Friday, October 12, 2007

AdventuRun,7 Oct 2007

For the first time in the Sky Adventure Club of Taylor’s Business School history, a public event was organized by the members of S.A.C. This is a new challenge that involves organizing a charity run for the AIDS Council of Malaysia and opened to the public. Up to 200 plus participants registered for the event, some that were really interested in testing their strength in the run while some were generous people who wish to help and donate money to the AIDS Council. The event was held on October 7th. The specific reason for the timing (because it was a Ramadan period) was because there wasn’t any run that were on in that time period. The run was held in Taman Pertanian Bukit Cahaya, Shah Alam. It is an agricultural park filled with lush greenery with little extras along the route, having aviaries, a mini zoo, 4 seasons house and many others.

Participants began arriving at the place around 6.30 and entered into two lanes, one for under 21 and another is above 21. The first and third categories (men and women below 21) were flagged off by the assistant organizing chair person, Leong Sai Hou (Psycho) at 7am. 15 minutes later, the second and fourth (men and women above 21) were flagged off. Members of the club and some volunteers from the Malaysian AIDS council were stationed at certain points of the park to ensure that the participants remained on the right track and don’t wander onto the wrong path. They were also charged with upholding the rules and safety of the participants. At the halfway mark, a detour was set to direct traffic to the U-turn point with an ambulance stationed there. Along the path to the U-turn point, a water station was set up to quench the participant’s thirst. After collecting a ribbon from the U-turn point, runners ran through the track that they ran before and passed the detour to continue on to the finish line.

Nearly 50 minutes after they began, the first runner came in, hardly panting or puffing from the uphill/downhill distance run with a 2 or 3 others in tow. Not too long after, more participants started coming in, all within the time limit of 3 hours to complete the challenging run. At the finish line, one booth was taken up by the AIDS council to educate people about AIDS while another was occupied by S-Factor, distributing drinks to the tired runners. At 9, the AIDS Council had an interactive talk on AIDS with the participants who had already there. At 9.30, the Dance Club performed their lively and “hot” dance to keep the participants entertained followed by an energizing show by the Tae Kwan Do club (which included board breaking stunts). The prize giving ceremony began at 10am followed by lucky draws for the lucky few who spun the wheel for the draw. This was followed by a thank you speech by the organizing chairperson, Boey Winson (King Kong). So thus, the event has come to a close by 10.30am. This is yet another successful event organized by Sky Adventure Club of Taylor’s Business School. Many of the participants (mostly pacesetters) were satisfied with the event and commented that it was a little short. Be sure to keep an eye out for AdventuRun 2008!

SEATRU , 8 – 15 Sept 2007

SEATRU is a voluntary program that has been ongoing in Malaysia since 1993. This conservation program was attended by 7 Sky Adventure members and 1 chaperone on the 8 to 15 September 2007.

It began on September 7th where the volunteers gathered at the bus terminal in Putra. The bus departed at 9.00 pm to Kuala Terengganu. The time of arrival at the Kuala Terengganu bus station was about 5.30am. Breakfast was at the bus station but the only stall that was available at the time was only a stall selling Nasi Lemak and Nasi Dagang at RM1 per packet. After breakfast, we headed off to the SEATRU House in UMT, got changed to get ready for the seawaters after the briefing. At about 8am, there was a briefing before heading out to Merang Jetty where a boat to Laguna Redang was waiting for us at the jetty. It was about a 45 minutes ride from the jetty to the resort and once we were there, we hopped onto another boat that’ll take us to Chagar Hutang from Laguna Redang. Once we arrived there, the scene was beautiful. The beach was all white with only trees in the back drop. Not a soul in sight and not a building too. The water was crystal clear that you can see right through the blue waters to the corals below just by sitting on the boat. Once on land, we saw the place that we will be staying for the next 7 days. It was not only humble, it was also fitting to live with attached bathrooms and the place was powered by solar panels so that there will be electricity at night. Upon the day of arrival, we were greeted by squirrels that were more interested in the food there then the new comers. These little critters were not only curious, they were also daring enough to come down to get a bite of crackers or anything that was given. We explored a little of the place and discovered 8 hammocks readily waiting and we all ‘chilled’ out for a while. However, the first day doesn’t mean its all play and no work. This is a voluntary conservation program and we were already going on patrols and started our shifts when we got there. At 5.30 in the evening, nests were excavated to see if there were any ants eating the eggs or were there any hatchlings that were ready to be collected and to be released later that night. 7pm, dinner was served by the staff. However, since this is not a resort or anything like the sort, plates, cups and utensils were to be set and readied ourselves. After dinner, we all headed out to the beach, set the groundsheet onto the sand and sat and waited to see if there were any turtles landing that night. Eventhough from 9 to 12, there were no turtles, we all still enjoyed staring into the heavens and stargazed while keeping a close watch on the beach for turtle landings. Sadly on the first night, no turtle came to greet us but we were still happy to see the little turtles scuttle off into the sea at 4am.

2nd day, the day began with breakfast, bread and peanut butter and jam. After breakfast, we were allowed to go snorkeling. After about 3 hours of snorkeling, we had a beach clean up back and began patrolling the beach for predators such as monitor lizards. Those who were not on duty went to relax at the dining area, play games and even made a monitor lizard trap close to the boys room. The usual activity was done at 5.30pm, nests were excavated to check if the turtles have hatched and record the number of hatchlings and those that did not. Dinner was served at the usual time, 7pm. After dinner, we all had a little rest before heading out to the beach for the night watch from 9 onwards. The first few hours weren’t any different from the previous night but at 2 something in the morning, our luck changed. A turtle came up! We were all very excited as it was the first landing for us. It took the turtle 3 hours as it did “body pitting” twice before it started laying eggs, during which, a second turtle came up to nest. The first turtle finished nesting at 5.30 am and went back into the water whilst the second one finished at 6 before heading back into the water.

