There goes my place of retreat…

The color of academic world

Living the academic world is not as easy as it is often thought of. Though we are a government employee, we do not even enjoy the standard perks made available for government officers. University is a poorly funded organization, and we have to survive with what’s given.

The expectation on the academicians is almost without limit, often influenced by politicians and the media. Being pressured by the ministry, the university administration cascaded the expected performance to the academicians by embedding increasingly stringent requirement in annual appraisal and promotion exercise. The pressure is increasingly high.

The life of an academician is also tricky. How much you want to contribute, how many hours you want spend on your work etc,… there is no ceiling. Academicians work from everywhere, day and night, even while on holiday. Some are too engrossed in their works and lost track of time, ended up working late until their energy fully drained, not even enough to do physical exercise needed by the body. And it is not strange to find that many are ailing relatively younger.

A routine personal retreat is definitely needed. His mind need to be cleared. He needs to reflect on himself, to reconcile life activities. Maybe he should meditate in a cave (careful, there might be snakes around). Maybe he prefers to travel (careful, don’t miss your classes). To me, outdoor ventures are always appealing. I find serenity within surrounding natural beauty soothing. It doesn’t need to be long, but it has to be scheduled. 

Pemanggil/Aur/Dayang

These three islands have always been my favorite place of retreat.  These are quiet islands visited only by divers and anglers. The sights of dolphin, flying fish, vast blue sea, boats and ships passing through and most importantly patches of small islands in the background are common features. As an activity, we call it fishing trip, but unlike other groups of people, to us, it is the journey that is important, not the outcome. The focus is more on enjoying the moments. Of course, we always caught enough for lunch and dinner plus some extra to take home. Every year we spend some time on these islands – clear water, clean beach, delicious food and great hospitality. Over the years, the islanders have become friends.  

But Taman Negara Johor has confiscated the luxury we had. Not only that we have to pay for fishing fees, we must now stay away from most of the great spots (lubuk) that we used to gather handsome catches. They are are now considered out of bound, as we are no longer allowed to fish within 2 nautical miles off the isles in Johor. For those who enjoyed catching kerapu using bottom drift techniques (I’m included), it is very frustrating indeed.

The policy has a strong impact on the livelihood of the islanders. Some chalets have already closed down. A friend that used to prepare our lunch has now moved with his family to Mersing. The jetty of Pulau Dayang has been dismantled for whatever reasons. One  villager told me that it was rumored that the school in Pulau Aur will be closed, which I doubted. It nevertheless added to the pushing factor for them to migrate to the mainland.

I wonder, … Is this is exactly what the authority wanted to see, less divers and anglers in the area? Perhaps something is coming, that’s what my intuition says. My imagination went wild, but my analyses say that these are plausible. Whatever it maybe, many people are affected, and I don’t like it at all..

Suddenly, South China Sea can no longer promise us a good time, like it used to do in the past.

Endau Rompin National Park

Recently, we went on a recce. In a 15 HP boat, we went upstream from Tanah Abang towards Anak Endau river. The journey took 90 % of the time, and we spent only 3 hours casting lures in the river. Sometimes they ended up on the branches of the tree, sometimes stuck in between rocks. I lost one of my favorite white & red spoon and I failed to catch any Sebarau that I was looking for. It is a different game indeed. When I caught a small Baung (a species of catfish), I can feel the difference.

Jeti Tanah Abang

Jeti Tanah Abang

The aura in this watershed was nice and serene. There were plenty of music from wildlife – I simply didn’t know what they are. Swimming in the cold water was nicer than the salty water of the South China Sea. But the view was different. It was mostly green forest instead of vast blue water.

Relaxing under the shade

Relaxing under the shade

Time was short and we couldn’t do much, but we’ll be back for camping trips. I thing that’s the way to go – 1 night on a raft-house in Tanah Abang, and another night camping. Mmm, whatever happens, we’ll always find something interesting to freshen up our mind and to break boredom and stressful life of modern academics.

 

About Dr. AA

I am an educator, professional trainer, safety consultant, researcher, social worker, outdoor enthusiast, and a thinker.
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