11-7-06 (Or, 7-11-06 for the Americans)


Day two. I woke up at around 6 that morning, feeling refreshed. My tentmates and I unpitched our tent, before eating a light breakfast of biscuits.
A small morning exercise later, the group headed uphill for the rock-climbing wall. We were going to scale it today. It was 4 stories high. Everybody attempted it at least once, though only a handful made it all the way to the top. I was belayer the whole morning, and by the time it was my turn to scale the wall, my arms were too tired from all that rope-pulling that I barely reached 4 metres before I gave up, exhausted.
It was mid-day when we were done with the rock wall. Lunch was a simple affair of cake and butter buns. When we had eaten our fill, we set off for the beach, where we began the kayaking preparations. There were 16 of us in the watch altogether, so that meant 8 tandem kayaks. We did a buoyancy test to ensure our lifevests were working properly, learnt how to maneuver the kayak (this I had already learnt before), and practised recovering the craft after a capsize.
As soon as we were prepared, and all our essential items have been packed onto the instructors’ motor boat, our watch joined another group and paddled about 500 metres westwards to our next campsite. It was a bit of a mess, docking our kayaks on the concrete floor of the boatyard, as others groups were joining us there as well, and keeping their boats away too. With that done, our tents were pitched up once again at the new campsite, a forest clearing riddled with potholes (presumably dug up by the local wild boar population). It was completely windless there, and I was worried that it would be to hot and stuffy for me to sleep later on that night.
Nevertheless, I went to shower and change into fresh clean clothes, and joined my watch for a sumptuous warm dinner of rice, chicken, cabbage, and vegetable soup.
Following that, the four watches present at the campsite moved to an air-conditioned classroom, where we were briefed by our instructors of the upcoming kayaking expedition that was to happen tomorrow. We were supposed to paddle at least 11 kilometres to our next campsite the next day, then paddle 11 kilometres back the day after. Each watch had one member as the expedition leader; I was Ex Leader for my group. The four of us were tasked with ensuring that the whole pack stays together and keeps out of danger. The left marker ensures that nobody goes out too far left, likewise for the right marker, while the sweeper reminds behind the whole gathering to bring up the rear and help anybody who goes too slow. I, being the navigator, had to be in front at all times, and had to plot the safest and easiest route to our destination. It was pretty straightforward; all I had to do was keep close to the shoreline and not venture into the channels, where the huge tankers and cargo ships would be cruising. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous, as this was my first time leading a group of mostly strangers to a place I don’t even know.
Everybody filed out of the classroom after the briefing, leaving the expedition leaders behind to discuss tactics and plans. We planned to maintain a diamond formation and ensure that everybody stays within it, so everybody would be close together.
With that, I went straight back to the campsite to turn in for the night. Realizing I had forgotten to brig a pen along with me to record today’s happenings (I recorded all this on Day 4), I disappointedly, anxiously, and umcomfortably, drifted off to sleep.

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