Friends Who Go The Distance

A group of WKWSCI alumni (CS’08) has taken graduation trips up a notch by travelling annually.

For the past seven years, the ‘Snakes,’ a group of eight WKWSCI alumni (Lim Say Heng not in the picture), has been making annual trips around neighbouring countries such as Lake Toba in Indonesia. PHOTO COURTESY OF ‘Snakes’
 

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While many graduates often take a trip together before entering the workforce and getting tied down by work, a group of Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information alumni has been travelling together every year since graduation. 

The eight-member group, called the “Snakes,” includes Clarence Chua, Daniel Ong, Helmi Ali, Jae Loh, Lim Say Heng, Ong Chor Hao and Samuel He, who are 33 this year, and Mick Tan, 32. They all try to make time for the trip, despite holding full-time jobs in fields as varied as journalism and human resources.

“We make it a point to travel to one country every year. Specifically more offbeat places with fewer iconic landmarks and with less urban sheen,” said Chua. 

To date, they have visited Southeast Asian destinations like Lake Toba in Indonesia, Halong Bay in Vietnam and Koh Lanta in Thailand.

“We all lead busy lives and usually cannot take more than five days of leave for our holiday. Choosing destinations based on simplicity allows us to maximise the time in one place so we can enjoy it properly.”

Clarence Chua

“You don’t need to go far for the spectacular. Travelling around Southeast Asia is cheap and has amazing options if you’re willing to try the less famous places,” he added.

Juggling the schedules of eight different working professionals can be rather tricky. Therefore, the group chooses destinations that involve minimal travel time.  

Chua added: “We all lead busy lives and usually cannot take more than five days of leave for our holiday. Choosing destinations based on simplicity allows us to maximise the time in one place so we can enjoy it properly.”

Beyond appreciating the glamour and beauty of their destination country, travelling together has also provided the busy working men a chance to unwind and catch up with one another.

“Our aim is to have proper guy time and to chill. Girls are never allowed on our trips,” joked Chua. 

The group might have a strict no-women policy during their travels, but girls were ironically the inspiration behind the peculiar name of this travelling brotherhood.

“Why ‘snakes’ in the first place? We were seen as ‘snakes’ back in university, always chasing girls. One flirtatious look we pioneered was giving ‘snake eyes,’” Helmi shared, adding that most of them are now married.

Meanwhile, for He, the most vivid memories from their travels have come not so much from the sights or the places of interest, but their shared moments.

NARRATION: SAMUEL HE, PHOTOS COURTESY OF SNAKES
AUDIO SLIDESHOW: JEREMY KIERAN NG (View Fullscreen)

“I remember most fondly making a music video of ourselves singing “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears at sunrise on Cameron Highlands, in the middle of the road up the hill,” he recalled. 

Despite having made a total of seven trips together over the past seven years, the planning process has not got easier for this group of seasoned travelers. 

“Being such a large group, making decisions is never easy. But we have refined our process – we do it with a vote,” said Chua. 

During their holidays, each person is assigned a specific role, such as trip leader, entertainment in-charge and a person who books the flight and accommodation.  

Travelling as a pack has taught them some valuable travel hacks as well. For instance, Helmi recommends packing light so you have an easier time exploring the place. 

“Be open to experiences and exploring. Don’t be afraid to leave the beaten track. It is all about the journey with your friends, the destination doesn’t really matter.”

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