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.