6am morning alarms which followed suit by the groans induced by sleepiness and the morning washing, dressing routine.
6.30am breakfast, our favourite rice noodles with a cup of heart-warming Milo served.
7am all ready and set to go.
That’s how we started our one and only Sunday together.
The wooden benches on the hi-lux carried the weight of the group of 13. The soft wind carried the laughter of our jokes and excitement. Rocky, bumpy roads. Like most rides we experience, this one is not the most smooth-sailing one to say the least. Our thoughts went up and down like how the ride went.
13 individuals, 13 personalities, 13 minds, 13 dreams.
In this tiny, cramp space.
We are all but one.
We are a team.
A team that mostly have fun and makes every moment enjoyable.
A team which supports and motivates, keeps each other in check to strive for betterment and improvement together.
Our baby footsteps are aligned in direction with one another.
We made our first stop at Kota Maradu, the nearest nearby town. Schedule listed as below:
Stop 1, a local laundromat.
Stop 2, a local supermarket.
Stop 3, a local photo-printing shop and a local mamak restaurant.
Faint murmurs at the back of my mind reminded me how nice it would be to have fresh laundry after a long week. On a side note, we replenished some necessities and snacks, also bought some stationery as motivational gift for them to work harder. On some of the students’ request and our combined opinion, we decided to print out photos for each student that we tutor. Everyone’s craving was also all well sorted out after the short but satisfying mamak brunch. That concluded our trip to the town in the morning, and then we set off to our next destination.
The sun was right above of our heads. It was like a competition where the piercing sunshine was unrelenting to the heat its same master produced. We arrived in the northern part of the Kinabalu Park – the world-heritage substation, Serinsim. Walking into the entrance of the rainforest, we were greeted by soft sounds of splashing water and a beautiful view of the clear river. Once leaving our valuables with the teachers, some accompanied us for a short hiking trip. In slippers and trainers without a proper sole for most and a 500ml bottle of water in hand, we started our little hiking journey.
It seemed as if the forest has a mind of its own, sending leeches as warm welcome. We as guests, although however unwilling, paid with fresh blood in return for stepping into and exploring their territory. We paid a visit to the tomb of a local hero, Sigunting and also the grave of the tallest man.
3.6km to and fro in total. Approximately 2.5 hours.
Sweats trickling, heavy breathes, dehydrated bodies. We replenished ourselves with a scrumptious lunch prepared by the teachers. Several dishes such as roasted chicken, chilli chicken, fishes and vegetable dishes were all laid out on the table in buffet style, together with a small station beside the hut where we also get to have some refreshing Pandan coconuts to quench our thirsts. Alongside the feast, we also celebrated Headmaster George’s birthday as well.
This very place also became our temporary crossroad with the Tumunda team.
With team spirits high and cheers roaring, everyone was hyped up and on their nerves, not because of competitiveness but due to the chilly gushing water flowing down the river, catching the attention of onlookers. Everyone was probably waist deep in the river water. Mini games were introduced and competition naturally sparked. Without knowing what we have gotten ourselves into, suddenly, we are the lego parts in an imaginary construction. The first battle was the battle of length, the second was the battle of height and the final was to see which team could make a larger circle. Later that afternoon, we played another two mini games where first, we compete by throwing eggs at our teammates and win by securing it, not letting it fall into the river and second, blowing flour off the plastic plates.
Of course, Sher Maine’s re-enactment the infamous Lion King moment of the day must not be forgotten. Looking back at our photo album, we all took so many group pictures by the river. These images will hopefully be imprinted as one of our precious memories in the future. Don’t think we would ever forget the moment of happiness and relief when we saw both CLEAN and RUNNING water. #onlyTeringaithings
Without bringing an extra set of clothes with us, we were forced to return in a cold, wet and soaked manner. Back in the back of the hi-lux, I could feel the cold wind grazing our cheeks. The girls’ hair messy, tangled and untamed. Despite all that, it was worth the fun we had. At that point, everyone only wished for us to quickly arrive back in Teringai for a nice shower (only to face Teringai living up to its reputation of the lack of clean running water later for half of us).
It was time to go ‘home’.
Time to leave what was temporary.
Back to the embrace of our kids back in Teringai.
Only the ride back wasn’t as peaceful as I thought it would be.