Borneo Expedition. Prep

After a year of dilly-dally, we are confident now to fight through the obstacles in having the balloon expedition in Borneo. This is a total different ball game because in Peninsular, we only needed the support of 4x4 and hotels to make it happen.

Since Borneo is you know, just 1,580 km away from Kuala Lumpur and South China Sea being just in between us, we need to find more fund to transport our glamorous balloon over and our team of 8 there. 

Umadx, specifically Fadzli has been nothing but very supportive of our mission. They invited us to showcase our expedition on their crowdfund platform. Over three months, we finally managed to put up our profile there. You can check it out here. The duration will be for 90 days. 

Whats going to be different this time around? 

We realised after Peninsular edition, the support and emotions involved in making it happen was very overwhelming. And we aim to make the impact stronger. So we discussed time and time again, and we decided to join hands with corporate partners and individuals to raise donation for the schools we are visiting. 

So now, we dont just go to the school and conduct our workshop, make them happy for only that time being. Instead, we are conducting a survey for the students after the workshop, and let them voice out what type of support does the school need. 

From the fund that we raised, we can divide equally to all the eight schools and help them achieve what they want. We can leave our mark there from all our supporting friends and partners. It doesnt have to be a lot, just small steps along the way, until it is strong enough, we can aim bigger and higher. I believe in progress. This expedition is a journey on its own. Let's take our time to focus on our true intentions and let it guide us to shape ourselves for the future.

Perak Bound. Day 3.

Written by Nur Atiqah Bt Khairudin

Its the final countdown. We left the hotel at 5.00 AM (woke up at 4.15 AM), prep ourselves and made our way to the nearest Starbucks store in Ipoh to convoy with our local hero, Devviyah. Waited for 6 minutes, and she still have not arrive. Argh, not again.

We left and took the North South Highway towards Kuala Lumpur. It was an hour drive. We arrived and perform fajr prayer at a nearby mosque. One beautiful thing I realised about this tour is that we get the opportunity to visit different mosques along the way. You get to discover different architectures, ambience and of course people. It gave me a sense of belonging.

When we arrived in SK Chikus, you could see students started to slowly surround the balloon and the enthusiastic teachers came to greet us with their school flag and banners. Upon inflation, I could see how the sky was turning into an orange hue, and immediately I wanted to take off. Like. Right. Now. 

After 10 minutes, we managed to have photo opp with the school students and teachers and Bon Voyage!

Then my feelings came to a disagreement. “You will have a beautiful flight if you fly lower capturing the lush green landscape that’s warmly lit by the sun.” On the other hand, you fervently tell yourself, when else are you allowed to fly at 5000 feet in Malaysia? 

Of course I followed the latter. To my surprise, mind you, the last time we flew this high, it was in Spain, a year ago with a different terrain, no restriction because the area was so flat and most importantly, you don’t feel nervous at all because you could land anywhere. This time, it took me 35 minutes to be at that ultimate height, and looking around the panoramic view, we are surrounded with either huge, tall palm oil plantation trees or rice paddy (flooded) field. The view was spectacular! The speed was also unbelievable, it was close to 40 km/h. God have mercy on us! 

And during the peak height, we saw something we have never witnessed and never knew existed; “waterfall clouds” also known as orographic clouds. 

* Orographic clouds are air passing over a mountain oscillates up and down as it moves downstream. If the air lifts upward and cools through expansion as it rises to its saturation temperature during this process, the water vapour within condenses and becomes visible as a cloud.*

Sea of clouds cascaded down the mountains from the South West and it was heading towards us. Good heavens! I only took a glance as I didn’t want to scare myself and get all worked up. I opted to focus on my rapid descent before the clouds could catch up on us. 

Etty updated our ground crew of our landing intention. Briefed my passengers of the landing procedure. Saw a big staggered baby palm oil trees field, approached the field and we landed there safely though we had funny moments with one particular ‘baby’ palm oil tree. Within 3 minutes, we could see the clouds were moving so fast and coming towards us, Etty got out from the basket to hold on to the crown line. I have experienced this gust of wind situation before in Putrajaya. You have to be quick to pull the rip line; and have passengers like Ajiim and Devviyah to stay in the basket, putting weight on the bottom end. Suddenly, the short burst of high speed wind came to us and Alhamdulillah, we managed to deflate the balloon in time!

Workers came by to check out our deflated balloon, funny story they thought we were an exploding bomb, trying to run from us! Another worker (he looked like Rosyam Noor in the movie, Castello;  with a machete on his back) said, “It can’t be. There are people inside!” Instantly they thought, we were the Sultan of Perak because the field is owned by him. The surprises we get and give through this expedition :D

Nevertheless, the workers helped us pack the balloon while we waited for the retrieval crew to arrive. We use the Glympse Tracker App, it is very good! I highly recommend it. They did a great job in finding us within 30 minutes, looking at how far I flew in the rural area. The excitement on our faces when we were reunited is priceless. Alhamdulillah it was once in a lifetime experience. I learned a lot from it and our priority is always to have a safe flight, and we did just that.




Perak Bound. Day 2.

Written by Nur Atiqah Khairudin

We were up and ready by 5.45 AM. Immediately we heard the sound of heavy raindrops when we were about to leave. Referring to the Rain Alarm app, we saw that the heavy clouds are moving to the east of Peninsular. We postponed the balloon workshop to 8.00 AM. Hoping the rain will stop by then. 

