Last weekend, we took our ten-months old baby boy Kanishk (Appu), on his very first trek to the Teraja waterfall, located at the end of Labi road in the pristine rainforests of Brunei Darussalam. Brunei located on the Borneo island, is blessed with lush-green jungles, stunning waterfalls and rich biodiversity. This outing was chalked-out and well-organized by the lovely members of the Kannada Koota in Brunei.
Forest walks are refreshing, healing and rejuvenating. In Brunei, people often go on jungle hikes, forest treks and boat rides. In Japan, they practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, which means taking in the forest through your senses. Back home in coastal Karnataka, India, I am quite familiar with forest walks in the jungles of Yana, Sirsi, Dandeli to name a few. This region of Western Ghats is a biodiversity hotspot. My husband Rahul, has been an avid hiker and a nature enthusiast. He has gone on innumerable hikes in the forests of Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh. Although he cautiously and rightly notes that
Hiking with an infant, moreover, comes with its own set of challenges. It is best to decide otherwise, if the conditions aren’t favorable. However, we were fortunate this time as the sun-kissed weather, protective measures and supportive group members made this little adventure possible.
The key here is Preparation!
We headed from Bandar Seri Begawan to Labi by the tour Bus. En route to Labi, we took a breakfast break at the picturesque beach of Pantai Seri Kenangan, Tutong. This spot is one of its kind in Brunei, with the Tutong River on one side of the land strip and the South China Sea on the other. This beach takes me down the memory lane to Maravanthe beach near Kundapura in Karnataka, India, where the bustling National Highway 66 runs next to this stunning windswept beach and the gorgeous Souparnika River flows on the other side of this Highway giving it a spectacular sight! This also happens to be one of its kind in India.
Here at Pantai Seri Kenangan, Kannada Koota members had brought together a menagerie of mouth-watering, finger-licking assortment of dishes that made a happy fulfilling breakfast and an energizing break.
Well-fed and well-nourished we resumed our journey to Labi. After about an hour drive down Jalan Labi, we arrived at the longhouse venue from where the trek begins. While most group members including young children geared up with the essentials to begin our ~3 Km trek across the rocky streams and thick canopy of trees in the hilly terrain to Wasai Teraja (Teraja Waterfalls), a few elderly members including mum dad decided to stay back and enjoy nature from the gazebos located at the foothills.
Although fully equipped with the essential paraphernalia necessary for this relatively easy terrain, we had to overcome the initially dilemma of embarking on the very first trek with a child dangling on you. We started our walk in to the woods slowly, steadily and cautiously. The sky was clear, the air was cool and the weather was in our favor.
The key here is Pace!
There were few moments of uncertainty where I wanted to return. However, Rahul given his experience, encouraged me to keep moving ahead. In the company of wonderfully supportive group members and precautions in place, we continued to trek one step at a time. Appu was soaking the sunshine and was quite curious of his new surroundings. Surprisingly, he was calm and keen throughout. He did sip more water than usual, given the humidity of the jungle.
And… Finally, we made it! We were super delighted to have reached our destination. I heaved a huge sigh of relief at the sight of the charming waterfall and the clear pond. All thanks to our little Appu who was unexpectedly co-operative for his ripe old age of ten months!
At the waterfall, Rahul took generous dips in the serene waters along with the others, while Appu felt, for the first time, the natural serene shallow waters with partial dips. He didn’t like the coldness of the water initially but soon warmed up to it and no sooner was smiling, cheering, babbling. After a few customary splashes, we quickly changed & fed him while preparing for the return journey.
It was all worth it! After about an hour at the waterfall, we headed back. This time the steps were brisk, the pace confident and the mood relaxed. An array of scrumptious lunch items were awaiting us at the gazebos! Upon arrival, we quickly freshened up in the restroom facilities and treated ourselves to the yummy dishes all the group members had pooled in. That felt like quite a well-deserved meal!
