The Day Before
Mum invited Uncle Lim and his family over for a teppanyaki treat, and I still haven’t done any serious packing yet. True, my parents have been “pushing” me to pack my things constantly until it worried me if I had gotten the wrong date of the camp.
Like all things that had happened to me in life, sometimes the thing I dread the most turns out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the camp because I wasn’t ready to abandon my daily routine as a part-time worker in my mum’s shop. I admit, it felt awkward when I was busy climbing mountains instead of counting money like I did every day since the holidays. And I had to admit, it terrified me a little.
Anyway, after dinner, I began to conduct a search for my knapsack and luggage in the extremely small, dark, crowded and stuffy store room. By the time I’ve accomplished my difficult task, I was sweating from head to toe and loose strands of wet hair –from the perspiration- wouldn’t stay put behind my ears where I tucked them. Then, I began to collect all my stuff and squeeze them into any available space in my bags while ticking off the list of essential things I needed to bring to camp which was sent to me by snail mail a couple of weeks ago.
Finally, after a tiring to-and-fro trip up and down the stairs, in and out my bedroom, I managed to complete my ticks on the list. I grimaced as I carried the two heavy bags downstairs with all the strength I had left after I had used most of it during packing.
I hit the sack at about 12 a.m. –after watching The Dresden Files– and drifted off to sleep -or perhaps, already to camp.
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3rd Dec 2008, Wednesday
I woke up at 7 a.m. because I was supposed to arrive at Jia Yuan’s house before 8 to ‘board’ Aunty Peh Lan’s van to MYF. When I reached Jia Yuan’s house, we waited for a few minutes before heading for MYF in Aunty Peh Lan’s van.
When we reached MYF, I got a glimpse of the people who were going to the camp as well: Susanna, Angeline, Yi En, Samuel, Joanne, Jonathan, Cang Sheng, Noah, Joseph, Yi Hong and a shy but pretty girl named Daphne who claims to be Angeline’s cousin from Penang. Aunty Peh Lan and Aunty Daisy were the only grown-ups.
The four of us, Jia Yuan, Angeline, Daphne and I sat in Aunty Peh Lan’s van while the rest went to Tapah in Samuel’s Unser. On the way to Tapah –which took some time- we didn’t talk much and only stopped at some restrooms to empty our bladder and fill our tummies. Jia Yuan, Susanna and I each ate a small packet of nasi lemak while the rest ate chicken rice. Aunty Peh Lan even bought a pomelo and some guavas for us to eat during our long journey to Tapah.
Finally, after a ‘few’ excruciating –not to mention dull– hours, the sign ‘Tapah 2km’ loomed at us. We cheered. Then, ‘Tapah 1km’ and we were so excited and relieved until Aunty Peh Lan missed the road bend into Tapah. So did Samuel. So, they slowly reversed their cars and succeeded in getting on the right track again.
When we reached the campsite, I was amazed by the view it provided because it was nothing like the pictures I had found in the Internet. And the owner of the site, Uncle Jack, was nothing like what I had expected. I had expected a middle-aged man –not that Uncle Jack was old, but I sort of imagined the business man kind of guy- wearing a tuxedo to welcome us. But nevertheless, Uncle Jack in his T-shirt and his Bermudas was friendlier than Tux Guy, anyway. Luxuries and high-classiness were starting to mess with my brain. I must learn to accept simplicity.
So then, I was relieved to get out of the van and shake off the 7-hour stiffness that was almost paralyzing my body. As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle, I took a deep breath, allowing the fresh air to relieve myself of the tension that was taking control of my tendons. Immediately, without warning, energy seeped in through my pores, sending energy pulses throughout my whole body and replacing my tiredness with something new, something that was stronger –hyper-activeness.
I carried my heavy luggage, which consisted of a large knapsack and a handheld bag, to the empty space next to the hall. Then, we helped to carry the camp equipment into the hall.
The hall wasn’t as big as my school hall, but because it was kind of small, it had a homely feeling and that was what made me like it so much. After the hard work was done, Jia Yuan and I sat on the swing and waited for the first program to start.
To tell you the truth, I had no idea at all that strangers from KL –or somewhere around it- were joining the camp too. I clearly thought that this camp was organized by MYF and was meant for Alor Starians only. So it startled me when a bus suddenly pulled up at the entrance of the campsite and kids of my age started flooding out of it. As soon as I snapped back to my senses, Aunty Peh Lan’s “Help carry the stuff” order replaced my shock and I got to work. I did stop to observe the KLians and was a little self-abased to find all of them pretty and good-looking, but what I could I do? I simply abandoned the redundant thought and headed to the hall.
In the hall, I finally caught a glimpse of my camp director, Josephine Lee. She was plump but had a kind smile on her face that welcomed us warmly. Then she introduced Uncle Jack and the camp officers to us.
Chong Siew Khim (Aunty Khim)
Daisy Lok (Aunty Daisy)
Chew Yi Hong
Lee Peh Lan (Aunty Peh Lan)
Then, she laid out all the rules and regulations of the camp and what and what not to do. After that was “Get Smart 1 (Orientation)” or so stated in the camp handbook (which I will explain later). The officers gave each of us a name tag bearing a stranger’s name. The name tag that I got bore the words “Agent: Lee Jieng Sheng (Zack)” and I was like, “Agent?” Anyway, I thought it was Cang Sheng’s at first since the pronunciation of their names were similar so I handed him the tag which he declined by saying it wasn’t his. So I wandered around aimlessly, hoping that this Zack person would just pop out of nowhere and gratefully take the tag without further comment, but of course, that didn’t happen, and I was so afraid to ask the guys, because I never talk well with boys since I started secondary school this year. So, in the end, I had to ask a girl from the bus –who turned out to be Adelynn- who Zack was, and she pointed at a guy in a white shirt who was, of course, Zack. I muttered a “thanks” to the girl and made a beeline for the white shirt guy. He appeared to be holding a tag as well, asking who the owner was. And, coincidence or not, he was holding my tag and I was holding his! So I gave him his tag and accepted mine gratefully and scurried away before he had the chance to say anything. When Jia Yuan was done searching for her tag (she had Bryan’s tag) we sat next to each other at the back of the hall and waited for the next program. Then, Josephine announced, “I want you to sit in a circle, in your group according to your-” There was a dramatic pause. According to our what? Gender? Age? Height? “Tag color.” I looked at Jia Yuan’s name tag fearfully (for fear of being in different groups) and it was orange in color. I looked at mine –orange! I rejoiced and we linked hands and proceeded to wherever is our group.
There were 5 groups: FBI, CIA, IMF, 007 and MIB.
FBI (Purple): Federal Bureau Investigation
CIA (Pink): Central Intelligence Agency
IMF (Orange): Impossible Mission Force
007 (Green): James Bond 007
MIB (Yellow): Men In Black (or Blue)
*Samuel Chow Tze Rern
Eugene Kwan Chez-Ern (Leader)
Noah Tan Han Jin
Lee Kah Mun (Andros)
Lee Chui Yee
Teh Yen Wei (Denise)
Beatrice Yong Ke Wen
Chew Yi En
*Chong Siew Khim
*Joyce Low Xue Wen
Lee Jieng Sheng (Zack) (Leader)
Chan Shen Loong (Delon)
Yee Cang Sheng
Jonathan Chang Tien Chzie
Michelle Teoh Zi Yan
Koh-Cheng Jia Yuan
Kristy Tan Ching Yieng
Julia Chan Su Fay
Chow Guan Hao
Karen Hong Pei Ling
Vincent Ding Teck Chang
Tan Jie Ling
Soo Kar Mun
Charmaine Ho Yi Zhen
Khong See Kit
Low Ying Ye (Leader)
*Chew Yi Hong
Michael Ho Poon Yew (Leader)
Joseph Tan Han Kok
Bryan Hiew Zeming
Daphne Lim Fen Nee
Teo Yen Sien
Adelynn Cheong Li Chuen
Lee Chui Peng
Lee Voon Kee (Jolin)
*Linus Lee Hui Kwan
Wan Calvin (Leader)
Carson Ng Kai Sheng
Susanna Choy Xia Yen
Letitia Ng Weiqi
Angeline Tan Suet Yi
Lee Shayenn (Cheyenne)
Lee Yin Mun
Isaac Ivan Michael Cornelius
I know, I know. You’ve probably never heard of my group name before. That’s because it was made up, due to lack of secret agency names.
