Honing the right skills to stay alive

THE live python is slaughtered right before your very eyes. Are you game enough to eat it?

Its head is then chopped off, followed by the skinning process. The flesh is cooked without washing. It is finally ready for serving.

You may feel nauseous. You may even vomit. Take it or leave it. Either you live or die of starvation. What is your reaction?

This was the jungle survival course I took part in, organised by the Penang Fisheries Department at Pulau Beras Basah, Pulau Langkawi in 1990.

It was led by its national enforcement chief Abdul Hamid Shukor.

If you are a castaway on a lonely island, you would have to hone your survival skills to stay alive. You would have to kill or be killed.

Eating python flesh was anadditional tip I learned from this Sarawakian jungle survival expert.

I could find none of these facts from the six hardcover survival books in my home library.

Not even in my Commando Survival Manual.

The long-haired and bearded survival specialist said the flesh should not be washed or it would become sticky.

Even crocodile and monitorlizard flesh are edible in the event of an emergency. The flesh of the serpent and other reptiles is pure white.

Mixed with some spices and taken while the soup is hot, it is palatable to some people.

The reptile meat, when smoked, can be preserved for ration. It can help you survive for a few months until help is at hand.

Drinking water from a tree vine is another source of water in a jungle. The vine has an abundance of water stored inside. This tip was among the lessons taught to us.

Eating plant shoots and the right types of leaves act as an insect repellent.

While in a neighbouring country, I saw a roadside snake peddler extracting blood from the serpent by just pressing its mouth. He claimed it was effective for boosting the libido.

The blood dripped into a miniature glass. It was sold for a nominal sum. I just wondered about its authenticity.

It was a sales gimmick to earn a fast buck. Yet, gullible bystanders bought and drank the blood.

I came across a news report that a restaurant in Hong Kong offered snake soup in its menu.

Demand for snake soup is high, from the Mid-Autumn festival right up to the winter. The snake used for the soup was sourced from South-East Asia and not from China.

The shop is adorned with dried snakes and reptiles preserved with alcohol in glass jars.

In recent years, the shop used sea snakes. On a busy day, the owner can sell 800 bowls of soup.

A bowl of soup costs around HK$50 (RM28.65). Many western tourists patronise the shop.

My wife once served me a chicken speciality. She said it was given by a neighbour.

Only after I finished the dish did she reveal that it was actually rabbit meat. I pity the poor animal. But I like the taste as it is better than chicken.

Once again, I was taken for a ride when she served me horse meat instead of beef. After eating it, I felt very “heaty”.

The animals were slaughtered according to Muslim rites. So it was halal.

Today, I abstain from eating beef as I have a soft heart for these animals.

If you observe cows carefully, they have a melancholic appearance. Their faces are quite appealing, with a tender look in their eyes.

I do not mind eating live grasshoppers and dragonflies when it comes to the survival factor. They are rich in protein and easy to catch.

For those who love to venture into the wild, it is advisable they should have some knowledge in survival skills.

Be prepared in case you are lost or marooned. The harsh jungle conditions will have no mercy on you.

In some mountains I climbed, I had the opportunity to drink from a small hot spring from the rocks’ crevices.

According to my guide, the spring was patronised by tigers to quench their thirst.

The survival books in my possession are suitable for jungle-bashing as well as outings in the wild and deserts.

The other five are: Reader’s Digest Survival Against Great Odds, The Survival Handbook, Complete Book of Survival, Survival Tips and Outdoor Survival.

The bounty in the jungle is never lacking. You must have the know-how to source these items. Do you dare? You will be richer for the experience.

The solace will rejuvenate you. You will enjoy nature in all its splendour.

Start moving, then. The wilderness welcomes you.

A.R. Amiruddin is a former journalist with The Star for 19 years and the defunct National Echo for 10 years. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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Opinion , Central Region , A. R. Amiruddin


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