained as non-government property, under the full right of the group of guides. We were shocked to know that several of them lived up the hill. Live as in their home is in the mountain. They hiked up and down to bring their things, both to use and to throw. Three of the guides were married, and they lived with their wives up there. And there was not even a blink of electricity. The local villagers have been offering to donate for a generator up the mountain for years but they refused.

Side view of the View Point. The waterfall, village and sky.

The 3rd waterfall. There are altogether 7 waterfalls there.

Watch out. Watch your steps. You might easily float away.

Beautiful, ain’t it?

Hiking down the same trail was even more challenging than hiking up. For a slightly-height-phobia person, it was really an adventure for me when we had to go down a 85 degree slope; clutching tightly to ropes on both sides, facing the stones and mud so that the bag would not get stuck, moving down with instructions from other team members. I had to ignore the hesitation of my feet to do so. The slippery trail also cautioned us to be extra careful. Each of my group member slipped at different places due to the mud. But it was an amazing experience. (:

After all, rain is just water, and mud is just soil, right?

At the moment, flood is happening all over Kelantan, especially some low areas. This year, the raining season was quite terrible compared to last year. Many roads have been closed, even though it is only early November now. Our bus journey back to Kota Bharu has also taken extra time to reach because the driver had to U-turn and take another route on the way. If things gets worse, all public transportation services would be stopped temporarily. Which means I have a high risk to be affected as well.

At this very minute, Kelantan is celebrating its melancholic victory against Negri Sembilan. We are having a public holiday today because the Kelantan football team made its way to the finals after 39 years. But sadly it lost.

More to crap, but I’ll skip them for now. (:


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