'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Sunday, 22 December 2013


Parents, Family and friends....your loved ones are returning home after a pretty amazing trip with many tales to tell, However, they would appreciate you coming to the right airport for their expected arrival of 2010 hrs on the 23rd December.  Flight MH135. The staff (Miss Francis will be happy to hand over the responsibility back to you guys :-). Unfortunately, I won’t be there to meet you all as I’m flying back to the UK for Christmas. The guys and gals have been a great bunch to spend time with :-)...I know they have done you proud!  Please see below for a little personal message...Hope you have all enjoyed the blog.

Family J Gosh I miss you all so much, I’m so jealous that you’re all there together without me, but obviously, we’re saving the best till last in coming home for Christmas ;) Anyway, the flight gets in on the 23rd at 8:10pm, international airport. My World Challenge group might have a few things to sort when we arrive but we’ll see. Anyway, I’d love to have my phone at the airport? And please don’t put Elsie to bed when you come to get me! I love you all very much and I miss you all loads. I’m really excited for Christmas. See you soon, love Mehitabel xx

Hello friends and family! I’ve missed you all so much! I can’t wait to get back and tell you all the stories I have from this trip. Mother if you are reading this pretty please with sugar on top bring me my phone (if you ‘forget’ you will not receive your gift ;) hehe) also if you could take us to get some food that would be greatly appreciated. To the rest of my family reading this, I can’t wait to call and message you all to see how you all are and hear about how much you’ve missed me and not Besa ;). Goodbye for now, I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow! Love you all, your favourite twin Saranda xoxo

Hi family! You have no idea how much I have missed you all. Flight arrives at 8:10pm Monday. Mum! I really can’t wait to see you J! Can you please bring Owen (and my phone) to the airport? Owen, I miss my big brother, please come to the airport. Dad, I have missed you so so so much. Grandma! I can’t wait to tell you all about the trip. And of course Ralphie, I love you! It’s been absolutely amazing, but I am so ready to see you all again. Can’t wait for eggnog, Christmas, and my own bed. I love you all very very much! See you tomorrow! Xoxo

Hello all family and friends. First parents no embarrassing me at the airport. No songs. Pretty please wait until we are home because I will be with 11 other people plus all the people in the airport. Gonna keep this short cos i will see you all tomorrow. Miss you all and cant wait to see you guys. And unlike all these other people who all want their phone don’t bring mine. Its nice to be away from that sort of technology. Love you all and so excited to see you. Bye.

Hello friends and family! Although I have had the most amazing time here in Malaysia I cannot wait to get home and see and talk to you allJ. Snazzy ;) pretty please bring me my phone, you will remain the cooliest if you do! But then again you already are pretty cool. I mean you’re not like those regular mums; you’re a cool mum hehe. Some food would be appreciated too. Maybe nandos or a packet of pistachios? VLORA! I cannot wait to talk to you! I have so many stories to tell you and I’m sure you’ll have a few to share as well. To the rest of my family and friends I love you all so much and I miss you all like crazy but it’s only one more day. Sorry about Saranda saying that she is the favourite twin. It is a bit late and she has no clue what she’s saying. See you all very soon! The actual favourite twin Besa xoxo.

Tory and Winston can’t wait to see you both and squish your eyeballs out with hugs! Next stop will be shower and my own bed! Following a massively late sleep in, it will be straight to Ltd and pie face! MmmmmmmMmmm real coffee and croissants!

Hi Mummy!! Hi family! Miss you all keen to get back and give you lots of cuddles and fill you in on what I have been up to these past three weeks. Mum, although I have been away for three weeks and you haven’t had to listen to “I want...” or “can I please have...” but, when you come and pick me up can you please bring a packet of frozen white Tim Tams, vegemite and butter sandwich, KOJI!!! Oh and maybe my phone but I don’t mind J Also, can you please tell Russle that I may need a new hat for work on boxing day, it’s a bit muddy... actually, a lot muddy :/ Can you please also make my bed with my favourite sheets? I would love to sleep in my comfy bed in my clean room!! Oh and just for a bit of a laugh, my braids are still in, a little bit gross but still in, I only took the bottom half out today just for a change on the last day J Ok well packing is going to be fun but it will be worth it to see you in less than 24 hours!!!! XOXOXOXOXO LOVE YOU!!! SEE YOU SOON!! <3 span="" style="font-family: Wingdings; mso-ascii-font-family: Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-char-type: symbol; mso-hansi-font-family: Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;">J

