May 28, 2012, 13 Comments

Funny how God’s creation can have such awe-inspiring impact upon our souls. Away from the city, down windy roads, past neatly lined-up rows of palm trees and rubber plantations, the good ol’ countryside sneaked up upon us quietly. All we see are patches of grasslands kissing up to the azure skies.

Being on an old-fashioned motor-powered boat that was so low and close to the water , something tells me we’re going to be real close to nature. Amidst the blazing morning sun, I could almost taste the salty sea water on my lips, I let the water caress my face while the sunlight bathed down on me, a stinging sensation burning at my cheeks. I dream of jumping into the glistening water. Swimming in the sea must have been quite an experience. We love nature and love being part of nature.

Along the way, the hubs sweeps the water so gently and splashes the boys. Their giggles remind me how innocent childhood can be, the simplest things in life is often more than enough. We enjoyed the ride for a good 30 minutes, taking the scenery in.

The boys spotted a wooden house on stilts finally. A cursory glance around tells us that what you see is what you get. Roof over our heads, bathrooms, bunk beds, a common eating area, a kitchen, some pails, a few plastic chairs and that’s about it. Nothing fancy. It sure was as rustic as it can be.

I like the washroom for a start, you can see fish, hundreds of them maybe, swimming frantically beneath a little hole, where our excretions are to go supposedly. It was funny for my boys, they were laughing non-stop talking about the fish eating up their poo! But I love how functional their bathroom is. There was a line and 2 hooks made of nails. Those are for hanging our towels, clothes etc. ; a shower head – for a cool shower, (don’t expect warm water); a pail of water and a scope for flushing, and yes that’s everything into the sea. There are environmentally-friendly too, a sign hung outside the washroom area, dutifully reminding guests what to do to keep the environment safe.

Ask me if I would go for a kelong trip in my twenties and I’d say “not in my wildest dreams!”. I think being a mum changes me. I tend to want to do things that are beneficial for the children as oppose to what I would like it.  Love is more powerful than preferences. Places like this helps children to be less fussy and be able to adapt and survive with the bare minimum. I shudder to think how some kids in this generation grow up not knowing what a HDB flat look like, much less live in one and are totally clueless about communal living.

The sleeping area was decent, bunk beds with pillows of shapes and sizes. Each one hardened and out of shape, possibly worn out by hundreds of guests!  This place can easily accommodate 100 people at one go. I love it that some bunk beds have a direct facing out to the sea above the headboards (see picture). I would so love to sleep in those, but having young kids, it would be a nightmare knowing that there isn’t a platform beyond that! About 8 double decked bunk beds stuck to each other side by side. Curtains were sewn in on all sides and made retractable with strings that allow us to slide the curtains open or close when we sleep, allowing privacy. While the bathrooms are nice and clean, it was good enough for me to draw the curtains and crouch under my sleeping bag for a change of clothes, too lazy to walk to the washroom really.

At night the sea breeze can be really strong so the curtains came in quite handy. I love lying on the pillow to enjoy the cool breeze in the evening. It was just impossible to sleep; I don’t want to doze off and miss the entire moment! I wish just then that the wind would blow the roof-top away, so that I could sleep under the blanket of stars, with the waves lapping and swooshing around me. I was only that close to living my dream … when my heavy eye-lids betrayed me.

My eldest son came down with a serious flu the night before we left the trip. The family was thrown into several tense situations,  in addition to this crisis. He was having an extremely congested chest, cough and runny nose. We were so close to cancelling our trip, but decided in the morning at 5 am that he should go afterall. After packing all the meds, we went on our way. The first day at the Kelong was harrowing. He would be running a low grade fever and was listless, everyone commented how difficult he had to work at breathing. He was gasping for air every now and then and the sound of him wheezing could be heard even if you were a feet away from him. I continued to administer medicine and gave inhaler faithfully. Nothing seemed to work, and he wheezed thoughout the day and night. I was holding out for a worse case scenario to rush back him to A & E and I prayed with all my might for God to open his lungs and cause the phelgm to disintegrate. I dabbed him with anointing oil and prayed day and night. It was tough and we were expecting to ride out yet another storm.

God was kind to him. The sky was sunny while the interior was nice and cool, even though the Kelong was right there in the middle of an open sea. I am thankful that there weren’t any music blaring away or harsh lightings. Everything around us spells tranquility. With just the sky and the sea around us, it felt like the perfect place for rest and relaxation. Some opted for recreation and one of our friends whipped out his 30 odd fishing rods to share.

My eldest son, had long forgotten about his discomfort. He came to the deck and tried fishing. The boys were all excited when daddy caught a puffer fish! They chased each other down the kelong and jumped around in their bunk beds. I was glad that the bare living conditions did not bother them.

I was impressed how the men among us were so enthusiastic and professional about fishing.  Even the hubs took a liking to this sedated sport. I was content just to sit in the shade on an old wooden beach chair, with a camara on one hand and a book on the other. Occasionally I would look out into the never-ending sea and dream away. It felt strange even for the most phlegmatic of us, to drive for hours to a no man’s island to do almost nothing and be contented. Sometimes I too wish I have nothing to do. I am not a choleric and yet I still have an overload schedule from time to time. My check-list seemed endless; events to plan, articles to finish, correspondences, book reviews, lesson plans, hunt for maid, trial lesson for the younger son, visit a friend, interview a vet, visit SPCA, visit the doctor, get a gift, plans for Fridays. I was happy to leave those aside for a day and was glad I did not have my mobile phone on me. I am a dreamer and I need to dream. A friend came up and sat near me and we chatted. It was interesting to find out that both of us had at some point wished that we were single again. Perhaps a fleeting thought, but when life gets too hard and work gets busier, it is only human to crave complete rest, no? Motherhood is hard work and we too are in need of that well-deserved rest.  How do we scale down, make an impact, yet live purposefully and abundantly in a life God gave?

