Trekking in the jungle of Cockers Range and Climbing Mt Kinabalu
|OUTWARD BOUND SABAH
ADVENTURE CHALLENGE COURSE
15 – 26 NOVEMBER 2004
EAST MALAYSIA, SABAH
Outward Bound course was a course long awaited by me since I stumbled over Outward Bound Slovakia as a freshman in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. However, Outward Bound Slovakia was cancelled to my disappointment but I am really glad to be given this chance to go for Outward Bound Sabah.
With the pamphlet information on the course, I was expecting a mixture of land and sea expedition since not all the activities can be covered during this short duration. A land and sea expedition would be the best combination to me as it gives an experience on both scales. Never had I expected to get a land expedition all the way, much less trekking in Cockers Range.
Feedback from the last batch said that Cockers Range was very tough and their instructor commented saying that they would be the last batch to trek in Cockers Range… So when I heard that we will be trekking in Cockers Range, I was thrilled! Tough means fun and I love challenges. However, I was disappointed. Perhaps I expected too much. My degree of toughness was not on the same scale as my friend. To me, Cockers Range was alright… But since it was my first jungle experience, I sure learnt a lot of things.
This outward bound course is like a dream come true or rather, a simulation of my childhood’s dream world. When I was young, I admired those people who led simple direct lifestyle in villages and I wished very much to lead a life just like them. As I am a nature- and very much an animal-lover, I definitely chose the jungle or mountainous forest over countryside, rangers…
Trekking in Cockers Range had given me the chance to not just try living my dream out but also witness - live! - the people living in the jungle. To top that up, we also witness a marriage procession taking place. Where else but here, will anyone get their chance to learn or display their skill of fire-making, camp crafting as well as survival cooking? This is the first time I experience and witness everyone enjoying doing their duties in each area, joking while doing and rejoicing on completion.
The jungle offers us much more knowledge then just outdoor stuff such as fire-making, camp craft and survival cooking… Through this expedition, I have come to learn more about the insects and animals. This jungle has offered me my very first encounter with leeches, first experience in using a parang, taking a bath in the river, having sugar cane by chewing straight on the cane itself and much more…
Our trekking was made pleasant and entertaining with the Jungle’s Treat Of The Day – Sugar Cane, River Crossing and the wonderful company of my groupmates and their lameness. To add on to the wonderful experience, we were attacked by bees! BEE DRILL!
These were the bees that were being forewarned about by instructors as well as the villages – black with a yellow stripe. They are territorial and social. Four of my group mates had been stung. Those who were stung once were alright with just the wound area being swollen for a short while. Two of them had it on one of their eyebrown and one on his knuckle which made him had a knuckle lesser than everyone elses, but a knuckle bigger than everyone elses… The last guy was not that lucky. He was stung twice, one on his ear and the other on his neck. He did not have to walk too far from the site of accident before his head was too clouded and heavy to walk and he collapsed by the river. Took him quite a while to recover but once he recovered consciousness, he was as good as new!
Right before the expedition started, Roland our instructor gave us a challenge. He said that it was simple for anyone and everyone to be a group but not for everyone to be a team. From that, our group was called Ohana Chain. We aimed to evolve through this trip to not just be a team but a one big happy family – Ohana. The chain comes from the saying – “The strength of the chain depends on how weak the weakest link is.” Moreover, chains are intermingled together.
Everyone in Ohana Chain was very concern about one another and we were also concern about the growth of your group. We would discuss our group dynamics each night during or after debrief on our own accord. As expected, problems would definitely arise within the group but we were frank and voiced our feelings and opinions which helped a lot. In this way, we know how one feels and what one wants and expects, least to play the guessing game. With this we could address the problem more or less immediately. Of course there are times where one did not say what he or she actually wanted and felt neglected and further more, did not express his or her neglecting feelings which brought further negatives feelings upon him/her-self. Similarly, when one did not confine his or her problem to the whole group… But these are just natural. However it was indeed great that although such problems that arose, it did not affect much of our team performances and we are still like one big happy family.
It was very heartening to see that everyone is so concern about the welfare of this group. Even our German instructor, Eva, taking us for one of the briefing that just wanted to cover on how we feel individually and what are our expectations for this course had to keep on reminding us to say out our feelings as individuals… What more can I say on this?
To befriend the villages or the locals here that does not know how to speak English and with you yourself, not knowing malay much less their dusan language, would be really hard. I was glad to have Terence, a Sabahan, to join our group for the jungle trekking. He can speak English and was with us long enough for all of us to learn more about the country and their culture. He taught us their cultural dance which was being danced without fail at marriages. It is quite simple actually, consisting of only 2 steps, prolonged by changing of formations. Any Ohana Chain members would be glad to teach you if you are interested.
This whole course ended with us conquering Mt Kinabalu together! But as all Outward Bound instructors would like to say, this is not the end of the journey, it is just the beginning and I guess I would have to agree. The beginning for Ohana Chain to move on as one big happy and close Ohana in Reality (with our different hectic lifestyles)…
This course had been great to offer the chance to have a taste of a different lifestyle and culture, and for those who want to know if outdoor adventure such as trekking is your cup of tea. I hope to go for more Outward Bound courses which of course offer far more other things with greater challenge. Thanks for giving me the chance and experience and I wish all who read this to have the chance to experience it too… Indeed an experience of a lifetime!