Sup mumma and dad J I have had the most amazing time here. The food (something I thought I would struggle with) has been fantastic, the people have been awesome and Malaysia as a whole has been brilliant. Thank you both for letting me come on this trip. I promise you that the story’s I’ll have to share will be funny and very very odd at times. But this trip would have been 100% better than it already was if you could be here too. I know it must of been great not having me at home, listening to me winging and whining, but I’m pretty keen to get back to my bed and see the dogs. Oh and my computer... anyway I’ll see both of you at the airport tomorrow night J love you favourite son ;) Haydn ...Oh and please if you could bring my phone to the airport? I’ve missed my baby 1`

Hey guys, I miss you all very much and it would be much appreciated if you bring me white Tim Tam and my phone with credit and a nice cold bottle of water that does not taste funny and Katelyn I miss you most (hehehehehehehehe) I love you so much and I have so many great stories to tell and people to see. Mum and Dad thanks you so much for letting me come on this trip, it was the best trip ever and I am very excited to come now for a nice warm shower (more hot the n cold), my own bed I (omg) and Katelyn when I see you watch out I am going to hug you so much, your eyes will pop out of your head. I MISS YOU ALL SO MUCH AND I LOVE YOU GUYS. So keen to see you tomorrow night. Oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Your favourite son is coming back. Hope you guys come to the airport tomorrow and pick me up iv missed you guys, and hope you buy me the I phone for Christmas anyways I’m looking forward to seeing you guys I have bought so many gifts to give to you guys when I come home that’s if you GUYS pick me up. L0VE EDDIE.

Hey guys I am coming home tomorrow, hope u will be there to pick me up, kinda don’t want to come but my time is up here, i am excited to see u. Keep lots of hot water and excited to be in my own bed again. Anyways i will talk to u at 8:25. Conor

Hi all! It’s very late and people are asking me to write something, ugh, those buggers! But I’ve had a lovely time and I’m most looking forward to a relaxing Christmas, and continuing where I left off with my holidays! Give all the family my best, and make sure Charlie gets his arse down from damned Noosa in time for me to see him. Best regards

Please bring my biggest fan club to the airport ...those in the know will know who I'm talking about...especially the one who is expecting a dolly! No food on the list...I've eaten far too much over must train!!! Looking forward to family Christmas!  Much love to you all!

Thats it all over folks...Enjoy your time with the family and Merry Christmas

Cliff (AKA Ed.)

Friday, 20 December 2013

Blog No. 15 – The Jungle Trek - Kenong Rimba - Don't Touch Me Coz I'm Close to the edge...

Hey Everyone....We made it!!!  We're safely back from the jungle and just about to set off for our final day and a half in KL.  This will be the penultimate blog post before the parents see their loved ones.  However, we will be posting a final Blog on the night before our departure with personal messages from all the watch out for will also confirm pick up times etc so please check in and ensure you know all the arrangements....The guys...and gals have been a pleasure to work with and I'm sure they will have lots of stories to tell upon their return :-).  You may even see some positive changes in attitude ...ok ok that may only be temporary but make the most of it.

Hope you've all enjoyed reading about our adventures out here in Malaysia

Cliff aka ED. (Expedition Leader) 

Day 1: So this was the day after leaving the project and people were a bit upset about leaving and saying goodbye to the lovely people where we had learned and experienced so much. But we started the day as a new day and we got into it right from the onset!   

We left the lovely hotel in Kuala Lipis with its clean sheets and hot showers and headed off on an adventure involving mini vans and a short ‘tinny’ (Aussie term for small tin boat) boat ride across the river to reach the jungle. After a delicious lunch of neatly packed roti’s and sauce we started a 5 km trek with our really heavy full packs. We went up and down hills and across bridges until we found base camp. The trek in was very muddy, wet, gross and had millions of leeches. (Ed. More in the first 500m than I have ever seen on any jungle trek (all 4 of them before!)) On the walk there were two caves we stopped at, both were pretty cool. One of them had bats and a little tunnel which I decided to explore. Casey was going to follow me in until a bat fell on my head and she decided she wasn’t quite as brave as me after I screamed like a little girl.

