'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Ladies and Gentleman we have began our decent into Australia/England!!! :-)

Parents: Please note the flight details for the arrival of your Son/Daughter into Canberra:

Flight No: QF812, Arriving @ 1420hrs (23 December 2011)

With less than 24 hrs until we see your smiling faces, the challengers, teachers and Cliff have decided to put in some requests for you all:

Charlee: Hi Mummy its Chooky, I would like for dinner please, Steak with corn, mashed potato, make sure there is hot English mustard and heaps of vegetables. And please make sure that there is full cream milk in the fridge. Also I have made a bet with one of the guys that I won’t cry at the airport, so hold the tears until the car! Love you xox

Kiara: Hi Mummy, I can’t wait to see you tomorrow! I would like for dinner please a steak or crumbed lamb cutlets, but to be honest I don’t mind I am just looking forward to being home and seeing everyone. I am pretty excited for Zane’s BBQ if it is still happening!!! Hope everything is good and I will see you tomorrow! Hope Shayne and BJ are all good and excited to see me. I Love You! Xox

Cliff: PLEASE bring my Granddaughter :). No need for Indian food....I’ve had my fill lol, see you soon

Amreeta: Hi Mum and Dad! I can’t believe I’ll be seeing you in less than 24 hours! I don’t mind what’s for dinner, as long as I get home :) I can’t wait to tell you all about my adventures. I have missed you guys a lot and Bibi’s phone calls! Love youse heaps and see you soon <3 xoxo

Sarah: Hey everyone at home  I hope you are all safe and sound I’ll be in the country real soon can’t wait to see you!! YAY  for the food preference for dinner could I possible please have steak with pepper sauce YUM  CHOCOLATE MILK ah missed my full cream milk! Meat pie and Mangos please :-) :-)

Xavier: gnorwdab to the Pooleys. This is first communication for a month (which depends if you read it) You better read it. But then you will not see the message to read it if you don’t read it, so check the blog.......Love you dudes. One request. be there on time please, bring the bro, bring yourselves, please have some home water in a bottle and worm biscuits. Thks

Jane: Hola Bella! Not long now!!!!! I don’t really mind what we have when I get home, I’m still not feeling really hungry, but maybe cutlets?? I can’t wait to see you and have an under  Love u!!!!!

Gary: Business Class!!!! Yeah baby!

Sandi: Hi to all the family and to friends who might read this? Missing everyone, especially Mum and Dad. Can’t wait to see you all at the airport tomorrow at 2pm. Can you please bring to the airport 2 vegemite multigrain sandwiches and a Vanilla milkshake? We have 4hrs in Melbourne airport so it might be nice to see grandparents. (Please ensure my Ipod is charged Mum )

Patrick: hey mum, dad and corinna!! Nearly home now, I cant wait to get home and be there for Christmas. If I had to have one preference for food it would be a MASSIVE thing of milk and some choc-chip cookies that would be soooooooo good. And if its not too much trouble can we please go past zambrero’s ? be back soon :-) (Ed. Hollow legs Newton) lol

Nathan: Hey mum, dad, steph and teeghan! Ive missed you all and I cant wait to see you again tomorrow. Sorry for not telling you about the blog but I hope you have found out about it anyway. Would you please be able to bring a bottle of full cream milk to the airport? Only 16 hours to go! I love you all and happy 6 months teeghan for Tuesday.

Kimmywhooho: I’ve already wrote a cute little personal paragraph so all I can say is im so inspired once again. But yeah im going to use this paragraph to tell my parents just what I want when I get home ;) I want sour straps or worms to be brought to the airport and Chisholm pizza for dinner and defs good berries for desert >:] woooo excited to come home! <3

Zac: I have had the most emotional month crying myself to sleep everynight missing everyone, I have hated every moment of it I just wish I was home PSYCH!!!!!!! Now on a serios note I am really missing my ipod the extra long bus rides have been hell and I would like laksa for tea please fair chaps.and that goes for who ever picks me up  (Ed. He’s coming back a changed man!!! )

Michaela: WEOWWWW!!!! Be home really soon, I cant wait to see you all, soo many stories to tell and a million experiences that I will try my best to describe  im hoping to have a big Christmas lights expedition when it gets dark. Mum, dad, Jason, Daniel, Jemma and my special Rikki, I’m hoping you have not forgot my face ;) id love a trip to sombreros when I fly in :D I love you all so so so so so much and I’m not quite sure if I will cry or if you won’t be able to wipe the smile off my face, so brace yourself  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox love love love love love

