Friday, July 24, 2009

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 11: The After Party

To celebrate our success in finally finding Teluk Ketapang (and staying alive to tell the tale), we had a small gathering the following week.

It was also a way to thank our friends who were instrumental in getting us back in one piece. From that one incident, we were reminded of how much we mattered to each other.

So, has the issue cooled down enough for our next adventure? ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 10: Factual Inaccuracies In The Newspapers

Although six SEVEN mainstream newspapers carried our story, only one got their facts right - Guang Ming Daily. As such, this post will address the inaccuracies of all the newspaper reports.

Let's start with Kwong Wah Daily [PDF] since it's the worst culprit of them all. They claimed we were lost, physically weak, was there to conduct research and even got our gender wrong. As you know by now, we didn't lose our way in the forest at all. We were also not physically weak and in fact, surprisingly still very strong after all the strenous hiking and trekking, experiencing more than six hours of torrential downpour and not sleeping at all! There were three males and two females in our group but they reported four males and one female. You just can't find worse reporting than that!

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 09: The Reunion

As the boat approached the jetty at Teluk Bahang, we could see our families, friends, villagers and pressmen waiting at the beach. Of course it was an emotional moment for some of us especially those who had waited and worried over us for one whole night but the reunion had to be cut short as we had to talk to the police first since a police report was made as suggested by the park rangers.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 08: The Morning After

As it approached 6am, I heard the sound of whistles and people shouting. I wasn't sure if it was just my imagination or the search party. I related this to my friends and some did hear it, some didn't. As the rain finally stopped, we ventured out to the beach. I saw a spot in the forest which was illuminated by light. Instinctively, we started shouting and sending signals using the flash of our cameraphones and digital SLR. There wasn't a response so we stopped. Maybe it was just some aliens and thier UFOs.

It was daybreak and bright enough for us to hike back. We decided to wait awhile longer in case they sent a boat out for us but looking at the strong waves, they would probably not be able to land on the beach safely. At 7.45am, we decided to hike back and left them a message on the beach to let them know we were there and were on our way back to Teluk Duyong.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 07: A Night Like No Other

We kept ourselves occupied for the night talking and joking around. We had predicted the attention we would be receiving in the press once we got out, so no surprises there. We just didn't expect six dailies to carry the story and to actually appear on page 3 of a mainstream newspaper. Aspiring politicians would kill for that spot! Although this was probably my fourth/fifth time being featured in The Star and second in the other dailies, I didn't actually expect the article to be featured so prominently! Target for next year: Front Page news! :P

We also made plans for any eventualities during the night. We tried to signal some deepsea fishing boats but to no avail. We tried searching for mobile networks but even the 'emergency calls only' network didn't work.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 06: Welcome To Hotel Ketapang

It was still raining a little and the winds were blowing very strongly. We quickly put into motion the finding of a suitable location and building a temporary shelter for us to camp for the night. We were quite fortunate that the strong winds had uprooted a sea almond tree (pokok ketapang, hence the name of the cove). We broke off it's branches and used its leaves to build our bivouac. Since the cove is quite a popular spot for hotel guests due to its serenity and exclusivity, there were plenty of rubbish we could rummage through to find anything useful to us such as styrofoam boxes.

The front of our bivouac
The front of our bivouac made of branches and leaves of the sea almond tree

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 05: The Third & Fateful Attempt

We planned to start our hike early as it was a public holiday. We didn't want to get caught by human traffic at the Penang National Park. Unfortunately, it was still raining heavily from the night before when we woke up just before 6am. We decided to sleep in for the time being and decide later at 7 or 8am if we should continue with the hike or cancel it.

Two of our friends who were already at the Penang National Park at 6am were our eyes there. As the rain started to dissipate at 8am and the thought of the two of them having waited for us for over two hours, we decided to proceed with the hike. It was only when we met them at the entrance of the Penang National Park did we realise that they also didn't have the heart to ask us to cancel the hike because of those who had stayed over at my house. Since we were already there and the rain had stopped, we carried on with the hike.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 04: The Second Attempt

We tried again the following week after gathering more information on how to get to Teluk Ketapang. We tried several paths we created on our own but were met with dead-ends everytime. We finally managed to meet up with the boatman who sells drinks at one of the abandoned Boon Siew bungalows and he helped point us in the right direction.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 03: The First Attempt

With a very vague and short description of how to get there obtained from various sources, we used our (non-existent) pathfinding skills to find our way there. According to the guide, it is only a short 1.2km journey that would only require 15 to 30 minutes. Of course, we allocated many more hours than what was recommended just in case, considering this trail was hardly used.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 02: Why Teluk Ketapang & Where Is It?

So what is this mysterious place that must not be published in the newspapers, you ask? If we didn't go to Pantai Kerachut or Muka Head, where did we go then? Ever since the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve was converted to the Penang National Park and the constant development of the area, more people have been frequenting the place. This used to be a place away from civilisation that I could go to and catch a breather. That has been taken away with the trails made easier and frequent boat rides for visitors to get there. Time to find a new place away from civilisation. Time for a new challenge.

The Teluk Ketapang Story Part 01: Official Blog Statement

The Michael Jackson tribute will have to wait. He is not going anywhere now that he is dead so the King of Pop can wait for awhile more before I pay tribute to him. Instead, I would like to tell the facts behind the recent drama that happened at Penang National Park.

As to our knowledge, six SEVEN local newspapers have carried the story (two English, four Chinese, one Malay) either electronically, print or both. Only the article written by Guang Ming Daily [PDF] was factual as the reporter was the only one that was around the whole time interviewing the families, the authorities and the victims (that would be us). I don't know where or how the other dailies cooked up their stories. In fact, the one carried by Kwong Wah Yit Poh [PDF] was the worst getting all the facts wrong. More about that later.