• Painting Memories • Past & Present • For the Future •
A Camping Adventure (Bukit Lutut, Temburong)
Can you imagine what life would be like if you were stripped of the four main and most basic needs: food, water, shelter and clothing? In today’s world, we make those most basic needs look like it is a list from some history text book about the needs of the cavemen era; big houses with more than enough rooms, luxury cars for each members of the household, mineral water bottles seen left everywhere and anywhere even if there is still some water left, clothing that could cost one-hundred fold the meal for a day.
We have all committed the sin in taking all these blessings in our life for granted. With this in mind, this became the main drive for Camping Trip I organized for my badminton team members; that is, to bring them out of their comfort zone into a place where they lack the basic necessities of life, hoping that by the end of the camp, they would realize how blessed they are.
DAY 1: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Photo (left): Apai, the oldest and most experience among the 8 guides that we had with us the whole time. He shows the leaves that when crushed with water, would produce what we know as… soap. Photo (right): Sharon smelling the soap-like smell produced by the leaf once crushed with water.
The area at the foot of Bukit Lutut where we set up camp was not really the best camp site. The nearest water source which was a small little stream which was no bigger than your average house drain, was about a few minutes hike away and was down by a steep valley which was a challenge by itself to get to. By now, most of the students had already exhausted their supply of water. They had to settle for drinking water from the small stream and this would be another first for them. Other than that, the ground of the campsite was not really flat. For some, they had to settle for sleeping at a bit of an angle which for others, they had to settle for sleeping with a root of a tree under them.
DAY 2: ONLY THE STRONG WILL SURVIVE
The highlight of the whole trip awaits us on the second day of our camp. It is the climb up to the peak of Bukit Lutut, which stands at an attitude close to 1,500 metres, in which she should promise a beautiful sunrise. The challenge would be to reach the peak at the breaking of dawn, in time for the sunrise, which means that we will have to start our climb at 4 am in the wee morning. We under-estimated the difficulty of the climb and made the mistake of not bringing any water with us. Needless to say, it was a difficult climb, but we were glad that we left all our gears behind, guarded by a few guides who stayed back to guard the campsite.
Our second campsite for Day 2 was another 5 hours away, and the terrain even more challenging than that of Day 1. The jungle trek was riddled with many fallen tree trunks and gigantic roots while the river trek was deeper. Our pace was much slower than the first day as we had to be more careful and observant each step that we took.
We finally arrived at our campsite for the second day, almost close to sunset. It was a sight to rejoice because the area was situated right next to a clear river with moderate current.
Picture (left): Delicious corn beef cooked in standard issue military cooking pot. Picture (right): Apai introduced us to the Nibong tree that can be found in the jungle, in which he collected the leaves to be cooked for us that night. It was definitely one of the most delicious dish I have ever tasted! Even better than the corn beef and the curry chicken next to it.
DAY 3: GRADUATION
It was finally time to go home. For many of the students during the first and second day of the camp, they were wishing that time would pass faster so that they could get back to the comfort of their homes. But when the final day was upon them, they suddenly realized that although they had suffer one way or another throughout the camp, they actually had a lot of fun too. They would be back to their normal everyday life with their usual routine with nothing exciting to expect. My only consolation to them was a promise of another camp in the very near future.
Throughout the whole journey, there were a lot of interesting, never seen before sights, especially unique variety of flora and fauna. As it was a camping trip for the students and not a photography trip, I could only take a photo whenever convenient, otherwise I would slow down the whole group.
The pictures above shows the many variety of bracket fungi that can be found along the way. The top-left picture shows the Angel Wings (Preurotus Porrigens) which is usually white in colour and has gills, probably has been growing for a few days and has started to rot, hence the yellowish texture. The top-right shows the Turkey Tails (Trametes Versicolor) with its unusually thin leathery bracket with concentric rings of varying colours. The top-centre shows the Red Belted Conk (Fomotopsis Pinicoloa) which is reddish brown, thick, woody with new growth on edge white.
Picture (left): With the presence of salt and water, the riverbank has the perfect conditions for crystals to form. Picture (right): One of the main hazards of trekking in the virgin jungle. These very painful thorns, one caught on your skin, are actually very painful to remove.
Picture (left): While we stopped by a river, a beautiful blue damselfly came by to rest with us, allowing me to be able to snap this picture which is virtually impossible if they were in-flight. Picture (right): Fresh-water shrimp can also be found in some of the places where we rested. If only we had a container with us, we could have caught these shrimps and cook them with our maggi for dinner!
After the formal proceedings, finally the students were allowed to let loose. Some went to take their bath in the washroom with proper clean water, while others headed back into the river to have one last fun!
To sum it all up, although the whole adventure was a torturing and tiring one, it was all worth it. Where else could we have experienced an adventure like this, yet it is so close to our own ‘backyard’ in nearby Temburong. If I were to put forward a question to the students at the start of the camp asking them to imagine they were in a sinking boat, and there was only one lifeboat that could hold four persons, who would they choose to survive among them, I doubt they would have been unable to give an answer. However, if I were to ask them now for those four names, I’m very sure they would have no problem identifying among themselves who would be the ones that would be worthy enough to be saved.
The beautiful sunrise, the first-time experiences, the first-hand knowledge, the trust and friendship forged… is priceless.