In this camp, we are secret agents, on a mission sent out by a Tux Guy to discover who Jesus really is. We witnessed a short video clip starring Pastor Beng Chiet as the Tux Guy sending out the order and limiting that the only ‘weapon’ we are entitled to use is the Holy Bible, and all of a sudden, things got really exciting indeed.
After that, each group was given a task to write out the traits of becoming a good secret agent on a blank poster and stick it on the wall nearest to each group.
When we turned back to our group to carry out our task, each of us was given a GREEN file containing three green things: a GREEN ZMAX camp registration form, a GREEN Bible Bytes and a GREEN Camp Handbook. After that, we were ordered by my group’s officers (Joyce and Aunty Khim) to give a short introduction of ourselves, and that was how I got to know my teammates.
1) Yee Cang Sheng – Talkative and mischievous, as usual. Annoying.
2) Jonathan Chang Tien Chzie – Cang Sheng’s ‘partner in crime’.
3) Me – I know perfectly well about myself, thank you very much.
4) Koh-Cheng Jia Yuan – My BFF, duh. What do I not know about her?
5) Julia Chan Su Fay – Standard 6, pretty and a little awkward.
6) Kristy Tan Ching Yieng – “Charlie’s Angels” 1/3. Pretty, thin and silent. (Denise, Beatrice and her are what Jolin calls them, the Charlie’s Angels, because they always stick together and even wear the same outfits.)
7) Delon Chan Shen Loong – Quiet guy. Has a funny voice.
8) Zack Lee Jieng Sheng – Very alike Wei Xing. Leader material. Geeky appearance. However, unlike Wei Xing and the direct opposite of Delon, is an extreme chatterbox.
9) Aunty Chong Siew Khim – Kind and has a soft voice. Very caring, though.
10) Joyce Low Xue Wen – Camp officer. Reminds me of a girl from Wah Tua Guan. Pretty, quite plump, and funny. In a good way.
After that was task completion time. Each of us took turns to write a trait and I wrote “Always be prepared for any obstacles” and my penmanship was HORRIBLE. I guess that’s what happens when you stop doing homework during the holidays.
So, in the end, we completed the traits and added the face of a secret agent at the bottom. Each of us took turns to add a detail to the complexion, such as earrings (!), moustache, beard etc. I drew a pair of bushy eyebrows. Like Hermione’s. It definitely felt like teamwork.
When we were done and stuck the paper onto the wall, Josephine read all of the groups’ traits. Ours was the least demanding. Others had “obedient”, “generous”, “kind” etc. while our one worthy phrase was: “Be a responsible agent”. After a few laughs, we were permitted to go and find ourselves beds and unpack and clean up and go to the canteen at 6.30 p.m. for dinner.
Aunty Peh Lan offered us the room next to the hall where she was staying at but we kindly rejected her offer because we wanted some…teen privacy without any adult supervision so we roamed the building for another room which we could keep to ourselves. Unfortunately, all the four-bed rooms were soon taken and we only had ourselves to blame for not accepting Aunty Peh Lan’s offer earlier. Finally, we settled at four available beds in the dormitory.
Of the many words I could describe the dorm, these three sums it all up perfectly: stuffy, humid and hot.
There was a queer stench when we stepped into the dorm. Jia Yuan and I occupied the bed nearest to the left door, which I took the lower bunk and Jia Yuan the upper bunk. Angeline and Daphne took the beds next to us, Angeline on the top, Daphne at the bottom.
After we were settled, I checked my handbook for the next program: dinner. Just the thought of it made me ravenous since the nasi lemak I had this afternoon had only worked as an appetizer. We still had ample time before 6.30 p.m., so we took a short stroll around the campsite, taking in and memorizing the locations of the buildings. Plus, because Jia Yuan and I were wearing identical outfits that day –Salvation Angels- many people thought we were sisters. Ha. I hope so.
At 6.30 p.m., we heard a shrill whistle emanating from the canteen and so we headed there. We took our seats and waited for instructions.
Josephine and her entourage –which means officers- were already there. She gave us a short briefing on the rules in the canteen, like, we were supposed to wash our own utensils after using them and place them at their original places. Then, sensing our rumbling stomachs, she finally released us. We grabbed our own utensils and queued up.
After dinner, -which left me really, really full- we headed back to the main building. (The canteen was located a few meters from the building.) We gathered our files, Bibles and pencil boxes and headed for the hall.
After everyone was assembled at the hall, there was a short drama. Chow Guan Hao (Nicodemus!), Sherman Ooi and Wan Calvin played their roles as the Pharisees, whereas Delon Chan and Eugene Kwan acted as Secret Agent XYZ and Secret Agent 123 respectively. The storyline was simple. The Pharisees were against Jesus and so they sent two secret agents to investigate about Jesus.
After that, there was a short puppet show –which was performed by the Alor Starians, including me- about Zaccheus. After that was the real Secret Agent time.
Aunty Daisy told us about the event of Jesus healing a paralytic man and the anger he stirred among the Pharisees.
Then, all of us were ordered to memorize a memory verse: “The Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins. Mark 2:10”. Then, Aunty Peh Lan began calling people to stand up and recite the verse randomly, such as, “Stand up those who have long hair” or “Those wearing blue color shirts today, please stand up”, and Jia Yuan was called more often than me on several occasions, such as, “Those wearing glasses” and “Those wearing black shirts”, in which I succeeded in getting away.
After that was the biggest event of the day: Night Hike. At the dorm, sounds of people spraying bug repellant on any exposed skin were heard. I wasn’t excluded. The fear of being bitten by a leech was too frightening to act indifferent. The fact that Jia Wen even got bitten by one during her camp here last year didn’t improve matters, either. I sprayed my legs and hands so feverishly that soon I was stinking out bug repellant stench myself, but nevertheless, “better safe than sorry”.
After minutes of fretting and complaining, we grabbed our torch lights and joined the queue -which consisted of prepared campers- at the field which was getting longer and longer with every minute. Then, Uncle Jack warned us about the danger and the risks of the hike. He pointed to a big slab of darkness and claimed that that will be the mountain that we are about to climb. My gaze followed the direction where Uncle Jack was pointing. He was actually pointing into nothingness. Zilch. Just darkness. Even the thought of it sent chills down my spine and a wave of apprehension overwhelmed me. As if hiking wasn’t enough, leeches, heights and darkness were added as perks as well. I groaned. This will NOT be fun at all.
How very wrong I was. OK, I admit, the hike was really, really scary at first as we were practically walking at the edge of the mountain and a light push would send anybody tumbling into the abyss below. I tried to keep my mind off all the fears and negative thoughts and concentrated on my path instead.
My torch light was directed onto the path all the time for fear of slipping or tripping which might cause a disaster. I tried to concentrate on Angeline’s new blue trainers too, which were moving forward constantly, just to keep my mind off paranoid feelings. I tried to hum along to one of Miley Cyrus’s songs which I frequently hum to during exams, but my mind was a total blank –not unlike the nothingness surrounding me- so I gave up. I avoided looking at anything besides the path, and, miraculously, it worked to keep my fears at bay. My mind was constantly wandering to my bunk bed at the dorm, which seemed so much more comfortable now, but I stringed the thoughts back and warned myself to stay focused if I ever wanted to see the bed again.
Frequently, shrieks such as “Stop!” , “Wait!” or “Go!” echoed throughout the forest. Normally, the “Stop!” would be coming from the back, but the front would just keep moving, so we, in the middle, would yell “Stop!” continuously while moving forward, and I ended up asking myself, “Why are we yelling ‘stop’ and moving at the same time?”
