Pulau Tioman, The great journey!
Day 1: The Journey begins….
I waved goodbye to my parents as the bus sped away.
It was still 6:30 in the morning in Singapore and two Grade 6 classes were going to Pulau Tioman. I felt excited and happy and I was looking forward to the trip. I was soon in conversation with my friends, and before I realised, we were at the border between Malaysia and Singapore. I got off the bus; collected my passport, got it stamped, and made my way back to the bus.
In Malaysia, I mostly looked out the window and saw the beautiful trees, aligned line in line. We got off the bus, took a bio break and entered a ferry. The seats were inside the boat, but most of the students preferred to stand on the open balcony outside to enjoy the cool, refreshing, soft sea breeze.
As I got out, I just expected to have a little bit of wind blowing, but as soon as I was out, a gust of howling wind struck me. I felt delighted and enjoyed the ride all through. Tioman Island was in sight in around 3 hours. As I glanced at the island, the first thing that caught my attention was the size of Tioman. It was massive!
We handed out our luggage to another boatman who was with us and got ready for the mountain climb that lay in front of us. The climb was 8 kilometres through a jungle that was on a steep mountain. My friends company did not let me realise the severe hitting that my feet were taking during the long climb.
We reached the resort in around 3 to 4 hours. We were told our rooms and roommates and were sent to settle in. The room was extremely messy but I realised that I should come out of my comfort zone. We were instructed to take out all our snacks and put them in a large, deep orange coloured box that was placed near the place where we had our meals. This was so that the snacks didn’t attract any more bugs to our cabin.
Day 2: It’s time to play the games!
I woke up to the enchanting colours in magnificent sky. It was still the beginning of dawn and the spectacular sunrise hadn’t even started! I changed into my swimming shorts and UV top (we had to wear our swimming gear from the time we woke up till the time we were given to have showers, which was right before dinner.), I then headed out for breakfast.
Before mealtime, we were meant to take a pleasant walk to the nearby jetty and back just to energise us up a little. After having a scrumptious meal, we played a game called ‘bird on the perch’. The rules were that we first got a partner. One of us had to be a bird, and the other was the perch. Then both of us had to walk around a lengthy line in opposite directions. Whenever the person conducting the game shouted out “Bird on the perch!” the bird had to get on top the perch in such a way that no part of their body was touching the ground. The last team to do this was disqualified. My partner and me made it to the top 3.
After this electrifying game, we were split into two different groups and sent to our first activity, which was sailing for me. The other group would do something else and after lunch, we would switch activities. We were sent off to our activities, but for sailing we needed to know different safety rules. The method of sailing was explained and we were also taught how to get back into the boat if we capsized. We soon set off into the deep, dark, blue sea. I found this activity exceedingly enjoyable although I did tip over a few times J.
After a heavy lunch, we were given 2 hours of free time after which we swapped over with the other group, and did ‘beach arts’. We had to choose a person that we admire. Then you have to make an art piece, using only natural items that we found near the river. We weren’t allowed to uproot any plants or pluck any leaves.
I made a design around a growing plant using bougainvilleas, palm tree bark and mud brown leaves that had dried up in the heat. Everyone liked it and complimented me a great deal.
Then, after dinner, we played a game or two more and at 10:00, it was lights out.
Day 3: A new learning!
The routine began as the first two days, but today our first activity was going to the turtle hatchery for which we took a speedboat to the hatchery. Once we were there, we saw a few baby turtles and Jo, the blind turtle. The hatchery was a protected area with turtle eggs buried in the sand (like they usually are).
When the turtles are born, they are released into the ocean. If the turtle does not go into the water that means it has some disability.
Jo did not go into the water and that is how they found out that she was blind. We helped clean their living areas, and then we learnt about how we can help them (not using too many plastic bags, etc.) and how we could raise awareness in the community. We walked back to our resort, which was quite a long distance away. On the way across the stretched seashore, we had to pick up as much litter as we could so that the beach looked neat and so that items made out of plastic couldn’t affect the turtles. After lunch, we went to do our one star kayak training in the river. We were told different methods of kayaking and then we had to carry our kayaks into the river and we kayaked around one kilometre.
