Friday, April 13, 2012

Earth Hour 2012 - Miri Style

On 31st March, a group of MNS Miri Branch Members joined the rest of the world to commemorate Earth Hour 2012 by a symbolic act of spending that hour (or night, in our case) with little or no dependence on electricity. What began as a simple idea of ‘Bonfire anyone ?” rapidly snowballed to an overnight stay what with the encouraging response from the camping enthusiasts of the likes of Nazeri, Musa, Sara, Adeline and her adventurous group.

At 5.30pm, our group began the 20 minute walk towards the beach from the meeting point in front of SY Shrimp Farm, Kuala Baram. We followed an indistinctive path, causing some raised eyebrows from locals who probably didn’t expect to see a party of 17, weaving their way through overgrown weeds laden with camping gear, fishing rods, sleeping bags and food for the night (which included 2 buckets of Colonel Sanders’ finest, courtesy of Anura). After a final balancing act on raised narrow adjoining planks across the water logged ground, we reached the beach and continued our way on the beach to the desired site amidst the setting sun.

With dusk fast approaching, the campers staked their respective spots and before long there were 6 sturdy tents, 2 makeshift shelters and 2 crackling bonfires gracing our campsite.Once the ‘hard labour’ was out of the way, we wasted no time devouring food brought for the night around the the bonfire. The night was well spent with some star gazing, an MNS Miri Branch committee meeting (thanks Miriam and company, for making your way to join us) and a sighting of a dried turtle carcass on the beach. Shortly after the official Earth Hour ended, those returning to Miri made their way back leaving the campers to the solitude of the night accompanied by the prolific flames of the bonfire.

I would venture to say the night was near perfect for camping except for the exodus of blood thirsty mosquitoes that mobilized their army from neighboring Brunei upon realizing there was a feast that night. They proved to be insatiable, effortlessly penetrating any form of defense mounted against them. Mosquitoes aside, we spent the night under a canopy of a clear night sky studded with stars anticipating the occasional breeze for a much needed respite.

At half past 5 the next day, a light shower sent those sleeping out in the open (Nazeri, Amer and me), scurrying for the makeshift tents. Just when Amer and I, were beginning to feel all smug that our hastily constructed shelter was still standing, a gust of wind transformed our shelter to a sail (a darn good one if I may say so) and we soon realized it is time to abandon ship. We gate-crashed Nazeri’s spacious makeshift tent (which was holding up really well) and waited out the rain while those keeping warm and dry in their tents were oblivious to this pre-dawn saga of musical tents. Little did we realise, that it was just a prelude to what was yet to come.

While lounging around the dying embers of the bonfire comparing mosquito bite marks over breakfast, a wall of dark looming clouds crept behind us and instinctively we made a dash to break camp and (hopefully) escape the torrential rain. We trudged out from the campsite in the heavy downpour and by the time we re-grouped at the roadside, the skies were bright and blue once more. Though the weather brought an abrupt end to our activity, we said our goodbyes while laughing about our experience and began scheming outrageous plans to mount a counter attack on the Kuala Baram mosquitoes next time around. Despite being bitten twice over and getting drenched, I am glad to hear that there will be a ‘next time’.
Words by: Joyce Sivalingam
Images by: Peter Pillai

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