Sunday, January 15, 2012

photo credits; yanling's facebook photo album 'no one thought that we would cry on the last day ♥'

Yes, I'm back from the Outward Bound Singapore Course and yes, I survived! 
I had wanted to blog about the entire experience on Friday when I came back but I was too tired to do so. It's Sunday today, but hopefully the memories will stay as fresh and accurate as they were previously. 

OBS was way amazing. 
I didn't expect it to be such a wonderful experience but it was. I never knew that OBS would be such an incredible bonding experience with my new classmates. Those five days (9-13 Jan 2012) is definitely a period of time that I would remember for life. Cliche as it sounds, their tagline "there's something about OBS that stays with you for life" is extremely true. 

I went to OBS with a heavy heart - afraid to do new things, unprepared for the challenges ahead and simply put off by the thought of having to spend 5 days in someplace where I'm probably going to be uncomfortable in. I mean, I'm not the kind that screams at the mere sight of insects nor am I the kind who's unable to do things on their own - I knew how to pitch tents / do outdoor cooking prior before they taught us to. What I was truly apprehensive about was my personal fitness level as most importantly, having only the company of 27 other people I wasn't familar with. At all. (p/s: There are 31 people in my class but 3 were unable to attend OBS)

There were so many wonderful things that happened during the entire course and due to the fact that I don't wish to forget any of these points, I'm going to run through the events that happened everyday in a day-to-day format, even if it might be a  little dry.

Day 1
Headed to Pulau Ubin with my new classmates and we started off really really well!
The entire bus was bubbling with excitement and I was already starting to feel at ease with everyone (: I had a hunch that the next 5 days was going to be awesome (and well, I was right). On the boat to Pulau Ubin with about 7 other classmates, we were singing songs and just having the time of our lives. The sea breeze blew through our hair and I felt free - away from checking my email every five seconds, away from homework, away from the stress of living in a modern day society.

When we reached OBS Camp 1 - which my class was lucky enough to be staying in cos it's the newer campsite - I felt happy and not that apprehensive. We gathered in the Multi Purpose Hall while waiting for the other classes to arrive. While waiting, our class bonded so much. We played crazy games and I really went all out - not really caring about what I was doing and let loose. Our class probably made the most noise, doing pointless things like the body wave thingy and loads of random crap.

Then we met our instructors, Boo and Chee Tong. Boo was in charge of my watch, named 'Eng Soon' after a Singapore politician and our watch consisted of 15 people. The other half of my class was under Chee Tong in a watch called 'Dhanabalan'. Boo came across as someone rather socially awkward and strict while Chee Tong was fun and friendly.

We settled some admin stuff, ate at the cook house (which reminded me of the meal I ate at Pulau Tekong when my brother enlisted into NS) and it consisted of fish, chicken, rice and veggies (which I politely declined hehe). Then we started belaying practice early cos we had extra time and we all knew how it was done as we had done a Sport Climbing module last year for PE.

Cooked dinner, pitched tents, showered (CAMP 1 HAS HEATERS!), sang a beautiful song prepared by Instructor Chee Tong and slept with my tentmates - Shermaine, Sarah and Nicole :D

Day 2
This was a crazy unlucky day for my tent, but Shermaine and myself especially.
Four of us woke up really really early and none of us had watches, which led to us wondering if we should get up as we were only allowed to walk around at 5.30am. We decided to get out of our tents to wash up but everything was pitch black and it was so quiet around the campsite. It was a bit creepy but we managed, so we were one of the first few to unpitch our tents and get ready for morning exercises.

My tent lost one poncho and there was a lot of drama which isn't good to write explicitly but it was settled in the end (: Ate breakfast and then we were told we were going to kayak! Yes, I think our watch was exceptionally fast and we got to do things ahead of others. We packed our bags for the next 2 days outside of camp 1 and left it in another boat. Then, we learnt the basics of kayaking before putting on our life jackets and heading into the sea in a circle. We were told to lean back - to trust one another as well as the life jacket. Boy, was that an amazing experience! Not only was it super fun, I felt like we were supporting one another so much, by encouraging those who didn't dare to lean back and it was awesome.

Grouped with Shermaine and Hana as a kayak group. Then we had to capsize once. We were super unlucky because we had to be the last to go and everyone was already done and I felt a bit weird. But we were quite successful and capsizing didn't turn out as bad as I had imagined it to be. Afterwards, we had to kayak to Camp 2 from Camp 1 and we were so unlucky because our hatchet had an ant nest and it was filled with a crazy amount of ants. We managed to get to Camp 2 successful though (: Although the distance wasn't long, it felt good and fulfilling.

We ate lunch (HAPPY FOOD) and were told that we were going to do Height Elements. I was looking forward to Flying Fox or something more thrilling but we had to climb a rock wall. At first, I felt super upset because we have been climbing rock walls during PE lessons last year and it wouldn't be much of a new experience or challenge but when I saw the wall we were attempting to climb, I became scared and uncertain instead!

Yes it's that wall that's facing the camera in the above photograph! It doesn't have those coloured bumps for you to grab. Instead, it was just a rough surface made to imitate real surfaces of cliffs. When I saw it, I felt as if it was almost impossible to climb up that thing. I mean, what are you even supposed to grab? Instructor Chee Tong demonstrated once and boy was he good. 

