Badminton Learning Journey to Penang
‘Penang, here we come!!’ That was on the minds of 40 Dunman High badminton players and 5 teachers who gathered at Terminal 2 Changi Airport at 7.30 am. The Overseas Learning Journey (OLJ) to Penang Island from 29 May to 3 June 2018 had been painstakingly planned and organised over several weeks. Everyone on the trip could not wait to experience all the exciting activities that were lined up. After the customary photo-taking and hugs with parents and spouses who were at the airport, we were off on a one-hour flight to the Pearl of the Orient.
The major activities in the itinerary were the badminton training and the friendly matches with Malaysian players. All our players were looking forward to the 3 days of training at the renowned LTT Badminton Training Centre and the friendly matches. The intense drills and physical training pushed our players to their limits. A few players suffered cramps during the training on court and during the interval training which was done in a park. Our players took home useful tips and pointers that would help them in the development of their badminton skills, tactics and fitness. The friendly matches provided a platform for the players to pit their skills against the Penang players who generally played at a higher level. Playing against such opponents, our players were able to discover their weaknesses. They did their best to apply what they had learnt in their training. Our top players put on several nail-biting performances against some of the top players trained with the LTT Centre. Both our players and the Penang players showed much respect for each other’s ability and skills.
Just like Singapore, Penang is a food haven. We were brought to some of the more well-known restaurants to savour the different Penang cuisines belonging to the different races that live there. We had nasi biryani buffet at the famous Danish Briyani House, Peranakan food at Jason’s Nonya Restaurant and Chinese food at Goh Teo Kee Restaurant. Without fail, our players gobbled up all that was served at each meal and many a times we ordered extra dishes as the food were simply scrumptious.
Not to miss the opportunity to learn some history of Penang, we visited some of the historical places in Penang such as the Padang, Esplanade and Fort Cornwallis. To learn about the Peranakan culture, we visited the Peranakan Mansion where we got to see many Peranakan antiques and artefacts. No trip to Penang would be complete without a visit to Penang Hill. The funicular train ride on the 2000 metres of track uphill and downhill was a thrill in itself. The panoramic view of Penang at night on the peak of Penang Hill provided a great background for the many photographs that were taken.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the trip was the caving adventure at Gua Tempurung (Coconut Shell Cave) in Perak. Traversing about 3.8 km of the 400-million-year old marble and limestone cave, we had to wriggle and slither through holes that were barely larger than the circumference of our bodies. We waded through and at times crawled in cold running water that flowed along the river on the cave floor. If not for our headlamps and hand-held torches, we would not have been able to see a thing in the total darkness that enveloped the cave. The caving adventure was supposed to have taken about 3.5-hour to complete but we took about 5 hours because of our big number of people. It was not only a fun and challenging adventure but it was a great time for all of us to bond together as a team as we helped each other to traverse the very difficult cave terrain. We constantly encouraged each other when the going got tough or when one of us got tired. We watched over each other to ensure that nobody was in harm’s way.
We also had a great time cycling in Balik Pulau. Cycling through fruit orchards, paddy fields and prawn farms, we got to see and experience the beauty and serenity of the Penang countryside which was a big contrast to the hustle and bustle of the capital Georgetown where our hotel was situated. Our final adventure activity was at the Escape Theme Park which features many high element activities such as flying lemur, jungle swinger, mega drop and monkey business which all require one to overcome the fear of heights and put physical fitness to the test. We had a ball of a time at the Park.
All of us who went on this OLJ truly enjoyed ourselves tremendously – the adventure and educational activities, training, friendly matches, food and our time together. It will definitely be an experience that we will cherish for a long time to come.
