'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Friday, 30 November 2012

Acclimatisation Trek - The Heat is On!!!!

We did it!!!! We finished our first trek!

We were woken up at 6, ready to set off on our trek with only a little bit more packing to do. We then came down to a breakfast already prepared for us. We then walked down the street to ‘green discovery’, our trekking agents, to load our packs onto the Ute/truck ready to drive to the markets and our first real adventure.

At the markets most of us were in for a real culture shock...The odour of all the meats hit us as soon as we arrived. Some of the group had to go into the markets to buy the food for the three days. 1,138,000 kip (Laos money) later and we were off to the village to start our trek. As lunchtime came near, we stopped at a little restaurant on the side of the road, and got to use our first squatter. (Ed. some of the screams will live with me for a long time ;-))

 When we arrived at the village where we were to start our trek it was too hot so we were driven even further into the jungle, thankfully, to a cooler place with more shade. And then we were off!

The humidity was really bad so much so that you would start sweating before we even had our packs on. Fortunately the hike that day was only a couple of hours, but it felt like a lifetime, especially with most of the group not being the best hikers.(Ed, Hmmmm???) We had to make sure we were drinking enough water so we wouldn’t die of dehydration! (Ed. little and often ) As we emerged from the bamboo jungle, we were gobsmacked to see where we were sleeping, and even more gobsmacked when we found out it was part of a waterfall/stream bed, and that we were going to have to sleep on rocks. (Ed. Its a hard life folks!)

It soon became dark, as we had took our time getting there. The guides prepared fried rice for our dinner, unlucky for us; we weren’t really prepared for the spices they’re use to (Ed. speak for yourself ). After dinner we settled down and had hot chocolates, while some went to bed. Some of us stayed up talking for a bit including Miss Nottle, Miss Posner and others.

Miss Posner told us all that the freakiest thing happened at the hostel, she said that her towel had the letters ‘M P’ embroiled on it. Everyone looked at her quizzically, because the ‘M P’ was not for Mel Posner, but for Mixay Paradise, the Guesthouse we were staying in. Before me (Sarah), Mikaela, and Posner went to bed we had to go to the toilet, in the bush/jungle. Posner started to wander through, and then jumped back out in shock screaming because she saw a frog. (Ed. the force is weak in this one!) So we made Nottle lead us in so we could go to the loo. (I’m not sure but I think they held hands while doing the business ;-) )

The guys being creative with photography :-)

Litter sweep - leaving the camp as we found it
  We woke up to wet tents and sleeping bags because it ended up raining the night before and the water had run down the river bed/rocks and under our tents. We all had to walk carefully up to where we were going to eat breakfast because it was slippery, but some still managed to fall on their bottoms. At least breakfast was familiar having bananas and porridge. (Ed. yes and I didn’t even get a mentionL) We very quickly demolished our food so we would beat the heat of the day on the trek.

During the trek, Mat came across a small, green, tree snake, so we all kept clear of that reptile (Ed. Highly poisonous). We arrived at the camp at 12.30, only having walking for some 3 hours. There was a small river/pool that we were able to swim in, all of the boys jumped straight in, while the girls were more cautious. As we were leaving, Narakorn came up and said that his shoes had turned into an ants nest and his towel was a leaf collector, this was soon followed by his sudden dancing and shouting of having ants in his pants (Ed. they hurt bad folks...I know ).  He then ran into the water thinking he would get rid of the ants but ended up slipping on the slimy rocks and falling flat on his arse in the murky water. Dinner soon followed and many people were quick to retire to their tents.

Girls and Guys with attitude

Everyone woke up in a better mood the next morning all knowing it was the last day. We rose at 6:30 to dry tents and the smell of freshly cooked omelettes. We were a bit quicker to pack up this time knowing there were deadlines to meet that day (Ed. Australian Embassy visits). As the heat started to intensify one or two people experienced waves of nausea with a couple not able to keep their breakfast down. (Ed. don’t worry folks they all survived J) The last day was the most adventurous, climbing though muddy fields and seeing buffaloes, there was buffalo poo all over the place and Luke managed to make a perfect shoe print in one pile.

