August 26, 2013

Life is Beautiful

At the beginning of the month, a friend of mine approached me asking if I would be free for an event organised by the SJBA. The event in question was Life is Beautiful, a day-long race around KL with the aim to make us realise that life isnt about where we want to go, but the journey there. Aimed to make youths learn how to embrace life one moment at a time, the race was filled with tasks that would make the event live up to its name.

So anyway, I was asked to be a facilitator to the participants for the race which took place yesterday. Since I didnt have anything else to do on a Sunday, I figured why not give it a go. Before the real race though, 6 other facis and the main committees (most of them happened to be from YDC 21) had a trial run to look for any flaws and problems that would arise in the real race. After a week of adjusting and finalising, we were ready for LIB 2013.

My day started at 6.30am. Washed up, changed, reached SJBA at 7am. We had a final briefing and discussion among us facis; Eugene, Yeh Vin, Martin, Pei Kai, Zhi Chao and
Ying Zhe as well as preparations for the race.

At 8, me, Yeh Vin and Martin left first with the committees to prepare the first leg of the race at  Taman Tasik Perdana. Once everything was set, we facis chilled for a bit while the participants went around collecting a flag which had their name on it which formed a clue to their real starting point.

While we chilled, we each held a string which was strewn all around this garden walkway and jumbled up at the end. As each group arrived, they would pick a string and trace it to find out who would be the faci (or as was later changed to "companion") for their group. Pei Kai was plucked first, followed by Zhi Chao and Eugene. I went fourth with Yeh Vin's group right behind us.

My team consisted Yong Le, Jie Wen (both from YDC :P ), Bobby, Thompson, Shane (dont let the name fool you, she's a girl!) and Chloe.

Our first task was to have the whole group collectively jump rope 200 times within 5 minutes. One of us could barely do five jumps, another breezed through with 50. In the end we managed to total 200 jumps with over a minute to spare.

Next, we walked out from Taman Tasik Perdana and headed towards Padang Merbok. During the trial run we vehemently stressed on crossing the road safely, using the pedestrian lights wherever possible and so on. But that got thrown out the window when our group just darted across the road. One of my members wasnt quite fast with crossing the road and very nearly got hit by a rather-fast moving car. Till now the blaring horn and the image of the near-miss still burns in my mind. I cannot express how thankful I am this tragedy did not happen.

We arrived at Padang Merbok for task #2. 100 plates were placed in front of us, and 7 of them had a clue underneath for each team. Each member would take turns taking one plate at a time and see if the clue was there. For every plate without a clue, we would have one penalty action incurred. My team picked up 13 plates, and so we had to do 13 actions which was taken and modified from this:

With Yeh Vin's group right with us, we proceeded to the Pitcher Plant Fountain not too far from Dataran Merdeka. Here, task #3 involved a detour. But before that detour, team members had to learn the 26 alphabets in SIGN LANGUAGE within 10 minutes. But since we "companions" had already did the trial run, we were excluded from the task. After learning sign language, we had to choose one of two options; to feel (go to Masjid Jamek LRT station) or to perform  (go to Dataran Merdeka ). Once we made our choice, 2 of the members had to spell out in sign language the phrase which would take us to our destination, while the rest tried to decipher it.

We chose to go to Masjid Jamek. After the trial run I already had the path in my head. My group went in the wrong direction TWICE omgosh. Luckily I still remembered the way and tried to pull them back in the right direction, of course I had to act the part by prompting the use of the map. By the time we corrected ourselves we had dropped to 7th and last place. At our designated station, members had to feel and identify five items inside a mystery box. We managed to get all five before Martin's team who was ahead of us. Coincidentally our station was a mamak shop and it was time for lunch anyway, so we sat down and had our rest. At about 1.10pm, I handed the team the next clue.

We had to make our way to Petaling Street. Once there we were given task #4. We had to buy a souvenir symbolising a Malaysian landmark, and then present it to a foreign tourist. We had to explain a little bit about the landmark, gift it to them, and then have our photo taken together.
Here, I admit I made the mistake of taking over the whole talking to tourist part. Only Yong Le pipped in a really short sentence about the Petronas Twin Towers  to a German couple. The rest was all me. Yee Leong tapped my shoulder and whispered that I wasnt suppose to help them.


With that over, we headed over to Pasar Seni LRT station. Here we had to say an early goodbye to Chloe because her sister who joined another team had an old injury suddenly return and causing too much pain for her to continue. So the two sisters prematurely had their race end and we were down to 5 members including myself. We rode the LRT to KLCC. Once there we had to look for our station master Yvonne hiding somewhere in the center concourse. After finding her the companions were given a drink.

