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 gang...so watch out for that...it 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
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
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!
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)
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