After a good round in Terengganu, the Life On Air expedition team heads down to Pahang for another few days of tour in Kuantan. With the generosity of The Zenith Hotel (Kuantan), the team stayed over for another three nights before heading back to Kuala Lumpur.
The lucky school in Kuantan was SMK Abdul Rahman Talib (SMART), alma mater of one of the crews. Weather was absolutely perfect for the balloon workshop and a few rounds of tethered rides as well. The Milo Van from Nestle accompanied the team to the school with much enthusiasm from the students and teachers!
Izzati Khairudin, CEO of AKA Balloon has always had a soft spot for schools. “I have always believed in instilling passion and good values from young. A strong support by the parents and teachers association at school will greatly benefit the students too.” Officially ending the last tethered ride of the day was the school’s principal, Tuan Haji Bahtiar Sanusi.
The next day, taking off from the Mokhtar Dahari National Academy of Football in Gambang, the balloon sisters flew up with the sunrise for their free-flight together with this leg’s ‘local hero’ Farisha Mazlan. A born and bred Kuantan girl, Farisha, 28, owner of the famous Kula Cakes is also an avid surfer.
“I am literally counting days to the next monsoon season so that I can surf again!,“ said this recent mother of one. According to her, many are hesitant to try out this sport as it seems so extreme.
“The fact that we hardly have any grommets (young surfers) to continue this sport is devastating. Usually we can find the local kampung boys in Cherating surfing but not here in the city (Teluk Chempedak). However with the recent development of new hotels in Cherating, I am concerned that the consistent waves that we enjoy in Cherating will disappear soon.”
Farisha points out that the geographical area of the Cherating beach naturally blocks the strong winds to give a steady stream of good waves to surf. Any human intervention that alters the hills or the beach itself will give an impact to the waves. Together with the recent controversy regarding bauxite mining and also the clearing of reserved forest in Kuantan, what could be an eco-tourism opportunity for Pahang has literally gone down the drain. Pelindung Hill near Teluk Chempedak, a favourite track amongst downhill cyclist, might not be as lucky either.
“I doubt any of this will be around in ten years time. Our ecosystem is getting sicker. What we need is the support and intervention of the local council and tourism. Pahang is endowed with many natural resources that should be kept that way, instead of being over-developed. In fact, I am so surprised how beautiful Gambang looked from the balloon. I can’t believe such beauty still exists in my hometown!”
Gambang offered a serene and spectacular sight as they flew towards the airbase. The lush green forest together with the misty weather felt like something out of a movie scene. Fortunately for both the balloon and chase team, the wind blew the balloon back towards the city instead of crossing the highway, making it a perfect retrieval after they landed in a nearby oil palm estate.
“Surfing and ballooning share a lot of things in common”, exclaims Atiqah Khairudin, who piloted the balloon that day. “Essentially, we are very weather dependent!. It is quite endearing to meet someone else who wake up early in the morning to look at the sky, making sure the weather was perfect for that day’s outing!” she adds with a laugh.
Even Farisha is happy to acknowledge at how many women are passionately enjoying extreme sports such as herself. “When I was invited to fly, I thought I’d be piloted by old men! To find out that the pilots were women my age was very empowering! I hope my daughter and her generation will still be able to enjoy all this opportunity in the future.”
This expedition is made possible in association with AKA Balloon Sdn Bhd, Ford Motor Company and local distributor, Sime Darby Auto Connexion (SDAC) as Official Vehicle, iM4U.fm as Official Radio and Ultron as Official Apparel.
To find out more information on the expedition, visit www.lifeonair.asia and #LifeOnAirMY on Facebook and Twitter. Live feed is available on Youtube and Snapchat, @LifeOnAir.