Hurray. Happy and joyful. Clap! clap! clap!
Sunday 28th July, 2019 was BISDS children’s outing day. This year we visited a Tin Mining Museum and Gua Tempurung Cave in Kampar, Perak. Children of all ages including the youth participated in this trip. Teachers and staff were there as coordinators and providing support to care for the children especially the younger kids. The school charted 2 coaches with 44 seaters each but due to overwhelming response, a few staff resorted to ride in Brother Ronald’s car.
I left from home before the sun rose thinking that I will be the first few to arrive BMV but upon arrival at the gate, I saw the children, parents, teachers and staff were packed at the foyer already. Many parents were seen busy giving instructions to the younger children on the dos’ and don’t during the trip.
At 7.15 am, attendance was taken. Short briefing and strict instructions were imposed by the organizer for safety reasons. Once everyone fully understood on the itinerary, we adjourned to the shrine hall for the blessings led by our school principal, Venerable K Siridhamma Thera.
I was in bus A seated with the younger children group. Uncle Kent was the driver for the day. Buns were distributed as additional light breakfast. None of the children in bus A were fussy about the cream buns provided as compared to their sumptuous breakfast prepared at home. They quickly ate the buns and resumed their excitement in chatting and confirming with their teachers, discussing and talking among themselves or looking out through the windows. None fell asleep during the journey.
After 2 hours ride and 15 minutes toilet break along the journey, we arrived at the first destination to the tin mining museum. Several local tour leaders led our children into the museum. To the older children, it was a refreshing and educational tour for them. For the younger kids, they listened attentively trying to absorb and understand what was said. The children had hands-on experience to swirl a small frying pan as “dulang-washer” to segregate the soil and the tin ore. After group photos were taken, we adjourned for lunch in a local air-conditioned restaurant nearby.
Next come the highlight of this trip in Gua Tempurung Cave. Literally translated as coconut shell cave which is about 500 meters in height and 3km long, making it the longest cave in Malaysia. Certain parts of the cave have electrical lightings and we could see and imagine the stalactites and stalagmites on the walls of the caves as silhouette of animals. One of the bigger chambers known as golden flowstone cavern is about 90 meters in height. Walkways of steps and staircase were developed for cave enthusiast with easy passage venture into the interior. This cave has an underground river. It is about 1.6 km long with crystal clear water. There are 4 categories of tour. The first 2 tours are dry walk along concrete pathways and steel staircases. The third is a short river adventure requires about two and a half hours to complete the walk. The fourth is known as grand tour which is the toughest. It requires about 4 hours to complete and was told that the water level here covers up to chest height.
For safety reasons, those children aged 9 and below were encouraged to take the dry walk accompanied by teachers and staffs. The teens, youth, teachers and staff, joined the adventure tour with 2 local tour guides. A brief history about the cave plus the dos and don’ts we briefed by the Cave management team fell to my deaf ears. I couldn’t wait to start the adventure. My tender age shrinks to single digit with full of excitement.
The adventure begins. We walked in a line lead by the local tour guide. We waded thru’ a mini garden. As we moved along, he showed some rare species of plants only commonly found in limestone hills. Steel staircases were seen at the entrance of the cave. The dry walk and the adventure tour went through the same entrance. Water rippled over the walls of the cave, paired with the gentle ray of sunlight on the ceilings, walls as well as the stalagmites and stalactites made various astounding colorful features. The shadow and the limestone forms on the walls were creatively imagined as Lord Buddha, dolphin, tiger and many more. The younger children were busy flashing their head lamps at all angles. Questions like “Where were the bats! Aren’t they were sleeping now?” were thrown to our chief tour leaders. They patiently informed that due to noises and lights, the bats went to darker and quieter spots into the cave to rest. Automatically all the children switched off their head lamps. The cave was completely silent and in darkness in the hope to see the bats out from their hiding.
We then continue climbing the steps to the next level. Climbing along was Bro Khoo from Tissa class, reminded the children to be mindful and careful at all times. As we moved further in, it was dimmer but cooler. Everyone was climbing, climbing and climbing. The steps were all upwards which was very strenuous for me due to my lack of regular exercises. Finally, we reached the top. We saw one of the formations from the deposits over the years or decades. Looking down, there were steps deep down low and it disappeared in the darkness. We were told that this is the last chamber with electric lightings.
The group continued the journey. Though walking down the steps were easy but I had to take one step at a time due to my cumulative knee injury. Though it was very dark and unpredictable danger, we moved on orderly with full of confidence. Finally, we were at the end of the steps with all our head lamps on. It was still dark. I was unable to see my fingers without the lights. I just followed the line and moved on. To my horror, earlier were the climb and many steps but now everyone has to glide down from about 7 meters cliff. We queued to take turns but when my turn came to glide, I cowardly moved behind the queue again to avoid gliding down the cliff but I told myself that I had to do it eventually. I cried in silence with tears flowing my cheek but with the support and words of assurance from the team, I took the glide. Few tough guys formed the human support at the bottom of the glide. So, I went down smoothly but I felt as though my soul has left my body. I was afraid in silence.
The remaining route we waded in shallow waters. The passage out of the cave are narrow to creep and crawl through the shallow water tunnels, lined with pebbles which make it more difficult to crawl through. With the aid of my head lamp, I could see beautiful stalagmite and stalactites formations which were within my touch. I couldn’t resist but to rub on the surface as I moved along. Each time I raised my hands to reach out to the limestone formations, my head will hit the ceiling of the tunnel. Thank goodness, we saw the light at the end of this narrow, dark, wet and rough tunnel. After few hundred meters of crawling and creeping on the pebbled flooring, at last we reached the exit. This is one of the few exits from this cave. Changing rooms were provided for us to wash up and changed to dry clothing. Light refreshments of fruits and local delicacies were served before we left for KL at about 5pm.
We arrived at BMV about 9 pm. The children rushed into the arms of their anxious parents awaited in BMV compound. It was a wonderful and educational trip for all. This trip was my first and best experience in a cave. In the past, I was always curious every time I saw the cave from the highway to Ipoh but now after this trip, em! I know the excitement and experience. I am satisfied.
Sadhu to the organizing team, the youth team and the supporting parents for the success of this trip. I will now look forward to year 2020 children trip.
From sis Jun Lim Tuan Fung