When we arrived at our base for the next few days we were in awe of the magnificent white limestone rock face which seemed to disappear into the jungle canopy and clouds above.  Below this there was a convenient cave around 30m x 10m where we pitched our tents.  It was strange to think we were going to spend the next few days in this cave but we did have some luxuries such as a communal eating area, a cooking area and separate male and female camping spots.  The cave was very close to the HQ for the national park we were in and offered toilet facilities and clean running water.

Once we set up camp the entire group took it in turns to shower as Cliff had told us we needed to wash everyday to prevent us from smelling and getting nasty rashes.  (Ed. I didn’t even allow them deodorant, they were well out of their comfort zones J!!!!) Following the showers Appu prepared a feast for us with the food that had been brought in for us...Appu had warned us that we were going to be vegetarians for the whole trip as the meat would go off.  No one seemed to care when he brought the huge pan of food over to us!  So with contented bellies we settled down to the sound of the jungle....What a day!

Quote of the day: “Wearing a bra is such a hassle” – Haydn Watts

Sun scale: 3

Day 2
We woke after a relatively restless night to the sound of water trickling of the stalactites in our cosy cave. After a short breakfast of bread and spreads we packed for a 6 km trek being handed out little paper packages for a mystery lunch.

 We then set off at a cracking pace aware that all 3 500 000 leeches in Kenong Rimba were hungry. (Ed. apparently they love Australian blood!!!!) Within the first 500 metres we came to a section of the path that had become a swamp. Knowing we all must cross we tried our hardest to navigate this part of the trail without getting our feet wet. However we turned a corner only to have our hopes dashed by the amount of water on the path yet to come. We soon abandoned any thought of keeping our feet dry as we trekked through shin deep murky, larvae, infested water. As we carried on, getting deeper into the jungle, we found that each time we stopped for a drink break hordes of leeches would appear out of no-where and make for our boots. This resulted in much squealing from most of the female members of our little group (Ed. and most of the male members too!). We soon came to a small flowing creek that we needed to cross. Unfortunately before we could even reach the edge there was a steep, slippery bank covered in mud. This was our second difficult obstacle of the day. After sliding down the bank, we were met by knee deep mud and again we heard female squealing. We then had to climb up the opposite bank with the help of Appu, our fearless guide. There were two other similar creeks. We needed to cross throughout the rest of the trek after this we carried on only slowed by the occasional leech scare. Finally we reached our lunch spot which could not have come quicker, it was beautiful. We saw a huge fallen tree in the flowing river that ran beside the trail. So we all jumped over to escape the leeches and ate our lunch on it. Opening the little packages Appu had prepared we saw warm Mee Goreng noodles yum!

Once we finished we started our trek back to the camp site with the new found energy. We quickly finished the track, trudging back to our cave muddy but smiling. A few people from the group went off to the river to wash. Over the next couple of days the river was what we looked forward to everyday.

We sat down for dinner once again to one of Appu’s fabulous meals and ate heartily. After finishing our meal we sat and told stories. It wasn’t long before we were interrupted by Henry (Ed. Think it was Eddie) who had found a rare Malaysian Green Tarantula sitting in a small hollow on the cave wall about 2 metres from the floor. This was quite exciting for Casey and all the boys in the group, however, the rest of the girls stayed around the communal area talking. It was only when we heard Casey’s deafening scream that we ran down to the rest of them to see what all the fuss was about.  Henry meanwhile was running towards us faster than Usane Bolt! We saw Casey jumping away from a small rock holding her hand to be caught by Cliff who seemed to anticipate what was about to happen. The tarantula had lunged towards her as she had reached up to touch it (Silly Casey), tapping her hard on her finger. Luckily she wasn’t hurt and later we all laughed about it (Ed. I think you forgot to mention the hysterical screams as the memory flashes of an attacking tarantula prayed on Casey’s mind....And the fact Appu had to hold her to stop her ‘flight’ instinct taking over). After a day full of laughs we all decided to go to bed. (Ed. Casey with the memory flashes still very strong!)

