我永遠無法忘記這趟旅程

I’m back from Surabaya, where the Asia Pacific Interfaith Youth Camp was held! Thanks to all the inspiring people I met there, I’m filled with renewed motivation to speak up for causes I believe in.

I also hiked up a mountain in four hours at night without any gear – the greatest achievement of my life thus far! Sustained minor cuts and slipped many times.. but I still came back in one piece! We prayed in the ways of our different faiths before setting off… and I’m so glad we did- because nobody was hurt in a big way. I’m so grateful to all who pushed and pulled me along the way. If not for them, I would have lost the will to continue.

The beautiful sunrise that was worth the climb and the freezing cold wait.

I feel so powerless yet awed in the face of nature. Love trees! During my hike I was reminded once again that the world is so vast and human beings are so small. What are our problems compared to that of the world’s? Sometimes we forget this when we get too caught up in the nitty gritty.

This is Pak Hidayat, my homestay host. I came empty handed but he gave me a carton of keropok to bring home!! Bought me durian some more! He’s responsible for the city’s environmental cleanliness, with 900 staff under his charge. He told me he works 24 hours a day. It’s probably true, because I think Surabaya is really clean compared to many other southeast asian cities!

The Indonesians are really warm and sincere.. I feel so overwhelmed. Quite sadly, though, I get the feeling that this camp probably does not mean a lot to MCYS… because we were not briefed at all prior to the camp- no official guidelines (so typical but strangely forgotten), no protocol; nothing. As a first-timer to such regional events, I went there really ill prepared. Other delegates were handing out name cards (some handmade even!) and little souvenirs from their countries! So embarrassing.

See what I mean? The Thai delegates looking so royal in their traditional finery:

They practiced their dance items before the trip, okay!! It just goes to show how much importance their country attaches to this event… They even sent an observer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs! Us Singaporeans were bleached white in comparison: no costume, no performance, nothing to show. We did try brainstorming, but singing National Day songs was just weird and corny. I guess young Singapore’s common heritage and identity is still not distinct enough. Will it come through more strongly with time? What’s our national costume, by the way? Orchid prints?

We felt rather lost, unable to grasp or define a national identity. But it’s important not to be cynical. Bitterness doesn’t help things. This is the first time I really feel the need to reflect upon our national identity… I also felt a little more patriotic. Timely, huh?

Aww the organisers! They’ve been so very kind and warm to us… Can’t thank them enough for taking such good care of us!

Happy Tree Friends, quite literally- at Mojokoto, Pacet, a hilly village with superb cooling climate…. My homestay hosts couldn’t speak a word of English, but we felt their warmth all the same. I felt so bad for eating two free meals at their spartan home. I hope they’re given some form of compensation!

More photos here

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