2D1N Turtle Discovery Trip @ Kemaman

Greetings Symphonians! We’re starting off this week by recapping the anxiously awaited details of the Turtle Discovery trip by the Group Communications department, which took place in Cherating, Pahang on the weekend of 22 and 23 of June 2013.

Although it was a 7am start on a Saturday, there were plenty of eager and excited faces as breakfast was served at the R&R on Level 2 before departing for the East Coast. At about 1pm, a quick lunch stop was made at a local eatery called Warung Aziz Satar in Kemaman, Terengganu where Symphonians were treated to their signature dish of delicious Satar.

The first activity of the day was beach cleaning at Monica Bay (Teluk Mak Nik) in Kemaman, Terengganu where gracious Symphonians lent a helping hand in cleaning rubbish off the beach, which ranged from things like discarded umbrellas to non-biodegradable plastic bags and bottles. This was done to create a better environment for the turtles in order to encourage them to come ashore and lay their eggs.

Within the afternoon, teams successfully filled over 11 bags of garbage! At Symphony we love our wildlife, environment and community, thus being able to personally do something that would benefit the local wildlife and its habitat while still having a good time is something that comes naturally for Symphonians.

Afterward we checked-into the Suria Cherating Beach Resort for some much deserved rest and free time as Symphonians enjoyed each other’s company while they lounged, played and chilled at the resorts’ gorgeous beach before enjoying a relaxing buffet dinner at 7.30pm.

At 9pm we returned to Monica Bay and met up with our guide Pak Su and his experienced team for the turtle watching segment of the trip. The weather was perfect as the sky was clear in the presence of a glowing full moon, creating a surreal atmosphere with excellent viewing conditions without the use of flashlights.

Symphonians were fortunate to witness three large turtles on a beautifully secluded beach. Two had just completed the egg-laying process and were covering their nest before making their way back to the sea, and another was in the process of laying her eggs, making this an unforgettable experience that few others have witnessed. For many this was the first time they had seen turtles in the wild or even in the flesh.

Asri Yusof from the SSR department was one of those people, “It was the first time in my life got to see turtles this close, and it has given me a new love and appreciation for them after learning about the difficulties they face in trying to make it to an old age.”

“Getting to actually touch a turtle up close and experience the wildlife by the seaside at midnight was the crowning highlight the trip for me.” said Komala Annamalai, from the Hong Leong Team.

Abdul Rahim, Head of Treasury and Finance had this to say about the experience ” This was the first time I had seen the turtles in real life, it was quite a  life-changing experience as it opened my eyes to the hardships they face in just trying to survive to adulthood.”

The finale of the night for participants was the release of a newly hatched turtle babies back into the sea, which made for a very feel-good moment.

“I felt that releasing the turtle hatchlings into the wild was one of the biggest contributions I could do for them, as their chances of surviving to maturity are low. Therefore, anything that I could do to help their survival counts. It made me especially proud of cleaning the beach as the turtles can now have a good, undisturbed environment to lay their eggs,” said Asri Yusof.

“Releasing the baby turtles back to the sea was the biggest thing I that I could have done to help their survival, and through that I have developed a new found love for turtles as the hatchlings are just so cute!” stated Komala Annamalai

This concluded what was a very rewarding evening as everyone then retired to the resort for the night.

At about 8am the next day,  Symphonians woke to a wide variety of breakfast items that were being served at the dining area. Souvenir hunting was next on the program as we stopped in Bandar Chendor to take advantage of the local shops and their specialties.

A captivating visit to the Cherating Turtle Sanctuary Centre was next, where Symphonians presented a check to the sanctuary manager Haji Karim that would further aid their turtle conservation efforts. Members of the trip then got to see turtles in various stages of their lives, ranging from hatchlings to adult turtles while discovering more about the issues they face when surviving in the wild.

“I learned a lot about the turtle life cycle, from how they are born to when they die. It has taught me about the circle of  life and that life itself is about being resilient and enduring hardships like the turtles do. Their lives are difficult as their chances of survival to an adult age is only about 5%, but still they persist against all odds.”  said Razali Adzmi from the SSR Department.

Afterward Symphonians had plenty to say about the how the trip went and what they gained from it.

“”I was excited at the thought at being able to hang out with other Symphonians and make new friends outside of work in a natural setting, and of course the chance to see the turtles!” said Song Ee Yoon from the Expedia Team. “Being Korean and having been in Malaysia for only a short time I was unknowing about Malaysian culture, lifestyle and wildlife, though this trip has taught me quite a bit about my fellow Malaysians and their county”

“The biggest thing I took away from this is finding out about their unique breeding behavior, and the beauty of the beach they chose as their birthplace. It makes me proud to know that places like this exist in Malaysia. I believe an event like this should be repeated in the future as it helps educate others about the issues that the wildlife in Malaysia face. I would love to be able to spend more time viewing the turtles in their natural habitat.” – Abdul Rahim

There is nothing that I would change about the trip as everything met my expectations, I loved it! - Komala Annamalai

The visit ended off what was an outstanding weekend filled with fun, facts and of course turtles! It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that everyone should partake if given the chance, stay tuned for the next exciting CSR outing!