After food and a gazillion photo sessions, we headed to the Bus. On our way back to Bandar, the enthusiastic group was still high on enthusiasm despite the fatigue. We decided to stop-over at the Taman Rekreasi Hutan Luagan Lalak, a hidden gem in the Labi hills forest reserve, to enjoy it serenity and take some dusk pictures at the scenic wooden staircases and walkways spanning the lake. ‘Luagan’ in Malay means a large non-flowing water body. This freshwater swamp is covered with sedges, ferns and water lilies. People come here for photography, birdwatching, picnicking, strolling or simply meditating. While we explored the captivating beauty of nature here, Appu who was tired from the jungle trek was asleep, but managed a few glimpses now and then.
That was one memorable experience! We had a great time on this outing with the high-spirited group members creating wonderful memories and milestones.
At the end of the day our hearts were filled with immense gratitude. Thanks to the perfect weather, people and preparation, we were able to create fond memories from the Labi outing.
This trek is also special to us as it happens to be our baby’s first one of the many many more ones to come. Getting to know and learning from nature is so much better than getting our children glued to gadgets. We look forward to introducing Appu to more such forest walks in future to experience the mesmerizing beauty nature has to offer.
The jungle says,
March 26, 2021 at 8:00 am
Wow .., what a wonderful trekking experience of Labi Waterfalls @ Brunei…we have experienced last Sunday, 21st March 2021…along with 44 closely knitted members of BSB Kannada Koota family comprising all walks of life at Brunei…
It was very nice to be part of
this historicall hike – with “Appu” The youngest person (< a year old infant) in the whole group…
Big Congratulations for this very nicely written article with wonderful photos inscribed …
Looking forward for many more articles from you in near future with our Youngest Super Star "Appu"……
Thank You Pooja and Very much appreciated for YOUR writing Skills….
God Bless You and Your family!
-BSB Kannada Koota
Friday, 26th March 2021, 07.59Hours..
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March 26, 2021 at 12:22 pm
Thanks so much Shiva Sir for the kind words! Special thanks to you for not just coordinating but taking umpteen photos of us all. Your enthusiasm is unmatched. Look forward to more such nature visits in future. Glad to be a part of this wonderful Koota here in beautiful Brunei.
March 26, 2021 at 10:14 am
Very well written Pooja. Thanks for taking us through that lovely day again with your write up . This will be lovely article to read while reminiscing these moments here in Brunei.
Appu is a superstar . Bless him
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March 26, 2021 at 12:17 pm
Thanks you so much Dr Vineesh for your kind wishes and blessings. Much appreciated. Indeed we all had a great time together.
March 26, 2021 at 5:12 pm
March 26 2021 4.50 pm
It’s a fantastic write-up Puju. Beautifully written!! I’m very much impressed by the style of your writing-the flow of language with right contrasts, corelations, rich vocabulary and lively expressions cherished once again my memory over the Labi waterfalls neatly arranged by Kannada koota .I’m fortunate enough to get involved in it. Keep it up Puju!! Rahul is an expert in trekking and certainly his cheerful mood lifted your spirit to rock with Appu.
Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for your next adventure with Appu.
Appu’s adventure is simply superb !!! A big congratulations for him coz he is the first and foremost little kid in the family for jungle-hiking with full of smiles on his face with bubbling sounds that I really admired at the most. Appu you are a blessing!! You are my muddu bangara.
Lots and lots of blessings to you!!!
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March 26, 2021 at 5:32 pm
Thanks a ton mom! You are my inspiration. Your energy and enthusiasm is infectious. We were fortunate to have you and dad on the trip. We are blessed!
March 26, 2021 at 6:25 pm
March 26 2021
Excellent writing Pooja.I know every time you write in a good way but this write up is more exciting because of Appu. I love Appu’s adventure He is the super hero .Hearty cogratulations to you.
Hat’s Off to Appu’s adventure
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March 26, 2021 at 6:36 pm
Thanks so much dad! You are my superhero 🙂 Was glad to have you and mom on the trip with us. Most memorable!
March 27, 2021 at 2:16 am
Very beautifully penned down!
While reading this article I could understand how much your little one enjoyed the trip..All the best to you and Rahul for your next adventure with Kanishk..Love and Blessings to him!
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March 27, 2021 at 5:38 am
Many thanks Bhabhi! Hope you and family are doing well. Glad to know that you enjoyed it. Best wishes – Pooja