Malaysia / Lumut 1992
THE JUNGLE OR TEAM-BUILDING CHAPTER
After returning to Penang, I was amazed to find all the department heads as fit as a fiddle. All my colleagues had joined a fitness training program in preparation for a team-building workshop at an outward bound survival school in Lumut, a small city in Peninsula Malaysian, in a jungle on the west coast. I missed the training but everyone assured me that I was strong enough for such an activity in the jungle... I was not so sure though. We left in a bus for a one week jungle adventure.
Having arrived at the Kampung Baru, which was not a new village like the name suggests (translated from Bahasa Melayu, the national language) but a wooden training camp at the Lumut River. The instructor told us that from that day onwards, only one thing will control our lives. A whistle. Loud and clear. There was no excuses for one who did not hear it. All our watches, jewels and other valuables were collected and locked in a safe box. The quarters looked a little worse that military barracks and the only available air came from an open window which naturally allowed mosquitoes into our rooms. Special thanks goes out to our Housekeeper, Mrs. Food who did not quit her job from the camp and ensured that our environment was clean. Thank you once again.. this comes from all members of the group.
There were four to a room, both men and women. At the sound of the whistle, everybody had to run to the meeting point for our first briefing. If one were too late after the third whistle, the whole group would be penalized to do 20 push ups. So practically everybody ra fast to keep up the team spirit. We were all required to wear a long sleeve shirt, gloves, head gear, long pants, socks and shoes. The following day was our "kayak" trip, so we learned how to "kayak". All were needed to know how to swim. With all our clothes in the water it seemed to serve as a jelly fish protection. We learnt everything from how to turn over and how to go back into the easily toppled kayak, how to pee, how to sit and so on... within the same evening. Even Jeffry, Ms.Bac, Eric, the Engineer, Wing Wy, Jeanie, Tony and William got comfortable with the small boat... at least a little comfortable. Dinner was simple and it was cooked by our team of four.
Early next morning, the wake-up whistle was at five am. Breakfast was nasi lemak (coconut rice with dry anchovies and boiled salted egg and chilli paste) and local coffee. Soon we were in the kayak once again with jeanie, the Sales Manager, and after 7 long hours, we arrived at the target point barely able to move. a few of us got sea-sick, others wet and all tired... I mean really tired!
We were told to pack our backpacks and walk to the camp site. When we arrived there was no camp insight. We had to erect our camp, followed by dinner preparation, eating and learning how to handle a safety line for a rock-climbing exercise the following day.
Rock climbing which was my first experience was very exciting especially when you realize that your life is in the hands of someone else above the cliff. But I soon gained confidence when Norshah, our Human Resource Manager, lost her shoes on the walls of the cliff but did not fall as people above the cliff were holding on to the line.
In the afternoon came our orientation walk up to the mountain, 912 meters above sea level, in the humid tropical climate through Malaysias jungle. Everybody had a hard time coping with the sticky feeling of encountering mosquitoes, ants and other animals in the jungle. Once we reached the top, we set up our campfire and prepared dinner. We were surprised to find that there was not enough water for us. The 2 litters of wate pre person which were self-carried had finished. I skipped dinner in exchange for 3 dinner spoons of water for the next days departure form the mountain. The air was fresh and birds were chirping but the paranoia of dangerous snakes because we had forgotten our sulphur (for protection) made our rest impossible that night. sleep was at the most an hour.
The next few days were filled with psychological exercises for the mind and body.
All in all, this was the best training I ever had. We left a perfect team from this outward bound survival school. Returning to the hotel, was a fully responsible team running the Shangri-La Hotel without any communication problems and fully understanding each individual in the group. The Manager and department heads (next to the General Manager) had through this jungle training gained the perfect harmony and production level.
Team spirit boosted my extension of contract to two more years in Penang.
The Local Recipe
Lumut Nasi Lemak
Coconut rice the daily breakfast
PUT RICE WITH A BIT LEMON
JUICE , SALT AND A BUNCH OF PANDAN LEAF IN RICE COOKER , FILL UP
WITH THE STRONG SANTAN (FIRST GRADE COCONUT CREAM) AND COOK SLOW
OR 45 MINUTES TILL COOKED.
THE RICE WILL TAKE FANTASTIC COCONUT AND PANDAN FRAGRANT.
COCONUT RICE IS EASY SPOILED AND SUITABLE FOR CONSUMPTION ONLY FRESH ! ! ! !
GARNISH THE NASI LEMAK WITH SMALL DEEP- FRIED FISH , DRY SILVER-FISH , FRIED PEANUTS , DEEP-FRIED CHICKEN WINGS AND IN PALM LEAF GRILLED FISH MOUSSE ( OTAH OTAH ) , FINALLY ADD COLOUR WITH FRESH SLICE OF CUCUMBER , TOMATO AND A HALF SALTY EGG.