Jayson: hello everyone not quite sure who is reading this but I miss you all very much. Don’t get your hopes up about presents I got the family one big one but that’s all. For dinner I am not sure what I want at the moment but be prepared to take me where I want  I love you all and miss you very much. P.S Zac will probably ask you (mum) to let me go to sombreros (some Mexican place) and I don’t want to go! K thx bye xoxo. (MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MY SIM CARD MOTHER)

Kate: Hi mum (if you read this) and dad. Give George a pat from me. For dinner the night I get home I reckon Shepherd’s Pie sounds good. Or something with potato  And if there’s some Canberra Milk in the fridge that’d be goooooooooooooooooooooood. :3

Ed. Its been an emotional blast guys.....Thank You ALL!!!! 

What A Relief - Day 25 - Trek Day 6

Waking up very still and under a roof this morning, felt quite different. We have been used to swinging constantly under a dodgy hammock tarp. We woke up at the usual time between 6:30-7am and we encouraged to pull our sore bodies up out of bed and start packing our bags for the day ahead.

We had a delicious breakfast of egg and rice soup.... well maybe I was the only one that enjoyed it but hey, my dad always says to harden up and I guess the other challengers were a bit soft ;) (Ed. Imagine the water that you throw away after cooking rice at home, mix that with an almost raw egg and hey presto you have a “delicious” jungle breakfast, Laos style!!! Even I, the well experienced and well travelled expedition leader, had to turn his nose up at that!......Yakka!!!!)

After breakfast was all finished we headed off for a 45 minute walk through rice fields and hilly jungle and then we arrived at the river, where we were picked up by thin motor boats.

Group by group we got onto the boats that were 10cm from sinking and made our way down the river for an hour until we arrived at a village.

When we arrived in the village we all took our shoes and socks off in a sign of respect before entering a villagers home and went up stairs and gathered around a religious looking plant display with hundreds of cotton strands hanging off the branches. We gathered in a circle around the tree and the village chief started praying. We all had to touch elbows which then made a chain to the people touching the religious plant. Once most of the prayers were over, for our surprise all the adult villagers started pulling the cotton threads off the tree. One by one they came up to each of us and blessed the thread with good luck and tied it around our wrists. We ended up with at least 20 each and we are not allowed to take them off for 3 days or the good luck will escape. After the ceremony was over we all sat on the floor and had a feast of rice, fish, egg and chilli sauce was prepared for us. It was the most amazing feeling. Sitting amongst these villagers, getting blessed good luck from them and eating lunch with them made us feel so special.

After we finished our meal we sadly had to quickly leave for a 1 and a half hour bus ride to the village we started at. But the thing is... it wasn’t a normal bus ride we were used to. We were put on a back of a Ute (Ed. pickup truck for the Brits out there) with a cage surrounding us, and little did we know we were in for the most bumpy and sickening ride of all time. When we all felt the car pulling up after a terrible trip, it was the biggest relief knowing our bus ride was over hahahaha.

We were now at the village we started at and then we knew ... ALL THE WALKING WAS OVER! It was one of the biggest relief’s this whole trip :)

For some (Mr. P) the trek was all over, but for everyone else, especially Charlee and myself, the best bit was still to come. We were all handed a ticket TO GO FOR A ELEPHANT RIDE !?!?!?

We got into our pairs and all hoped on an elephant pair by pair. Just waiting in line we hear the laughs and giggles from others getting onto the elephants and finding out what it is really like.

It was an amazing experience riding on the elephants through the beautiful village, rice fields and around the village. Smiles were on everyone’s faces as we enjoyed every minute of the hour and a half on the elephants.