Sun Scale: 3.5

Day 3
We woke after another restless night. It was a pretty cool morning. That didn’t help with the fact that we had to throw on our damp clothes. Breakfast was a simple one; it consisted of bread and spreads. A short while later it was time to saddle up and to head out for our first trek of the day. Appu had informed us that he was taking us to a stream with a small waterfall. The water from this stream just happened to be the water that was supplied to the nearby village and our base camp. While walking along the road we came across a tree which had latex type substance inside of it. The latex used to be used to make chewing gum. After about an hour and a bit of trekking through thick forest and muddy walk ways we had finally arrived at the stream. The sounds of the waterfall hitting the rocks and the water were so relaxing and peaceful. We sat by the water eating our snacks and enjoying the scenery. 

An hour back and it was time for lunch, yum! Once again Appu didn’t fail to impress. Appu’s cooking had been so good that we even offered to buy him a plane ticket back to Australia so he could be our personal cook. After lunch it was time for our second trek of the day. Appu led us to a nearby cave. The cave was filled with bats and bat poo, Yuk! After a few falls in the cave we were itching (literally!) to get back and get clean. So we headed to a nearby creek. The water was a bit cold at first but we managed to get over that pretty quickly. After the long day of trekking and sweating the feeling of being slightly cleaner was amazing! The creek was a nice and relaxing way to end the day. While waiting for dinner Casey suggested an idea that could keep us busy over the next few days. Since we are approaching Christmas Casey thought it was a good idea to do a secret santa but with a twist. The twist was that our gift had to be made with things that we could only find in the jungle. For example leaves or sticks. With that I must go so that I can get a start on my gift making process.

Quote of the day: “We’re going to a cave... Will it be dark?” Mehitabel

Sun Scale: 3

See you all very soon!

Much Love

Besa xoxo

Day 4
Good morning everybody hope you’re reading this from you’re snugly beds, we have all awoken from yet another restless night in the cave.  First thing most of us do is run to the toilet as we are too scared to pee due to the fear of being tiger bate.  Last night Cliff had got up to pee (brave man!) and was welcomed by a jungle mammal the Coax...This is a beautiful and cute creature but Cliff was a little scared as the light from his head torch lit up the creatures eyes and it seemed to head straight for him.  Others confirmed their restlessness with possible elephant visits ....or maybe they have good imaginations.

Following Appu’s food delights we headed off on an Indiana Jones like adventure complete with dodgy wood and cable suspension bridges, caves, bats, and lots of bat guano!!!!! After a quick through visit to the first slightly impressive cave complete with mud slide we made our way back to camp for lunch.  On the way Saranda entertained the group with impressive ‘home video’ slip that fortunately ended with no serious injuries just a few bruises and a damaged ego.

During lunch the rain that we have seen so much of on this trip returned with a vengeance.  We were so happy to be cosy in our cave as the jungle became quite moody.  Challengers were banned from walking anywhere as lots of dead wood was falling from the canopy.  The group filled in their time by whittling and weaving away at their secret Santa gifts.  Eddie even surprised me with an impromptu chilli pepper gift...which he had stolen from some of the parks workers....Its the thought that counts thoughJ.

After the rain we headed out for another adventure to another bigger, more beautiful and elaborate cave, complete with elephant poo (elephants go caving too!!!), grotesque scorpion spiders, and so many bats that it smelt like salami possibly due to the foot deep bat poo!

Trudging back along the sloppy trails Appu introduced a new game that involved shaking the shrubs to shower the person behind in water and all sorts of debris and creatures from above.  As my Mum use to say ‘its all fun and games until someone gets hurt’, which in this case was me as Eddie shook a tree not a shrub and down came a large branch right on my head.  I also think this is how the two leeches ended up in my hair (post blog...I only found these two days later...YUK!).

Finally we all jumped in our little creek for our communal ‘Loreal’ bathing session where we remove the daily stash of our little friends the LEECHES!!  Nothing like showering with another 12 people!  Eddie and Henry took the communal bathing to another level by washing and combing each other’s hair, while Mel lost her shirt due to the fact it was the same colour as the water...a creamy, brownie poo colour.

Quote of the Day:          “EWEEEEW!!!!” The whole group.
                                           “I think I have one in my butt crack” Nic

Sun Chart: 0

Casey Francis (School Leader)

Day 5
We woke up to what seemed to be a pleasant morning with the sun shining and the water trickling down into the pots from the top of the cliff, then we realised that we woke up half an hour late. Which was bad, and not so pleasant.  We were quite excited campers this morning to find a tiny little piglet had used our camp fire to stay warm... Appu amazed at what he was witnessing woke the poor piglet and sent him scurrying through the camp.  After sorting out our tents, our camping spot and our packs we eventually had our famed camping breakfast, consisting of bread, coconut with egg spreads and tea and coffee. After the group was fed we all set off to trek out from our camp site in Kenong Rimba.

