HTM Family Day

The lack of posts during the last weekend was due to the fact that I was out celebrating Family Day with a few of my staff (38 other families in fact) at a beach called Demong in Terengganu. The beach is about 70km from where I stay, or about 75 minutes away by car.

It was a 3-days 2-nights outing for the family by the beach, this is also the first time that we are bringing Jack to the beach to have his share of sunshine and sand. An opportunity present itself, as I would be able to show off my video shooting skills on an unassuming bunch of people — my staff at the hospital. Little did they know what I had planned for them.

We set off at 2pm in the afternoon after having a quick lunch of beef noodles, my routine weekend lunch staple food, packed our bags and bundled Jack into the car. He was already sleepy by the time we hit the road. Which made things easier for us, no struggling in the car and probably an hour or two of peacefulness. The committee had a treasure hunt planned out to tease our mind during the 75-minute road trip.

The first stop, was to find the gas station and the stack of treasure maps that they have kept hiding out of plain sight. It did not take long, and when we were there, a few other families caught up with us. Surprisingly, the aim of the treasure hunt was not about the time spent on the hunt, but on the accuracy of the answers. So off we go in search of clues, all 14 of them. I knew I should have paid more attention during Geography when I re-read the first 2 questions. I had no idea where the place was and by the time we reached the border between my state (Kelantan) and the state of the beach (Terengganu), it was already Question No.3.

I knew I should have paid more attention during Geography

I am afraid I have a confession to make, I am not an abide-by-the-rules driver. Speed limits are meant to be broken and I have broken a fair share (almost daily) while commuting to work. But due to the nature of the treasure hunt, I found myself driving at way below the speed limit, in my quest to search for the clues to aid our answers. The next few questions were pretty straightforward, asking us to locate certain shops and radio channel frequencies.

By the hour mark, we were probably only half way to our destination. The sun was shining down and we were starting to feel the heat. There wasn’t even a breeze. We hit the next town on the map as the questions got harder. Now, they were asking for the distance between the town to the landmarks described on the treasure map. One of them even asked us about the price of a plate of chicken rice with iced-tea.

We arrived at our destination after struggling for 2 hours with the treasure map. There was another 3 questions left, the first 2 were easy, then boom! The last question — What was the specific job vacancy advertised by the gas station when you received this treasure map? It was the killer question that would separate the eagle-eyed and the non-focusing ones like mine. I did remember seeing the sign but never paid much attention to what they were looking for.

Last question: What was the specific job vacancy that the gas station was looking for?

While the wife tended to Jack with his tea and bath, in that particular order. I went out with my camera, the 24-inch steel slider and my trusty tripod. Time to film some action! Unfortunately, the only action I found were the waves. The rest of the staff were either have yet to arrive or were caught up in the tangled web of the treasure hunt.

Slowly and steadily, our numbers increased but by then, the weather has taken a new look on its own. Dark clouds permeate the sky and the rumble of thunder could be heard. Torrential rain ruined the evening’s activity and we all retired back to our rooms after dinner.

The next day, I woke up early to catch the sunrise by the beach. I had a plan in my mind — to do a time lapse video. Problem is, I do not have an intervalometer. Lucky for me, I have the Olympus E-PL3. Even though there is no such setting on the camera, it does have one special feature which is called the anti-shift/shock interval. This interval (measured in seconds) will come into play once you have pressed the shutter button. So by setting it to a reasonable number, say, 4 seconds or in my case, 15 seconds, you just need to hold the shutter button continuously and the camera will do the rest. Taking a photo every 15 seconds (or whichever interval you like, ranging from 1 second to 30 seconds). How did I hold down the shutter button? Simple. Use a rubber band. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

How to hold down the shutter button? Simple. Use a rubber band. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Once the time lapse was done, I was off to join the rest of the staff for the morning aerobic workout. I was quite surprised to see everyone up and about, including the small children, remember that this is a vacation, I have a tendency to wake up late during vacation, not the other way round. The 20-minute routine had us all panting and hungry, so off we went in search of food.

Next up, the main event of almost all Family Days ever held, probably even hold true for any such celebration all over the world — outdoor games! The committee came up with the brilliant idea of having age-related activities. So for those Under-5s, they had a colouring contest. Under-10s had the most number of activities, they could participate in the musical chairs, balancing a ping pong ball with a spoon or filling a bottle by using a sponge and stepping on bricks. Teenagers had their musical chairs competition, the 3-legged race and coconut bowling. Adults were limited to beach volleyball and tug-of-war. The games took up almost 6 hours with lunch in between, by the time it was over, evening had set in. Lucky for us, the rain decided to wait a little while before showing up.

How best to enjoy the wet weather? Host a barbecue! Yes, that was what we did, albeit under plenty of shade. Take your pick. Barbecued chicken, beef, calamari, prawns, mutton, sausages and the local favourite — fish crackers. If that is too oily for your taste, you could always cool down with some salad.

Take your pick. Barbecued chicken, beef, calamari, prawns, mutton, sausages and the local favourite — fish crackers.

The last day was a bit of a shambles, probably due to the amount of food ingested the night before, less than 20 people showed up for the aerobic exercise session. To make things worse, almost all of them showed up for breakfast instead! I doubt we will be promoting any healthy lifestyle campaign in the near future.

We ended the Family Day with a group photography session. The excursion was well spent. Jack managed to play around in the sand, got his first taste of falling on sand, running around the beach and mingled with other kids.




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