I slowed down a little halfway through the hike to assist Jia Yuan –who was behind me- who was slipping all the time. So the two girls behind her, Karmun Soo and Adelynn Cheong overtook me and replaced Angeline and Daphne’s position in front of me, and boy, were they talkative! Adelynn did most of the talking and Karmun would do the squealing. So Adelynn would be the warrior, asking Karmun, the damsel in distress, to ‘chill’. I was actually amazed that they even had the guts to TALK. I was shaking and sweating from head to toe and my legs were practically killing me. I barely had enough strength left to breathe and here they were chatting in a jungle on a mountain where we could hardly see a thing as if we were walking on nothing in space and they act as if it was merely nothing but a scary movie they were watching. But nevertheless, it was their talking that soothed me a little, and I was thinking, “If they can, why can’t I?” and so my fear was replaced by adventurism instead.
And, as much as I hate to admit it, it was fun. Of course, I was still watching out for leeches, but my legs weren’t that sore and my knees weren’t wobbly anymore. Finally, after a few minutes, I could hear the sound of flowing water and cheered secretly, because Josephine did tell us about a stream at the end of the journey, where we would have to ‘donate some blood’. I cringed at the thought and checked my arms and legs for any injuries and found none. It seemed like I won’t have the need to donate my blood after all.
I wasn’t that euphoric anymore when I had to dunk my sneakers –and my favorite pair too!- into the icy cold water, but the thought of the cozy bunk bed in the dorm awaiting me kept me going until the slope became lower eventually and I rejoiced. We made a beeline for the canteen where several people who were bitten by leeches were treated. There, we washed our shoes and socks which were beginning to feel mushy and plushy with moisture. One of the “Charlie’s Angels”, Beatrice, got her leg bitten by a leech and it was revolting. Blood oozed from her foot and flowed continuously even though it had already been treated. It was still bleeding when she made her way to the dorm.
We washed up and I fell asleep easily due to fatigue that night.
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4th Dec 2008, Thursday
Four of us –Jia Yuan, Angeline, Daphne and I- woke up at 6.30 a.m. to get early showers. People started filing out of their rooms when we were done in the toilet. However, we went to the hall later than most of the campers despite our early rise; because we were still busy chatting in the dorm.
When we were in our groups, Josephine ordered each group to select a location where they would find most appropriate to carry out our Quiet Time, a.k.a. devotion. And because our group was on duty for breakfast that day, we did our devotion at the canteen.
At the end of the devotion, Aunty Khim selected a boy and a girl to pray and she picked Zack and –me. It was sooooo embarrassing! She was, like, “Let’s have Zack and…” Please not me! Not me! “Michelle pray for us, please.” Then Zack asked whether I wanted to pray first but I rejected his overgenerous offer since I had no intention whatsoever to do that anyway. I racked my brains for a passable excuse not to pray. I didn’t pay attention to Zack’s prayer and it was over in seconds. Then, everyone’s gaze turned to me. I blushed furiously and my cheeks reddened dangerously. I very much wanted to shout out, “I’m not a Christian!” but the cat caught my tongue. Finally, after several awkwardly silent minutes, Aunty Khim asked Joyce to pray instead. I heaved a sigh of relief and added a “Thank you, Lord Jesus.” to my prayer, but I began to feel self-conscious afterwards. Would my teammates think I’m a coward? Would they think I’m not brave enough to accomplish such a minor task?
Soon, people began filing into the canteen and we took our places as duty campers. What we were supposed to do was scoop up the food and place them in the campers’ plates. Either that or pour water into their cups. When all the campers were sitting down and gobbling food down their ravenous tummies, only did we have our breakfast.
After that, we headed to the hall to worship. The few songs that we sang were heard before during my MYF sessions. After that, we sat down and had Secret Agent 2.
You know, before camp, I thought all these Secret Agent programs were excursions or outdoor activities. But nevertheless, the truth didn’t dampen my spirits.
There was a short drama between the Pharisees and the two Secret Agents again. It seemed that Nicodemus –one of the Pharisees- had betrayed his own people and became a faithful follower of Jesus. Then, we had a short laugh when Eugene called Chow Guan Hao –who portrayed Nicodemus in the drama- a “Traitor!”
After that was the program we had been waiting for: Cook your own lunch! I did learn to cook some simple dishes back at home, but the menu here was different. Each group was given garlic, onions, fish cakes, sausages, meat, eggs, oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and a plate of rice to cook fried rice. And the wok and the stove were so tiny! To make matters worse, we had to cook on the floor. So Zack –as the group leader- did the cooking while the rest of us did the chopping. Things were so hurriedly –not to mention carelessly- done, that the scenario was turning into one not unlike ‘Kan Cheong Kitchen’. Zack was shining with perspiration when he was cooking that I began to worry if beads of sweat had fallen to the rice and intoxicated it.
Soon, all the groups were done and each group placed their ‘masterpieces’ on the table for the judges to taste.
Josephine noted that there would be prizes given to the two groups with the Best Tasting Dish and the Best Looking Dish. And now, time for the tasting! The judges were Aunty Khim, Aunty Peh Lan and Linus.
Ours was the first dish. We tried to find any trace of ickiness or wonderfulness in their faces, but their expressions were unreadable. Aunty Peh Lan especially favored the dish prepared by MIB. She kept on returning to that particular dish for more, which left us quite worried because our dish was almost left abandoned.
Our spirits weren’t high –though Zack was very confident that we would win- when it was time for the verdict.
“And the winner for the Best Tasting Dish is…” Drum roll -by Eugene, Delon and their gang. “IMF!”
My jaws fell open onto the concrete floor with an inaudible ‘thud’. What?? I couldn’t believe my ears. We won! My team was cheering like mad. OK, maybe not, but exaggerated facts were usually essential in writing. Most of us –except Zack, of course- just stared at each other in surprise. Anyway, we received a bottle of sparkling juice from Josephine as the prize.
“Wait, there’s one more! The winner for the Best Looking Dish is…” Drum roll again. “007!” And they were awarded a bottle of sparkling juice as well.
I scooped up a spoonful of fried rice that was prepared by Zack and placed it into my mouth. Hmm. Not bad. I mean, it wasn’t 5-star or anything, but it was passable. And edible. xD I didn’t bother tasting the other groups’ dishes. I was too lazy. And of course, I stayed around for the sparkling juice too.
Our next program would start at 2 p.m. so we headed back to the dorm at about 12.15 p.m. We had a great girly time at the dorm as we –Jia Yuan, Angeline, Daphne, Susanna, Jolin, Ying Ye, Yen Sien and Jie Ling- were goofing around, chasing people up their beds and all that stuff. We get to know each other better too.
So, finally, at 2 p.m. we headed to the hall for the next program: Secret Agent (Birds & Bees) I had no idea what it was really about –I wild guessed it was about BIRDS and BEES but even Jia Yuan scoffed at my theory- so we entered the hall curiously.
Samuel was there to welcome us. “May all the girls stand up and go to the other side of the hall?” I was skeptical. The other side of the hall? What other side of the hall? Then, I realized that the divider that had acted as the left wall couldn’t possibly be the wall, so there must be another part of the hall that I wasn’t aware of on the other side.
My head was still swarming with unanswered questions as we entered the other half of the hall. And what about birds and bees? What’s that supposed to mean? And why did Samuel divide the girls from the boys? And why is it that we were the ones to move and not the boys?
Aunty Peh Lan and Aunty Daisy brought up the rear, carrying projectors and stuff while we were busy choosing seats. When we were settled, Aunty Peh Lan finally explained what ‘birds and bees’ meant. This program was about the female’s vagaries of the menstrual cycle.
Several people blushed, including me. Now I realized why Samuel had separated us. This topic was sensitive. As in, sensitive sensitive. I had been to a similar talk in primary school before, and trust me, it’s best we were separated.
Our topic was mainly about girls’ menstruation, commonly known as period. I was quite familiar with some of the facts but several precautions caught my eye. However, I was more worried about the situation of the crowd behind the divider. Every time roars of laughter echoed from the other side, my head would whip around immediately, heart thumping, worried if they could hear Aunty Peh Lan and Aunty Daisy after all.
