A Short Getaway

A Short Getaway

We live in
a time where technology plays a big role in our lives, and I am not afraid to admit I often find myself wasting my time unconsciously peeking at other people’s life on social media instead
of managing my own. Hands up if you agree social media is the number 1 reason you’re procrastinating *raises my hand quietly*. I am guilty as charged!
Before we
departed for Bario, we were already told that we would have no access to Internet. And
just like that, we were completely cut off from the outside world for three weeks (we still got to call our family and friends, don’t worry). My friend even joked that
if Peninsular Malaysia disappeared overnight we wouldn’t even know because there
are no newspapers! Sure, three weeks without Internet connection was a pain when we
needed to Google something. But come to think of it, we might have been too dependent on the Internet all this while because we did survive using only our knowledge and teamwork to figure things out on our own. And for the first
time in ages, I felt like I was actually living.
Tepuq Ulo’s paddy field.
It felt like we had more time in Bario because we woke up early and used our
time wisely. With little distractions (by technology), we got to talk and interact more with the people we built relationships with, took strolls and admired the beautiful scenery during our free time, breathed in the fresh Bario air, and took proper breaks when we were tired. I even learned how to fish! 
It’s
a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to experience a farmer’s life.
Being city kids, most of us are not physically strong enough for hours of hard
labour. But did we enjoy the process? Definitely!  
After working in the paddy field. Muddy but happy.
Working in
the muddy paddy field was tough, but it made us stronger.  I enjoy drying the paddy the most because
who doesn’t like chasing chickens away? But when the paddy was almost done drying (it usually takes four hours) and it started to rain, I could feel my heart breaking because Tepuq Ulo’s hard
work had gone down the drain. 
Drying the paddy. Photo taken shortly before it started raining. 
One time, K Rou and I followed our tepuqs to remove the weeds underneath
the pastor’s house. We had to squat beneath the house and pull out the weeds
and we couldn’t stand as the space was too small. Seeing how tired out we were, our
tepuqs made us weed in the open space. Tepuq Ulo and Tepuq Ribed would
say: ‘Kasihan cucu-cucu kita, perlu ikut kita kerana kita kuat kerja.’ (Our
poor grandchildren, pity them as they have to follow us to do our hard work.) We
didn’t even do much compared to them!
Food
doesn’t come around easy in Bario. There are no grocery stores. I remembered when
Wai Leong and K Rou were looking for tomatoes and we had to search the village to
find out who planted them. If we wanted vegetables we had to pick them from the
jungle. Picking jungle vegetables with my tepuq, all sorts of insects managed to crawl inside my pants, from leeches to big red ants. I might have screamed a
few times. But now the city kid can finally say that she has seen it all (not really)! Yes,
I brought back legs full of insect bite scars but EVERY BIT WAS WORTH IT.
K Rou (left) and I all dressed up by our tepuqs to pick jungle vegetables.
Take note ladies, it’s the latest kampung fashion!
As
participants, it’s not fun and games all the time. We came to Bario carrying responsibilities
and a mission. There will definitely be challenges but once you manage to
overcome it, I assure that you will grow and come back with a completely different
mindset. If you’re reading this, and thinking about joining Project WHEE!, I
encourage you to take this big step. You won’t regret it!
-Pei Chi-

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