Once that was over we said goodbye to our amazing guides and caught a bus for an hour into Pakse for the night. We arrived and we all went and had our amazing hot showers. Then we were all keen for some Indian food once again. I think some people... cough cough Charlee, Kiara, Michaela and I, ate a little too much, consisting of 3 naan breads ( omg so good!) and a dish of our currys plus 2 drinks. Just thinking of it as a reward from the trek ;)

Then we went to the shops got some snacks for tomorrow headed back for the hostel for a good packing and a good sleep ready for tomorrow :)

Written by the most amazingest kimmy-woo :) oxoxoxoxoxo

Personal Reflection:

No words can explain how much I have been inspired. Whether it be John Tucker and the children at NHCC or it be all the challenges in the group, everyone has shown me patience, language, culture respects and enjoyment for everything that’s given to you. I know I will come home, not as a different person on the outside but a different person on the inside on how I see everything. I don’t regret this trip one bit and its starting to get depressing knowing only a few days left, but more excited than ever to come back home. :)

Almost back to civilisation and team review -Trek Day 5 - Day 24

Today, we woke up and packed our hammocks, tent and bags and had our last morning in the jungle. Breakfast was rice porridge (Ed. Oh my favourite!!!! NOT!!!! lol) and then we set off to the nearby village. We walked for about four hours, on a wide, flat trail and fortunately without too many obstacles (unlike other days!)

We reached the village and went to the guesthouse/hut to dump our bags and organise where we’d sleep. We had the 8 girls in one room (with only 5 beds), and the 5 boys in the other. Cliff and Jane slept in their hammocks on the veranda, and Gary put his up between some trees in front.

Dolphin, our guide, took us to some shops in the village and we bought Pepsi, lollies, coffee and Ovaltine. We saw a monkey at the village, and a lot of dogs and pigs and a really tall rooster. For dinner, we sat outside on a couple of mats and ate sticky rice with chilli, and chicken (or vegetable) soup. It was really tasty, but there was so much food we couldn’t eat it all!

After dinner we had a group review,

Insert by Jane and Cliff: Having editorial control, we have decided to add a little bit about how our last team review went. Sitting on the veranda of the Village accommodation, after our candlelight dinner, which was chicken which was killed an hour before hand, we began to discuss the details of the trip. We talked about our completed trek and each came up with one word to describe our 6 day jungle adventure. Every one chose a positive word! We realised that we have had many individual successes despite facing many challenges along the way.

Each challenger was then asked to think of one inspirational moment of the entire trip and another time which provided an (A-HA) moment of insight about themselves. As I’m sure you may have already gathered, many people have been inspired by the amazing experience at the orphanage, Cliff and myself included. (Just looking at photos brings Cliff to tears) Most challengers experienced some self discovery, which I’m sure they are keen to share with you all.

We then each had to choose one person who we were really thankful for throughout the trip. This was challenging, as a lot of us had many people who contributed not only to people’s enjoyment but also their sanity. After just over 3 weeks overseas, the group was starting to really bond, permanent friendships had been formed and it was a great way to end the trek.

(Back to Kate’s typing): and then went to bed. Night time was uneventful, except for being rolled on (thanks, Sandi) and Gary was sick. In the end, it was a good day, and almost at the end of our trek!

Written by Kate Coxhead

 Erhm!!!!????  LMAO!!!! hahahaha

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

TICKED OFF!!! - Day 23

I nominated myself to write the blog for today for a couple of reasons. One, because no one was standing close enough to me that I could give the job too. Two, I hadn’t done it yet, but most importantly, Three, its one of my best friends birthdays today and it gives me the opportunity to wish her HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Talz I hope you had an amazing day, I miss you heaps and can’t wait for our adventure when I get back! Hope you liked the present!!!

So here goes...

We awoke at the usual 6.30AM to give us enough time to pack up our hammocks and get ready for another day of walking. We left our beautiful campsite, after a breakfast which consisted of a quarter of a piece of stale bread and some eggs with garlic.

The group was in a fairly positive mood due to the swim the day before and the promise of a less strenuous day, which made us all feel a lot better about picking up our HEAVY backpacks. We left the campsite at 8.30 and began trekking once again through the jungle. We quickly fell into our routine, of watching each others ankles and yelling ‘heads’, especially to Nathan and Pat (Ed. 6’ 4” and 6’ 3” respectively). I have found that the best place to trek is somewhere behind Nathan, as he gets all the spider webs out of the way. :-) Today was a relative easy trek, with only a few small hills and mostly flat terrain. This gave the group a chance to chat about what we were missing from home and how we were feeling about the trek so far.