As we arrived in the village, we saw many cute children and animals. We were greeted with a ceremony and they gave us food and good luck bracelets. The Ute/trucks were already waiting for us and we were soon off to out hostel. We had a big dinner at a predominately western restaurant, so it was nice to eat something familiar. We are now off to bed happy and content our first major task is under our belts :-)

Love to all!

Sarah and Kateland

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Trek Preparation and City snooping

(Ed. (Cliff) Hi Parents...Just so you know we will be out of communications for a few days as we are litteraly about to set off on our trek...I’m sure you all are looking forward to reading about your son or daughters the meantime enjoy Shay’s rather quirky description of our day yesterday in and around the city of Vientiane.)

Oh gosh today has been a little relaxing but chaotic at the same time!

Grumpy nottle and even grumpyer posner when being woken up for breaky at 6:30 after being told breaky isnt untill 9 am, then again at 7 when still breaky wasnt untill 9. The whole team met down in the loby at 9 for our first breakfast in loa. Waiting to gather the team and then being told we cant have breakfast until 9:30. Deciding to use this time wisely and having a team meeting about all the jobs that had to be completed today, down by the beautiful full flowing(NOT) Mekong river.

After our team meeting back to the hostel we went. there was some supprised looks on most of our faces when rice and chicken veggie soup was served as an entree for breakfast then egg and toast (just a bit of Aussie food).

Sitting at the tables out side the hostel deciding whos doing what job and where they are going to complete the jobs. After about 30 minuets of discussing and deciding everyone set of on their own little journeys to complete their set tasks in the city.

Walking up and down the one street lookiing for Green Discovery (travel agents) for 10-20 minutes then realizing its straight down our street we are staying on. Asking a few locals for directions as we stumbled down a dodgy alley expecting to get nowhere then finding a cute little office with men sitting at computers. Not even asking for the person we needed and being told to "sit sit sit". A man realized we were from World Challenge and took us out side for a brief down on our trek. Going through a checklist and realizing we don’t have any tents for our trek. Leaving the travel agents and back to our leader Cliff to try and sort out this mess. Cliff was on the phone to many people for quite a while and still getting nowhere. After being told our tents should be at Green Discovery going back and actually being given 8 tents for 22 people. We were not a very happy team with the low amount of tents and the appearance and conditions they came in. We had the opinion that our tents had world challenge logos and were brand new, but we were wrong! Cliff made the decision that if we didn’t get better tents that we would be cancelling the trek all together. BUT luckily another world challenge come to our rescue! They had just gotten back with their wet tents from their trek, and were very kind to hand them over to us to use. At the end of all this messing about with the tents we realized the 8 tents we were given actually were world challenge tents, but we deiced to use the other teams tents and only 4 of the ones we were given and we needed more to accommodate for the whole team.

n the middle of all that craziness Narrikorn joins in with the hostel workers Christmas party dance practice, he did a great job and we did a great job at laughing! Now we had some free time, some of us went to the mall and did a bit of shopping and others went and got great foot and body massages!

Over by the river is a long bike path this is where we set the tents up to make sure all the pieces were there, then we folder the wet tents back up and put them in a tent back.

While we've been away we've had a few rules. Two of our main rules were 'no matter where we went always a group of 4 or more', another 'ALWAYS be carrying your passport in your money belt and on your body!' Even though we were told constantly people still left in groups of 3, and when we went to cheak the tents 3 of us silly billys decided to leave them in the hostel in our rooms. Posner and Nottle were not very impressed with this has we dont have hearing problems and we should of followed the rules they are for our own goood and g because they wont to be able to be home for christmas.

Back to the hostel to get our passports then off to a great dinner that the food and budget people hooked up for us early today. The food was great im beating we are going back there after our trek!

As we finished dinner we headed back to the hostel then had some more free time (IN GROUPS OF FOUR!) Most people went to the night markets and a group of four plus the teachers went and started the food shopping for the trek the next day, so many hard decisions

in shopping for 22 teams members plus 5 guides!