This drink had put a "spell" on us, making us procrastinators. If the companion i.e me caught any of my team members, they would be disabled for any one challenge in KLCC. But they would be released once a challenge has been completed by the team and may rejoin for the next challenge. There were 4 challenges in total inside KLCC, and the team would have a 10 second head start before I could go after them. Being such a big mall with so many people it wasnt that easy to hunt them though. Fortunately I wasnt too far behind Yeh Vin and so was Martin. The three of us chose to hunt together and even managed to pick up Eugene along the way!

The last challenge inside KLCC was for the members to buy their companion a drink to "break the procrastinator spell". Me, Yeh Vin and Martin waited at Cold Storage for our members, browsing through the produce and blue cheese and, yeah. My team exited KLCC in last again when there was a sudden change in the game plan and my team was caught off guard which had cost them time.

We then headed to the front/back/whereever side of KLCC with the pedestrian bridge which linked KLCC and Pavilion. At this point, it started to rain. Really, really, heavily. Typical KL City weather. Luckily, the bridge was enclosed and air-conditioned. At the start of the bridge we had to design a simple poster with a positive message and get 50 passers by to sign it as we proceeded to our final destination. There was one pair of auntys who were just so stuck up and blatantly ignored us. They literally had their noses held up and walked past. Jeez.

At the end of the bridge (it actually splits and we could go to Pavilion or Raja Chulan monorail station, we had to go to the latter), it was still a massive downpour. Luckily we were given 3 (only??) rain coats, I had my mini umbrella and Jie Wen had his jacket, so we all would have some protection from getting soaked.

Once we had reached Raja Chulan station, we were met with a really really pleasant surprise:

Yeh Vin and Martin's group were just behind us!! We were reunited!!

They were joking that how could I have gone ahead without them (they stopped at Pavilion for a toilet break) and stuff. From that point on we vowed that since we couldnt finish the race in the top 3, we'd finish the race three together instead. Once we rode the monorail to Titiwangsa, we met the committees who were waiting to ferry us in their cars to the finish line since it was getting late. Our final destination was Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. The view, despite being gloomy from the rain clouds was rather, well, beautiful.

All the participants, station masters and committees who had arrived earlier were all over the place, and the little children in orange were orphans from Ti-Ratana Welfare Center. They were to be part of the ending of the LIB race with all of us.

Well, to put it nicely, these children were overloaded with energy. I was told that they've been running around non stop since they arrived at about 2.45pm until we arrived at about 5pm.

The second last task involved the teams and children playing a simple course. Limbo under one string, carry the children over the next string, lift them up at the end and have them eat the hanging Super Ring cheese crisps. I would admit I thought it was chaos since the children were a really really real handful and so difficult to keep them in one place.

With that done, we had some light refreshments, a short debriefing by Brother Beng Chung and the final task of releasing birds which the committees had bought in advance from Petaling Street. Each group took a cage, and each member made a wish of what they wanted for themselves. At this point, one of the over excited orphans pried the cage from my hands and proceeded to release the birds before I was ready to make my wish.

To be frank, to be honest, to be blunt, my mood was spoiled by that.

You reading this would be giving the excuse "Aiyah small boy only mah~", but it doesnt take away from the fact that, I was not able to fully savour and take in the very climax, the pièce de résistance of the whole LIB race. I went through an 8 hour race and that was the ending I got. It really was a potong stim moment.

With a photo session together, it was time to wrap up and go home....

Or perhaps not. We spotted one of the birds we released struggling in the water. Nobody knows how or why it could fall into the water. Not that it mattered to Kuan Peng, who was very courageous to have gone into the water to rescue the bird.

Our hero of the day.

What I saw with my very own eyes in person was something we would have only watched on the television, computer or in the cinemas. I was truly touched by this young man's deed. We dried it up and brought it back to SJBA. Amazingly by then it had recovered enough to fly off on its own. What made it more meaningful was that the first place it perched was the Bodhi Tree at our temple.

Since I was a facilitator for this event, what I had gone through yesterday would have been different as compared to the participants' point of view. We facis had already tested out the tasks last week, so for most of the race we were more like supporting members to the participants who would go through the whole race not knowing what to expect. I'm sure though it would have been a real eye opener for almost all of them. Some have never been to the heart of KL by foot, some have never rode the LRT or monorail, some have never communicated with foreigners (I kinda took that away from my group though. >~< ), and I'm sure all of us have never tried sign language. 

Yes, in essence this was a station game-first to the finish line event on a really large scale, but it was the journey to that finish line, what they had gone through on the way there. And perhaps the drowning bird at the end was an unexpected addition to the agenda. 

I'm sure the participants would have all the meaningful things to say rather than myself; I and the other companions were just supporting actors to the whole event. But that doesnt mean I had wasted my whole Sunday; I still had my share of enjoyment too, as I always have with the amazing bunch of people at SJBA-YS~

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