Cliff and I were reflecting on how the majority of the challengers have had a change in attitude throughout the month. Whilst we were discussing this, we were also eavesdropping on Kim and Kiara’s conversation, about how Kim had been given the choice of a shed or a pool. It was incredibly refreshing to then hear her talk about how much she appreciated everything that she had at home and how blessed she was. Cliff’s motto for the trek was ‘Strength of mind, Strength of body’. My own personal motto, which hopefully reflects the new found attitude of some of the challengers, after listening to Kim, and our own experiences at the orphanage has become ‘Grateful not Greedy.’ I think that we have all had our eye’s opened to how lucky we are to have been born in Australia, and how easy our life is, compared to pretty much every single person we have encountered in the last month.

We reached the campsite still feeling quite positive, after 4 hours of walking, at around 12.30. The campsite was pretty similar to the other campsites, a designated toilet track, a good tree section for hanging our hammocks and some rocks where we could light a fire and sit by some water. We got our hammocks sorted (we are now professional hammock hangerupera’s!) Then went down to the rocks for lunch, which was rice with some type of eggy soup. Cliff our fearless leader went down to wash and that was when disaster struck....

I was sitting down on the rocks talking to Kiara when I looked down at my leg, and noticed something unusual. Very calmly, but quite loudly I said “Guys, I don’t want to panic anyone but I’m pretty sure that I have at least 10 ticks on my leg right now.” Which I then followed, with quite a few hysterical screams of “HELP!!! Get them off me!!! EWWWWWWWWWWW!!”

Which, needless to say, caused mass hysteria... Cliff came to the rescue with the tick extractor and removed at least 12 from my leg. A few of the challengers (the girls and myself) decided to inspect ourselves completely, and to everyone (of us girls) horror we found that the majority of us had lot of ticks. Micheala, Amreeta, Xavier, Kate and myself in particular. Amreeta’s was the biggest, but Micheala and I probably had the most.

We had a quick wash, after Cliff convinced us that ticks hated water - not sure if thats true Cliff... but it got us in the water ;) and the girls decided to retreat to the hammocks for the rest of the day. The thought of more ticks, tiredness and homesickness got the better of most of us and we spent the afternoon, hanging – literally – on our own in our hammocks. We surfaced for dinner, after coating ourselves in layers of bug spray, ate standing up in about 3 minutes flat, and then headed straight back into the hammocks to keep away from the ticks.

Looking back on it now, while typing in a bus, miles away from the jungle and completely tick free, it was actually a funny, albeit gross, but good experience for us all. And it is something that we can TICK off our list of typical jungle experiences!!

Jane (Miss Davidson)

Trek day 3 ....Couldn't think of a better title :-) - Day 22

Today we all got up at our usual 6.30am to take down our hammocks and pack our bags for another day of hiking. Cooking group 1 was responsible for organising our breakfast, a baguette with egg AGAIN!!!, and washing up afterwards. During our meal we were lucky enough to have the company of Nellie the elephant who would be carrying our food for the day.

After leaving our camp at around 8.15am, we hiked at a brisk pace for 4 hours, where we arrived at our campsite. For around an hour, we lazed around and set up our hammocks before a lunch of fried rice, set up and served by cooking group 2. Following lunch, we swam in the deep lagoon, cleaning ourselves and our clothes. Relaxing for the rest of the afternoon, we had a dinner of noodles (courtesy of group 3) (Ed. I wasn’t impressed with this evening meal and went to bed hungry and in a huff :-)) just after sunset. After talking around the campfire and candles for a short while, everyone began to drift off to an early night’s sleep.

Written by Nathan Backer

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

In the middle of the jungle (Laos!)! - Day 21

Trek Day 2

As everyone woke up from sleeping in their first nights experience of the new hammocks we all agreed that the first lot of hammocks from the first trek were much more comfortable (Ed. We got use to them!!!....We had to :-)).Breaky was at 7:15am we had rice, egg and some scrumptious stale bread along with cut up apple and mandarin. After food we packed up all our belongings, got ourselves organised and began trekking again. FIRST NIGHT SUVIVED....Phewwww! :-)

While walking, I find myself and pretty sure everyone else, constantly having to keep looking at the ground or the heels of the person in front so you don’t stack it! The surroundings however are amazing with the giant trees reaching up to the sky and the millions of different shades of green (Ed. It’s a jungle out there). Just before lunch we had to climb this massive killer of a hill! Everyone was amazingly hungry to get to the top for food so we didn’t stop once, once at the top we had precooked rice, beef and veggie mix; I just ate the rice (Ed. and picked out all the little bits of veg that had sneaked in lol).

