my trip to the penang dragonboat fest last week was one of the most physically and mentally draining trips i’ve been on so far. more tirng that rafting on pahang and more frustrating that the micollac jokers. in short, the trip sucked.
there was no signboards leading from batu ferengghi to the teluk bahang dam. there are signages to teluk bahang. there are signages to the teluk bahang police station. but nothing leading to the dam.
fine. we found the pplace eventually, after getting lost at two other circus directions.
the whole place, despite being a water reservoir is amazingly un-environmentally friendly. there are no trees or anything. the water level is evidently at a low and it was so bloody hot there! just clay and concrete.
and then the site of the fest is up on top of the highest peak of the hill leading to the dam. imagine the paddlers ok… after having sprint paddled in a race, lepas tu have to climb a very long and badly shapened staircase back to the boat marshalls. some participants had to seriously heave their way back up the stairs. it was so unfriendly.
and there was no canopy or anything for the audience. dah la it is so damn far away from the race, you can hardly make out what team was in what boat. i had to complpetely rely on the announcer’s narration on what is going on.
and all the roads in penang was so jammed! getting from ferengghi to georgetown took well an hour and lets not even get started on getting a parking on gurney drive, which, btw, is opened for business despite the myth that it is washed out by the tsunami.
so would i call the whole trip a complete and utter disaster?
well i do have one nice thing to say.
at the boatfest, i got to meet a bunch of women and men who truly showed me what strength of the spirit really is.
they are called adelaide survivors abreast, an australian team comprised of people who survived or are currently living with breast cancer, and they are truly an amazing group of people.
they are not like the fit and sleek filipinos or the muscular and buff australian womens’ team. they are a team of any sweet lil’ ol’ cheerie cheeked lady you’d have as a next door neighbour. they were all in their 40s, 50s and 60s and they were the most cheerful and bubbly team around.
they wore pink. bright shocking pink and decorated themselves with ribbons and bandanas and scarves and hats. despite their age and traumatic experience with cancer, they were the most spirited people around, very happy and supportive of not just each other, but also people around them.
they cheered on and waved to other teams, whether the other teams waved back or not. and although they did not get the top positions in any of the heats, they completed every heat, and when they walked up that crueling staircase back to the site, people would clap for them, people would hi five them and shout out their names. it is a very wonderful scene.
that’s penang for ya. the island i was born. one which will always call out for me. one which i will always find myself returning to, for most mysterious reasons and lessons indeed.