Saturday, March 21, 2009

sea vs jungle

I never really knew when my love for large masses of water kicked in.

At home, I'd find all these photos of little me in my swimming gear and floaties on both my arms, waddling about in baby pools of hotels and resorts we visited. A lot of the picures had dad playing in the water with us too.

There are also quite a number of photos depicting us sisters in our inflatable pool on the verandah of our house in Cibinong, a small town in West Java.

My swimming teacher, Ricky gave me swimming lessons in a public pool in Johor Bahru when I was 7. Horrid man, that Ricky. He used to lift me up in the air and then throw me into the water at the deep end of the pool. My short arms and legs would began moving frantically, swimming either the freestyle or breast-stroke. I prefer the latter, as freestyle makes water go into my ear when I tilted it out of the water sideways.

Growing up, we had the occassional family trips to Ferringhi and even a family holiday to the States where we visited Hawaii.

Cottesloe beach in Perth was a favourite haunt of mine during the warmer months. I loved how the public toilet and bath facilities at Cottesloe were clean and well maintained.

Then, when I started working, I was taking all these holidays to Tioman and Perhentian to be by the sea. Of course, it eventually led me to discovering scuba diving.

Or perhaps, being a Piscean might have something to do with my love for water.

On a trip to Perhentian once, I went jungle trekking. No need for you to know why I did it. The guide said that it was an uphill terrain, but I was not to worry because it is an 'easy trail'. I nodded, but a tight knot was forming in the deep of my stomach. I changed out of my rashguard into a dry t-shirt, my boardshorts almost dry now, slapped on sunscreen and slipped on my pair of Crocs... and thus the journey began.

We walked past the other resorts and then came to the foot of a hill. Trees towered above, and leaves and roots were all about. In front of me, a tiny 'path' visible. I tried to think positive, and the guide led the way in. He was nimble and so sure-footed as he made his way into the bush and trees, and I kept up well. We went up, up, up... and at this point, I could already feel the build up of lactic acid in the muscles of my thighs and calves.

Then, after what seemed like 15 minutes, the terrain started going downwards. Going downhill was tougher because I had to hold on to trees and rocks as I stepped onto muddy soil to avoid me slipping and thus rolling down. Another 15 minutes passed and we arrive at a beach. I was drenched in sweat, and panting like a hog.

Wow! I made it!

"Itu tak kira, trekking kita start dari sana," (That wasn't it, our trek starts there) said he while pointing to the foot of yet another hill a few hundred metres of where we stood.

Whaddya mean that wasn't it?

I looked at the jungle which we had just emerged from, and there was no way I was going to turn back alone. Dejected and beaten, I followed on, but without first gulping huge mouthfuls of water.

"Don't drink so much, you'll get cramps!" said someone.

"Oh screw you!" I said under my breath.

Oh yes, the trek was an uphill terrain alright. I had to take big steps, holding onto to roots and trees to hoist my fat bum upwards. At the same time, whenever my hands were available, I used them to swat away mosquitos which were EVERYWHERE.

"Ini pokok.. blah blah blah...." (This is blah blah blah tree...), but I was busy panting and swatting.

I felt the trees closing in, and a big fat cobra will spring out to attack poor old me. Or worse, to have a spider crawl up the nape of my neck. I hated it. I almost cried. My teal-coloured Crocs were soiled in yellow mud. We stopped to rest at the peak of the hill but that didn't last for very long because standing motionless made us very sexy to mosquitos, and so we continued downhill.

After an eternity (translate: 1.5 hours) we arrived at the intended destination. A pretty strip of beach at Flora Bay. The blue sea spread out before me and there were some boats by the shore. I toyed with the idea of leaving them to hike back, while I paid a couple of ringgit to take a water taxi back to our resort.

Alas, that was not to be. After a short rest of 15 minutes, the guide declared that we were to now trek back. "What? Now? Can't we rest a while more?"

I tried motivating (conning) myself. "C'mon Doreen, you made it here, you're gonna make it back! You can do this!"

And so off we went.

The task of hoisting my fat bum upwars became even tougher as my body was now physically tired. And when we took a step downwards, I felt like my knees would crack under that pressure.

"Hah... dengar tak bunyi tu? Itu bunyi blah blah blah..." (Can you hear that? It's the sound of blah blah blah), the guide said.

I could only hear the sounds of waves crashing in the distance, and how I would give anything to jump off this hill and to swim back to where we came from.

After a total of 3 hours of trekking, I made it out of the jungle alive to tell you this story. 'Twas my first ever jungle trek. And if I had a choice, my last.

Gimme the water anytime, I'll swim round the island if you ask me to!

I cannot do jungles.

Posted by Doreen at 12:07 pm