The one advantage of living in a big city is you get to attend all the special events, concerts, competition and activities that are mainly conducted in the capital city. The moment I read from the newspaper that the SEA Games (South-East Asia Games) will be held in Kuala Lumpur this year, I was extremely excited. I knew I mustn’t miss this opportunity to watch it live in the stadium. I scroll through the schedule and check the ticket price multiple time. As each day goes by, the day of the competition grew closer. I arranged my schedule accordingly and make sure I had done my assignments and study for the upcoming test. I work twice as hard to free up my timetable so that I could squeeze in the little amount of free time I had to attend at least one event. However, I faced a few problems. Firstly, it is transportation. I did not want to waste my money on taxi so I did some research on how to get there through public transport. The journey took 1 hour and 30 minutes using the LRT. Next, my parents doesn’t really feel comfortable with me going alone, especially at night. But I did not want to disturb some of my friends who are preparing for their examination, and the few I had left, were either not interested or had gone back home to their hometown.
But I was determined on going, and nothing could stop me. I planned on getting tickets for the badminton finals. However, the tickets were sold out. I got confused with some of the other events and inquire my friend about it. He found out and told me that half of the events are open to the public for free. It definitely a hard choice on deciding which event to go to as I cannot make it during the weekday because my classes starts early in morning and end late in the evening. After asking my dad’s opinion, I decided to go for athletics. And guess what? My friend who was supposed to be going back to her hometown, had to work so she will be going home later and she wanted to join me. Then, I went and asked both my cousins, who are the same age as me, also studying in KL to come join us and they said yes!
We met up at Bukit Jalil Stadium as all of us are from different places around KL. I decided to book a taxi together with one of my cousin. Despite the miscommunication and not leaving our place on time, we still managed to reach the destination before the event started. It has been a very long time since I last saw my friends. Each of us were busy with our own life. Working hard to pass our assignments before the due date, studying for finals and the distance makes it inconvenient for us to meet up. I received a call from them asking where are we. I told them we were still in the taxi and I do not know where are we as I’m bad with direction. But, I realised, we have reached when I saw a tiny part of the stadium, peeking out of my window, covered by the high metal gates. I gave out a loud cry of excitement and the taxi driver laughed. We had a short talk about the Games and I asked him whether did he attend any of the events. He said he had not as he has to work. When I stepped out of the taxi and into the entrance, I was filled with awe and admiration. The stadium was huge and majestic. There was a long rectangle pool with a fountain and all around us, there were visitors taking selfies. The place was extremely beautiful. I have never though of Malaysia in that way before until that day. I couldn’t really describe how great and wonderful it is. Getting even more excited, I speak non-stop in a volume that is a bit too loud. Outside the entrance, there was a ‘keris’ statute and I could hear the crowd cheering. Their voices echo through the doors and the window and the sound of the emcee announcing what has happened with a grand and deep voice. The sound of the high jump pole dropping and making the familiar clank on the floor was so clear and loud in my ears. I wanted to be in there. But we had to wait for the other two of my friends. They were at the opposite end and when I saw them walking towards us, I waved frantically. I was surprised I could see them from that far a distance. I ran towards them and the next few minutes were filled with hugs and greetings.
We walked to the entrance and had to go through security checks like the ones in the airport to make sure we are not terrorists and did not bring any weapon. Then there is the turning door and I was smiling so wide, my eyes were nearly gone. The guards could see how excited I am and smiled at me. All the good seats in the stadium were nearly full but we managed to find one. I wore and orange shirt to show my support for Malaysia and we were cheering and shouting together with the crowd for our athletes. But I did not know any of them. Before the start of each event, they would introduce the competitors and I enjoyed watching their behavior and countenance. It was very entertaining. I was also amazed with the huge camera dangling in the air and the movable one, similar to those used in movies. Everything was new to me. It was my first experience and I couldn’t help but be filled with joy. It was exhilarating. The weather was great and it wasn’t very hot inside. The atmosphere of the stadium. The tension at the finishing line, the togetherness of the spectator and the fighting spirit of the athlete that never give up even though they are last. Everything was perfect. When I saw how the runner cried and knelt down when he won, I understand how exhilarated he was. He jumped on his coach and they were caught in an embrace. As he take up our country’s flag and walk through the stadium, standing proud and tall, thanking his faithful supporters. That day, I was brought back to my times as a student, competing during Sports Day.
At the end, there was the victory ceremony. They were awarded their medals, a Rimau soft toy and a sapling. I explained to my friends why they did so and though to myself proud I am when they did that. Taking the initiative to set some things right. Four navies were stationed at the flag pole. They were dressed in white and blue uniformed, quite funny in my eyes and the national anthem of the gold medalist were played through the loud-speaker. Everyone was standing upright, facing the flags and the camera zoomed in to see whether the athlete knew the lyrics to their anthem.
Outside the stadium, there were many stalls set up along the way to the exit. Selling all kinds of food from various countries. The spectators poured out of the stadium and started to line up to fill their tummies with the delicacies. Volunteers can be seen everywhere, with a big plastic bag and long tweezers to collect the rubbish. A few families are seated on the floor, taking a rest and still others were taking pictures. I received a message from a friend from my hometown saying he saw me in the stadium and I was elated to know that even in such a big place with that many people, I met someone so far away coincidentally. My friends and I took the LRT to the nearest shopping mall to had our dinner and we had a great time together.
I know, I wouldn’t forget this feeling in a million years. And when I’m old, while I am watching it through the screen with my children or grandchildren, I would be the one recounting this story. Reminiscing on the experience.