As we began trekking through the thick and dense jungle to get back to Kuala Lipis, the group and especially myself where looking forward to the comforts of concrete and a warm shower, which led to the group being extra motivated to get out of the place. After a good half hour of trekking we stopped for a break to check for leaches. After many screams of “ewwwww” and “pass me a lighter!” we began our last part of the trek, through what seemed to be a banana plantation of sorts. By the time we reached the boat to cross the river to get to our hotel, we all stopped to eat Appu’s famed food. Lunch today was noodles, really yummy noodles. We then crossed the river and began packing the van for the trip back to the hotel. I, along with Henry, Mehetabel, lucy and Clifford sat in what i like to call the rave van, because it had fully sick tunes and a blue light in the back. As soon as we got to Kuala Lipis and sorted our rooms and bags out we had shower, cleaned our bags and just relaxed in front of our tv’s watching HBO. But some of us including myself decided that going to the local KFC would be the perfect alternative to dinner/ afternoon tea. As a result most of us didn’t end up eating at dinner, rather just having coke or sprite. Soon after we all sat down in the common room in our little hotel to discuss a few budget issues and what was planned for the day after. A good half hour later we all went to our rooms to get some sweetly deserved sleep.

Quote of the day:

Sun chart: 4.5

Much love to all my Homies

Haydn Watts  

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Blog No. 14 - In the Heat of the moment or Feeling Hot Hot Hot!!!

Hi peoples

Today was another one of those boring travel days but with some highs and lows. We left Kirtash this morning after the 4 days we were there. It was upsetting to leave as we had all bonded with the occupants and got to know them very well. There were a few tears on both sides. Justin, a 14 year old boy cried when we left. People were expecting that as he cried 3 hours after our arrival because he knew that we were leaving soon. This just proves how lonely these people are and what a difference people can make in their lives. For me it was really hard to say goodbye to Ali, a 6 year old that was crying when we first arrived. Since then he was attached to me, literally. He always wanted to be carried and up in the air and when I tried to put him down he would wrap his arms around my neck so tight and refused to let go.
Mr Mani and his lovely family and staff of course

After, we got the train from Rawang station to KL Sentral. We hadn’t  eaten breakfast  but planned to eat there. However,  we found out we needed to go to a station called Titiwangsa to catch our bus. As the name itself was funny we decided to eat there so we could say we ate at Titiwangsa. Haha. Then at 11:30 we caught a bus to Kuala Lipis that took 3 hours. We arrived at Kuala Lipis and walked to our hotel, Hotel Jalei. We arrived at the hotel tired, hassled, hungry, de-motivated and dripping with sweat, only to find out it was the wrong Hotel Jalei.  The directions given by the hotelier to find our correct hotel were vague to say the least! The route took us over the train lines and a short cut through what seemed like an illegal poker den for the elderly, Finally, now swimming in sweat we arrived at our correct hotel. 

Hot and sweaty...Not a happy chap - s!

Even the staff were struggling today!

Appu (our trekking guide) then came to meet us to talk about the trek that we would be undertaking. (BTW there will not be a blog posted until the night of 20th as we will have no internet access in the middle of the jungle, so chill and don’t stress as we are fine....honest J) He explained what we need/don’t need so we can pack lightly and make the trek a little less difficult. Camping in the jungle for 5 days in a tent with 2 other guys is not my idea of fun, but hey, it wouldn’t be called ‘World Challenge’ otherwise.

After the meeting with Appu we came back to have our own meeting led by Clifford and Casey. After discussing our 13 rules we discovered that Connor had lost the shovel...yet again! At the pre-departure meeting we handed out group equipment. Connor received the shovel. However he forgot to bring it with him. so after eventually getting one yesterday, he left it at the train station somehow. It wasn’t like it could be easily lost. About a meter pole with the shovel base. Anyway so during this meeting Haydn in his infinite wisdom asks, ‘Connor, how did you manage to lose a hoe?’ (Thats with an ‘e’ folks)
The rain heading in for its 1800 hrs downpour 

Following this we headed out for dinner and got some food before coming back to pack the necessary requirements for the trek. All in all good day, and as Ginny would say, ‘Happy Days?’.