Coming back for 9:30 and packing and getting our bags packed for our exiting trek in the morning. Hopefully everyone has a great night sleep has we are up at 6am in the morning :(

Shay Berecz & Mikaela Mole

(Ed. Chat to you all in a few days :-) )

Things Can Only Get Better

We arrived at Kuala Lumpur Airport after a five hour flight where we met Cliff, our expedition leader. We then walked a short but hot distance to our hotel.
The rooms were lovely but very small with the bed taking up most of the room. We tried to sleep until 4 am then got onto our three hour flight on a tiny plane to Vientiane, Laos. Where we attempted to sort out some of the accommodation and transport.  Unfortunately as we were getting our Laos Visas, we realised a male student had misplaced (lost) his passport. While Miss Nottle, Miss Posner and Cliff were trying to sort this all out we hung around the airport.  One snippet of information would come through and then another...little did we know we would be there for nearly 7 hours. To fill the time, we ended up doing all our planning for the next few days ahead...this soon moved on to us playing card games, while some of the boys decided to buy small nerf guns to shoot at each other. Luckily after many boring hours and long phone calls the 'student' was allowed through immigration into Laos. It was touch and go for a time, but the teachers did a good job in persuading the authorities and all is well again!

Following some investigations for transport into the city and some group discussion we decided to take “Tuk tuks” down to our accommodation in the city centre.  Tuk tuks are sort of like motorbikes with seating area in the back and are an experience not to be missed. After spending nearly a whole day in a very small airport seeing the busy dirty roads filled with smiling people on motorbikes carrying up to 4 people was a great privilege. 
The road from the airport into the city looked a little rundown with half built houses and buildings but also with beautiful temples.  Some Lovely fragrances and some not so lovely fragrances filled our nostrils. After being dropped off by mistake at a hotel with a very similar name t o ours we ended up walking to our actual hotel (Ed. This happens all the time folks...tell the Tuk tuk driver where you want to go and the answer is always "yes yes I know"), which is quite nice and is housing many other world challenge teams from various parts of Australia. Later we went to a restaurant for dinner, where most of us tucked into delicious fried rice. Following our splendid meal we all went to the local Night Markets, which was an amazing experience where most of us bought things we don’t really need already!     (Ed. This is also normal folks :-))
It's been quite a stressful start to our trip surely it can only get better from now on...

By Mikhaila S and Michaela J :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

And So It Begins – A reflection from Kuala Lumpur

A little note to parents from Kinross College Perth Australia – all the guys and gals arrived safely in KL ready for their Adventure of a Lifetime...Their blogs will start after mine below :-)...They are all doing fine and adjusting well to life on the trail...literally :-).

'Are you looking forward to your next trip?’ I was asked by numerous people.

To be honest my weeks (months even) leading into this expedition have been frantic...One SPA training, one CWA training, One CWA assessment, a WGL Training and a ML Training as well as other bits n pieces in little over three time to think about the question posed above was limited.

Now I find myself in down town KL thinking, do I really want to be here?

This question always comes up as these trips draw closer...Why, would I willingly drag myself away from my gorgeous Granddaughter, my family and my friends and from possible winter climbing adventures in Scotland and the Lake District, all to be placed in a developing country and made responsible for 19 youngsters and two female staff members?

My friends (some) I’m sure are jealous of what they perceive my life to be, visiting all these fantastic countries. However, unless you lead these sorts of trips yourself it’s difficult to comprehend all the possible trials and tribulations you could and most likely will encounter along the way.

Am I being selfish?

The answer to the questions above is a BIG YES! Of course I’m being selfish. I’m expecting things to carry on at home without me in their normal way. My very understanding wife (even though she puts on a brave face) understands my need to have little (and big) adventures in my life...Adventure is VERY important to me and it has been like an artery running throughout the whole of my life...Necessary but bringing joy and excitement!

The opportunity to see things most people will not. To visit places you see only usually see in magazines. To explore new countries and to meet and bond with people from countries you only see in National Geographic is a strong pull. However, for me it’s the relationship I develop with my groups, being able to share my knowledge and to teach them life skills which actually last a lifetime has the biggest draw. This can be (VERY) hard work but the rewards can be phenomenal too.

In some respects dealing with the groups can be an adventure in its own just never know whether it is going to be successful or not, whether you are going to reach the summit or not. I’m guessing the uncertainty is part of the draw.

So, yes I want to be here!! Yes I’m going to miss those people and things mentioned above but soon my life will resume its varied and rewarding pathway to happiness...and my latest adventure will just be memories.

Thanks for watching and sorry this is a bit serious...just needed to get this out of my head :-)