It has been a few months since I last went camping, and so when Mee Hong and her gang suggested a weekend campout at Sungai Sendat, Ulu Yam on 25th & 26th April, I jumped at the opportunity, although it would mean having to miss a weekend of volunteering at the SPCA.
And so the 12 of us descended on the campsite a little distance away from the waterfall at Sungai Sendat, Ulu Yam, on a scorcher of a Saturday morning. We checked out the site and found that it was to our satisfaction. After making a preliminary inspection for dead branches overhead, we got to work putting up our tents.
9 of our camping companions were to sleep in these 3 tents. A large canvas sheet spread out on the ground served as our picnic/dining/work area for the weekend.
The little stream next to our campsite was crystal clear, and we intend to keep it that way. We did our dishes bushcraft-style, with sand as a scrubbing agent and water from the stream. As we washed, little fishes and translucent shrimps swam right up to our hands and cookware and nibbled at the leftover food. I had, early on in our campout, assumed the duty of burying all food waste away from the water source.
A little trail in front of our campsite led invitingly into a secondary forest. We felt it safe to leave everything at our campsite as it is to explore the trail. I brought a biodegradable garbage bag with me to collect rubbish in, but any litter was thankfully negligible. We picked up the cigarette butts and fishing lines left behind by irresponsible daytrippers and took all the non-biodegradable waste out with us.
We had a steamboat (i.e. sukiyaki) dinner, expertly prepared by Soo Lung and Yeo, the best cooks of the dozen. Prior to dinner, we had a whale of a time splashing at a waterfall about 50 metres away from our campsite. This is a candid shot of Yeo roasting, or rather, charring, the sweet potatoes in the campfire. Despite our concerns about contributing to air pollution, temptation got the better of me and I created a bonfire for cooking in and to drive mosquitoes away with. We kept the fire going for a little over an hour before letting it extinguish itself naturally upon running out of fuel.
We had our dinner seated on our makeshift picnic mat. As the sky never gets completely dark in the Tropics, there was always enough light to see by if we needed to go to the stream to do our washing. We had a lively discussion during dinner on the topic of quarks and the string and superstring theories. We had another night trek after dinner before returning to the campsite for beer and bed. The temperature dropped drastically and many of us woke up at 0500 hrs in search of warmer clothes, as we were freezing in spite of our sleeping bags.
We departed from our campsite around noon on Sunday after a hearty brunch, and upon having ensured that we had left the campsite in a better state than we had found it. My buddies and I also went around removing tent ropes and plastic clotheslines left behind by previous campers that could potentially harm wildlife. I buried all our food waste some distance away from the stream and took our non-biodegradable waste out with us. I shall always look back on this weekend fondly as one that has brought together a group of nature-loving friends. May we have many, many more weekends of sleeping under the stars, cooking in the open air and bathing in rivers!