3rd day, a little tired from the lack of sleep due to watching the turtles lay eggs, we all had breakfast before setting out for island hopping and snorkeling trips for the day. At 10 am, we were taken to the Marine Conservation park to snorkel, then to another island before stopping by Pulau Lima to snorkel. At about 12p.m. we arrived back at Chagar Hutang where we had lunch and began patrolling duties till the evening where we excavated the nests for the day before hitting the showers and dinner. That night, lady luck wasn’t smiling on us as it rained nearly the entire night. No turtle landings, no sleep on the beach and no stargazing that night. Not only that, some of us who were sleeping in the dining hall was greeted in wee hours by a gecko repeating “ok ou” really loud which surprised those who were sleeping there.

4th day, everyone got up at about 10 am and had breakfast before starting duty early that day. After breakfast, the trap was sprung and we had successfully caught a monitor lizard. However, it didn’t last as the critter escaped by digging a hole under the trap and got away. In the evening, we had an unguided river hiking up the river nearby and it was a 1 hour hike. The hike took us to the source of our water supply (meaning that’s where our bath and drinking water is coming from). However, when we reached back, the research assistant and staff told us the point we reached (we thought was the peak) wasn’t the end. As long as we were still able to climb, it is still not the end. A bit disappointed, we went on with the daily routine and decided to take on the river hike challenge another day when we were free. That night, luck wasn’t on our side either. It rained heavily and no turtles came up to lay eggs because of the weather.

5th day, the day begun as usual, breakfast, patrolling, and everything, but today, at about 3 in the evening, one of the staff, Gary, took us turtle rock hiking. We were taken through the jungle for about 2 and a half hours. Through the journey, we stopped by 5 spots that had remarkable views of the ocean. It is at the peak of the island and at each peak are rocky edges, falling would cause death if not, serious injuries. But it was worth it all, the view was spectacular, the air was fresh and cooling as it constantly breezed through us. All the points were remarkable as they are but the best was the fourth point, a.k.a Turtle Rock. From that point, we can see beyond the horizon, beautiful breeze, and also a view of a young hawksbill turtle from up there. A very lucky view as they are a very rare species around Chagar Hutang. After coming down from the hike, we all returned to the lodge and prepared for dinner. Candles were lit to save electricity as it is limited. This night, we were more fortunate as there were two landings side by side. However, only one green turtle nested, another was only a track. The best part is that the track belonged to a hawksbill. Later in the wee hours, we were expecting the hawksbill to return but no sign of it.

6th day, the day began with the volunteers waking at 9 in the morning, had breakfast and then deciding on what to do for the day. 2 of the volunteers decided to do a little snorkeling before lunch while the remainders went on to take on river hiking again. This time it took them 50 minutes to reach the peak, to the very end where water came out of the ground and going any further would only mean walking on dry land. It took them 2 hours 20 minutes to reach the peak, play around and hike back down to the lodge. Later on, after lunch, the two who went snorkeling went on the trail to the peak for river hiking and head back down. This time it took them 52 minutes instead. After the daily routines, that night, there were no turtle landings eventhough it was a clear night.

7th day, the last day we will be spending our time in Chagar Huntang. Today, everyone got up at 9 and had breakfast. Some went out to snorkel for the last time but the water was just too murky. Maybe it was because of the Tsunami that happened far away. The waves were bigger and stronger than usual for the past few days because of that. As we could hardly see a thing, we only snorkel a while before heading back to the lodge to get back to duty and lunch. Daily routines were done till nightfall and all of us were busy during the day, carving our nicknames onto dried corals to mark our presence there. That night, it was a bonus. At about 10 to 11 pm, one of the staff told us that there were 4 landings and 3 nestings, one of which is the rare and elusive hawksbill turtle. 3 green turtle landings and 2 nestings were recorded. The staff did most of the recordings while they asked us to watch over the hawksbill. When the time came, the hawksbill turtle had begun laying eggs, we went over to watch and even recorded the event. The nest was excavated right away as the place it chose to lay its eggs was not suitable and had to be moved. The hawksbill turtle layed 157 eggs before it stopped and started to close the nest. This species was not only small, it was much faster as well. It took a much shorter time to lay eggs and close the nest. It even got lost by going into the jungle but then found its way out again after a while. It moved much faster than the green turtle as well and its way of moving was also different, rather than putting the front flippers forward and pulling, it moved with both front and back flippers and scuttle forward. Later that night, there wasn’t any more landing or nesting but seeing the hawksbill was enough to satisfy us.

Last day, all of us woke up earlier than usual, at 8a.m., cleaned up the place and made breakfast. After all was done, when we were all packed up and ready to head back to the land mass, Prof Chan, the program director, came with sponsors and the media, including NTV7. The media made interviews, and some of the volunteers did some demo for the press. After all was done, all the volunteers were taken back to Laguna Redang to hop onto the ferry ride back to Merang Jetty. At the end of the journey, all of us were feeling sad for leaving the island. It was like we were all used to living there, the clean air, away from the hustle and bustle of city life and just taking things easy and slow. It will be a memory that will stay for a very long time in the hearts and minds of the volunteers who went to this program. It was also a good chance to get to know and bond with one another as they have to spend an entire week with each other, eating each other’s cooking, helping out with the cleaning and all the activities that were done there. Lastly, this is one of the best trip organized by Sky Adventure Club of Taylors University College for the year! Accomplish or do not begin!!