The talk lasted for an hour, and then we headed back to the hall. I couldn’t help but notice that everyone was more self-conscious than before, including me.
The next program was Camp Challenge. It was a station game. *rolls eyes.* After Josephine stated the rules of the game, each group headed to their own stations. Our first station was Station 3 and Joyce was the officer.
Scene: There are 10 strips of paper (folded) in a basin full of flour.
What you must do: Find and pick out the pieces of paper from the tub of flour using your mouth only.
Jonathan was first. He took of his glasses and dipped his head into the tub. His motion was exactly the same as a dog licking water from its bowl. Within seconds, he had already retrieved his strip of paper. When he looked up, there was flour all over his face. He could stand next to a zombie and nobody could tell the difference. Cang Sheng was next. He, too, succeeded within seconds. I was next. I scrutinized the bowl for a while, aware that Jonathan and Cang Sheng’s saliva might be ‘swimming’ in there. Then, I closed my eyes and went in.
It was HORRIBLE. I couldn’t see anything (duh) and I was breathing in flour through my nostrils. My eyes hurt when the flour squirmed its way into my sockets. My mouth was full of half-solidified and sticky flour. And yet I couldn’t get the paper out. I was probably the longest. And the worst. I took several dips and managed to hold a piece of paper between my teeth after my third dip. Then, I ran as fast as I could to the river bank and spat out all the substance that was stuck between my teeth. It was a wonder that I didn’t sneeze even though I have a sensitive nose. After Jia Yuan was done, -she was fast- both of us ran to the canteen to wash our faces. When we went back to our station, everyone looked…old, with white hair and white brows, and, maybe, a white moustache or beard. Zack looked the worst. After arranging the pieces to form a memory verse –For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. John 3:16- we waited patiently for Linus’s whistle to move on to the next station while picking out the whites from our hair.
Scene: Eight balloons that are filled with water hung from the roof.
What you must do: Burst the balloons by biting them, using any possible way without the help of any tools.
Before Joanne –the officer- could finish giving the instructions, Zack had already butted in, saying, “I know already, I know already.” Then, he climbed onto Jonathan’s back and burst all the balloons. I could only gape at him in awe, my mouth hung open. When Zack was done, I felt like cheering because I knew a perfect score of 80 was already in our grasp. But then Linus saw us and minus our marks –Linus minus, what a rhyme!- into half, so we only got 40 marks. This time, I gaped at Linus, not in awe, but in astonishment. What? Why? Turned out that everyone in the team must burst at least one balloon, and Zack was, like, trying to talk Linus into giving us a second chance but Linus only shook his head so we gave in and drooped our shoulders in defeat.
We proceeded to the next station grumpily at the sound of the whistle.
Location: Field next to canteen.
Scene: A hula-hoop and a pole are placed on the ground. A pail of water and an empty bottle are placed on a stool further away.
What you must do: Place your head on the pole and spin around outside the hula-hoop for seven times. Then, go –or rather, stagger- to the pail of water, scoop up a cup of water and pour it into the bottle.
Jonathan and Cang Sheng went first. I was third, again. I wasn’t so freaked out about this game because I played it before at my school camp. But still, I knew it was way dizzy. When it was my turn, I spun around quite effortlessly, but the pouring was the hard part. After spinning, I staggered toward the pail, but I was so dizzy that I ended up walking diagonally, receiving yells from the group, like, “Careful!” “Take your time!” “Don’t rush!” and a teasing remark from Zack, “Take your time, but hurry up!” I threw a dirty look at the group, hoping it would find its way to Zack and slam itself into his forehead. Then I squatted down to regain my balance. When I opened my eyes, the scene wasn’t moving around now and stayed put instead. I let out a sigh of relief and poured a cup of water into the bottle.
The game continued until it was Delon’s turn. All of a sudden, big, fat raindrops started to pour from the dark sky. All the campers immediately ran to the canteen for shelter. Here and there, people groaned, some smiled in relief and some just looked indifferent. Jia Yuan and I were among those who groaned. There were six stations altogether and we’ve only managed to go to three.
Score: Who knows??
We waited impatiently, hoping and praying that the rain would die down and stop eventually, but luck wasn’t on our side today. So the challenge had to be cancelled. We groaned and grumbled and complained, but merely as a futile attempt. Why did it have to rain now? Why?
Due to the cancellation of the challenge, every group was given the same amount of points. Then, we were ordered to sit together according to our groups.
“Tomorrow is your Secret Agent Party and each group-” Uh oh. I don’t like the way that sounds. “Must perform a drama,” Josephine announced. Several people gasped, including me. “Everyone must be involved,” More gasps. “The plot of your drama must be about secret agents and, if possible, the Bible. Each group will be given three things: a hula-hoop, a long pole and a hook. All three things MUST be used in your drama, but not as its original function. The time ranges from 5 to 7 minutes. Not more and not less. I will give you till 5 o’clock,” Everyone looked at their watches. (I would’ve too, if I had one.) “To prepare your script and everything. And please, don’t be too noisy.”
We got to work. Well, some of us did. Zack, Jonathan and Cang Sheng were the main ‘generators’, producing all sorts of ideas. Of course, I didn’t want to be shunned away, either, so I donated some ideas, which, to my utter surprise, were appreciated and put to use. Jia Yuan, Kristy, Julia, and me, too, mostly just laughed at the jokes and ideas the three boys produced. Delon just sat in a corner, tapping away on his phone, nodding at everything Zack threw at him. In the end, we came up with a passable and humorous plot. Well, actually Zack did. He decided to modernize the David and Goliath story, making both of them secret agents. Here’s how the story goes: There are two organizations: the bad (Goliath) and the good (David). The bad organization is called ‘International Mafia Federation (IMF) and the good organization is Organization Kanasai (KNS) –my idea. Delon was David, codename ‘Handsome Boy’ xD; Jonathan was Goliath, codename ‘Curly Hair’; Cang Sheng was the chairman of Organization KNS, codename ‘Potato’; Julia was the paramedic who even earned a PhD from Ampang Medical; Jia Yuan (Ah Lian), Kristy (Ah Moy) and I (Ah Sam) were the army (Kristy and I were the bad guys and Jia Yuan was the good guy. Zack said I looked more evil. Grr.) and Zack, of course, was the ‘keh po’ guy. I won’t tell the story in detail. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.
At 5 p.m. we were able to go back and shower. Then, we had dinner. After that, we were told to change into our school uniforms.
You know, before camp, I was really, really worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit into my uniform anymore. So imagine my surprise –and relief- when I succeeded in belting up my pinafore. I felt weird, wearing my school uniform again after haven’t done so in a month.
I saw all sorts of school uniforms. Charlie’s Angels’ were one –or three- of the odd ones out. They wore a white shirt not unlike mine, a navy blue sleeveless overcoat, a skirt with the same color and a red tie. Julia’s was a cute green mini dress, which kinda looked like a dentist assistant’s uniform. Letitia Ng, who was in the same school as Julia, though in different forms, wore a green shirt and a khaki overcoat and a skirt with the same color, not unlike a scout’s uniform. I felt sort of ordinary all of a sudden in my common white shirt and light blue pinafore.
Then, Aunty Peh Lan gave a BK –Bible Knowledge- talk and kept on pestering us to sign up for the subject in SPM.
After the talk, Josephine ordered the Form 1 students to move to the left side and the Standard 6 students to the right. And then I realized what the “Special Chat between Students” meant, as stated in the Handbook. The Standard 6 students were free to ask us about secondary school and vice versa. However, no one was enthusiastic. There were a few volunteers, of course –like Jolin and Julia- who asked common questions such as “Are the teachers strict?” and “Is the library big?” etc. which were also answered by enthusiasts, like Zack and Eugene. Once, Aunty Peh Lan saw me nodding to the question “Is the homework more than primary school?” despite the others who said, “No lah…” or “A little bit only!” and began explaining about my school system.
