NUS: I will remember(XIX) trips – Langkawi and Cameron..

These were the 2 trips we took in university. And these would rank among my sweetest memories of the joys of university life.

Langkawi: Our 1st trip experience in our 3rd semester. For this one, we had Mom with us. This helped all other parents wave out first time jitters and we were all set to go. It’d be tough to list out all the wonderful things that happened.. 3 things I do remember are –

The Place: My god! Langkawi ranks among the more beautiful places I’ve seen just for the simple fact that it is a killer combination of hills and sea. The sea is as you would imagine – golden sands, bright blue water and the Hills are awesome as well.

I vividly remember taking the cable car up to the hill with a popular bridge(where the climax of a then-recently released Hindi movie called Don had been shot) and gasping at the sight of the beautiful sea just below.

The Hurry: This is something we set right in our 2nd trip. This one, though was jam packed and I remember us constantly rushing from one thing to another. We were at Langkawi for 2 and half days and 3 nights and there’s really a lot to do in the place! We had a day off for scuba diving, another for various water sports, other for some sight seeing and all in all, we were ALWAYS rushing from one thing to another.

It’s a funny memory – it’s probably because it was the first time we were getting out and our desire to do ‘everything’ possible in that place.

Late night drives: I love driving so it is only natural driving features in my top 3. For a small island, Langkawi has a beautiful road system with clear maps. And it was a small and safe place.. Remember going out for nice long drives – all jam packed(We had 10 people in an 8 seater car) with our shadow man entertaining us with his language skills.

There was also a drive in the afternoon just as it was about to rain that I’m sure to remember for a long time. We were climbing a hill and it felt like a journey in heaven with fog, clear roads and lots of greenery..

One that almost made the list: Great diving experience swimming 25 feet under water with nemo fish etc

It was a great trip. Learnt a lot on how to organize a trip once we went on this one. Following this, we practically took 2 years to go on our next one. Most of us went into a money crunch/got busy. By the time, we were in our 3rd year, friends had already left on exchange etc.. In our 7th semester, time was ripe for another one. After a bit of research, we decided to go with Cameron Highlands- which seemed like a scenic mountainous place and thought it would be a nice change.

Cameron: Tough to name 3 things again.. But here goes –

Getting there and Settling In: I clearly remember the excitement of waiting at the KL terminus for our beautiful black Toyoto Innova and the sheer joy at seeing the car and test driving it. We were all set for a lovely 3 hour drive down the highway. This was followed by an awesome climb! We had managed to rent out what seemed like a great apartment for the entire group – 9 of us living in the same house – imagine the chaos! Once we got there, I remember being dead tired and fell asleep.

Within a couple of hours, we were all set to do some minor trekking. So, we decided to go on the trail to a waterfall. And after a deliicious meal of waffles, strawberry and ice cream, we went on this ‘trek’. It turned out to be just a walk for 15 mins till we reached a small waterfall. Well, so much for trekking we thought..

And we came back, packed dinner and watched what will go down as one of the most eventful football games of the season – Manchester United vs Manchester City. United clinched a 4-3 victory with a goal in the 95th minute (i.e 30 seconds before the whistle blew).. Cannot forget! We were all set to go trekking the next day..

THE Brinchang Trek: We had all (well, almost all..) come fully prepared for an adventure trip. We knew there was going to be a fair amount of trekking etc. So, we went down and had a chat with a local travel person who recommended we all wear shorts instead of track pants as it would easier to spot leeches if they do manage to get on.. He also told us that the trek we’d be taking would be a good 4 hour trek and could get tiring. We were all set..

(Before we were asked to change to shorts :))

We reached the spot and the 1st 15 mins was a nice walk with a nice tarred road and we were again laughing at the ‘trek’. This road, however, came to an abrupt end and we didn’t know where to go. We soon spotted a small(miniscule would be the word) clearing with a stream and a way right into a hilly jungle. It had begun..

The trek did take a good part of 4 and a half hours. We managed to take a few photos in the nicer 1st part of the journey after which, it practically became impossible to stop at a place together. I was actually very surprised the locals are chilled out about people going because it is not one for anyone who is not in touch with regular physical activity. We had to use our hands, legs, lots of help from friends to make it through. And if it wasn’t for the fact that we had a formation to make sure we were able to help the person in front and behind, I doubt if we would have made it through..

There were still heart stopping moments like at a sudden point when a friend slipped and said she’d twisted her leg. I didn’t see any way of us going down the wilderness (would’ve been physically impossible) and the last hour of the climb was vertical. Luckily, the twist didn’t happen and she was good to go. The last hour was an almost vertical climb. And soon we were on top! The other side of Mt Brinchang was a beautiful 3 hour walk down tea estates and that was a relief after the long trek..

It was a very tough trek and that’s what makes it so memorable – the fact that we did it without any guide. Out in the wilderness for 4-5 hours is a memory that is going to stay for a very long time. And one thing for sure, we felt great finishing it!

Rafting and Caving: There was more adventure in store. The next morning, we headed for caving.

Caving involved us walking, crawling, climbing and slides in caves that were few storeys high (with thousands of bats right on top) and then suddenly just low and thin enough for 1 person. It was quite an adventure as we had a guide who was in charge of 12 people, could barely speak English and hence, communicated with the gestures. I remember a couple of instances when I was sure I’d just be falling off a cliff.. And just managed to slide out in time… The craziest memory during caving was when we had to float for a few metres along a stream(yes, there was water running all through) through a passage narrow enough only for 1 person and with no place to raise our heads even(thanks to stalactites). Tough for anyone who is claustrophobic. This was followed by lot more climbing, pulling each other up and sliding.. And ended with a wonderful natural jacuzzi..

Rafting was an experience to remember as well. The most freaky part was the briefing where they just let us glide down a stream, gesture for a rope, catch it and swim to shore. Once we started, our guides were in complete control. They were strong enough to comfortably lift any of us with 1 hand onto the boat. And they made sure we capsized a couple of times to add to the fun. Oh, and let me not forget, the water was FREEZING cold. And we also received a certificate for having rafted through a grade III river..

There’s a video of the rafting here.(of the rafting company that is..)

The big difference with the Cameron trip was that we were never really rushed. We did things at our own pace, had lots of food, a night of lots of music, dance etc – but all at our own pace.. And that made it great.

These 2 trips are memories that I’ll take forward for a very long time. If you are beyond your 1st year in university and haven’t taken a trip yet, it’s high time.. Haha

We’ve already made plans to go on more adventure trips with the Sparkz bunch also added in to the trekking interest groups. Hopefully, climbing Mt Kinabalu would be the next one..soon!! :)

3 days to go.. (As of yesterday)

Today’s post will be out late.. It’s a special one! Lots of pictures coming through. :)