Fortunately, we had extra time to feed the needy tummy at The Haven’s cafe. The buffet spread was good and the view was spectacular. Our stay was sponsored by BEST WESTERN PREMIER The Haven Ipoh, a luxury resort hotel. It is strategically located with an ever-flowing lake surrounded by a lush green virgin forest. All of us can seriously imagine ourselves settling there..

Its just you, the limestone caves, forests and lake. We were given the opportunity to experience this view throughout our stay in Perak. Simply breathtaking. You don’t even feel like going out because you are already facing the best view of Ipoh.

By 8 am we arrived in Tenby. The rain finally stopped, thank God! Started setting up the balloon, this time it was Etty’s turn to pilot and mine to host the workshop. When the set up was taking place, sad news for us, as Ms Samantha notified us that no footage of the children was allowed to be taken. Not even from afar, not even from the back. Maybe because it was an International school, the parents pay for their kid’s privacy. 

We carried on with the balloon workshop, nevertheless. The expression on the kids face were priceless. You just have to take my word for it. I like to ask questions in between the workshop to make sure they understand what I am talking about. When they manage to answer those questions correctly, especially coming from the kindergarten students, you feel so proud of them and overwhelmed. These kids are really interested in what we had to say. We achieved our objectives, yey!

After half an hour, we had to cut the balloon workshop short because teachers didn’t want the students to be exposed under the hot sun for too long (again, parents pay for their kids’ well being).

Since we had extra time and the weather was good, we called for a Whitening Balloon Operation! We all started scrubbing the dirt on the white envelope and Sopek taught us how to do it properly. Well Sopek’s strength was equivalent to 3 men’s energy….we tried. 

Later in the evening, we met the DCA guy who was very relaxed and cool. They allowed us to fly up to 5,000 feet based on real time coordination. Fantastic! This is the highest altitude approved in Malaysia. Well, this is only permitted because our take off point was very far from their airport, and nearest approaching height for planes was 6000ft. 

Site recce was at Chikus, a small village located in between Teluk Intan and Bidor, Perak. Thank God we went there a day earlier, because we only realised then that there was no access road to the intended take off site. We surveyed two other places with perfect field before the sun started to set, including SK Chikus and met Cikgu Sabri who convinced the principal about our plan to take off tomorrow morning. Within 30 minutes, he called to confirm that the principal agreed. Fiuh! That was a close one!

Early dinner at Nasi Lemak Ayam Kampung and roamed around Ipoh Town in the car. Balqis, our intern was our ultimate guide.

Okay, time to rest, need to cool my anxiety for flying tomorrow. I always get nervous the night before I fly, but it’s a good kind of nerves. I will try to make myself feel better by making sure all my flying items and attire are ready for the next day. Nice to also recap and pray to Allah, that you have given the best you can and now it’s Him who decides. 


Perak Bound. Day 1.

Written by Nur Atiqah Bt Khairudin.

Second leg here we come! I have been losing track of the days ever since we left for Terengganu.  After we came back, I only had a day to spend with my family before I left for my best friend’s bachelorette in Bali. 

Now just one more day again with the family, we have now made our way to Perak.

On the departure day, I accompanied my mother to the hospital to receive the results of her CT Scan. Since most of the doctors were away for Hari Raya Haji, we had to wait for hours. As a result, Etty asked the first team - Sopek, Nini, Balqis & Danny to leave first. Meanwhile, Ajiim, Etty, Fathul and I left around 2pm.

Cruising through the North South Highway made me reminisce over my Diploma days in Penang many years ago. I always insisted that my mom send me money for my bus ticket back to KL every two weeks. The highway looked so different now. More vibrant and beautiful. I guess when you fly over nature, you tend to appreciate it and the landscape more and more.

Once we arrived in Perak, we went straight to Tenby School located in Ipoh. Met up Mr Foo, who replaced Ms Samantha, who has been liaising with Balqis and I. We did the site recce and promptly decided on the anchoring points and meeting time for the next day.

The school had a one way entry with strict security. It also offers many other facilities for its students.

We had Indian Cuisine for dinner at the Anderson Club. 


Great service, reasonable price & squeaky clean! I had to use my hand to eat the Garlic Butter Naan, Butter Chicken, Mutton Massala so the smell lingered on for 3 days. Not kidding.


Pahang Bound. Day 4.

Pahang Bound. Day 4.

Whatever it is, we all admire and respect their work ethics, dedication and passion towards everything. 

Pahang Bound. Day 3

Pahang Bound. Day 3

From afar, we could see the moon, the sun and the balloon up in an orange coloured sky.

Pahang Bound. Day 2

Pahang Bound. Day 2

It was a little cloudy and not too windy, great for the balloon and even better for the students who might not be able to stand the heat.

Pahang Bound. Day 1.

Pahang Bound. Day 1.

I think that is what makes a place homely. It’s the people that you know and welcome you back with open arms.

Terengganu Bound. Day 2

Terengganu Bound. Day 2

During the course of the workshop, I saw my team having a slightly difficult time cold inflating the balloon due to strong winds.



With the team’s support and faith, we decided, for the second part of the year to mainly focus on, what is called now, Life On Air.