Here are some thoughts by some of the Dunmanians who went on the trip:
“…The next event that tugged a string in my heart was the badminton training sessions with the LTT Academy, in particular, the first training when we did not know what to expect. Before we started training officially, we were first split into singles and doubles where the various coaches further divided us into smaller groups of four to five. I was ‘fortunately’ being chosen to follow the Head Coach who had proclaimed that whoever follows him for training will need very strong mental power as it was not going to be easy at all. At first, I thought that I could probably handle what’s to come as I have a fairly strong mental strength. However, he broke me down with just the first footwork drill. He was very strict in correcting our errors and wanted nothing less than our best. Pushing us nonstop, it was only five minutes into the drill where I felt that I was challenged way beyond my limit! Looking back at all the memories forged and friendships strengthened, I must say that I did not regret giving up Frisbee IJC for this trip as the lessons and experiences gained and deepened relationships with my team mates definitely outweighed what I could have achieved at IJC.” – Pei Zhe Yi, Randall (18Y6C43)
“… During this trip, I was presented with many opportunities to bond with my team and I felt that we become closer as a team. From playing charades on the bus to playing our hearts out against the Malaysian players or enjoying the meals and sightseeing together, we grew as a team. I had a lot of time to do self-reflections during the trip as I discovered a lot more about myself. I am proud of how I forced myself out of my comfort zone as this would help me grow as a leader. Sometimes, I have to throw myself out there and challenge myself in order to grow. But knowing that my teammates will always be there to watch my back, that first step would not seem that bad. Looking back at the memories made, I definitely did not regret signing up for this trip.” – Fu Ying Yu Natalie (18Y4I)
“… Going to the Gua Tempurung Cave in Perak was one of the highlights of the trip which we participated in after the gruelling trainings and matches were over. Caving was something I never did before this camp and I am very glad that I did it with my friends. We had to weave through tight spaces, climb up and down rocks, duck-walk through some areas and walk in thigh-deep water too. Being slightly claustrophobic, I was a bit wary of the caves initially but being with my friends helped to get rid of the small amount of fear I had. Furthermore, my group was constantly there for each other, helping one another to cross obstacles and guiding us with advice after they completed the obstacles first. For me, I tend to hit the ceiling when I forgot to look around and duck under some protruding rocks. Hence, although my helmet prevented me from feeling any pain, Natalie would always shout and warn me jokingly about any rocks to watch out for. In turn, I would pass the warning to Desiree and Jing Wen who were behind me. When we had to climb up and down rocks, I would then help Chai Yin to hold her water bottle before passing it to Natalie when it was my turn to climb. Natalie would then pass it back to me and I would hand back Chai Yin’s bottle. Such seemingly simple actions not only helped us to pass obstacles more efficiently and carefully, they brought us closer together too. Singing with Natalie during our journey back also helped to pass time in a more fun filled way and all these small little actions helped to bond my group together.” – Nicole Looi (18Y4H)
“…One of the more memorable experiences was the training session which included the sprinting. The Penang coach had informed us that we were going for a sprinting session. We had to leave the training centre to head for a park which was about a five minute walk away from the training centre. When we had reached the park, the coach said that the route was about 800 meters and his students were able to hit a timing of 1 minute and 30 seconds. When I heard the requirement, I was really stressed out as i did not think i would be able to meet the requirement due to my lack of stamina. Before the actual run, the coach brought us on a jog to show us the route we had to run. Unlike the smooth running track we had in our school, the track he brought us on was bumpy and a little slippery due to the rain. We had to run along the side of a road and into a park which was very hard as the route was narrow sometimes and there were obstacles such as trees, passer-bys and a few dogs. On the first round, I had started off well and was first in place but when I had reached the park, a dog was in my way and I had to slow down in order to get pass it which allowed my teammates to catch up, causing me to end up second. I was exhausted after the first round as i had went all out only to find out we had to complete another 3 more rounds. I was also disappointed as even though I went all out, I had only managed to hit a timing of 2 minutes which was far from meeting the requirement. On the second and third rounds, I could not keep up the speed and lacked behind to third or fourth place. The last round was the most torturous as I could not catch my breath and was ready to give up but my teammates cheered me on and I decided to try even harder and finish the run. During this training session, I not only learnt on how important stamina was, I also learnt that teammates are also important and they can help you as well as motivate you when you are in need of it…” – Chua Han Wei (18Y2G)