Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'm coming,Sungai Salang

When I received a letter from the Ministry of Education directing me to report to Sek Men Jerantut, Pahang for duty, I began to get worried. Why? Because I did not know how to swim.

Before setting off for Jerantut, I had looked up the map and Jerantut was shown to be just a dot on it with jungle all around. Hence I thought that it must be a remote area with low population. My fear was that I might be trapped in a flood as I read in the papers that most areas in Jerantut were flood-prone.

However, it was not the true picture as painted by the press people. When I went there in 1974, I found that the place was not a remote area as there was a Chinese New Village with a Chinese primary school and most of the residents were Chinese. The school I was posted to was just five minutes' walk from the primary School. The area was not prone to floods but the surrounding low-lying Malay kampungs were. What a relief for me!

While serving in Jerantut, my housemates and I usually spent our weekends roaming and swimming. From now on, the title of this blog applies. I hope I am not too long-winded. Most teachers are, as I was told.

Not far from Jerantut town was the Pahang River. We had to cross it by 'ferry' (a raft dragged by a motorboat) if we wanted to go to Kuantan. When I left Jerantut in 1978 a concrete bridge had been built to replace it. Sungai Salang was a little distance away from it. It was a tributary of the Pahang River. Most weekends would find us (outstation teachers) and some of our pupils dipping in the river. I was reluctantly pulled to the river as I was no swimmer. However, Simon Ching from Kedah promised to teach me. After drinking much water and fright of suffocation in water, I finally learned how to float. The following weekend I looked forward to floating on the 'stomach' of Sungai Salang. Simon taught me breast stroke, but my body did not seem to move forward at all however hard I paddled with my hands and legs. In the end, I had to content myself doing the 'dog stroke' (see pix below). With this stroke, I was able to move forward and enjoy swimming.

We had picnic by the river with our pupils. Food was shared among teachers and pupils.

I wonder whether Sungai Salang is still as clean and crystal clear today as it used to be then.

Have you ever swum with your clothes on like us?

It's me doing the 'dog stroke'.

Simon Ching (with sunglasses) was my swimming instructor.

4th from left is Ho Phea Keat whom I mentioned in my earlier post.

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