While most people in Penang were still sleeping and curling up in beds last Saturday morning, my wife, Tina, our 6-year-old son Gabby and I were already on our feet to the bus stop at few minutes after 6AM. The reason was simple : to get a glimpse at the 32nd Penang International Dragon Boat Festival held in Teluk Bahang Dam.
I initially considered sleeping with my family in a cheap hotel in George Town to be up and early at the rowing site but Tina vetoed the idea; I surrendered to her choice.
I never expected that we would have a long hike getting to the venue.
Although it took us only few minutes to be at the jetty after hopping to the bus from our place in Butterworth, we’ve waited around half an hour for the bus to arrive and spent another 30 minutes for the ferry to arrive in Penang Sentral that will take us to George Town; note that the usual ferry trip takes around 12-15 minutes (Why ride the ferry? We’re staying in mainland Penang where our work site is and “the life” is in Penang Island so whether you own a car or you commute, either way, you still have to cross the bay via ferry–for both vehicle owners and commuters or take the long Penang Bridge).
We had another bus ride from George Town to Teluk Bahang; it’s Rapid Bus 101 that took us there for almost an hour. Now you can do the math computing for our travel time! It was almost 9AM when we got off the bus and immediately bought some chilled bottled water at the convenient store within a gas station. Oh, and by the way, we went there with fellow colleagues, Dr. Y and Dr. C.who are also photo-enthusiasts.
Dr. Y : “One kilometer na lang daw iyong dam, lakarin na lang natin! Kaya ba nyan (referring to my son)?“ (It’s still 1 km to the dam, let’s just walk; is it OK for Gabby?)
Me : “Sure!”
And my simple honest nod to his question took us for that unexpected morning hike.
After passing by Penang Butterfly Farm which we haven’t been to, we had that unforgettable almost 45-minute-uphill-walk to the dam. (You might think we could have taken a taxi cabs but ‘teksi’ here in Penang require to be contacted by SMS or phone call if you’re not riding it from their stations; or we could have hopped onto another bus but it would take another hour for us to wait).
We walked though this long and winding road…. Tina and I are just proud of Gabby; he took his steps through it with less complaints.
It was a good relief when we finally saw the dam…
The 2-day-competition held June 11-12, 2011 had entries from Guam, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, UAE, China, Malaysian states like Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Penang of course but Tina and I had our widest smiles when we heard the name of our country, the Philippines who, at the time of our arrival at the site was already rowing at the preliminaries.
Guess who competed for The Philippines…
Me to Tina : “Tanggal pagod nang marining ko ang “in lane….The Philippines!” (My fatigue was nothing after I heard, “”in lane….The Philippines!”)
Unlike in other foreign cities, there is rarity of Filipinos in Penang so understandably, it’s nice to see and meet Filipinos, more so if they’re here to represent our country.
After the DLSU-Philippines finished 3rd at their first row before the official Opening Ceremonies…
we caught them having their much needed-stretching…
then had their cheer for victory…
Meet some of the foreign and local Dragon Boat rowers…
Nice to see varied colors of uniforms!
The 32nd PIDBF had Standard Boat and Small Boat Races of 250meters and 500meters, with Open, Women and Mixed categories.
But wait, our beloved Philippine flag was displayed upside-down, gera ito! (means war!) Had it not for our colleague, Dr. Y who told the people there to fix our banner, it would have been in the air for two days wrongly.
As a beginner in violin, I was so impressed at these Chinese youngsters who played at the Opening Ceremony that was done at 10AM, their band played upbeat pop songs fit for the competition.
At around few minutes past 10, we decided to leave the event while our colleagues, Dr. Y. and Dr. C stayed until 5PM. According to them, DLSU-Philippines Dragon Boat Team placed 1st in one of the races that day, congratulations!
It was fun watching people…
Luckily, as we walked down the road, there was an empty taxi cab that passed by, so it saved our legs and feet in going back to the bus stop.
Although admittedly, we were fatigued from the event, we never regret our decision of attending it. As Tina and I witnessed how Gabby was strong-willed to finish the hike with us (as if he had other options!) and for being exposed to friendly competitive sports, I was reminded of the fact that if you really want something (like success in any task, or a glorious win),
there are a ton of ways to do it, but otherwise, you’ll just offer reasons to make up for not trying.
PS : While on the Rapid Bus 101 going to Gurney Mall from Teluk Bahang, we figured out it’s a perfect time to freshen up and try another wonderful lunch buffet! *burp* –>here’s our dining experience at G Cafe in G Hotel, Penang