Day 1 :: We arrive in base camp to discover, much to our surprise, that there actually are SAF barracks more rundown than ours back in Singapore.
Even if we did have to go to another country to find them.
Our longhouses are right at the top of the hill - joy.
There aren't enough lockers, so we are forced to keep our kit under/next to the double bunks. This does nothing to ameliorate the cramped conditions. What lockers there are have all been vandalised with ominous messages promising eternal suffering, ripping of hair and much gnashing of teeth.
And that's just the ones in reference to the camp food.
Discover the toilets are infested with giant cicadas with suicidal tendencies - they fly around blindly, hitting the walls, ceiling and you. All but the bravest lose inclination for a shower.
Day 2 :: Compass course. First impression - Ohmygod this place is hot.
Day 3 :: First navex (navigation exercise). Realise that an alarming number of knolls are of the variety which need to be climbed on hands and feet and sometimes even with the help of a toggle rope, and descended on the seat of your pants.
Despair of ever making it through 17 more days of this.
Thank God we'll probably never have to go to war in Brunei.
It starts raining torrentially just before we harbour, resulting in a cold, miserable night.
Day 6 :: Swamp topo. An assault boat (glorified name for what is essentially a metal bath-tub) drops us off along a river bank - not a river bank as in, picnic-on-the-river-bank, rather, the mangrove variety.
We hop off the boat and promptly sink waist deep in mud. Morale sinks exponentially. Wish we had brought money with which to bribe the boatman to drop us off nearer the endpoint.
Extricate ourselves only to find the morass extends quite some distance inland. Wonder what happens if everyone gets stuck at the same time.
Eventually reach dry ground (dry is an extremely relative term). Stinking mud is replaced with impenetrable thorns. Everyone gets a good workout with the parang.
Kick myself for not having bought full-finger gloves. My fingers resemble shredded meat more and more as the day goes on.
What appeared as a stream on the map has been swollen by rain into a fast-flowing river. With much trepidation we load the live rounds issued - purportedly to protect against crocs, but which are seeming more and more like a quick end to the misery - and combat-swim across the river. Someone is almost swept away.
Later we find ourselves waist-deep in a very large, stagnant pool of water. With water running low, the endpoint still an eternity away and no streams on the map, I attempt to strain the particle-filled brown water into my bottle with a wet tissue. The water can't get through, so i just fill the bottle and pop in a puritab. Drink some, constantly repeating "what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger". Try my best to ignore my traitorous brain placing emphasis on the first half of the phrase.
As the dusk cut-off timing for pickup draws closer we strike back out towards the river bank as we reach the endpoint. At one point we are neck-deep in water, with a soft mud bottom. Try to avoid thinking about sinking into the mud.
Eventually reach what we think is the endpoint - we can't get a GPS confirmation - with exhausted relief. Radio in for pickup. Blow our whistles wildly as we hear the boat approaching, approaching, approaching...Then it passes us and the sound of the motor fades in the distance. We've overshot the endpoint. Our point man suddenly takes an intense interest in the ground at his feet.
Part 2 coming soo...when i can get off my ass to write it.