The closest I came to bagging a gold award for IPPT was when I was a cadet. Somehow that morning I felt ultra-competitive and when my instructor challenged me to go for the gold, I felt up to it.
Too bad I failed to beat the mark in the end, coming in 3 seconds too slow. As the difference in the monetary awards was $100, it meant that each second cost me $33.33!
There I was, deep in the jungles of Brunei on Jungle Survival Training with a bunch of other trainees. Our objective for the day was to navigate our way back to base camp from the middle of nowhere, sharing between the 7 of us one set of combat rations that was meant to feed only 1 person.
As our weary legs trudged through the various slopes and terrain that the Brunei jungle could throw at us, the guys behind me came to a sudden halt. When I looked back, I could see that a few of them were terrified and their gaze was affixed on a tree branch.
Coiled around the branch that I had just walked past was a big green snake. Not sure if it was venomous, but if one of us had just got bitten, there would have been no way to do an emergency evacuation since we did not have a way to accurately describe where we were.
While I was doing my National Service, I had the opportunity to go to South Africa. The exercise went smoothly and we headed for some R&R. One day, we had the choice of either going on a tour to Table Mountain (but we had to pay extra since it was not part of the programme) or explore around on our own.
Well, you wouldn’t believe it but I decided to pass up on the Table Mountain tour because I thought I wouldn’t be interested in seeing a mountain that was like a plateau. However, there was only so much exploring I could do on my own, so with a bunch of guys we decided to catch the latest “blockbuster” that was in the South African cinemas…
There was this guy in the same training cadre as me who had a “special skill” — he could get drunk really easily! And by easy, I mean he just needed half a can of SAF beer before he became drunk and incoherent!
I suppose that is not the ultimate because Esh said she knows of someone who is able to be a bit light-headed just by inhaling a bit of alcohol fumes!
During my time in the Armed Forces, I was posted to the Army for BMT and for my initial phase in Officer Cadets’ School (OCS). Following that I was posted to the Air Force. Never did I ever step near the Navy… and for good reason.
I’m not particularly good in the water and I think I only really tried learning how to swim in Secondary School. To my horror, there was one day in OCS where all the cadets were woken up early in the morning to go for a dip in the pool wearing our full uniform!
I gamely tried my best but the moment I stepped off the diving platform and hit the water, I had trouble keeping myself afloat and had to struggle to the side of the pool and grab on for dear life.
During my time as a recruit, getting called up for BMT in December during the rainy season is a great way to pass your time easily. More often than not, training will be cancelled or postponed to a later time due to the bad weather.
More often than not, a bunch of us would gather in the bunk to keep our brains healthy by indulging in games of Bridge.
In my NS days, I had to go overseas to the jungles of Brunei for a Jungle Survival Training Course. There was a team of about 5 of us sprawled out at a site of about 2.5 square km.
The first day involved chopping down trees to build my shelter and during one of my breaks, I decided to be a bit adventurous and did some scouting around in the jungle to take a look at the surroundings. After walking around for about 15 minutes, I turned round to go back but I realised that nothing looked familiar!
Luckily I managed to compose myself and looked around for more details. I saw a hill that looked familiar (but in hindsight, I think all hills look the same if you’re lost in the jungles…) and as I trekked towards it, I managed to find myself back. Whew!
One of the indulgences I had after booking out from camp was to have a nice hot plate of baked oysters from Tampines Mall. Me and a bunch of recruit-mates had to go to Tampines MRT to take a train back home, so we would always drop by Tampines Mall for lunch.
Too bad the Baked Oyster stall is no longer there at the food court…
Swimming first thing in the morning just after you wake up is probably not a good idea. What’s worse is to swim in full army uniform…
I wasn’t very good at swimming, so when I had to wear the full uniform and jump off the diving board into the pool, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. I was barely able to keep my head up and move to the side of the pool and hold on for dear life…
One fine Saturday, I was supposed to book out of OCS after we were dismissed, but I didn’t feel quite right. It was the afternoon then, and I decided I could do with an afternoon nap.
I fell into a deep slumber and when I woke up, it was already nighttime! I was running a fever and feeling very weak in general. However, I found the strength to gather my things and go down to the public phone to call my dad to pick me up.
Wonder what would have happened if I was too weak to get out of bed? There was no one else around in camp and I would probably have lay there bedridden until Sunday night when people start booking in again…