For those joining us in this year’s RFC (1-10 Dec), here’s a flashback from the past which is a timely reminder that Mother Nature rules supreme, no matter how well prepared or technologically advanced we can be. However, in such times, it’s a joy to see the triumph of the human spirit fighting against the odds. Remember our 10th anniversary year (2007)? That was the year of the Perfect Storm, when the monsoon hit us spot on during the 5th day of the event which resulted in the biggest deluge that we have ever seen. The Monsoon War as it was also known then, was the wettest, longest and toughest RFC in a decade. We went in by 4×4 wheels and came out with no wheels. Yes, we were all evacuated by boats and had to leave our 4x4s behind, stranded like driftwoods along the 53 kms trail from Sg Terong to Kg Miak (evacuation point to Laloh). It was the Great Escape extraordinaire which became a legend, told and retold around the world.

Under such dramatic times, the dedication and team effort by everyone involved from officials, participants and authorities was top class. The boat evacuation continued from 10 to 12 Dec (2 days after the final day of RFC) where the last of the RFC participants were taken out of the jungle. Lots of personal stories of heroism, adventure, sacrifice and courage beyond the ordinary. Many crossed raging rivers, steep mud slides, ditches from Sg Terong, Sg Ibir to Kg Miak (boat evacuation centre). Some took 2 days to arrive, others more. It was the toughest walk of their lives. In spite of their bruises, various light injuries here and there, tired bones/muscles + hunger, they never lost their spirit to keep on going come what may. You are made of stronger stuff than you can ever imagine. It is good to know one’s true self in an event like the RFC. The currents were swift, the river swollen and each trip by boat took nearly 2 hours from Kg Miak to Laloh and then another 2 hours back to Kg Miak. This was carried on for 3 days in a row to get everyone out involving the marine police, fire brigade dept, the Army and Commando unit.

Among the stories of heroism, sacrifice and courage was this dispatch notes from Sidik Khan, one of our senior RFC officials assigned for the boat evacuation. He was the first to reach Kg Miak by boat with the police, fire brigade and Commando unit. Just before arriving at the village, he saw a group of foreigners with 3 vehicles on the left side of the river. This text from him: “ I recognized Max, Jacob Skjold, David Metcalfe, Lance Gilles and an Italian team (Patrick Silvestri/Paolo Palotti). Max assured me of their group safety, and David suggested that I should proceed ahead to Kg Miak first to help others who might be in need of immediate attention and rapid evacuation. That was a bunch of tough guys who have made their way that far out of the jungle. However, what impressed me was their attitude and willingness to stay behind for the last boat, allowing others to be evacuated first. This sort of spirit and sacrifice do not come easy, especially during this type of emergency.”  This says it all for the extraordinary men/women in an extraordinary event set in an extraordinary season, the monsoon!

Getting out of the rain as reported by the International and Malaysian media at that time (both prime time print/tv media). This Great Escape extraordinaire unfolded from the 5th day onwards, the progressing to red alert throughout the second half of RFC 2007. The entire second half of RFC 2007 was in emergency mode. At first, the heavens opened up with intermittent rainfall, then non-stop heavy rain. During those hectic times, every conceivable request was channeled to & fro from Event HQ in the jungle, to Event HQ II (Kenyir Lake) & with the authorities for air support, pontoon bridges, boats, army trucks/engineers, commando unit, marine police & fire/rescue dept. Some we managed to pull through, others were not feasible under the weather conditions at that time. Never in the 10-yr history of the RFC has the rain been so heavy/unforgiving, the river levels so high/swift & the tracks so treacherous. A reminder that even the best laid plans means nothing if Mother Nature decides otherwise. However, it was a triumph of the human spirit against the odds for all. A final word:  rain is king in the RFC, not called the rainforest for nothing.!



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