By Samatha Kwok, 12
To be honest, this climbing mountains trip was pretty fun; I made new friends like Aunt Bew, aunt Lay Hoon, brother Peter and sister Lydia, Even the 笨笨 trio who made jokes and uncle Mike sim who taught us to improve our brains took extremely good care of my sister and me.
The climbing part taught me to persevere and to work hard in order to achieve our dreams and………. most importantly, believing in ourselves.
After at that, if there was one thing I will have to learnt which meant the most to me, it was ‘ gratefulness ‘. I am 12 and I don’t really fully understand the true meaning behind this word. I learnt it after our trip to smoky mountains, it’s not just a word in fact it’s the actions we do, thee feelings we feel and the thoughts we think.
Their thoughts every day is to worry what they are going to eat? How they are going to bathe and how do we get water to drink. Most of the people in Singapore take things for granted as we have money, but can money buy everything? Happiness? love?
‘’ Gratefulness ‘’ in the dictionary means to warmly/ deeply appreciate of kindness or benefits received. For me, I’m grateful for the food we can eat, the water we can drink, the fresh air we can breathe and the shelters over our heads. For the stuff I am grateful for I have decided to eat off every grain of rice and do not waste food.
Overall this trip was amazing and I like to thank uncle Simon, sister Lydia and Aunt Lay Hoon for hosting this entire trip.
By Therese, 14
So when my sister woke me up at 7:30 a.m. on the beautiful morning of 13 March, jumping up and down like a hyperactive kid who had a binge on too many sweets, the only answer which my short-circuited brain could comprehend was a pleasant “huh?” In a blink of an eye, I was pushed through the main entrance of Changi Airport and surrounded by random strangers whom would be trekking with me to the summit of Mount Ugo and Mount Pulag in the Philippines. The only people I know were my own family. I was perplexed.
Not that they were still strangers after the trip. Instead, they somehow became my extended family. Big sister Anna loves taking photos, and she poses like an expert model. Together with Uncle John who attacked both mountains without breaking a sweat, they went to conquer other mountains even before the Philippines. Including Big Sister Lydia, a compassionate rock-climber who gave up food to a skinny kid from the slums despite being hungry herself, a weird trio who gambles and plays card games from dawn to dusk no matter where they are, my other 14-year old buddy LKY and his admiring independent mother and plus the winner of the “Best Camper Award” Uncle Mike Sim, the genius who taught me to put my brain to better use. There are others of course, like Aunt Irene aka the “Most Athletic and Oldest” in the group, Uncle Howard also known as the “Best Sweeper Alive”, Aunt Bew, Big Brother Gary and Peter, etc. But if we stay here too long, I’ll babble too much.
I’ll start with the best part: the Ultimate Jeepney ride. Here you can witness the sights and views of going down a mountain while holding on to dear life on top of a monster truck. Kind of like a roller coaster ride. I was beyond terrified at being flown off at first. But after the wind slapped you a few times and you realized you have not pummeled to your death yet, suddenly it’s quite refreshing. I even stopped praying long enough to look around at the awe-strucking madness of jutting stones and endless stretch of forest going far past than the eye can ever see. One downside to this is that it requires a lot of ducking or else, off goes your head!
Now the depressing part: exploring the life in slums. Right after doing some community work, we got some bags of groceries and STOP, BANG, CRASH. Cue the shocked faces and hand sanitizers, welcome to the hardcore world of living under houses made of wood, scraps of metal and some plastic. It was disappointing really, to see people still carrying out their lives like this even with the available resources we have now compared to the past. Their bones showed through skin and for the first time, I realized how much a portion of my leftovers back from home could ease their sufferings. I spotted children running naked around the streets and teens digging through rubbish floating on water, literally. After this life-changing experience, I could only silently pray that whoever runs this country would soon pay attention to this particular issue. A warning to all: Remember to EAT AND NOT WASTE FOOD, even the yucky, disgusting and slimy greens called vegetables.
The mountains were tough sure, but what opened my eyes and made me gazed at McDonalds with a regretful expression were the mountain people themselves. These human cyborgs travel up and down the rocky slopes every day without falling like the ungraceful elephant I am. It was hard not to admire them. Those who are still unconvinced, these words are coming from someone who climbed two peaks of slumbering rocks and crevices. Try moving your lazy legs forward and up a foothold just to get yourselves a few centimeters closer to the summit. Achieved that? Try doing that another thousand times more. Christ, even the children do this just to get school every day. What’s more, their education environment consists of a tiny room with a few tables and chairs, some books and a chalkboard. Having played with these kids, I can vouch that these unfortunate little beings are bright and with the proper mentoring, could be the brightest bulb in the drawer if you teach him or her. Even the older teens played basketball better than the grown-ups from our group. Imagine if they were born on another place, a place where they could better hone their skills for the society, they would have shine brighter than where they are now. What a pity.
For the final paragraph, I would like to thank Uncle Simon who hosted this trip for all lucky twenty-two of us and maybe, just maybe, I might come along to the next trekking trip. I strongly encouraged all interested in joining. Together we can raise awareness of the sheer sadness of poor people living off slices of bread, and those with limited education. Happy trekking!!!
From yours truly,