Wednesday, July 15, 2009

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.

As it approached midnight and the sight of the deepsea fishing boats making their way back, I knew something was not right. These fishing boats thrived on fishing in the dark. If they were making their way back now, it could only mean that a storm was coming. As I looked over to the horizon, my heart sank. The sky at the horizon was as black as coal and it was fast approaching. The winds were getting stronger and the tide was also coming in.

We did consider taking shelter under some rocks but as the tide was coming in, we abandoned the idea and went back to our bivouac instead. We suddenly felt a gush of hot wind and we knew the storm had arrived. The rain was the heaviest we had experienced thus far and the wind was blowing landwards and seawards, back and forth. We really thought that our bivouac would give way and be blown away by the wind. Fortunately, it was strong enough and stood steady till the very next day. For those who lamented at EXCOs for splashing water at our shelters directly at 90 degrees (me included), I can tell you now for a fact that rain do come right at you at 90 degrees!

The wind wasn't that strong anymore after a couple of hours but the rain was still as heavy as ever. It would be an understatement to say we were getting cold. We were freezing and I was afraid we may succumb to hypothermia and paradoxical undressing. We did everything possible to keep ourselves warm by huddling together and even resisted empyting our bladders to maintain our body temperature. It sometimes felt colder with your shirt on and there's a burning sensation everytime the rain drops on your clothing as if your skin was on fire. With the knowledge about paradoxical undressing, I kept my shirt on and only took it off to squeeze it dry. Fortunately no one stripped to their undies. That would not have been a lovely sight! :P

It really felt like forever as the rain kept pouring. We couldn't check for the time as it was too dark and we didn't want to risk taking out any of our electrical items in the rain. Out of the blue, we heard some sound. It turned out to be a handphone alarm and that was what gave us the time. It was already 5am and that gave us renewed hope to hold on for just a little longer since we've gotten through most of it already. We had survived through a night like no other and we knew it would be coming to an end soon enough.

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