It was another great day out at sea ma syaa Allah. This is our 2nd run of Sea Expedition as part of GEMS Movement – Grundy+POPWOW Empowering Me Series. The weather was perfect and the company was simpply AWESOME!
- Instill confidence in the open water
- Learn to work together (kayaking) against the natural elements
- Overcome fear of uncertainties (Kelong Jump)
- Increase awareness about the importance of affects of pollution in the sea, how kelong works, history of Pulau Ubin
We met early morning at Changi Point Ferry Terminal and boarded our chartered boat to Peers Outdoor Kelong. All 14 of us were so nervous yet excited to face the challenges ahead. The refreshing boat ride did calm their nerves as we travelled about 15mins to reach the kelong. We were warmly greeted by Sky and Dini, the intructors in-charge of our fate today hahaha.
Our first challenge was Kelong Jump. It didn’t look so scary at first but as one ascend to the top of the platform (about 1.5m above sea) and faces the open water, legs started to feel like jelly. Uncle Lee is ready in the safety boat about 20 metres away. Sky stood by our side to ensure that we adopt the proper jumping position while the rest of us cheered. The motivation and support from everyone definitely helped. The scene is set, we knew what to do, adopted the proper skill, safety measures- personal life jacket, safety boat, safety personnel in pos… all we had to do was tawakkal and take the plunge. A hundred question started to creep into our minds. We didn’t know how deep the water was, what lurks underwater, how strong the current was. Am I going to be swept way? Am I going to drown? While some even thought of sharks and loch ness monsters, i thought about Nemo and Dory and Spongebob hehehe… Some of us took a lil bit longer on the platform to compose ourselves but one by one, all 14 of us took the challenge and battled our fears to jump. I was so proud of everyone!
Pulau Ubin Mangrove Kayaking
Next Challenge! Mangrove Kayaking on double kayaks. It was important to delegate the partners correctly according to size and experience. Sky conducted a safety brief and a short lesson on kayaking. We learnt how to paddle, how to communicate with our partners and the whole team with the use of signals by whistle blows and use of paddles. We learnt the jargons – “break raft” and reminded of how to look out for one another. We identified the patners, collected our equipment and head on out to sea.
Kayaking was definitely not as simple and smooth sailing as it seems. There are many elements at play. Cooperation and communication is of utmost importance between partners. While we work together as a duo, we also need to work as a team with other kayaks to ensure that all is present and well. We did a few challenges in the water, kayak along the beautiful mangroves swamps of Pulau Ubin. The tide was going down.It was more difficult to paddle in but the outflow of sea water made it easier for us to glide back out into the sea.
In the midst of the expedition, we mantained a single file while keeping our silence to enjoy the serenity and to look out for the familiar creatures. We would huddle and Sky would tell us about how the mangrove works, the history of Pulau Ubin and the kelongs. Mangrove forests are an extremely productive ecosystems that provide numerous good and services both to the marine environment and people. Being homes to a large variety of sea creatures, the dense root systems of mangrove forests also trap sediments flowing down rivers and off the land. This helps stabilises the coastline and prevents erosion from waves and storms.
It took us about 3 hours to finally complete the expedition. We were exhausted but definitely fullfiled and satisfied! Back at the kelong, while drying off, we conductd a post-activity debrief session where every member shared their learning points.
Learning Points – The different elements and how it applies to our daily life
- The Tools – In this scenario, the tools we have is the PSD (Personal Safety Device – lifejacket), paddle, kayak and ourselves. These are elements we can control. It is our responsibilities to learn how best to use these tools for our benefits, learn how to manourver, how to work with and not against the tools we have in our lives. We can choose not to adhere to safety regulations and endanger ourselves and others. We can choose to be lazy and let ourselves drift away expecting others to steer the boat for us. We can choose to throw away the paddle and not benefit from it. Or we can ensure our personal safety, work hard and smart to learn to paddle and manouver the boat to get to our destination and benefit from the tools we have and the experience we gained. Like all other tools we have in our lives. The pen and paper, our smartphones, our laptops, our kitchen, our education… we can choose how these tools benefit us. These tools are at our disposal and it is within our control to put in the effort and learn how to use these tools positively.
- Forces of Nature – As we kayak, we work with or against the natural elements like the sea, the current and tides, the wind, the weather- rain or shine. We can predict and forecast but can never control. We can choose to complain, berate and curse at the “bad” weather or lament at every difficulty. Or we can choose to embrace and learn how to work best in any condition. As we paddle upstream against the tide, we paddled harder. It is tough but if we presevere, we will get to our destination and we know at the end of the day, “What doesn’t kill us, just makes us stronger.” We definitely went back with stronger arms and fitter upper bodies! As we went downstream, clouds were coming in, we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves as we went with the tide, light rain cooled us after the harsh heat of the sun and the winds pushed us towards the kelong. “Indeed, With difficulty, there is ease”. Our life is nothing but trials and tribulations. It is through these simulated experiences that we learn to deal and cope with challenges and difficulties. We sometimes land in conditions beyond our control, like the elements we faced today, we can choose to drift away or drown in our own desperation or work hard to overcome the challenge. We can always choose to look at the brighter side of things. As we paddled up, through the heat, our laughter made it easy. The beautiful scenery and awesome sights made it all worth it. We return humbled and full of gratitude.
- Social Wellness (Other people) – Social Wellness is the relationship we have with other people. In this case, our kayak partner, other members of the team and our Instructor. This is where effective communication plays an integral part in our safety and well-being. Effective communication includes LISTENING and giving proper instructions where patience, empathy (understanding the emotions) and sense of awareness also plays a role. One steers and one guides. Both paddle left and right together. Keeping in formation. No one left behind. We can choose not to listen to instructions and then panic because we don’t know how to use the paddle and we are not moving in the direction we want. We can choose to be lazy and let our partner do most of the work. We can choose to be selfish and leave others behind. Or we can choose to work together, listen and learn and look out for one another. Like all other relationships we have in our lives. In marriage with our spouses, with neighbbours and colleagues and family members. We can be selfish and excel ourselves or we can work together to ensure the well-being of our society and community is being taken care of. We can learn to listen and be empathetic to preserve our relationships or not. We can help or not. We can be vigilant or ignorant. At the end of the day, we will definitely reap thhe benefits or face the consequences of our choices. If we expect kindness from others, let ourselves be kind.
Effective communication includes LISTENING and giving proper instructions where patience, empathy (understanding the emotions) and sense of awareness also plays a role
Alhamdulillah, at the end of the day, we achieved all the objectives set for this activity. We gained much insights about oursleves, our comrades, the kelongs in Singapore, Pulau Ubin and the mangrove swamps. After the kelong jump, 3hrs of paddling, debrief session, reflections and sharings, we each takeaway some valuable lessons and experience, that we will never gain through books. Parallel life skills, lessons that we hope will benefit them in their daily lives and which will be used to benefit others. In syaa Allah…
To more adventures! Look out for our next blog about our Caving Experience and Waterfall Abseiling at Gunung Muntahak.