Lorraine Ma, (LPC 07-09)
The smell of firewood; the view of the mountains; the sound of the running river; the feeling of wet mud between our toes; the taste of authentic Malaysian food; the laughter of little children, the sentiment of genuine hospitality…
We were there. Far from Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, we had flown across the ocean to a world of fresh experience at Natai Village, Sabah, Malaysia.
Thanks to the thoughtful planning of our host, Felicia, we had an opportunity to try out all sorts of different activities at the village.
On the first day, we had a hearty breakfast prepared by our host family before heading for an early swim in the river nearby Felicia’s house. We enjoyed the excursion very much since the vicinity was pleasant and relaxing. Felicia also gave us some traditional Malaysian wrap skirts to wear while walking around the village. Towards the evening we were glad to receive a group of village youngsters to the house for a barbeque dinner. Although they were a bit shy, we had the chance to interact with them, especially the younger children. However, everyone had a good time beside the grill with exotic foods such as sting rays. The villagers set back to their homes as it got dark and we spent the evening watching a movie with the family.
The next day, we woke up at 6 and tumbled out of the house on to the terrace to watch the sunrise. Bleary-eyed, we gazed between the gaps of trees towards the east. As the high mountain range blocked the sun from view, we were unable to see anything apart from the dazzling wisps of the ‘red’ clouds. We then crawled back to bed and were wakened an hour later by Felicia, who announced that we would be going to the fish pond.
The walk to the fish pond was interesting enough as we slipped and glided down the slope. We spent the whole morning splashing around the river and catching fish at the pond. We caught fish with our bare hands and transferred the small ones to a bigger pond. Covered with mud and with our backs aching from sunburns, we trooped back to the house for a quick shower and lunch.
In the afternoon, we separated the materials we brought to the village into different piles and walked around the village, distributing them. To each family, we brought kitchenware, clothes and some food. It was a wonderful feeling to see smiles of gratitude on their faces and we sincerely hoped that our little contribution would help them in their daily lives. Afterwards, there was an intense rainstorm so we walked back to Felicia’s house as quickly as possible.
We had a most unforgettable dinner as the rainstorm had triggered the black out and we had to eat under romantic candle lights. Some of us turned into bed at a record early time of 8pm; others stayed at the terrace to share some quiet chatting with Felicia. It was a very nice evening and we came to realize that electricity was not something that was always necessary. We survived very well in the dark as well. It was a surreal feeling to sit in the midst of a jungle, listening to the night, while thinking, talking and sharing.
We departed the next morning, after thanking Felicia and her family immensely. We were extremely grateful for what they had done for us, and we all agreed that the few short days we had spent at the village was a life changing and thought provoking experience for us all. We had never known that simplicity in natural village life could be so beautiful.
– United World College Student Magazine –