I smelled of mouldy socks and drain water

Perhaps some of you might be wondering - how did the orientation program go so far? I have one particular experience to share with you. One of the programs scheduled for our orientation is called the 'Mega Challenge'.

Ah... somebody raised a hand to ask why is it called as such? Good question. It was meant to be the most challenging task we have to complete during this orientation and it involved lack of no sleep, no food and no decent weather either. It was totally wicked.

At 2pm, we were forced to run helter-skelter to the gym to assemble or ELSE (kena hukum la, apa lagi). Then, we marched to a field, where we had to complete 2 obstacles - which are actually the less torturous compared to the all-nighter assignment we had.

The weather was not cooperative either - it rained cats & dogs soon after we finished the 2nd obstacles back we went to the gym to assemble & pray. Then back to another field, in our poncho, dripping wet.

That sounds bad already? Nooo... of course the worst had yet to materialize.

At 6pm, our heavy bags and rolled up sleeping bags were stored in our tents (two for the girls, and two for the boys). Food ration was then distributed to appointed persons-in-charge and we were told to guard at all costs because the 'natives might attack and steal our food'. So we had to hide them and ration out to everybody. Dinner comprised of a boiled egg and a piece of bread. Awesome.

The engineers had assembled to complete the grand task - building 5 platforms which had to withstand 10kgs of burden. The material? Two boxes of PVC pipes, a few roll of tapes and ropes to tie the pipes together.

Rain continued to pour, albeit not-so-heavily. Security team was formed, password given around to avoid natives creeping up to us unbeknownst. The design team continued to discuss and sketch, and we had to move our working area (tent and all) to another area which was less muddy. The whole experience was horrendous. I was wet, shivering cold, and hungry the whole night.

The construction began, everybody sat building basic structure and assembling them together to form the platforms. Throughout the night we worked, we slept in turns but most did not. At 10pm, a drill took place and we had to abandon the camp and run to assemble or risked our food ration being confiscated. From then onwards, we had another 5 more drills and those who was just about to take their nap had to run without their shoes, treading on muddy puddle. I repeat - the whole experience was horrendous.

I had my half an hour rest and even though I was still clad in my raincoat, I lay down without bothering to take them off because I was so tired. It didn't matter anymore the wetness, the cold and the shivering - all I cared for was sleep.

At 6am, we barely survived and couldn't even gather the strength to eat our breakfast - comprising an orange, a piece of bread with sardine gravy (uncooked), and a piece of cracker. One girl had fainted at 3am, and had to be brought to a nearby hospital. Two more suffered gastrics because of the lack of sleep and food. The rest were just grouchy, tired and extremely sleepy. The weather continued drizzling, and our teeth chattered every time the wind blew in our direction. My feet were all wrinkly from the wetness.

Our engineers were worried because the platforms were wobbly and looked like they were about to collapse. Our materials were not enough - as a result, the 'natives' demanded two of our tents in exchange for a roll of tape and low quality rope. The team decided that it was not enough to build 5 sturdy platforms - but there was no other options. It was 5, or fail.

At 8am, an officer came to inspect the platform and found that none was strong enough to carry a 10kg-lead. We then marched ran for two more obstacles. If you had watched a military practise before, you would have an idea of the kind of tasks we had to complete.

The torture ended at 12pm - I did not have the strength to go for lunch and headed back to my room because I stinked and badly needed a hot shower, clean & dry clothes and hours of sleep on the soft, warm bed.

I had one lesson firmly lodged in my brain out of this exercise - uncooked sardine rocks. The fishy taste of it after a long, cold & tiring night on a piece of bread sent us to heaven and back. No matter what the chain email claimed - sardine, you are our saviour and life's hope during that extreme challenge.

Cheers to tinned sardine.

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