Time flies and the sun was beginning to set. I find it amazing that the beauty of a sunrise or sunset continues to capture the hearts of many around the world. Yet no matter how many times one witnesses a sun in its splendor, it always looks different. I whipped out my camera and snapped away, capturing the magic. “… as surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:3. This verse speaks about the faithfulness of God. If we acknowledge him, he will come to us regardless of our unfaithfulness.  There is always a second chance and hope. The sun tells us so much about God. Creation always points us back to the Creator.

Needless to say, the time for us to leave the Kelong and it was hard. The boys begged us to stay for just one more day. Two days and one night in kelong felt like days because we felt so rested! It was a miracle. My eldest son stopped wheezing and he was well on his way to recovery. He had his own prized catch on the second day! kelong again? You bet! While the men gets hooked on fishing, I think the rest of us are good to just chill.

The damage done for the trip? It cost us approximately S$220 for 2 adults and 1 child , (under 4yo goes for free) for 2D1N. Includes lodgings, 5 meals and 2-way boat ride with life jackets. Self-drive from Singapore to Jetty in JB. We caught the 9.30am boat at Jetty and back a afternoon boat that leaves at 12.30pm from the Kelong. That leaves us plenty of time to savour local eateries and of course beat the jam at check point. Carpark at jetty cost RM$4 per day. Not bad for a short weekend away! Ratings: 4.5/5 stars. More info at Wing Sing Kelong: http://wingsingkelong.blogspot.com/

13 Responses to “Hooked”

  1. Regina says:

    You guys look like you had so much fun!!

    In the humdrum of life… it’s nice to take a breather every now and then to appreciate the simpler things.

  2. Fatboy Joe says:

    Looks like a fantastic way to spend quality time with the family.

    I am very interested to learn that your son’s wheezing when away during this trip. Would you think that the sea breeze or the out door activities helped clear the phlegm in his lungs?

    • Oaktreebaby says:

      I would have to give the credit to God.

      • Anonymous says:

        All credit goes to God. Naturally.

        I am trying not to be overly argumentative here. However, do consider the premises that I am trying to provide.

        When we consult a doctor and apply the prescribed medication as advised, the experts call this using “practical wisdom”. Would you agree with me on this?

        In a similar token, it was my intention to suggest that allowing our children to be enjoying themselves regularly in healthy outdoor activities or in environment with clean air (like the type of sea breeze that you described) might help with removing phlegm from their lungs. Although I have to admit that this is a sort of hasty generalisation, would you find any truth in this too?

        • Oaktreebaby says:

          Health-wise – sunshine, fresh air, right food, emotional well-being and right relationship with God all plays a part. Honestly, I have no idea sea breeze helps in phlegm discharge, also because my son was already wheezing badly, and if it did, I did not count on it. Every child is different, so I can only say what I know base on my understanding of my son. :)

          • Anonymous says:

            Please allow me to digress a little.

            As you might be aware, there appears to be a relatively high percentage of children in Singapore who are suffering from respiratory illness. Including asthma and pneumonia. According to some of my relatives who are educators in Singapore, the ratio seems to be hovering around 1 in 5 children who have some from of respiratory illness that may require constant medical attention. They come in the form of medical administration like an inhaler or something similar and/or a medical certification from the doctor.

            I am not sure about this but I have observed that children who have respiratory illness tend to have a sedentary lifestyle. Which might include a lifestyle that is spending a significant amount of time away from nature or a very sterilised (as in germ-free-antibacterial) environment.

            I truly hope that I am mistaken but as I chance upon reports, like the following, it is hard to ignore the different type of upbringing that children today are getting as compared to 30 years ago.


            You might be wondering what I am doing here commenting so much. Well, in the most basic sense, I am seeking practical wisdom and your entry in this post contains something that caught my attention in this subject.

  3. Wow! I love this kelong experience! Would love to do this when Dot is bigger :)

    • Oaktreebaby says:

      Yah, most definitely a must. The food is not child-friendly, so we got to bring our own snacks, otherwise my kids are happy with rice, soup, veg sometimes.

    • Madelin says:

      also more opportunities considering larger country but like what u say just a causeway away …

      still for parents to make time … hope we go soon !

  4. Madelin says:

    looks like. alot of fun !!!!

    yes our kids need to be closer to nature ….

    and i guess parents we do hv tis honor & privilege to move them closer.

    • Oaktreebaby says:

      In your country where things are much slower and people have more opportunities for leisure… but again, it is just a causeway away… ;)

  5. Elisa says:

    hi sharon! i like what you said “I think being a mum changes me. I tend to want to do things that are beneficial for the children as oppose to what I would like it. Love is more powerful than preferences.”

    i have never brought my kids to the kelong. i have this fear that they will wander off from the bed at night, and fall into the sea…

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