“Her school,” she pointed at me. I blushed. “Asma school, is one of the top schools in Alor Star, and the school very *crazy* one. The homework the teachers give is a lot, and the principals are so competitive; the next principal would always compete with the previous one…” etc.
I was blushing so furiously when several people gasped, “Whoa” and Letitia, who was sitting behind me, even gave me the thumbs-up.
Anyway, after the segment was over, Josephine took the ‘stage’.
“As some of you had asked me, ‘Why isn’t there any room inspection?’ I didn’t want to tell you the truth, because I was sure that you would keep your rooms spick and span if I told you so. However, we were actually doing some secret agent work of our own…” her tone was thick with sinister-ness.
Then, photos of messy rooms were shown on the wall through the projector, including the dorm. The embarrassment was overwhelming. I wanted to close my eyes and stick my fingers into my ears. But, fortunately, they didn’t snap a photo of my bed. I was a natural messy-pot.
Then, Josephine said, “Those whose pictures of their rooms were taken, please stand up,” I looked at Jia Yuan dubiously. So did she. The photo of our dorm was taken, but not our beds. But nevertheless, we saw all our dorm partners standing up so we followed suit. Only a small group of people were left sitting on the floor.
Josephine looked at all of us with an evil glint in her eye. I shuddered apprehensively. I was sure that punishment wouldn’t be an exception for us.
“Those who are standing,” Josephine said sinisterly. “There is something I would like all of you to do…as a punishment.”
I groaned. I knew it.
“I want you to dance to the Chicken Dance Song!”
My eyes widened until it was in danger of popping out of its sockets. As if ‘dancing’ alone wasn’t enough, she wanted us to CHICKEN dance??
Then, the hall echoed with a lively –not to mention humorous- tune. Josephine ordered all of us to dance the ‘chicken’ style: waving our arms like a chicken. I gaped at her in horror. Then, she threatened to send them out to dance solo those who refused to chicken dance. That sent me flapping my arms like a chicken, lifelessly, though.
It was utterly EMBARASSING! HUMILIATING! MORTIFYING! Any other words you can think of that meant ‘making yourself look silly and stupid in front of other people’. Nevertheless, some guys just went over the top. Zack, Delon, Eugene and a few more others performed the renowned ‘Saturday Night Fever’ dance move. Point to hip, point to air. Turn around, point to hip, point to air, whereas Michael Ho’s group flapped their arms vigorously and clucked like a hen. Even Wan Calvin did a ballet spin! I couldn’t help laughing as I remembered my own male classmates in primary school doing the same thing, going over the top whenever they had to do something embarrassing. That’s what guys are good at, turning embarrassment into amusement.
When we were done, (*whew!*) we were allowed to sit down and prepare ourselves for the next program: Bible Bingo Bash.
Apparently, it was just like a Bingo! game, except this board, instead of ranging from numbers 1 to 25, ranged from 1 to 100. 100. Anyway, all you have to do is select a representative from your own group and choose a number from the board, which is actually a question –or task- that you have to answer in order to cross the number off the board to form a line of five numbers, thus winning a round. I never answered a single question, because I didn’t know the answer. Honestly. I didn’t read the Bible.
Every round, out representative would always be the same person –Zack, Zack, Zack and Zack. But he seems to be enjoying himself more than the rest of us, unlike Wei Xing -who, I have always been comparing Zack to, regardless of looks, intellect or attitude. Except for attitude, the rest got a full 10. Zack was just too enthusiastic- who would’ve probably lecture us about lack of teamwork bla bla bla already. Delon and Julia each went out once, while the rest of us just sat there, indifferent.
In the end, 007 won and guess who lost? Us! IMF! It was so OMG embarrassing, especially since I didn’t even answer a single question or offer any tips. I was so selfish, not to mention hopeless.
After that, we headed to the canteen for a mug of steaming hot Milo. After changing into our pajamas, we hit the sack. I found it harder to sleep that day because I wasn’t exhausted enough to drift off so easily. Plus, my tummy was rumbling non-stop.
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5th Dec 2008, Friday
We woke up at 6.30 a.m. again. I was thankful I did. Toilet jam was just too scary. Especially after my Standard 4 school camp experience.
By now, Angeline, Daphne, Susanna, Jia Yuan and I were steady friends and often move about in a group. I was even chatting with Daphne and Susanna. Daphne was actually a fun type of girl. From her appearance, you’d think she was a quiet girl but no, she’s wild. Like, fun-wild. Crazy. Like us.
And Susanna’s actually pretty humorous too, once you got beyond her quiet appearance.
At 7.30 a.m. we headed to the hall to carry out our devotion. Then, stomachs rumbling, we had breakfast. When we headed back to the hall again, we worshipped and carried out Secret Agent 3. This had already been like a daily routine and I found myself getting used to it already.
The lessons weren’t boring though, unlike the lessons in school. There’s always a brief drama and sometimes, a puppet show. I never thought I’d enjoy anything that had to do ‘lessons’.
Anyway, when we were done in the hall, each group picked their own location to rehearse their drama that they were supposed to perform that very night. We picked the canteen.
I could barely keep myself from laughing. I was clutching my stomach throughout the whole rehearsal for laughing too hard. My breaths even came out in short gasps. It was so hilarious! I couldn’t believe Zack could even come up with an idea like this. But I’m not telling you the plot. I’ve already said that I didn’t want to burst your bubble. You’ll know during the party.
Then we had lunch. We were on duty today.
We had the main event of the day at 2 p.m.: Stream Trotting. At the dorm, history was repeating itself. Everyone was coated with bug repellant, because all of us shared the same fear: leeches. The officers had already warned us about leeches in the stream and I was horrified. I didn’t know leeches could survive in water! It was like facing another leech challenge all over again, but nonetheless, I sprayed the repellant, because chances of getting my blood sucked by an ugly, revolting leech –instead of a beautiful vampire like Edward Cullen, which I would’ve accepted any day- was much higher than during Night Hike because I was wearing shorts. Not that I wanted to, but because I had to. And I only brought a pair of shorts, and it was WHITE in color. So we spent a few minutes –quite an understatement- in the toilet fussing over the transparent material of our attire. I was the worse. I had to borrow Daphne’s jeans shorts because I couldn’t wear mine, obviously. And we had to wear our sneakers. No, scratch that. Our still-wet-and-felt-like-gooey-and-mushy sneakers. It was AWFUL. To make matters worse, we had to walk what felt like a million kilometers in them, to get to the stream. And as if all the above weren’t enough to literally drown my spirits, we had to walk under the sweltering hot sun, our sweat practically washing away our repellant. You could even see the heat rising from the pavement in waves. And my line –the one behind- was faaaaar behind. AND the boys at the back –Jonathan, Cang Sheng and their ‘gang’- were chatting away throughout the whole journey, oblivious of the squishy shoes –I’m sure theirs are, too- and the incredibly and ridiculously hot and steaming weather and their waste of energy with every octave that came out of their mouth.
After what seemed like an eternity, the front line turned into an alley on the left. I was almost rejoicing but caught myself just in time at the sight of the alley. It was already very tormenting that we had to walk on FLAT land, and now we were presented with a rocky lane. Well, look at the bright side, at least there are shades provided by the trees that formed a canopy above our heads.
It was a very long and laborious journey, but I forced my sore feet to move, one after the other, like a strict commander ordering his troops to continue marching despite the horrendous and terrible situation they were in.
After what seemed like another eternity –though shorter this time- the line took a left bend again, this time sloping down into a stream. The stream. Cautiously, we took turns to lower ourselves onto a large boulder, before setting off on our ‘quest’.
Before I continue, it is essential for you to know that MY idea of stream trotting was just wading through a peaceful river. Nothing more. Nothing adventurous or challenging. Nothing that involves the increasing of my adrenaline, anyway. Just a tame river. Surely it couldn’t be worse than Night Hike right?
Haha. I was wrong again. As usual. I make wrecked assumptions.
I daresay I’d rather be in a jungle on a mountain, wearing LONG pants right now. Anything beats this.
