The whole idea of attending a jungle survival course in Malaysia sends chill down my spine. Why? Because so far…I have not heard a single concrete feedback from friends about such courses. Most are conducted by ex-military personals and from what I hear, you are guranteed to loose a few kilos after a 5 days course. As scary as it sounds, in March this year…I attended my first ever jungle survival course.
The course was initiated by a friend. We had to gather a minimum of 15 participants to make the course a go. Amazing how much a ‘Jungle Survival Course’ can get people to pay up and join.
The 5 instructors were either ex-army rangers or army personal that is still serving. They have a combined experience of no less than 50 years. First two days were mostly sit downs with theory. We built our own hammocks/ tents on a privately owned camp ground in Gombak and did some basic hands on after watching demonstrations. We did not have much food (we were restricted to a few fistful, packets of noodles and cans of food).
So,…what did we cover over the first 2 days? Mainly jungle shelter, signaling, different types of plants and a little bit about how to start fire. Each topic was covered by different instructors and we have a Q&S session after. I’d say the session on plants (eatable, poisonous & usefulness) probably is interesting but because it was rather ‘glance through’, it is kind of hard to remember and identify each plant accurately. It takes practice.
Most of us brought our own shelter. Most were hammocks obviously. We had a session on jungle shelter and had a few hours making one (in groups). Honestly, they look pretty simple to build but involves a lot of work. At the end of the day, I think everyone retreated to their hammocks for comfort reasons.
No jungle survival course would be complete without covering fire and trap making I suppose. These two topics were also covered during the first two days. A variety of traps were already built on the camp ground. We had a tour and in depth explanation on how they work. This is probably my favorite topic. Not that I want to trap animals but I am very curious about the mechanism used to trigger traps. I find them to be ingeniously smart.
With fire of course came cooking food in the jungle The usual bamboo is the prime suspect. The instructors were kind enough to have some chicken slowly cooking over the fire and in the bamboo. When the cooked food is shared among all, it was a welcome break from the cans of sardines, noodles and plain rice.
I think I ended day 2 with a sigh of relief. It was a bit boring and all the classroom sessions were beginning to remind me of my school days in boring chemistry classes. We are moving in the jungle, an opportunity to put into practice some of the things we have learn so far in this jungle survival course. That I think was what everyone in this jungle survival course was looking forward to.