Escaping to Pangkor Laut for the Chapman’s Challenge
This is a true story of a man named Freddy Spencer Chapman, who was born with a life that was destined to be more than ordinary, from being an orphan who was left with just enough money for private education by his biological parents, to becoming a British Colonel, chased down by enemies into enemy lines. Growing up fond of natural history and the great outdoors, Freddy Chapman was considered to be something of an Arctic explorer in the frozen north of Canada and Greenland. His travels around uninhabited lands would eventually prove to come in handy later on, as he learned to be navigated through fearless wastes by the stars.
The interesting life lived by Chapman was one that made him the man being hunted by 4,000-strong Japanese troop and Chinese bandits, yet escaping both parties by running into the bewildering jungles of Southeast Asia, hiding there for three and a half years, and finally taking a submarine to the shores of Pangkor Laut’s Emerald Bay for shelter for a short thirty-six hours in May 1945. Though the visit may have been short, Freddy Chapman found himself falling in love with the beauty and tranquility of the place, as detailed in his book “The Jungle is Neutral.”
THE CHAPMAN’S CHALLENGE
Years later, Malaysian infrastructure conglomerate, YTL Corporation Berhad, collaborates with Reebok, to come up with an event of triple threat proportion, “The Chapman’s Challenge”, in memory of the great escape by the British World War II veteran. The Chapman’s Challenge is a triathlon event, gunning close to putting participants into the scenario of his rough journey from then.
With the collaboration between YTL and Reebok, the first ever preview of the event was held from the 28th to 30th September, at the exact place where he made the journey to Pangkor Laut Resort!
Running Malaysia dove right into the pure pleasure of experiencing what it must have been like. From the boat ride to the island till the arrival, we couldn’t hold in the excitement of seeing the exact beauty that Chapman had been so intrigued with. The idea of the challenge had us hyped with adrenaline. We were even taken to a jungle trekking expedition to “test the waters” of what we would be facing for the upcoming challenge.
It was a long walk to the entrance of the jungle. Once in, there’s no shortcut to get out. However, what we saw at the exit of the jungle was a bigger relief: the beautiful beach of Emerald Bay, with the sight of powerful waves of the ocean.
Testing the waters assured us of one thing: we’ll be needing lots of sleep and even more energy for the triathlon of the next day.
Morning came, and nutritious meals were our first thoughts, knowing the amount of energy to be spent for the challenge.
Making our way to the jetty for an early morning warm-up, we could feel a mixture of nerves and excitement in the air. Geared up in our sporty apparels, trail running shoes laced up tightly, and with sheer determination at the starting line, all we were left with was the countdown. The atmosphere was cooling from the morning breeze, yet we felt the intensity rose up in the air.
RUN, HIKE, SWIM!
At the “GO”, the crowd just took off from the jetty, marking the start of the race, which was a 1.5km run across the resort towards the entrance of the jungle. With feet pounding the ground, the race started to split the strong and the experienced ahead of the rest.
Reaching the mouth of the jungle, the next challenge came in—a 2.5km hike through the dark and slippery jungle. The jungle was wet from the rain the night before.
It was a long, high climb up before a steep drop down to the exit of the jungle. Climbing up felt like eternity; it just kept ascending. Reaching the top, tired as we were, we felt a sense of achievement within, yet we knew that what goes up must come down. So we did, downward Emerald Bay.
The travel down was not easy, but it would have been better if it weren’t for the wet ground. As dangerous as it was, it created quite an excitement for thrill seekers as it required one to think fast about where to step next and what to use to get down, unless you’re one with the “do first, worry later” mindset of a downhiller. Greater excitement and relief dawned on us as we approached the exit of the jungle, hearing the sound of the hard crashing waves.
The final obstacle was the 400m swim in the ocean, against the waves. If you weren’t geared up in proper attire and weren’t as thick-skinned, you would’ve wished you were as the waters were icy cold. However, mind over matter! Numerous participants completed the swim and made their way towards the finishing line, to be greeted by the loud cheering crowd, photographers, a table of refreshing beverages and, of course, the finisher tees!
Hard work surely comes with great rewards, as we were treated to Pangkor Laut Resort’s accommodation, which was more than inviting and relaxing. The interior of the wooden villa gave that vibe of a honeymoon suite… with a balcony! Great space, comfortable bed, and a bathroom the size of a living room—the resort sure knows how to pamper their guests with only the best. Step out onto the balcony and you’re looking over the view of the resort if you live at the Hill Villas, or living on the water if you choose the Spa Villas, among other choices. They may neither have good Internet connection nor phone reception, but it’s an opportunity for you to get in touch with nature and bond with loved ones. Fear not as the resort has many activities in store for you, through facilities the likes of tennis and basketball courts, gym, spa, and much more! Food provided over there would ravish your belly so well that you wouldn’t have to even think of what to eat. All in all, Pangkor Laut Resort stays true to their 5-star recognition, ensuring guests of full relaxation and joy.
The Chapman’s Challenge launches on May 2016 with Pangkor Laut Resort preparing the best-value package for participants: RM999 for 2 persons/night, minimum of 2 nights, 3 meals included. Think of it this way: Freddy Spencer Chapman arrived at Emerald Bay on May 1945 for that short thirty-six hours, while YTL and Reebok are organizing the event that is named after him at the exact same location and on the same month! You couldn’t possibly feel more gung ho in Chapman’s shoes than ever!