By Hafizatul Salma Harif Fathilah
While other IIUM students were having their mid-semester break in their hometown or travelling to tourist attractions in the city or beaches, 29 senior cadets of IIUM Air Force Reserve Officer Training Unit (ROTU) or RAI4, chose to spend their holiday from 24 to 26 March together in an adventurous way in the natural scenery of Pahang before completing their training as cadets and commissioned as sub-lieutenants this August.
Accompanied by four Air Force trainers and VIPs from the university itself, they were all enjoying the serenity of spending time in nature as a way to escape the stress and busy living in a metropolitan city of Kuala Lumpur.
On the first day (24 March 2015), the cadets needed to reach their first 20 kilometres of water rafting and started their journey as early as 3.00 a.m. to Kampung Jeram Jelai Tema and arrived there after four hours of travelling by bus. The fresh air and sunlight welcomed them to continue with their first day rafting challenge, with 20 cadets and their guides from the local, in five respective rafts. Before reaching the first checkpoint at Post Betau, they were stopping by the river to have their packed lunch and taking bath in the river with the guaranteed of life jacket vest, just before they went through the extreme and dangerous cascade. However, instead of the independent way of living, the villagers were found to do their laundry and taking bath at the nearest river from their residential compound.
With a very tight budget, RAI4 managed to organise the “sewang night” at the Tok Batin’s (village headman) house where the indigenous minority, the Orang Asli, from Post Betau introduced us with their culture showed through the traditional dance and songs played with the bamboo as the main instruments, a symbol to celebrate and welcome the guests to their community. A real cultural exchange between us as guests and locals happened when all of us, cadets ,were asked to learn and follow their traditional dance and playing the instruments. Instead, it really gave us the new perspectives on the importance of preventing our unique culture and tradition dying in the upcoming generation.
On the next day, after congregational Subuh prayer, tazkirah and breakfast, the second day team consisted of 20 cadets and VIPs were ready for their turn in rafting challenge from the Post Betau across the open and mirrored waters reaching the second checkpoint, which is Kuala Medang, completing their 40 kilometres of total journey from the first day of water rafting. With stunning scenery at every turn of the village, again they were having pleasure in rafting and enjoying the view after six hours of rafting. Luckily, there was nobody injured during the extreme water rafting.
After a short rest, the cadets were preparing for the closing ceremony under the theme of “village” before they departed the next morning to the Gombak campus. The high impact of experience towards all the Air Force ROTU senior cadets was a success because they felt a closer relationship with nature as well as the bonding between them after the event.
We must all together love our nature, conserve and preserve our rivers and land for the next generation to appreciate Mother Nature. With a little awareness from a small group like RAI4, it may encourage more and more people to help sustain and protect the nature as much as to take care of your home.
This world is your home, therefore, why don’t we maintain what we have today and enrich our lack of attention towards the Earth.