Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1st Tahan Expedition, part 13...Sweet Memories of Padang camp

Some photographs that will forever rekindle the sweet and nostalgic memories of our unique
experience camping at Padang, under the shadow of Gunung the background.

This was early dawn on the 5th Day, April 19th 1969. Breakfast was cooked in our curry pot sitting atop the Bluet gas cooker. A clear picture of our makeshift tent set-up on right. Vegetation was sparse. All in high spirits enjoying a joke or two. The peak of Tahan is above a standing Francis, nearest to our tent.
L to R:
Balbir(standing), me[Dick], Tng, Han Chew all seated, Yeow Huat( standing), Twang(seated), Yam Tee(standing), Louis(seated and eating from mess tin)
and Francis (standing). Jesudasen was the picture-taker.
The grounds at Padang were soft and soggy in parts. There were small streams that contain brownish water around our campsite. Though the water was brownish due to the peaty soil conditions, it was pure and clean. The air was the freshest we've experienced thus far. In the early morning, the descending mists came upon us with the peculiar fragrance of the trees and plants that were all around us on the mountain slopes and the valleys. It was a most welcoming kind of fragrance to be enveloped by while we ate our breakfast.
The previous night was cold. I remember the howling winds blowing across the flat plateau, making our tents flapped. This campsite, so high up in the Tahan mountain range, made us feel very secure. No humans around. No wild animals did we see . There were birds. Definitely no signs of human civilisation. We were in such a remote area and at that time higher than anyone else, that night, in West Malaysia.
That night we truly enjoyed cooking and having our dinner under the most beautiful night sky I have ever seen. There were literally "millions of stars" up there. Being a trained scout and then still a scouter of the 6th Arrow Scout Group, Victoria School, I was familiar with star-gazing and could clearly point out the Southern Cross and the Orion cluster, amongst others , to our party.

The night sky above us was truly like a magical fairyland of lights. I remember singing this campfire song up there...without my ukelele though............

" There's a million stars a gleaming

And a crescent's over there

There's a billy can a steaming

Smell of supper in the air

There's a log fire burning brightly

Though the night air may be damp

And our hearts are singing lightly

For we Tahanners are in camp "

ps: Now whenever you read about or hear about the term"Tahanners", you need not
have to guess about its origin....for it was 1st sung right up there at Camp Padang on
the starry,starry night of Friday, April 18th 1969.... the eve of our historic ascent of
G Tahan.

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