Four weeks ago on a Saturday morning Fernando and I got picked up by our new friend YooYee, she’s a Malaysian journalist living in Kuala Lumpur. YooYee told us about her friend Sharley’s non-profit, The Green Life Project, and how she sometimes volunteers with them, I was excited to learn about it and told her we also wanted to volunteer. So that morning YooYee, Fernando, and I drove about an hour away from the city to the site of The Green Life Project’s new Sustainable Eco-Village where we were to meet with Sharley and hopefully help in some way. Before getting to the property we met up with the rest of the group at a little Chinese restaurant on the side of the road in a small rural town. YooYee introduced us to the rest of the group and after a breakfast of rice noodles with a thick sauce (the only vegetarian option) and iced coffee we caravaned to the property. The purpose of the trip was the find a water source for the undeveloped property they just recently got, but that was pretty much all I knew, at this point we were just going with the flow and excited to see what happened next. We parked the cars and walked about 1 kilometer surrounded by lush vegetation, including many durian trees, until we reached the property boundary. There, Sharley gave Fernando and me each a container with a pre packed lunch of noodles and veggies and a reusable spoon, that was to be eaten on our trek to find the water source. So with lunch and water in the backpack we set off with a group of 3 men and 1 teenager while the rest of the group stayed behind and made camp.
The place is beautiful, we were following the fresh, clear water stream surrounded by dense jungle. I wasn’t sure what our purpose was, I think they wanted to scope out the area and hopefully see where the stream originated. All was going well until Fernando noticed a leech on his ankle, which made me inspect my feet and subsequently find a leech on my foot. This is the first time in my life I’ve had leeches so I was a little freaked out, but also kind of excited to see a real leech because up til then I had only seen them on TV. Needless to say the rest of the trek I was very careful of where I put my feet. And even then we still ended up with about 4 leeches each.
Not too long into the trek we stopped for lunch and made our way back the same way following the stream. When we got back to the camp, the women were making brooms from a type of palm leaf that was taken from the property. It was a morning spent in nature and doing a bit of work for the eco-village. While talking to Sharley, she said they aren’t in a rush to finish the project, they want to enjoy the process and take it slow. And that was exactly what we did that morning.
Around 1pm we packed up and made our way to a river just down the road. We all got in the water to cool off, but my favorite part was the back massage I got from the waterfall. I loved the family-feel of that day, especially because they made us feel like part of the family.
By this point the “work” was finished and we were headed to the current headquarters of The Green Life Project, in the Genting Highlands just outside of Kuala Lumpur. The home and property is currently where the project brings city children to learn about organic gardening, permaculture, arts and crafts, and do many other activities to connect them with nature. The location is perfect, it’s close to the city but feels worlds away.
When we arrived to the house it was just YooYee, Fernando, Sharley, Sharley’s partner, another volunteer and myself. We were all to spend the night at the house and Fernando and I planned to go back to the city with YooYee the following day. Fernando and I got to stay in a beautiful traditional Malaysian home with forest views, it’s one of the nicest places we’ve stayed on our travels. That evening we had dinner, relaxed, and around 9pm we drove to the hot springs. Oh, and we also cleaned up after a group of monkeys that totally trashed the kitchen.
The next day we helped in the garden by making a bamboo structure for the pumpkin vines to grow on. We took up Sharley’s offer to stay one more night and said our goodbyes to YooYee. Later in the day we didn’t do much but walk into town and come back to the house for dinner. After weeks in Kuala Lumpur it was so nice to be back in nature, away from the traffic, breathe in fresh air, and not be in the hot and humid weather. And of course it was great being able to recycle, compost, and have a trash-free water source. Being here was really nice.
That night we helped Sharley translate some of her website’s info into English and discussed a volunteer program that could help with the development of her project. The Green Life Project’s vision is to create a sustainable community and edcuation center built from natural materials and a real connection to nature. Of course with any project like this, hard work is needed. As travelers we know there are a lot of others out there who would want to spend time in nature and be a part of this project. If you’re reading this and interesting in volunteering with The Green Life Project, let me know! I can answer questions and send you an application. Or if you just want to learn more about it, check out their facebook page where you can see pictures and learn more about what they do.