Paradise Valley



It’s that time of the year again where my company organizes a few team building activities for its staff. During my first year here, we had the luxury of going for a one night stay in Pangkor. The year after, we didn’t go anywhere but did a few fun activities like Skytrex and go-karting. This year we were given a choice between bowling, cooking, movie-watching, go-karting or an overnight trip to an eco tourism resort in Broga called Paradise Valley. Naturally I chose the overnight stay in Broga (do you even have to ask?).



Well actually I’ve been to Broga for a couple of times now with my friends and family so it’s no big deal. We are going to go for an early morning hike from the resort to catch the sunrise. But apart from that, there’s a host of other activities planned for us like wall-climbing, flying-fox and kayaking which I look forward to very much.



We started from the secondary school early Monday morning. Yes the school was closed for 2 weeks for the Easter term break. An hour later we arrived in Paradise Valley by bus. Oh did I mention, the were about 44 of us including 4 guys? Yep, somehow all the other men in the school were not interested in outdoor activities (wimps). Well I can’t really blame them. Not everybody is cut out for the outdoors or sports. So the remaining 40 participants consist of mostly domestic ladies, teaching assistants and a few admin staff and librarians.



All the ladies we divided into dormitories which could fit 10 people or so. When I heard about dormitories, I started to imagine my horrible high school dormitories but fortunately it was nothing like that. At least this one is clean and air-conditioned. Everybody was supposed to stay in these dorms but since there were only 4 of us guys, we were given a free upgrade and got to stay in one of their luxury air-conditioned suites with hot shower, 4 single beds room instead. Compared to the girl’s dormitories it is a luxury I must say. At least there’s a bright side of guys shying away from this trip.



We were randomly divided into 5 groups at the beginning. After checking in we started our first activity which was the photo hunt. The objective is to find the places described on each piece of paper and take group photos there with different unique poses. As much as I despise running around under the hot el nino sun, I just played along with the team.



After lunch (which was really good - chicken, lamb, etc) comes my favorite activity - the wall climb. I used to breeze up to the top of these walls when I was younger but I’m not so sure I can do that now. Still, I’d be damned if I don’t try. We put on all our harnesses and flock to the climbing wall. Each group members will attempt to scale the wall and those who reaches the highest most wins. I was pretty confident at first you know since I’ve been working out a lot at the gym so this is going to be peanuts right? The first half of the climb was okay but as I tried to go higher, the holds (the thing that you grip on) got smaller and more difficult to grasp. Maybe my section of the wall is slightly more difficult or maybe I’m just not up for this so I went down 2/3 into my climb which is disappointing for me to say the least. However after seeing how some of my ladies team members reached the top without much complication, I decided to try again but on a different section of the wall. Sure enough, I clinched that one without much difficulty.



Our next activity is the much awaited flying fox. First we had to walk up a steep slope to get to the beginning of the flying fox cable. After a short briefing we took turns to zip down the flying fox one by one. Somehow they let all the ladies go first followed by the lighter guys and me (being the heaviest one) last. So I had to wait for like an hour before I get to zip down the hill and it ended in like 10 seconds. So much for being the first to run up the flying fox station.



Our final outdoor activity of the day was a free and easy kayaking session at a small pool inside the resort. The water is just waist deep and the pool so small, there’s not so much adventure to it to be honest. I was expecting some elements of white-water rafting or something but then they don’t have any rivers flowing next to the resort.



After a good dinner, we congregated at a small hall next to the dormitories for karaoke night. The last time I joined an open karaoke singing session was in Sungai Sedim during my college days Rakan Muda trip. I know I sounded terrible then but that doesn’t stop me from trying again that night. After the first volunteer (Zakiah was fearless), everybody was hesitant to join. Not until I braved the stage and start belting out Man Bai’s kau ilhamku then everybody started to join. Some of them were quite good actually although others can’t sing even if their lives depend on it (I’m looking at you Zakiah and Faridah).

We retired early that night so that we can wake up fresh for the early morning hike the next day. My housemates were so excited they woke up as early as 4:30 am that morning. I know cause got woken up by all the noises they made. Calm down uncles, it’s only a one hour hike. After a quick warm up we set of at the designated time (5:30 am). We used a completely different route than the regular one used by the public and this one is much quicker (but steeper in some parts). It is a private route meant for the customers of Paradise Valley. That said we could occasionally see outsiders trekking using the route but along the resort gates of course. It’s not like they can stop them or anything. I obviously didn’t have any problem hiking up Broga. It is only 420 meters Broga after all. The rest of my colleagues however were panting and sweating their way up the hill slopes. No surprise there since most are not into outdoor activities or even done any exercises recently. I don’t mean to sound cocky or anything but the sad reality is many of my fellow Malaysians don’t put much effort in exercising or sporting activities. Is it any wonder we are the country with the most obese people in south east Asia?



Anyway everybody reached the top of Broga in no time at all. Well actually most take slightly over one hour to reach the top. The morning was cloudy and overcast so there goes our sunrise hike. I came prepared with my stove, mess tin, tea and biscuits meaning to have a light breakfast at the peak. It was good to share what little I have with the rest of the crew. After the compulsory photo-taking, we head down the same route we came up from. That took about half an hour but in my hurry to get down, I sprained my knee a little running down the track. That was so silly of me and going to pay for it dearly in my next hiking trip.

After breakfast we rested a bit and then board the bus back to school. At the primary campus we had lunch and then a little prize-giving ceremony. I was actually hoping to win something but I didn’t which is cool. The karaoke contest winners for example had to sing in front of the entire school after getting their prizes. Honestly I would die of embarrassment before I can do that. So had it been a good trip? You bet. Sure I would have liked to do more activities or had more of my buddies around. It’s a nice break from our daily work routine. Hopefully, we’ll go somewhere nicer next time.

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