However, as soon as I dunked my mushy shoes into the icy cold water, a wave of relief and gratitude swept over me. This is where my shoes belong now, for the time being. Wet sure beats squishy.
The beginning of the journey was –I’m glad to say- quite OK. There weren’t many rocks and even if there were, they were tiny, compared to the gigantic ones that came later.
Halfway through the journey, we were…lost. The front party were long gone and only a few of us remained: Kristy and Beatrice in the front; Jia Yuan, Angeline, Daphne, Susanna and I in the middle; Bryan, Amber, See Kit and Yin Mun at the back. The officers that were supposed to bring up the rear had to stop to nurse a boy –I heard from See Kit that it was Vincent Ding- who had injured his leg or something, and we were pretty sure that they won’t return for a while. To make matters worse, we couldn’t find a way to get through the enormous rocks that blocked our path. There was a small waterfall here -that took up most of the right side- so the current was strong and we couldn’t possibly go through the waterfall. On the left side were two gigantic boulders and there was no gap to let us through. Kristy and Beatrice couldn’t find a way to go through so they turned around and asked us for help. Dawning on me both slowly and panic-fast was the knowledge that we probably won’t be able to cross to the other side and keep up with the front party, because, as I see it, there just wasn’t any way we could cross to the other side. All of a sudden, another possibility swept over me: What if the front party never even came here? What if we took a wrong bend and ended up stranded at this dead end? My heart was thumping feverishly against my ribcage, leaping around erratically, like a fish wanting to jump out through my throat or something.
Suddenly, the truth smacked me on the forehead. Hard. This couldn’t be a dead end. I did saw Denise helping Karen up through a barely visible gap through the two rocks. So I tempered the feeling of worry that began to clot in my chest and pointed at the point where I thought the gap was. “There! Over there! I saw them go through there!” Everyone’s gaze followed my trembling finger and Bryan –being the only boy among the stranded campers- went over to the pointed gap to investigate.
There WAS a gap. Bryan climbed through it and squatted on the rock that stood adjacently to one of the large boulders and helped pull each of us up through the gap. And then we continued our journey again.
The journey was a devious one. A slight push or an accidental slip would send anyone tumbling into the freezing water, or worse, slamming any of your vital body parts into the rocks. Teamwork was crucial in an excruciating situation like this. For instance, if we were to climb an extremely large rock, Susanna would help Jia Yuan, Jia Yuan would help me, and I would help Amber –who was behind me- and so on and so forth.
Halfway through the journey, we found light again. I could almost cheer, despite my criticism towards it just an hour ago. I was almost suffocating in the dim just now.
A few members from the front party seemed to notice our absence and waited for us, such as Eugene and Delon. Kristy and Beatrice were already long gone.
Before I continue, it is ALSO necessary for you to know that I never knew where the stream would end and what was there. How could you think of that when you had to concentrate on keeping your balance on the rocks to prevent yourself from slipping into the river?
But there will always be a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, or, in this case, a waterfall at the end of a stream.
It was breathtaking. Just when I thought that the stream would never come to an end, the sound of flowing water bounced off the boulders, reaching my ears. I quickened my pace, and, sure enough, a waterfall loomed into sight. Like I said, before, it was breathtaking.
The front party was already there, indulging themselves in all sorts of activities, such as splashing in the water, riding the Waterfall Slide, or simply just sitting down, chatting away while enjoying the flow of the strong current that massaged their backs.
“What is the Waterfall Slide?” you may ask. Well, there was a steep slope that was adjacent to the waterfall, and there, the water gushed down furiously, so all you need to do is to swerve into the slope when the time is right –which was just anytime- and the current will take you down into the pool at the bottom. Several daredevils were already addicted to the Slide and kept coming back for more.
I kicked off my soaked shoes and peeled off my wet socks and ran into the waterfall’s embrace. However, I wasn’t brave enough to ride the Slide, as I would have to suffer from a minor butt injury caused by the big boulder that stuck out halfway through the Slide. I had already used up most of my courage back at the stream. I could only witness the addicted daredevils –eg. Yi En, Jonathan, Cang Sheng etc. – perform their stunts over and over again, without a trace of fear or pain in their expressions.
Besides the Slide, there was also another entertainment station near the pool at the bottom of the Slide. Eugene and Delon were having their very own “Ask the Bomoh” segment. Both of them, holding palm leaves –nobody knew where they got it from- sat on a rock while other people asked them questions and they answered back. Illogically.
1)Jolin: What should I do so that I don’t feel cold?
Eugene: If you don’t want to be cold, just get out of the water lah.
2)Ying Ye: How do you make the palm leaf bend to the left?
Delon: If you want to make the palm leaf bend to the left, then just use your hand and bend it to the left!
So what did I do there? I just sat next to Jia Yuan and Susanna, observing the assorted activities that took place around me while enjoying the rush of the cool water against my back. After all, where else can you get closer to Mother Nature? To enjoy such pleasure? “So close to urbanity, yet so far from its disastrous living”, was the motto for SUFES Campsite, and it was true, in many, many ways. Sometimes, some girls from my dorm would come over and splash us with water and thus starting a giant water splash fight.
Soon, Linus announced our greatest fear: it was time to go back. We grumbled and groaned and reluctantly pulled on our socks and sneakers. The mushy feeling was back, but my greatest worry was: how were we going to go back? I mean, were we supposed to go back the way we came, through the stream?
We DID go back the way we came, but on flat ground instead. Well, at least it was better than wading back through water. Halfway through the journey, several Orang Asli toddlers followed us. They couldn’t be more than…5 years old? We were, like, so freaked out and they were following us, shrieking with laughter. Then, we saw Eugene whisper something to Delon in the front party and Delon began to walk behind us –and the toddlers, bringing up the rear. At the sight of him, the toddlers began to scream –deliberately or not, I didn’t get the chance to know- and avoided him. We couldn’t help but laugh at this.
In the end, they overtook us and ran…home, I guess. We turned around and Delon smiled sheepishly at us. I was right. He DID scare off the kids.
When we finally reached the road, -the journey on foot and on flat ground was so much easier and faster- we got into a line again and walked back to camp.
When we reached the camp, we had a small water balloon fight, using up all the balloons left from yesterday’s Camp Challenge.
After washing up, we headed to the canteen for dinner. Uncle Jack was barbecuing but I ate rice only because my stomach was already full –of butterflies, caused by my fear and nerves towards the upcoming drama.
When everyone was full, we headed to the hall. My heart was thumping violently against my ribs. This was it. Drama time. Then, suddenly, horrifying thoughts began to light up in my brain. What if I forgot what I was supposed to do? What if I screwed everything up and humiliated myself in front of all the campers and officers? I shuddered in horror. Just the mere thought of it sent lizards crawling up my spine.
The group leaders –ours was Zack, of course- came out and *lucky* draw-ed a piece of paper with a number on it that will decide our turn to perform the drama. We got number 2. 2. Can you believe that?
Let me just summarize the other groups’ drama into a title.
1) 007: Kidnap of the Two Pop Stars.
2) IMF: Modernized David and Goliath.
3) MIB: Theft of the PSP.
4) CIA: Murder of the Girlfriend.
5) FBI: Hostages in a Building.
So you see, ours was kind of different from the rest.
When the first group was done, my heart was doing somersaults and my stomach felt like the inside of a cement mixer. I got up slowly and proceeded to the centre of the hall.
Modernized David and Goliath
Zack: Hello! Da jia hao! Eh? (Presses imaginary button.) Vanekam! Eh?? (Presses imaginary button again.) Oh, sorry. Just now got technical problem. Sorry ya. We are the group IMF and let me introduce myself. Hi, everyone. You see me so ‘keh po’ one, sure know it’s me, Zack lor…And then let me introduce my teammates…
(Cang Sheng comes out.)