I was so afraid of not being able to make it because everyone else (so far before me) made it to the top and if I couldn't, it would be such an embarrassment. Not that my classmates would laugh at me or anything, but it wouldn't feel good. I gave it a shot though and I really felt like giving up halfway. My grip on the rough surface was so insecure and the entire wall was so rough I suffered many cuts and scraps even before I reached the top. But, my classmates at the below me were just cheering me on and giving me advice. As cheesy as this sounds, it really spurred me on - I felt more motivated and it was truly heartening that so many people were supporting me. When I almost reached the platform, Debbie, who was on the other side, gave me her hand and pulled me up - that action really warmed my heart so much. The feeling of triumph when you step on that platform felt amazing. Knowing that so many people were supporting you just added to the wonderful feeling. 

Then we cooked, pitched tents, showered (it was difficult because I had open wounds everywhere), sang another beautiful song and slept with my tent mates.

Day 3

Time for our land expedition! :D
Carried our crazy heavy bags (weighing approx 20kg each), given a map, four compasses and just a few coordinates. The rest was up to us. 
Our watch was given a mission (something that other watches didn't have to do, I learnt afterwards) which was to find the seven wonders of Pulau Ubin before we made our way to Camp 3 - which is the public outdoors area not belonging to OBS. It made everything much more tiring and tested our patience even more.

Instructor Boo, unlike other instructors, basically left everything to us, not saying a word throughout the entire expedition and it felt so horrible because we didn't know if we were lost and we had to trek backwards if we missed one of the seven wonders. Other watches trekked for about 2-3 hours at most while my watch trekked for about 7 hours (9am-5pm) with that 20kg bag just because we had to do that mission thing which other watches didn't need to do. Throughout the entire journey, we were probably cursing and swearing at our Instructor but the expedition really brought all 15 of us closer - to persevere and support one another during tough times. When we met other classes during our land expedition, they all wondered what we were looking for and it felt really horrible to be doing something extra. Now, I realize, that we were actually fortunate to be doing these because we grew closer and the sense of satisfaction we got when we reached Camp 3 was really great. All of us had abrasions on our shoulders because the bag strap sliced through them but it was pretty worth it!

Halfway through trekking (: Still all smiles, I love you guys (': 

When we reached the Campsite, it was some campsite called Camp Mammam if I'm not wrong, I was surprised to find out that it was a beach with a beautiful scenery and we could see aeroplanes flying really close towards us (: There was once when an aeroplane flew past, I told those near to me to make a wish and started singing "Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?" (: It felt quite amazing. We were also lucky enough to be given toilets (Other watches had to dig holes in the ground. Perhaps that was why our trekking mission was more difficult) but the toilet water was rainwater so it wasn't all that clean. Not complaining though.

305 was at the same campsite as us and our instructors made a mini bonfire thing with one large jerry can and a red torchlight (: They played beautiful music and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was so enthusiastic and I felt so wonderful to be enjoying the sea breeze with so many people whom I loved. 

Slept in the tents with my tentmates and woke up at around 5am to do patrol duty which was terribly scary. 

Day 4
Sea expedition day! 
We had to kayak around Pulau Ubin and back to Camp 1 in some diamond formation and had to eat our lunch in the sea. We set off early in the morning after we had our breakfast (I had a sachet of milo powder poured into my mouth)

Before we set off on our expedition! (: It was such an amazing experience, really (': 
Kayaking in the choppy waters with waves coming at you, having to avoid those houses on slits, having to pedal for our lives away from a huge ship (resembling titanic!) that was coming towards us and most importantly, sharing these lovely memories with 306'12. 

I loved it when Shermaine and I would randomly start singing songs because it really lifted our spirits and it gave us a beat to pedal to. Instructor Chee Tong blasted really cool songs from his phone for us and it gave us so much more motivation to pedal on. 

We kayaked for around 5 hours before reaching the awesome Camp 1 again. However, we were actually ahead of time and our instructors decided to let us do the jetty jump since we were already wearing life jackets. I was a bit afraid but I saw that my classmates all did it with ease and we were all wearing life jackets (plus I knew how to swim) so what's there to lose? So I walked to the platform and just jumped off (Y) The worst thing was probably the salt that went into my eyes and nose but I'm so glad I did it.

Had celebratory dinner and a nice warm shower before sleeping (:

Day 5
Last day of OBS ): Had breakfast at the cook house - bee hoon, sausage and warm milo!
Then we had to pack up our stores before doing those reflection stuff. 

My watch became so emotional (we don't even know why) but many of us started crying during the sharing session. We were thinking of the next two years spending our time together before graduation and we kind of acted like we were graduating already but it really overwhelmed me because it's crazy to imagine that a bunch of us, only into 2 weeks of knowing one another, have already formed a bond so strong that made us tear just thinking that we won't be with each other next time. 

I'm so proud of 306 (: 
As much as I'm glad my lovely cozy bed is right next to me now, those 5 days have been amazing, really. It's definitely going to remain in my memories. Forever (':

Anyway, on a side note, I think that OBS has been great at allowing us to get to know one another really well, especially with removing the prejudices/ stereotypes held against prefects. A lot of their first impressions' of me was that I was some super obedient kid (most likely because of the different uniform I was wearing) but they have realized that I could be fun and crazy (: 
Not sure if this is good or bad, but before we left for Pulau Ubin, PB had to lead in cheers and when I went up, one of my classmates was like "OMG Li Yin! I totally forgot you were a prefect!" That felt a bit weird, not sure what that meant but I hope it's good (:

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