The Rainforest Challenge!
By Jade Hui
For Singapore city girl whose only jungle-like experience was trekking Bukit Timah Hill, I would have never expected myself to be in a real jungle, much less a Malaysian jungle for 10 days! I headed for this trip thinking it would be a piece of cake. That was till I experienced it myself…
The first night was filled with excitement and much anticipation. From looking for a suitable campsite (I didn’t know you have to look out for so many things such as loose overhanging tree trunks, clean water sources, shade etc) to pitching my very first tent to building a campfire and of course peeing in the jungle. I even had to ask my colleagues how to bath in the river Haha! But the most unforgettable experience had to be digging a hole to do my ‘big business’ in the jungle! Hahaha!!
A typical Rainforest Challenge day would include 6 courses of Special Stage (SS) at each campsite before resting through the night and heading off-road in the morning to the next campsite. The journey to each campsite was an adventure by itself; driving through muddy, swampy routes which frequently required winching and along bumpy roads. (Personally, I loved driving on the bumpy roads as it reminds me of being rocked to sleep Haha!) However I wouldn’t recommend it, as driving along a path speckled with big and small humps is very dangerous. I kept bumping my head against the windows all through the journey and twice I almost flew to the front windscreen!
Looking at how the various competitors completed their SS made me realize that this sport is more than just a challenge. It also requires loads of Courage, Decisiveness and Teamwork. Take for example, the 45degrees steep rocky slope challenge. Working instinctively with your co-driver, the team will have to leverage on surrounding trees to assist them to successfully overcome the obstacle.
What struck me most was when an emergency night rescue was activated for a fellow competitor who hurt his back in the “Twilight Zone” – 12hrs of tough off-road challenge to safely rush him to the hospital. Volunteers and officials alike all offered their help. The entire operation lasted throughout the night 2230hrs till 0400hrs in the morning.
Even though I did not participate as a competitor, there were times I felt like giving up. Especially when I experienced a high fever on my 2nd night that lasted for 3 days. I had planned to return back home on the 9th day but with the encouragement and care from my team mates, I decided to stay on as we are in this all together.
I must admit that our ATV wasn’t in tip-top condition, breaking down every 50km or so but my team never once gave up. Everyone was focused on completing the whole journey with pride and coming back with a bigger and stronger team. These were the very thoughts that keep me strong till the very end.
At the end of 10 long days during the closing ceremony, we were awarded with a special award – Team Sprite. A gush of ‘hair standing moment’ swept through me as I watched my team accepting the medal up on stage. Without a doubt, it was the most reassuring and best reward for us all. Not only that, we made numerous friends and other 4×4 enthusiasts. Special mention to Luis, the event director and his deep passion for the sport. He certainly organized a wonderfully successful event where everyone could not only participate and have fun but at the same time ensure that everyone’s safety was first priority.
As for me it was a once in a lifetime experience and certainly added values to my ‘still-long-way to go’ life.