Meet Halil Ngah, a Chile 95 venturer, who is on to his next adventure, a zero carbon and zero waste resort. After his Chile expedition, Halil co-chaired a selection weekend and was part of Raleigh Singapore's first expedition — Operasi Raleigh Batam. He is also the co-founder of Climb Asia.
Q. What were some of your most unforgettable experiences from your Chile expedition?
I was part of the Raleigh International 1995 Chile expedition. There are MANY memories that will stay with me for life. Taking a 3-day bus journey across the vast Argentinian Altiplano. Waking up in the morning when everything was frozen. Patagonia is beautiful but also cold: my socks were stiff like sticks of firewood; I couldn't put on my contact lenses as they were frozen solid in the case; same for the toothpaste. We later learnt to sleep with anything you needed in your sleeping bag. We didn't shower for 2 weeks at a time, but no one was complaining as the water was mainly glacial melt and just too cold!
But my most unforgettable memory was horse riding: it was my first time riding a horse, IN Patagonia, with no guide and no training. Just a one-minute orientation by the farmer and off we went on a 50km trip to fetch emergency rations!
Q. How did the Raleigh expedition shape you?
I think the experience at Raleigh showed me how important it is to adapt and thrive in any situation. It taught me to look forward to and not fear throwing myself into unfamiliar environments or situations as I know I will always adapt and thrive. So in 2000, I left the Singapore Armed Forces after serving my 6-year study bond to become a full-time climber — just climbing and competing around the world while making a living from conducting climbing classes. In 2003, I set up Singapore's first commercial climbing gym (unheard of at that time). In 2010, I moved to Australia without a job, bought a caravan and travelled all around Australia for almost a year.
Q. What is the next adventure you are on now?
Several years ago, Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" really affected me. I made a promise to myself that I should do something that will have a net positive effect for our planet. I had an opportunity to do just that when I acquired two small islands in Indonesia a few years ago. They form a group of islands called Seranggas Islands in the Lingga Regency, which is still unknown to many Singaporeans and little explored by foreigners.
My vision is to create a resort that is zero carbon and zero waste. This is very much work in progress as I have been working alone until recently. I even bought a steel sailboat, which I will retrofit and use to bring explorers to the islands. Why steel? Because it can be recycled; most sailboats are made of fibreglass and cannot be recycled.
I wish to create a healing place that's comfortable and luxurious without disrupting too much of the environment. There will not be air-conditioning as it's not yet sustainable. All power will come from 70% solar, 20% wind and 10% either from a biogas or biodiesel generator (as a backup). Kitchen waste and toilet waste will go into a bio-digester to generate biogas. Used kitchen oil can be filtered and either used for lighting or power a biodiesel backup generator.
The menu will be specially curated from the immediate environment. So we will not be serving wagyu steaks :P
Ultimately, I would like to share a soul-healing place where one can disconnect, relax and rejuvenate with a guilt-free mindset. Guilt free because you minimise carbon getting there (by sail), live in a home that is 100% solar powered, consume only rain water and eat only locally available food. If we manage to pull this off, then I would like to share how we did it with the next generation. The young will inherit this planet when our time is up. It is essential that we educate them wholeheartedly to be a responsible being on this planet that we have so much power over to destroy.