Traffic eased up right after we passed this lorry.
After two hours of moving at snail’s speed, everyone was relieved that we could finally hit the gas. Fortunately our bus was equipped with tv and karaoke set, so it wasn’t that boring. Several of us took turn to sing. I chose to nap almost the entire journey.
The tv showed a movie as nobody wanted to sing anymore.
We finally reached the camp at 7:05pm. The first thing we saw at the camp’s entrance was a plaque saying “Datangmu tidak diundang. Jika ragu harap pulang” (translation: “Your arrival is uninvited. If you are doubtful just leave”). The words reminded me of old memories while growing up in a government quarters next to Kuala Kubu Baru commando camp, the same words could be seen at its entrance too.
The bus dropped us in front of the camp’s hall, where Capt. Abu (the program director) and a group of commandos were already waiting for us. We were ushered to the dining area where we were served fried meehoon and some kuih, but Capt. Abu warned us not to eat too much as it was almost dinnertime (the food served was actually for our teatime as we were supposed to arrive much earlier).
Then we were sent to the campsite where we put our bags, clean ourselves and perform solat. We were also given hammocks in which we were going to sleep and extra ponchos in case it rained.
After solat Maghrib we returned to the hall to start the real program. First there was a slideshow on the how the commandos, or formally addressed as Gerup Gerak Khas, came into existence within Malaysian Army. There were also videos of the things they do, the trainings they go through, their lives during operations and many more. After watching the slideshow and videos, I truly have deeper respect for them. It’s really really really tough to become a commando and once you are one the hard work doesn’t stop, ever, unless you die or retire. And they do it not for the money, but for the pride of serving the country by protecting its sovereignty.
Next on the schedule was a talk on leadership and teamwork by Major Ivan Lee, who’s a trainer from Institut Pengurusan Tentera Darat (IPDA), also part of Malaysian Army. Then we grouped ourselves in 3 groups of 11 to 12 people each and started preparing our group name, logo and war cry. My group’s name was The Patriots. Our logo was a big blue circle (representing MAS) with a red arrow in it (representing journey to achieve target) and the motto “Temporary Pain, Absolute Gain” written on the sides. Each group then had to give a bit of introduction of its team members followed by presentation of the group’s name, logo and war cry.
Then it was the turn for the commandos who will be our instructors for 3 days to introduce themselves. I noticed a cute commando sitting in the group, ahh.. an eye candy, just what I needed to survive the training ;-) They assigned 2 to 3 instructors to each group. Mine got 2 senior commandos who were really nice men. They put to rest all my preconceptions that commandos are angry people who enjoy bullying civilians. Too bad Mr. Cute Commando wasn’t assigned to my group.
By the time we adjourned it was already past midnight. We returned to the campsite and the instructors showed us how to tie hammocks to trees. We also had to take turn as sentry. My shift was from 3am to 3:30am. Fortunately sleeping in hammock was pretty comfy so I had no problem waking up and going back to sleep afterwards.