Zack: This guy leh, is the director of Organization KNS. You see him, face so round, stomach also round, everything also round, codename is Potato lor…Bye bye lah! (Pushes Cang Sheng away.) Then, next we have Goliath ah! Got muscle one loh! (Jonathan comes out, flexing his muscles.) He is 11 feet tall, you know! I’m 5 feet only! (Squats down to indicate that he is supposed to be shorter than Goliath when he is actually much taller than him.) You see, his hair so curly, codename Curly Hair lor… OK, bye bye already. (Pushes Jonathan away.) Next we have…oh, my boy boy! (Delon comes out and places his arm on Zack’s shoulder. Zack does the same and try to look like he’s *flirting* with Delon.) We met at a gay club in KL one! Shhh…don’t tell anybody ah! My boy boy so handsome, codename is Handsome Boy loh! (Delon pulls away. Zack blows him an air kiss. Ew.) Next we have our doctor, got PhD from Ampang Medical one! (Julia comes out.) Wait, how old are you arh?
Zack: 12 only ah! Then doctor from primary school only lor…OK, bye bye… (Julia goes away.) Next we have our army: Ah Sam, Ah Lian, Ah Moy! (Me, Jia Yuan and Kristy come out, put on a stupid pose and go away again.) OK, so the battle begins!
(Jia Yuan, Kristy, Jonathan and I come out. Kristy, Jonathan and I take the side of the bad guys and shoot at Jia Yuan, the good guy. Jia Yuan, Kristy and I hold air guns while Jonathan uses the pole as a sniper.)
Jonathan: @#*!$&%! (Screaming as the sound effect, pointing ‘sniper’ at Jia Yuan.)
Kristy and I: Pom pom pom! (xD)
Jia Yuan: I’m losing!
(I chase Jia Yuan.)
Zack and Julia: Ee yor, ee yor, ee yor… (Carries Kristy away.)
Zack: So, Organization KNS losing already lor, Director not happy lor! So Handsome Boy go and find Director!
(Cang Sheng pulls out a chair and sits on it. Zack holds the hula-hoop as the door to Potato’s office. Delon hooks the hook on the hoop and uses it as an entrance pass to Potato’s office. He presses imaginary buttons on Zack’s arm –which was holding the hoop- to unlock the ‘door’. Then, he walks in through the hoop.)
Cang Sheng: Hello.
Delon: @#!*%+&=!$@* Curly Hair! (Talks a bunch of crap deliberately.)
Cang Sheng: (Pretends to understand what Delon is saying.) Yes! Good! Very good!
Delon: OK? Bye bye. (Turns around to leave.)
Cang Sheng: Bye Bye.
Zack (still holding the hoop): Wait…
(Delon turns around and hols up his left hand as a sign for Cang Sheng to high-five him. Cang Sheng slaps his hand.)
(Delon climbs throught he hoop. Cang Sheng tries to climb after Delon but only succeeded after a few tries because his legs was too short.)
Zack: OK, so the translation for what Delon said just now is: “I want to fight Curly Hair, Curly Hair, Curly Hair, Curly Hair. And Curly Hair. In the name of Jesus, I believe I can win.” So this is the battle!
(Delon and Jonathan take the stage, each at one side. Delon uses hook as gun; Jonathan uses pole as sniper. Both of them raise their weapons.)
Zack: (Bursts in between Delon and Jonathan.) Cut!!!! Because the bullet is so fast, 100,000 km per hour, you cannot see! So how? Must use special effect lor…What special effect? Slow motion lor…
(Zack ‘pulls out’ bullets from both weapons and make them collide with each other in the middle. Twice. Third time, Delon’s bullet heads for Jonathan.)
Jonathan: Noooooo…. (Eyes widen, then bullet hits head and falls. Zack takes off his glasses and ‘roll’ it mid-air to make it land on Linus’s nose.)
(Delon walks over to Jonathan and places his foot on Jonathan’s chest to check his breathing. No breathing, literally. Delon walks away in triumph.)
Zack and Julia: Ee yor, ee yor, ee yor… (Zack pulls Jonathan’s left leg; Julia pulls his right.)
Zack: Wah, you very heavy lor… How heavy are you har?
Jonathan: (Even though he’s supposed to be dead.) Dunno.
Zack: I think you 60 over kg lah…Need to diet lor you… (Walks to Linus and retrieve Jonathan’s glasses.) Sorry har. Thank you for your co-operation. (Walks to the front to join us.)
(Everyone forms a line, including Jonathan.)
Zack: Aiya, you die already lah, don’t need to come out already lah! (Pushes him away.)
Zack: (Ignores Jonathan.) Thank you! (Everyone bows.)
How was it? Interesting? In my opinion, it was the best drama among the rest, mainly because ours was different. Unique. When all the groups were done, Josephine made a shocking announcement. (She does that a lot.)
“Before we total up the marks for each group, each group is given a chance to perform an Impromptu Drama. The best Impromptu Drama will get 10 marks. And because this is an IMPROMPTU Drama, you are not allowed to discuss among yourselves.”
And everyone did the I Drama. I didn’t plan to, but Zack insisted we did. We couldn’t discuss, so Zack just said, “We four boys are gambling then two of you be our girlfriends and the other two be the police, OK? OK.” Then he got up and so did everyone, even though my mouth was hanging open, gaping at Zack in horror.
Then, the four boys formed a circle in the middle of the hall, trying to look like they were gambling –I knew some of them were skeptical too- while we girls just stood there, dumbstruck, not knowing what to do.
Then, all of a sudden, Zack yelled, “Mata lai liao! Mata lai liao! (The police are here!)” And we -supposing that we were the police- held out air guns and shot the guys, with a juvenile “pom pom pom!” coming out from our mouths. Zack, Cang Sheng and Jonathan fell dead first, and the last was Delon, who, I assumed, was just as mystified as we were. Once he saw that the other boys were down, he looked at us in panic, and then fell down as well. Then, we –the girls- looked at each other, panicked and confused, not sure of what was happening.
Then, Zack rose from the dead, and so did the rest and we formed a line and bowed and said, “Thank you” again. It was so, so humiliating! What was Zack thinking?
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was asking the same question. The officers looked at us in confusion and Josephine even asked, “Like that only ah?” and Zack even had the nerve to reply, “As long as it’s funny mah.”
When all the groups were done with the I Drama, we had a short entertainment segment while the judges calculated the marks. We were each given two green neon sticks when the lights were off and the projector on. Then, Joyce introduced our little game.
Every time, a cropped picture of someone’s body parts –eg. eyes, nose, hand- or inanimate objects such as shirts, chairs etc. appeared on the screen and we had to guess who the parts or objects belong to. I turned rigid and gaped at Jia Yuan in horror. So did she. So both of us crossed our fingers and prayed that we weren’t included in the pictures.
Thankfully, we weren’t. Those who appeared on the screen were Cang Sheng (a cropped picture of his botak head), Julia (digging her nose), Zack (his lips –which some people called it ‘sexy’ xD), Delon (his eyes –which were also known as ‘sexy’ eyes x_x) etc. It was really, really fun, and for those whose pictures were on the screen, it was really, really embarrassing.
When the segment came to an end, Josephine took the stage and announced the winners.
“The Best Drama Group is…” Drum roll. “IMF!”
We cheered, but I wasn’t totally surprised. I mean, I thought we were really good! Not me, though, but the rest of the team. They were brilliant, and I sucked. Seriously.
“The Best Impromptu Drama Group is…” Drum roll again. “MIB!”
MIB’s I Drama was about a stolen T-shirt –yeah, weird, right?- but because of Eugene’s hilarious and brilliant acting, plus his teammates’ full co-operation, it turned out to be quite a humorous drama.
“And the Group with the Best Teamwork is…” Drum roll –again. “007!”
Huh? Group with Best Teamwork? I didn’t know there was such a title.
After that, Josephine asked the Best Drama Group to perform their drama again, which was –us.
Then, because we still had ample time before it was our bedtime, we were free to do anything –legal, of course- but our curfew was 11.30 p.m. However, Aunty Peh Lan ordered the Alor Starians to take part in the puppet show tomorrow so we had to practice. I took the role of a guard who was supposed to lead Jesus to prison. Jia Yuan was ordered to hold the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Angeline, Daphne and Susanna were in the play, too, but I’ve already forgotten their roles.