Once we headed off again the guides told us that today was actually the hardest part of the trek, WOO :-)and we also found out that our training build up trek was another World Challenge main trek, pffft slackers!! But at the end of the day I feel good for having completed the first two days of trek! I think everyone felt quite proud of themselves, after around another 2+ hours of trekking we reached our next campsite for the night, set up our hammocks and washed. Another thing we all survived, the FREEZING WATER of our second wash :-).

Everyone is getting pretty used to everything now and it doesn’t take me as long to get ready anymore, YAY :-) (Ed. miss very organised pants in the morning now Sarah :-)) Oh and just before dinner the boys found a fairly big scorpion and a HUGE Elephant bug! For our dinner we had rice and veggies AGAIN!, getting pretty sick of the same thing each day to be honest and a delicious cup of hot ovaltine chocolate while we all sat around the fire and watched the stars. Everyone enjoyed today knowing that today was the hardest day really relaxed us and we all feel proud for finishing our second day in the jungle :-)

Personal Reflection:

I’d have to say how I’ve been inspired, like most people, by the orphanage and how the kids are so excited to see a stranger helping them. They crave the attention of love and affection which I’m sure they don’t experience each day like we do. I never saw a child without a huge smile on their face and the smallest things would make their day. What I’ve learnt most on this trip is that anyone can make a difference and seeing that actually happen just wants to make you be a part of that community, I’ve loved Cambodia and Laos and its going to be really disappointing to leave and believe it’s been a whole month away from home, even though throughout that month I’ve learnt and experienced and dealt with new emotions I’ve never felt before and with new skills developed among the group, friendships building, the organisation level, becoming stronger in body and mind and also becoming a more independent person. I also can’t wait to show everyone at home the photographs and tell them the stories of the adventures I’ve experienced :-)

Written by Sarah Thompson :-) xox

First day of Trek Xe Pian National Park - Day 20

Hi Everyone....We're in Vientiane now ...we've had a bit of an epic journey since our last blog including an 18.5hr bus ride and Jane (teacher) having a really really bad case of D & V (poor thing)....but we're here and ensconced in our Hotel...more on that journey later to give you the low-down on our trek.

Today was the first day of our main trek. We were all a bit nervous of what to expect on our 5 and 6 hour days of walking but we all sucked it up and accepted the challenge! We arrived at a village(where there were like 8 massive Elephants) and met our 5 guides. Our guide’s names were Dolphin, Shy, Ki, Mr Day and Doe. Known to us as Dolphin, cutest guy ever, Smurf Guy, Mr Hot and Old guy.

We set off on our trek walking through a village until we came to a monstrous hill which of course we had to climb. It was the first challenge the team faced on the trek but we completed it with no sweat (Ed. not quite I seem to remember lol) ;) Dolphin our main guide who talked the most English stopped on top of the hill and talked to us about the history of Xe Pian National park and showed us the amazing view from the top of the hill we had climbed over looking rice fields and more jungle (Ed. Litttle did we know that was the last view we were to get for the next 5 days!!!). We then continued walking the rocky ground for about 4 hours until we came to our first campsite.

The campsite was set next to a nice little waterfall which was beautiful to swim and wash in. It was the team’s first time to set up our new hammock, but we worked together and did it in no time at all. Just before dinner the team sat down and discussed/reviewed all of our weaknesses (areas that needed developing) and Positive’s. This talk did us all the world of good because we finally realised we are a team in it together and we now we need to work together :-) Dinner was prepared for us and it was soooo good. After we had eaten dinner and washed the dishes everyone laid down and looked up at the stars. All in all it was a great first day of trekking and we were all so happy it was one down five more to go!!

My Personal reflection would be how much I take for granted at home compared to the children at the orphanage. I love seeing how excited and appreciative they are for every single bit of clothing or food they receive. I was given a ring by one of the older boys in the orphanage. He explained to me how important this ring was to him. I feel like the luckiest person to be the one he chose to give it to. It will remind me every time I look at it of this boy and what little he has but how much he appreciates what he does have.

Written By Charlee Cremerius :-)