Quote of the day: See above

Sun Chart: 4 (with the obligatory thunder and lightning around 18.00hrs)

Over and out folks

Nick Almond

This car caught my eye on the way around from the shops

GB Number plate???

Blog No. 13 – We Got The Right....To Parrrrrrt...A!!!!

HEY PEEPS! So today started off with a kind of early morning with us all dragging ourselves out of bed to head off for breakfast. We visited the local restaurant that we had eaten at for the last 3 nights. Breakfast was quite a difficult but interesting experience as the best waiter ever Anthony was not there, therefore making it a little harder to order our food with the other waiters that did not speak English that well.

Back to Kirtarsh, we had a little group meeting to talk about the last day at the project. A group of us took some of the residents to the park across the road to kick a soccer ball around while others stayed back for an arts and crafts session. The colouring that was done was a huge success with many of the residents participating as well as the fellow challengers who I think enjoyed the colouring a little more than the residents ;).

 We set off to our restaurant again hoping to see Anthony as we had prepared a Christmas card for him with a tip from all of us. When seeing Anthony we all had the biggest smiles as it would be the last time we would see him. Just before we left we handed him the Christmas card he was so happy and thankful that we got him something, as he has been in Malaysia for 5 years and this was his first present. He also mentioned that we were his favourite team from World Challenge. We took a group photo with him and said our goodbyes before heading back to Kirtarsh to finish our painting on the wall. We all wrote on little cards a wish or prayer for the people at Kirtarsh that we stuck onto the wall to complete our work.

We all performed a few songs for the people at Kirtarsh that involved Jingle bells, Rudolph the red nose reindeer, home among the gum trees and the swimming pool song (One of Cliffs many interesting songs). 

Later that night we all got ready to attend a 1st birthday party that we all got invited to. When arriving at the party we didn’t know what to expect but as we got there we were welcomed by some very nice people. Once we had finished dinner Lucy decided to give us a weird looking red furry fruit thing that we all tried. It was one of the weirdest things I have ever eaten and I speak for most of us when I say it wasn’t very nice. We all headed outside to see some of the kids from Kirtarsh dancing so we all decided to join. (Ed. It’s difficult to get over what an amazing night we had...The atmosphere at this Hindu Ist birthday party just went from good to remarkable.  Sharing the first birthday with the residents of Kirtarsh and the family and friends of the birthday boy was a true privilege!  The gang (St. James Crew) did so well to socialise and join in all the fun.  Apparently, Mr Mani received a call from the family to say how much the guys/gals had entertained them....I think this was due to the wired dance moves some of the girls were ‘knocking out’! Happy Days!!)

We all had eyes on us with our pretty amazing dance moves. It was one of the best nights; we all had so much fun dancing and just having a nice laugh. We all arrived back to Kirtarsh and said our goodnights and headed off to bed to be ready for an early morning and day of travelling.  

Quote of the Day: “Tooth paste, pencils, glitter, sticky tape and baby enemas” Henry’s shopping list
Sun Chart: 4.25

Saranda Biba

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Blog No. 12 - Malaysian Time Warp

Our supposedly “unlucky” Friday the 13th, began very slowly, with a welcome sleep-in and a somewhat less than welcome exposure to Cliff’s truly awful music taste. The most atrocious example of which would be his remark of “I rather like it!”, upon hearing Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’. The day continued with an Indian-style breakfast of roti cannai and kopi tarik, with some opting for the a la melayu option of nasi lemak. If you found the previous sentence confusing, imagine for a moment trying to pronounce them correctly, ascertain their ingredients, and then communicate your order to a waiter who speaks exactly zero English. All before you’ve even had a coffee. We were unable to Google these terms, as you doubtlessly are (Ed. have fun J).

After we’d eaten and spotted the obligatory rat in the restaurant (Ed. he’s not joking people!), we ventured forth to explore Rawang’s colourful shopping district where one can find such bargains as ‘Adidos’ sneakers or ‘Gacci’ watches. After wasting money on stuff we didn’t need, and didn’t really want anyway, Cliff decided that the purchase of a machete (Palang in Malayan), approximately the size of Eddie, was “necessary” for our trek. The only useful purpose for it I can think of, seeing we’ll be travelling on established trails, would be dismembering unhelpful members of the expedition, but that may just be me (Ed. I am drawing up the list as we chat!!!!  Who do you think may be first?

