To many, 21st birthday means throwing a huge party in some chalet or in their house and inviting all their friends since primary school. Most likely, there will be a huge birthday cake, lots of food, lots of activities and lots of gifts. To some, it would be just a small gathering with a few good friends to have a meal together and nothing very fanciful. To some, it would be spending the day with their family. For some, it would be a day full of surprises planned by their best friends, something they would never have expected. For some, it might be a quiet day, probably they themselves did not bother or they might be busy with their work or school or perhaps, sadly, no one remembered.
For my good friend, Liu Ting, whose birthday is tomorrow (10th Dec), it is going to be a day in Pulau Ubin. Weird as it may seems, especially so as my friend is a female, spending a day out in the forest is not one would have expected to be of a birthday celebration. To most guys, going back into the forest might inevitably bring back the awful moments they had outfield during their National Service (NS). To some girls, the forest might just be out of their dictionary. Yet, she long to revisit this island, to bash into the forest, taking her back into the arms of nature and reliving the sweet old memories. She loved the island. So do the rest of the OACians.
Pulau Ubin, an offshore island northeast of the main island, provides a relaxing rural retreat where sandy trails, forest, mangrove swamps, fishing kelongs, animal farms and other various forms of wildlife form the general tapestry of the island. With just a 15 mins bumboat ride from the Changi jetty, anyone can enjoy the tranquility of the island and get away from monotonous modern city life. Furthermore, the friendly locals there will make the trip even more welcoming and memorable.
The island is our time capsule, holding on to the memories where our friendships were built and strengthened, It was this island where we been through the sufferings of trainings together. It was this island where we been through the leadership training camp (LTC) and the Instructors’ training camp (ITC) together, with confusion, uncertainty, fear, determination, faith, tears and most of all support from each other while we were being trained to be competent instructors of the Outdoor Activities Club (OAC). The orienteering, the never-ending route marches, the lonely solo night, the terrifying night confidence walk, the emotional “kidnapped” game and many more. It was there where our bonds were strengthened, where we revealed the true care and support for each other, it was there where we walked through the numerous obstacles, together as a group and not as individuals. It was there where we seen who our true friends are.
There are other moments too. It was this island where we clinched the second place in the orienteering on wheels organized by NTU’s sports club. It was also this island that we held our many gatherings, coming back year after year without fail. The cycling trip round the island, the bbq and camping over at Mamam beach, the evening walk and watching the sunset on the beach of Noordin, the sunrise view at puaka quarry, exploring parts of the island we never been to and many more.
Indeed, we long for the past, we long to relive those good times we had, those memories that left deep impression in our lives and will indelibly stay in our hearts forever. An indescribable feeling of how much we felt for the island where only those who experienced it would understand.
"The experience is yours."
Some old photos:
Always there singing the song of OAC:
we from from the OAC.
We come as a member of a great great club.
We fight for the victory, we fight for the glory,
we fight with a spirit never known before.
OAC, OAC, all the way!
We like it here, we like it here,
we found ourselves a home.
A home, a home sweet home!