Every Lunar New Year, my extended paternal family gets together for an epic reunion camp. It started 14 years ago and has grown and evolved in so many ways. This camp was a huge part of my adolescent years and is a constant reminder of who I am and where my roots lie. I remember how my cousins and I would get so excited planning for the various camp activities and how we would get “camp-sick” for weeks after it was all over.
Having missed out on all the fun and festivities for 3 consecutive years, I told Gani we had to try to attend it this year if we could afford it. Even if it was just for a week. I was eager for him to better understand my family dynamics and drama, and I craved quality family time. While our month-long trip back to Singapore last summer was nothing short of amazing, it was also extremely intense and jam-packed with meeting friends, relatives, friends of relatives, relatives of friends… you get the idea. I wanted to be able to just be in one place, laze around in frumpy pajamas while stuffing my face with all the food I missed and just be comfortable. The camp was perfect for that.
Somehow, everything worked out for us. The flight tickets ended up not being as expensive as we had expected and despite the New Year holiday falling within Gani’s exam period, he managed to get approval to take leave for 4 days. So off we went!
The swing set up gets a little more sophisticated every year.
Kak Long and Abang Ros made air batu Malaysia (ice pops), old school style. Which were a phenomenal hit, obviously, in the heat. A heat hit.
One of the field games that was new for me was Running Man, which involved everyone wearing a garbage bag with their names (well, nicknames for most) tagged on it, and then trying to rip other people’s names off. I didn’t take pictures during the game itself, but it was madness and chaos. I don’t think anyone’s garbage bag outfits lasted more than 10 seconds.
Later that night, we had a majlis cukur rambut (hair cutting ceremony) for little Tiara, the latest addition to the TYF clan.
The next morning, a separate cooking area was set up outside the kitchen to make beef rendang, which is a tedious process and typically takes hours to cook. And all because Gani wanted it.
Actually, I could go on and on about how amazing the food was. The kitchen committee really outdid themselves this year. It was like all my favorite Malay dishes put together in one place.
I love this next set of pictures. It was Kak Rhaudhah’s first time on the swing!
The following night, we had the usual token-giving ceremony to celebrate individual academic achievements.
Which was followed by a dance performance and night prayers.
It’s a bittersweet feeling, to see firsthand how much has changed—there have been marriages and divorces, births and deaths, people have moved on to different stages in their lives, the campsite has been renovated, and yet… it was all still so familiar.
Change is, after all, the one true constant.