Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Shawn....From Nurul

Dear Shawn,

How are you doing, buddy? I heard from the news that winter is just around the corner in your country. I hope that you will be fine and dandy like the last time I saw you during my last visit in Canada. Thank you for having me in such a short notice. In return for your family hospitality, I am going to share with you my unforgettable experience of hiking Gunung Tahan during the last school holiday.

It all started when my big brother, Johan, bugging me to go with him on an exciting adventure at Gunung Tahan. Of course, I agreed because four days with nothing to do but being surrounded with nature does sound a lot better than four days with nothing but dirty dishes to wash. Plus, Johan can really drive me up the wall to get what he wants and I mean literally up the wall. So, I went along with Johan who seems too enthusiastic about the trip. My parent who worried about us phoned in our bachelor uncle, Khairi, who happens to live in Pahang. After all the preparations were made, we departed in the morning of 18th of December hoping to catch the early flight to Pahang.

The journey to Pahang was filled with turbulences and it is not the plane that caused them. I had troubles in keeping my brother to sit still so that we do not get kicked out of the plane. Luckily, it was not long before we were greeted by the cheerful smile of our uncle Kairi. We shared stories and made small talks along the way to the mountain which are mostly about safety precautions and some ground rules. One of the stories told by our uncle Khairi which piqued our interest is about ‘orang bunian’ which supposedly to be the mysterious inhabitants of Gunung Tahan. Being a doubting Thomas that I am, I found it hard to believe but it does give some kicks to the adventure when we finally arrived.

We set up camps at the foot of the mountain and rest for the day to get the extra energy needed to climb to the peak of Gunung Tahan the next day. It seemed that we will be joining other groups of hikers for safety. When the Sun rises at the crack of dawn, we wasted no moments in climbing to the top of the mountain since we cannot see in the dark and we got less than 12 hours of sunlight. The journey was not as difficult as I expected and it is actually quite fun to talk with all the people and get to know them. During one of our breaks, I spoke to a couple who has already climbed Gunung Tahan twice and this time they are celebrating their 15th honeymoon together. Guess what? Both of them are from Canada just like you. Their names are Jack and Anna Smith and both of them are 45 years old.

I had a very good time with the couple. They always think about the well being of others and speaks Malays fluently which you not often find among foreigners. I also found out other interesting things about them. Behind her beauty, Aunt Anna is actually an experienced survivalist while Uncle Jack is actually a botanist despite his tough appearance. It is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

Along the journey, I somehow developed a very strong bond with the couple. They told me that they have a daughter named Joanna in college and I told them about my wonderful family and about you too. They also taught me how to read map, how to fish, how to know which plant is edible, basically everything they know. We even took pictures together when we reached the peak of Gunung Tahan. The view at the peak was indeed magnificent but what made it so special is that I can share the view with my new friends.

We bid our farewell at the airport since they too are going back to Canada to meet up with their daughter. I do not feel sad to say good bye to them because we share our home addresses so that we can keep in touch with each other by writing letters. My uncle and my big brother are both happy that everything worked out well for me on this vacation. Now, I have three pen-pals from Canada that I can write to every month thanks to my big brother.

In the present, I am turning over a new leaf by studying hard in school so that one day I might be able to further my studies to overseas and then I will be able to meet you, Jack and Anna in Canada. So, until then, I will keep on writing to all of you as best as possible. Please send my best regards to Mr. Roland and Mrs. Julia Spencer for me. Take care of yourselves and I will see you again in the next letter.