We hit the sack at 12 a.m.
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6th Dec 2008, Saturday
We missed the alarm today.
Well, actually, to be precise, Jia Yuan didn’t miss the alarm, but she went back to sleep after she turned it off.
At around 7 a.m., people began to knock on the door and called us to wake up. After a few irritating minutes, we finally woke up, collecting our clothes and toiletries, preparing to go to the toilet to wash up. However, little did we know what was in store for us…
Linus popped his head into our dorm, saw our actions and bellowed, “You are not supposed to brush your teeth, or wash your face or do anything related to washing up! And get to the field now!”
We froze. What???
“QUICK!” Linus shouted again.
We quickly –and absent-mindedly- squirmed out of our pajamas and into our clothes. We were the last to exit the dorm.
At the door, we couldn’t find our shoes.
“If you can’t find your shoes, walk to the field barefooted!” Linus said sinisterly, with a bit too much enthusiasm in his voice to make us feel any better.
At the field, we lined up according to our groups and everyone was wearing the same expressions as me. And I would bet my Twilight series that everyone was asking themselves the same question: What on Earth is happening???
Then, Josephine, who was also bare-footed, appeared before us.
“I see everyone doesn’t have their shoes on,” several people groaned. “Except one person in each group,” she added. Jonathan got the privilege –he had his Crocs on. “Well, I did not plan this. Really. It wasn’t me. Apparently, there were thieves last night,” and everyone began yelling, “Linus and Sherman! Linus and Sherman!” But Josephine interrupted, “If, you want to find your shoes, each group must hold hands and find their shoes in this area only.” She made a gesture, implying that the field and the main building were included in the stated ‘area’. “And boys are not allowed to talk. Only the girls are allowed.”
And we linked hands and began our search but it was a futile attempt. Everywhere we go returned zero results. Zilch. Nada.
Suddenly, someone shouted, “It’s here!” We followed the source of the voice and arrived at the store room. It was crowded with campers, eager to retrieve their shoes. We went in too –with a little bit difficulty- and found our SHOE. Singular. One side only. So the search continued.
By then, I was really annoyed. If only we’d woke up earlier! We managed to wake up early the past few days but failed to do so TODAY. On HUNTING DAY. What coincidence. Then, I had second thoughts. Maybe it was better this way. A last-day surprise. Enough to momentarily hide my last-day-of-camp sadness. Bring back the teamwork.
Zack suggested the canteen but we found nothing. Then, when we went back to the main building, Aunty Peh Lan, who had just emerged from the toilet, saw us barefooted and asked us, “Looking for shoes?” Then, she bent down to see the box that was placed under the table in front of the toilet. “Are they in there?” she suggested and walked away. We moved the table to check behind the box, but we didn’t open it. Nothing, so we continued our search.
Then, after a few minutes, when all the groups were gathered in front of the toilets, Zack made a very stupid and absurd suggestion. “Why don’t all the boys go into the girls’ toilet and the girls’ go into the boys’ toilet to check?” I was stunned –not to mention appalled- at Zack’s outrageous idea. He. Must. Be. Joking. But Eugene checked the boys’ toilet and found nothing.
Then, suddenly, a group –no idea which one- saw the box under the table that we had saw earlier. Only this time they didn’t just checked behind it; they opened it. And the shoes WERE in there! I grumbled in frustration at our bad luck. Why, oh why didn’t we open the stupid box?
When we were ‘full-footed’ again, we cleaned up and headed to the hall.
At the hall, we were asked to do Quiet Time again. We did ours at the canteen. Then, we had breakfast.
After breakfast, we headed to the amphitheatre to take our group photos. And because Josephine arrived late, we had chanted, “WE WANT CHICKEN DANCE FROM JO! WE WANT CHICKEN DANCE FROM JO!” But she refused to obey our command.
That was the ONLY fun part.
Then, we went back to the hall for our last Secret Agent program.
As I took my seat, a wave of sadness swept over me. It was the last day of camp. Time to say goodbye. I looked at everyone in my group: they had been like a family to me. As I looked back at the past few days, I was amazed at how many things –great things- had happened to me in just 3 days: I had made new friends, learned more about Jesus and even toughened myself up, except I wasn’t so tough right now. I could use the courage I had during Night Hike and Stream Trotting but it was as if it had already evaporated into thin air, evading me when I needed it most. I let my hair hide my face so that I could weep stealthily. I know, I know, I’m a crybaby, but I’m also a girl. Normal girls cry. AND my being emotional at trivial stuff doesn’t improve the situation, either.
“This is a solemn moment for everyone,” Josephine had said. I couldn’t help but agree with her whole-heartedly. It was indeed a hard time for me, even though it wasn’t for everyone. This time, I did my work more seriously; I didn’t want to leave a bad impression for everyone.
Before we left the hall, we were each given a postcard to write and send back home. I merely wrote a ‘Very sad to be going home. It had been tremendous fun here,’ which was nothing but the truth. Then, I handed it to Aunty Khim somberly.
After Secret Agent 4, we went around asking campers for their e-mail addresses. At least it was a relief that we would still keep in touch even after camp.
After loading our stuff into the van, we proceeded to the canteen for lunch.
I couldn’t eat. The already forming nostalgia tried to stop food from entering my stomach, so I only snacked a little.
As I headed back to the field –where the van was parked- I took in everyone’s face and memorized them: we might never see each other again. I wanted to hug everyone and bid them goodbye but the 21st century modernisms prevented me from doing so.
We –the Alor Starians- received several farewells, and even the mute Delon was talkative right now.
When we were seated comfortably in Aunty Peh Lan’s van, I looked out of the window and scrutinized everyone’s complexion again. I was definitely going to miss them. As Aunty Peh Lan started the car, I returned their waves of farewell, watching them become smaller and smaller until I couldn’t see them anymore. I heaved a loud sigh and prepared myself for the long and tiring journey back to my old, dull life.
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The Journey Home
In the van, we kept on recalling the good times we had during camp and laughed and sighed together. It was…incredible. I have never felt this way before. Only four hours after I’d left Tapah and I could already feel the nostalgia rising in my throat and eliminating my appetite. My mind was vulnerable. The painful fact that I was leaving camp was still in my heart, waiting to be unleashed once triggered. Too many thoughts about it might send me into fits of tears, probably scaring Jia Yuan and the others in the van, so I built a wall around the sweet, lethal memories of camp in my mind, not daring to even peek into it.
Both Jia Yuan and I agreed that this was way, way better than the Pumpong School Trip we went to last year, which was probably the most memorable event of my life –until now. I figured out why: we were positive that we would be able to meet our schoolmates again, whereas chances of meeting our fellow campers again were close to zero.
When I reached home and found Google, Golden, Chien Chien, Mum and Dad waiting for me, it was so …strange and weird. I felt uncomfortable and uneasy in my own house. It was familiar yet strange at the same time. Everything I saw felt like a dream. Even my new issue of Galaxie magazine –that I usually enjoy reading very much- couldn’t cheer me up. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t force the tears to come out. Just like what Aunty Peh Lan had taught us earlier: denying the reality when we don’t want to believe in it.
I headed to the kitchen and tried to convince myself that I was ravenous but the nostalgia was still there so I gave up eating.
Right then, I felt like a zombie.
I went to the living room and lied down on the couch and tried to watch TV, but I couldn’t hear what it was saying. I couldn’t even see what it was showing. I just lay there, confused and tired, like a lost child in a jungle, though my conscience was denying it. Soon, I dozed off.
My Mum woke me up and ordered me to wash up and sleep. I cleaned up and lied on my bed, staring into space.
And that was when the tears came.
I was grateful that my parents weren’t there to see the state I was in. I was absolutely sure that I looked terrible.
As I regained my steadiness, I found myself drifting off to sleep, and feeling a little guilty that I was wishing to be sleeping on a hard bed in a stuffy, humid and hot room rather than on a soft and comfortable bed in a cool and chilly room.