JAI was a typical orang asli
water baby. He was only three years old. Yet he was like a duck taking to water.
Sitting nonchalantly at the edge of a bamboo raft, this young daredevil showed no fear of the water.
He wore no life jacket and was in his birthday suit, despite the cold morning.
Meanwhile, Jai’s mother expertly manoeuvred the bamboo raft, which was more than six metres long, with a pole.
Like Jai, many of the young orang asli boys and girls had no phobia about water.
They followed their mum or dad on hunting or fishing trips in the vast Temenggor dam area at the Royal Belum State Park in Grik, Perak.
It was a sight to behold Jai’s young mother giving practical experience to her son on the art of survival.
These orang asli children learned their jungle skills at a tender age.
They were willing to venture into unknown waters in the deep jungle.
They were bold enough to step out and take risks by living and surviving just on nature’s bounty.
This wilderness is a wonderful teacher for the children.
The majority of parents in cities and towns are too protective of their children. For them, fear is a destructive force.
They should not allow fear to control their children’s lives.
Parents should instead marshal their power to expose their kids to nature’s elements.
This I did to my little “princess” (Emilia Erwani) and “prince” (Romi Erawan) during their tender years so they could become good swimmers.
My daughter’s swimming coach was very impressed by her ability at the age of 12.
She was also proficient in the art of life-saving.
He recommended her for the Penang-Butterworth cross-channel swim competition.
My spouse, however, was not happy with this for fear her grown-up baby would be stung by jellyfish in the channel.
My little “prince” had the privilege of taking swimming lessons at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa).
The venue is now known as the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition (Spice) Centre.
My son was able to complete a few rounds swimming in the Olympic-size pool.
Today, my children are able to save not only themselves but others in the water.
Moral: Parents should mould their children to be good swimmers. There are too many cases of drowning.
As an intrepid adventurer, the art of survival by the orang asli has also added to my rich reservoir of knowledge.
Going on a rafting journey in the jungle while the mist was still rising in the early morning remains a most vivid memory.
My desire to be close to nature and to learn the way of life of the indigenous people made me return to their settlements on many occasions.
I lived with them for three days at a stretch.
Being away from the hustle and bustle of city life also ignited the imagination of my colleagues.
Through years of associating with me, they became jungle bashers too.
Colleague Derrick Vinesh, for example, became a trailblazer.
He even bought a RM70 Rambo knife upon my recommendation. It became his most treasured jungle souvenir.
Whenever we meet and discuss our past adventures, I can see a sparkle in his eyes.
I intend to quench my thirst for adventure once I fully recover from my recent colon cancer surgery.
Maybe one day, Derrick and I will go hunting for adventure again in the jungle.
Let us infuse a new attitude in our lives.
In turn, we can channel that inspiration to other people.
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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