It was extraordinarily thrilling and I think that was my favourite activity in the whole trip. We also played a game. The rules were:
- We got into teams
- We had to be touching different ends of the river (the width, not the length which is countless miles)
- The referee throws a buoyant yellow ball and both teams have to try and get it
- If the ball hits you, your kayak or your paddle by someone in the opposite team, you are disqualified
- If it misses you and falls into the water, you can fetch it and throw it at your opponents
It was a great load of fun although my muscles were pounding in pain because of the kayaking. We were given some time to swim in the sea before changing and going for dinner. After dinner we started to note down some things so that we could remember what we did in the trip later onwards. Then it was time to sleep.
Day 4: Thoughts in solace!
I opened my eyes as the teacher woke us up by knocking on the door. We were directed to wear clothes appropriate for trekking and headed out into the striking morning. After our walk, and during breakfast, we were told that we were going to trek towards a waterfall that was on a mountain nearby.
The snacks from the ‘Orange Box’ were divided and an equal amount was given to each student to carry. Later at the waterfall, we were going to have a feast where we were going to distribute the snacks.
The hike started, leading us into the jungle. We were soon deep in the forest with rocks in our way and trees all around. Suddenly, we came to a halt. Rob (from the outdoor education department at my school) explained that we were going to do an activity called SOLO. As the name suggests, we were going to spend some time (we are not sure how long as we were meant to be unconscious about time- they even asked us to give them our watches) alone in our own space. The closest person will be more than fifty meters away.
After explaining what to do in the case of emergency, we were spread across the area of 1.35 kilometres (27 people x 50 meters) and we thought our own thoughts. We were also not allowed to talk.
The jungle itself was deadly quiet, as if a tough, enchanted charm had been spread across the rough woodland. But it was also alive with noise because it was so quiet, I could hear twigs snapping, monkeys chattering, leaves flying in the strong wind that was howling in my ears. I saw trees, as I couldn’t see much; my path was totally blocked by grand, tremendous, towering trees. The most interesting thing I saw must have been the tree that was shaped like a dog. It had a hole in the branches for eyes, leaves for ears, and through another hole, I could see the emerald green leaves from the other trees behind it and the hole looked just like the mouth. I felt tired and energetic, both at the same time. Suddenly, my group appeared and I realised that my SOLO time was over.
We resumed the stride and marched over to the waterfall. We sat on some rocks and took out the snacks. After having an admirable feast, we went swimming in the flowing water. The water was freezing but it was still fun. The fall was only around 6 meters high from the ground. There was a place in the waterfall where we could climb up to and glide down, as there was a structure like a water slide. After about 30 minutes of fun in the water, we started strolling back to the other hotel where the other grade 6 class was staying (both of the classes stayed at 2 different hotels. Their hotel was near the turtle sanctuary) and had our lunch there. We returned back to our hotel, dropped our bags, changed into our swimmers and we went jetty jumping. We could jump off right from the top or from a lower area. I wanted to jump from the top one but my legs didn’t act upon my thoughts and so I got 2 jumps at the lower spot. It was still great fun. We then had dinner and then came the moment we were all waiting for…
The bonfire was only 20 minutes but everyone still enjoyed it, telling jokes and horror stories. We also learned a campfire song that a tribe of Africa sung every night during their campfire. They lived in the desert and they sung it so that if there were someone lost in the desert, they would know that help was near. Every one slept without any effort, as we were extremely tired.
Day 5: Taking the route back home!
That morning, we woke up earlier than usual to go snorkelling. It was exciting and adventurous. We saw schools of minuscule fish, firm coral reefs, vibrant multicoloured fish, and countless other things, which I can’t, record here because there are too many to list. We had a quick breakfast, made ourselves sandwiches for our lunch and packed them in a waxed plastic bag. We headed off to the jetty to take the ferry back to Malaysia’s mainland. The ferry and the following bus ride back to Singapore took over 9 hours. I was incredibly happy to be back home because after all it’s always, Home Sweet Home.
Thank you for reading and do let me know your comments and views on the same.
School Ecole Mondiale