Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mt Ophir 1974...The True Encounter with Princess Gunung Ledang Part 3

Photo top: Me at Ibrahims's house for Hari Raya celebrations on March 4th 1995.

This post is a continuation of the previous story. While we were preparing our first meal up on the mountain, I requested that all our canned food be brought out from our packs so that we can organise our food properly. Before the trip, while meeting up with the members at my home, I had briefed them on what kind of tinned food to carry along. Pork was to be avoided as it is considered taboo on Gunung Ledang.

[Photo: Main Executive Council of COMEX S'pore 1977-1978
Othman is 2nd from right.]
So you can imagine my huge surprise and disappointment when a tin of that popular Yeo Hiap Seng canned pork cubes appeared among the canned food on the poncho. I did ask who brought it along but no one seemed to recall bringing that particular YHS can.
Immediately, I wrapped it up and put it away in our pack saying that it must not be opened until we arrive back in Singapore.
Before we drove off from Tangkak, we donated our ponchos and other unused stuff to the personnel at the reservoir. They had kept an eye on our vehicle while we were climbing.
We drove straight to my home to unpack. My daughter who was then 2 and half years old and my wife was home. It was still the Chinese New Year period and we gathered round my kitchen to have some refreshments and to update my wife D2 about our adventures.
It was there and then that I remembered the YHS can of pork cubes still in my pack.
We told the story about this tin, took it out and had a closer look.
The label clearly stated YHS pork cubes.
Since no one could recall bringing this mysterious tin from their home I said let's open it up.
Using a tin opener, it was soon opened.
There were no pork cubes when we poured the contents out on a bowl.
It was all sambal udang !!! ( spicy small prawns )
Remember, the label wrapped round the tin stated "YHS pork cubes"!
It was as if by some unknown magical process that the contents within were altered
so that it no longer became "taboo"...up on the mountain.
By the way, this was and still remains the ONLY time such an occurence ever happened to us.
As I've also said, I never taken much notice of all these mysterious happenings not until the years 1977 and 1978. That was when I was elected as President of COMEX Singapore, a leading adventure and travel club then. And one of those serving with me in the Main Executive Council was Ibrahim Othman, who held the post of Director, Sports and Recreation. Ibrahim was then in the Education service as I was. He taught ML2 and was most knowledgeable about the history, tradition, beliefs and culture of the local Malays.
We became firm and close friends.
During a Comex organised trip to Maxwell Hill, we were seated together and we were comparing our travel experiences. It was then, that the subject of Mt Ophir 1974 came out. Urged on by him, I related all that happened as I've described here. He was all eyes and ears, literally!!!
When I finished my account...he asked me," Do you realise WHO YOU HAVE MET IN PERSON? "
I said, " No."
Ibrahim: " You have met the LEGENDARY PUTERI GUNUNG LEDANG !!! ( Princess of G Ledang ).
Me: " But it was an old lady I met up there."
Ibrahim: " DICK, ask yourself how can an old lady of 80+ years old be found at such a high
altitude and you said she was carrying a basket with flowers and eggs ( things found on low land ). Moreover, what was she doing up there? She is regarded as a guardian of the mountain and that's why she asked you whether you knew the" undang-undang" of the place.
No lady of such an age is fit to climb so high up this mountain. Dick, consider yourself very LUCKY for a few centuries many local Malays and others have gone to Mt Ophir in search of or hoping to meet/see/experience WHAT YOU HAVE PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED in 1974.
Even in recent times, many "holy men and mystics" have gone there...all hoping.
Me: " I'm stunned ! Why do you think I have been so fortunate to have met with this Puteri Gunung Ledang since so many have tried and have failed? "
Ibrahim: " I think you are quite different from the others. For a Chinese to climb during CNY is unheard of. You may not know it but fate and your good heart may have played a major part."
The above revealations by Ibrahim to me were the first inkling I had of the Significance of my trip up there. I have, since 1974 never written a word about this whole EXPERIENCE. This is a first person story here.
Ps: Ibrahim Othman was later elected as a PAP member of Parliament for 3 terms starting in
1984. He was also appointed as the President of FAS ( Football Association of S'pore ).
We are still close and firm friends today.
Next....the concluding episode!


Lam Chun See said...

Thank you for sharing this fascinating story.

uncle dick said...

Thanks for the appreciation.
This story is fascinating because Gunung Ledang is enveloped by deep mystery and legends. It is also deadly!
More climbers have died here than on any other M'sian mountains. One of those who perished was a young Poly student whom I knew very well, having tutored him in English from Pri 6 to sec school level. He was a former Head Prefect of his school.
I will blog about this tragedy too.

Meiz said...

Such a good journey story and it made me put on my-must-go list ��