 On our eventual return to Kirtarsh we threw ourselves into making Christmas arts and crafts with the, primarily Hindu, residents. But the enthusiasm of the resident’s response shows the power of small mercies and kindnesses to traverse all cultural bounds. Spurred on by our success with the crafts, Haydn, Eddie, Nick, and I offered to clean the ‘blind rooms’, the part of Kirtarsh that houses its neediest residents and is a side of Kirtarsh outsiders rarely see. I must emphasise the difficulty of this task, not only because of the physical discomfort in cleaning the rooms, but also the emotional strains. It was hard to imagine living in a place as, confrontingly disgusting as the blind rooms, and the realisation that people actually do live there, was very, very difficult and I congratulate the boys not only for a job well done, but an experience well handled. (Ed. Here, here!!!!)

Once we had cleaned up, we rejoined the group for lunch, and returned to teach some of the more able residents Cliff’s “Pool Song”. One resident in particular, Justin, has been a fixture at group meetings or activities and has been a certifiable miracle for group morale. His unquenchable enthusiasm, and simple zest for life, in someone as profoundly disabled as he, has been an inspiration. And so the day continued; singing, playing, drawing, and just interacting, trying to brighten the lives of these people if only temporarily.  Conor, generously cleaned the kitchens, much to the appreciation of the three permanent staff.

After dinner, Mr Mannivannan had offered to take us to the Christmas lights display at iCity, but due to his distinctly Malaysian timetable, he arrived to pick us up at 8pm(one hour late) which would bring us home around midnight, which the powers that be (read; Cliff) decided would be too late. So, he offered to take us to the Batu Caves, a mere “twenty minutes” from Kirtarsh, and so we went, planning to be back at Kirtarsh around ten. However after more than forty minutes in the van, we realised that Mr Mannivannan had meant a ‘Malaysian twenty minutes’, a specific interpretation of the phrase “twenty minutes” none of us had previously encountered. But it was worth it, the entrance to the Batu Caves is a stunning 100-ish metre high recess into limestone, surrounded by lavish temples and an enormous statue, being a Hindu religious site. After the jaw-dropping arrival, we went off to explore the immediate area, to gawk at temples and sample some of the local Indian-style sweets. Which turned out to be a two bevelled edge, some sweets were truly delicious, made with condensed milk or rosewater, while others were eye-wateringly awful, which seemed to contain the ingredients of candle wax and vomit.

Not sure we'll be eating here!!!

Once we had finished our sweeties we further explored the temple district, eventually stumbling across a traditional Hindu wedding, being held at the foot of Mt Batu which we, naturally, decided to gawk at. The lavish costume of the guests, particularly the gold embroidered saris and the henna tattoos, drew us toward the centre of festivities and before we knew what was going on, we were being photographed with the happy couple by the wedding photographer, at the insistence of practically everyone. After laughing off our accidental wedding crash with the bridal party, we made a hasty exit, before we crashed the reception too. Mr Mannivannan, amused by the antics of his charges, insisted he take he take us to downtown KL to see the Petronas Towers lit up, another half an hour down the road. While we were on our way, we happened upon the “Ishita Restoran”. Presumably the owner of the restaurant does not have a firm grasp on English, or perhaps he does, and a wicked sense of humour. (Ed. Not sure I’ll be eating there!)

So when we finally reached the Towers, there wasn’t much to do, other than stare, open mouthed at the staggering scale and beauty of the architectural triumph before us. By now this was the third or fourth time this evening we had stood in such stupor, and I am beginning to understand why all Malaysians assume tourists are morons before proven otherwise.

The way back was decidedly uneventful, as we all slept soundly, with just the road noise and Mr Mannivannan’s peculiarly loud breathing to keep us company . I managed a few moments sleep, between Lucy’s bony head occasionally battering my shoulder, and Hayden’s feet being a little too close to my breathing holes. Somehow, by the strange mechanics of Malaysian time, we arrived home at midnight, our lofty western ideals of punctuality and timekeeping shattered.  Which, incidentally, was the precise time we did not want to be home by. Go figure.

Quote of the day: (Ed. We cant think of one L)

Sun Chart: 4

Good night kind people