SEMAI FOR A DAY
Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Written By Rosemary Kong
Edited by Yong Jun Jie
Last month, Raleigh Kuala Lumpur (RIKL) has organized a fundraising program for three Semai venturer whom will be embarking on the upcoming Spring Expedition by Raleigh Borneo. The program happens at Ulu Tual Village, Pahang from 28 till 29 February. But, before we go thru the whole journey in this program, let’s understand who and what Semai is all about.
The Semai, also known as ‘’Orang Dalam’’, belongs to the Senoi group and are among the largest indigenous ethnic group in the Peninsular Malaysia. The language spoken are Semai and is very similar with the Temiar language. The Semai usually resides in the central region of Peninsular Malaysia mostly within Perak, Pahang and Kelantan.
They are horticulturalist and focus on small scale farming of crops and livestock. In the early years, Semai do not have formal leaders, decision in their culture was determined primarily by public opinion. Any disputes in the Semai community is resolved by holding a becharaa or public assembly at the headman’s house. Many Semai are animist but in the modern days most of them practices Christianity with some of them being Muslims.
On the day of the trip, participants gather at Gombak LRT Station before departing together for breakfast at Ratha Curry Fish Head in Raub. We’re joined by another group of eager participants in Raub. Finished with breakfast, we depart to our destination, Kg Ulu Tual. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by villagers and ushered by the three Semai venture named, Aiza, Jalil and Ah Heng. We was then brief on the intentions of the program and the whole itinerary. To top up, three of them also attend a crash course in learning English to prepare themselves before going for expeditions. Kudos!
After the briefing we proceed for an almost luxurious Semai style buffet lunch. We were served with a varieties of traditional food that otherwise cannot be found in the city. Once done with lunch, we are ready to emerge ourselves with Semai’s lifestyle.
First activity was to harvest tapioca fresh off the ground. The tapioca plucked out was very fresh and big in sizes. After harvesting the tapioca we were ushered to the next site, where we were then facilitated by leader of our group to build shelter, make fire and see how animals traps is set up. With all the activity done, we cook the tapioca retrieved earlier for tea time and leisure with other groups in the shelter made. It’s surely a kampong feel.
We then head back to Pusat Didikan Cenwaey Penaney (a community learning center that doubles as a coumunity hall) for a group photo session with day trip group before they depart back to KL. Next, it was our free and easy time to have a swim at the river with BBQ as our evening dinner.
With all the music, swims and BBQ around, the atmosphere has help us bond a ‘family-tion-ship’ with the villagers. Sharing a moment with them make us feel at one with them and live the way as they do without thinking the rigid lifestyle in city environment. As night falls, we depart back to PDK for a good night rest.
We woke up to a cool and chilly morning as our head start. After breakfast we prepare the food and material for a hike to a nearby waterfall. As if the trip was not luxurious enough, Aiza, Jalil and Ah Heng extend out breakfast menu with lots of durian! Awww, the tempting smells of durian open up our lust for fruits.
With opur stomach stuffed full of durians, we countinue to hike up the hills to the waterfall as there are no car acess to the waterfall. Arrived at the foothill, we realize a few of the Semai use a “short cut” and drove up the hills by using their motorbike. They manage to drive the motorbike within the narrow trail and make it to the final hut before continuing to hike by foot. That’s their daily routine because there are few orchards along the way to the waterfall which is owned by the villagers themselves. Most of the time, they will carry their harvest using their motorbike.
Due to bad weather and road condition, we arrived late at the waterfall. Worth the hike as the waterfall is very beautiful with its big unique rock formation along with the cold water running down the rocky stream. We started to build camp while the others prepare the food. Not long after, it is raining and the waterfalls becoming rigorous. Despite the on and off rain, we are still preparing the food while working with others to build the shelter.
Once all the food is done, it’s already late evening. With prompt action, we try to finish all the cooked food and ready to hike down. As all of us hiking down the trail, we try to keep our distance close to each other since its getting dark and not many of us brought a torchlight or cellphone. Luckily ,all of us managed to get down to the foothill by 8PM, it was completely dark by then. Plus, Tok Batin(the village headman) was already at the foothill waiting for us anxiously as he is concern due to our delayed arrival.
Because of that, the itinerary is moved forward. Following that, we rush back to PDK and have a light snack before ending the day with the closing ceremony. Overall, the fundraising program end well despite the delay we arrival at KL safely. In this situation, bad weather is inevitable thus itinerary is subject to change. RIKL is deeply regrets the inconvenience made especially towards our participant’s parent and guardian who worried for their loved ones. Lastly, we would like to express gratitude to Semai communitie and the participants for making this program a success. We hope there will be a continuous support and contribution from our communities to strive for youth development.
Stay tuned to our social media sites as we will organize more of these trips soon!