World Challenge Team 2015
In November and December of 2015, 15 students and two teachers from DHS had the fantastic opportunity to travel throughout Malaysia for 28 days with World Challenge. Preparations for the trip began in 2014. The team spent over a year fundraising and working to save for the trip. They all agree it was all worth it and was a life changing experience. Here are the highlights from their adventure.
In our 28 days we travelled all over Malaysia. We started in Kuala Lumpur where we began by organising accommodation, food and transport on a limited budget. The first night's accommodation was right in the middle of KL's shopping district, so we got to see one of the big shopping malls the city is home to.
We had left booking our accommodation a little late, so the selection of hostels to stay at in KL was limited. We ended up at a slightly dodgy backpackers in Chinatown, right beside the China Town Markets. Besides the fact that we had to share our bed with bed bugs, the markets were amazing and gave a wonderful insight into the culture. Food in the markets was cheap and tasty, with a big serve of noodles or rice costing only about 6RM ($2). While in KL we travelled to Batu caves and saw massive statues dedicated to the hero of the Hindu legend, Hanuman.
From KL we travelled to the Cameron Highlands by bus where we did our acclimatisation treks. The bus ride was up a very winding mountain road, "the most dangerous road in Malaysia", according to our driver. While in the Cameron Highlands, we got out first taste of what it might be like on out main trek, by hiking up and down a couple of local mountain, which were very steep and slippery. We also got to do white water rafting which was a highlight of the trip. Everyone ended up in the river at some stage, either by accident or on purpose.
After we were acclimatised, we travelled to Kenong Rimba National park by bus and boat, which was where we began our five day trek through the jungle. This gave us amazing experiences of sleeping in caves in tents or under mozzie nets. We also spent a night sleeping in the middle of the jungle, our guides had to clear some space in undergrowth with machetes. The trek was a major challenge with the constant present of leeches, sticky mud, wet feet and a limited diet of roti, noodles and rice. Despite the mud and leeches, the hike was definitely worth it.
By the end of our trek, it was day 14. We had an exciting day of travel through KL, then to Pangkor on a bus that arrived with only minutes to spare for the last ferry to the island. On Pangkor Island we got to spend a couple days relaxing, swimming in amazingly clear water and strolling through the markets. Pangkor had a beautiful Chinese temple build on the side of a hill. The owner of our accommodation organised an old school bus ("Bas Sekolah") to transport us around the island. The bus had some difficulty making it up the hills, almost stalling a few times.
Once we were all re-energised from the islands, we travelled to Bentong for our community project. Our community project involved spending time with a few kids, cleaning up around the Grace Commission Community School and also helping in any way we could with building. The project is the most important part of the trip. We didn't only get to travel to Malaysia and experience all of their wonderful sights but we also got to give back to a community and learn about Malaysian culture.
After the project we travelled back Melaka. Melaka is a world heritage historic site and was filled with historic mosques and temples. It was a real melting pot of Chinese, Indian and Malay culture. Melaka was a little bit more tourist orientated than other places, and had some delicious food and markets.
We spent our last two nights back in KL. We got to see the Petronas Towers which is one of the things Malaysia is famous for. We also got to go to Indian Markets and even have a very expensive and delicious dinner with our left over money before we headed home.
World Challenge was a great experience. The whole team learnt a lot about managing travel on a budget and taking responsibility for our own food, accommodation and transport. The experience was also about having fun, challenging ourselves on all levels and engaging with the culture of Malaysia by getting involved with the people.
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