Wednesday 10th July

Today the boys said goodbye to their KK host families, and incredibly, had all of their belongings with them. There was a full dress rehearsal in the morning followed by a lunch break where many of the boys used the opportunity to chat with the lovely Kian Kok girls. We headed off to our hotel Megah D’Aru (+60 88 239 666), after experiencing a power failure at Zara’s the day before. The boys used the afternoon for a much needed rest and to pack bags for the early morning flight tomorrow. They are currently doing their soundcheck for the final performance in Malaysia for 2013. And now we’d like to share some Caring Staff thoughts from the tour:

Sue- The best part of this tour has been getting to know the boys really well. They are such a happy, cohesive group and I’ve loved watching them interact with TVC. I’m really pleased that all ofthe logistics worked, but most of all, I’ve been so proud to be part of such an amazing touring group. I will always remember the Embassy performance but most of all I’ll remember the chats, the card games and moments such as when the boys wooed the night msrket stall owners with Bengawan Solo.

Ron- My experience was summed up when one boy, leaving with his first billeting family, looked up to me and said ‘We will miss you because we feel safe knowing you’re always watching over us’. They say that music is an international language and seeing how all the choirs have come together with little rehearsal has only strengthened my belief of this. We will miss the boys terribly next week.

Belinda- The best parts of tour often happen off stage, not to say that some of the performances weren’t exquisite (especially the Australian Embassy). My favourite memories from the past two weeks were the magical moments only a Caring Staff member gets to witness. The boys breaking into song at 1am on the bus to POWIIS after spending 11 hours flying; watching the boys flirt awkwardly with the local girls; and finding out the boys had concocted a level system for the Carers in regards to discipline (and I was level one because they all knew I am a softy!!!).

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Tuesday 9th July

Today we spent the morning sightseeing at Mari Mari Cultural Village where the boys engaged in local tribal activities. They tried their hands at starting fires with bamboo, cooking ‘Masterchef’ Malaysian style in green bamboo and making delicious rice biscuits. A fun aspect of the day was watching the warriors use a traditional trampoline to fetch the prize suspended from the ceiling. Of course, all the boys and caring staff tried to match his leaping abilities (not coming very close!). Most boys also had a turn at shooting a warrior’s blow dart at a hanging coconut with varied success. The cultural tour finished with some dancers and William B, Jamie and Miro happily demonstrated their dancing talents.  After Mari Mari, we returned to Kian Kok Middle School for a rehearsal and the boys were presented with their souvenir T-shirts.

In the evening, several local choirs gathered at Kian Kok for a choral exchange where Noel provided a Masterclass of sorts for the young singers.

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Monday 8th July

Today we had a teary goodbye with our billeting families and boarded the bus for KL Airport. We flew across the South China Sea and arrived in Kota Kinabalu to a welcoming party, including the wonderful Yap Ling who has organised this leg of the tour. The bus took us straight to Kian Kok Middle School where the students were waiting with a welcome banner. We met some more lovely billeting families and the boys were whisked away before a fantastic dinner at the Fisherman Floating Restaurant.The boys enjoyed cooking their own meals with the help of the students of the Bell Choir.

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Sunday 7th July

The boys enjoyed a sleep in today and arrived for some shopping time at ‘The Curve’. Somewhat bulky presents seemed to appear (not sure how these will fit in the plane on the way home!). The boys performed as part of ‘Australia Week’ at  the The Curve, and were once again treated to a banquet in the adjoining hotel restaurant. From here we returned to Marantha Auditorium,  for even more mingling than yesterday back stage, in fact clusters of girls were giggling, whispering and pointing at our handsome young men. Tonight’s perfrormance went well and during the formalities at the end of the concert,  the children from Rumah Juara presented our group with gifts. In turn, our boys presented the orphanage with donations from their own spending money (instigated by the boys themselves). Both Datuk Koo and Susanna Saw were officially thanked for their amazing contributions to the tour. We were very touched at the conclusion when the billeting families asked us where ‘their sons’ were to take them home. Our boys have obviously made an impression!

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Saturday 6th July

The boys spent the majority of today with the host families exploring KL and from all accounts, everyone enjoyed themselves. Many were able to see the Twin Towers, while others were taken out for lunch. The afternoon was spent in a combined rehearsal at the Vision Convention Centre, were the boys were treated to a never-ending dinner feast which was meant to be ‘light refreshments’. The boys loved it, but perhaps what they enjoyed even more was the chance to get to know the KL Childrens Choir members a little bit better backstage, with some boys accruing fanclubs.

The best thing about last night’s concert at the Marantha Auditorium was that we had all the boys on stage performing,  with several ‘Choir Groupies’ (Choir families travelling in Malaysia) occupying the front row. We also had the children from the Rumah Juara Childrens’ Home in the audience.

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Even more thoughts from the boys

Nethum-  I am having a great time with my host family. They are so helpful! 

Pranav- My favourite part of the tour so far was probably going to the lost world theme park. I had lots of fun going on all the rides.

Luca- One of the most fun parts of the tour was probably when we stayed at the Lost World Hotel, it was very clean and it was enjoyable, I wished I’d stayed there for the whole tour!!!

Friday 5th July

What a huge day!!! We met up with the boys after their first night of billeting and were disappointed to find that they hadn’t missed us at all. They are being spoilt rotten by their host families and many stories were exchanged on the bus on the way to Sri KL Primary School. The workshop at the Primary School went smoothly, where Noel had the audience participating as well with ‘Kookaburra’. Meanwhile, The Vocal Consort had a fantastic workshop with Seafield School, where the Choir impressed them with their skills. There was much talk of an Australian tour soon. Possibly the highlight of the tour so far was the performance at the Australian Embassy this afternoon. The acoustics in the entrance hall were incredible and showed off the complexity of the Australian works presented by both the Choir and TVC. In fact, some pieces were spine-tingling,  such as Joseph Twist’s ‘A Strange Land’. The boys enjoyed a scrumptious afternoon tea and posed for photos with the Deputy High Commissioner.  They also did a great job mingling with all of the dignitaries.  Then from the sublime to the ridiculous,  the boys were featured in an ‘Australian Boys Choir On Ice’ performance. Singing at the Sunway Pryamid Mall, the boys had to battle a mob of ice-skaters and TVC were taking bets on when one would take out Mr Ancell!

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Thursday 4th July

After the boys were treated to a performance by Noel and The Vocal Consort during their morning rehearsal, they were very excited to be venturing into the Lost World Theme Park today. The boys enjoyed various activities (which I’m sure they will tell you all about). It was a smooth journey into KL, with quiet time on the bus. Mrs Herbert and Ms Ashe mastered Samarai watermelon chopping at the truck stop. We arrived in KL ahead of schedule and were greeted by an enthusiastic and extremely organised Susanna Saw (former ABCI Staff Member). The billeting families were very excited to meet the boys and the boys in turn enjoyed meeting the members of the KL Children’s Choir who made them feel right at ease. Some billeting families were even dining together tonight. The Caring Staff have now settled in to their ‘humble’ accommodation.

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Wednesday 3rd July

Last night the boys enjoyed some serious haggling at the Ipoh night market after an amazing Chinese feast at 1919 Restaurant. Upon returning to the hotel they were treated to a story with Mr Ancell. This morning we woke to a rainy morning so the boys had some recreation time at the hotel instead of the walking tour around Ipoh. In the afternoon we set off for Sam Tet School where we had a combined rehearsal with Sam Tet Voices. The school hosted us for another beautiful Chinese banquet before the boys performed to a packed house with many Malaysian education officials present. The VIP introductions included an opening ceremony, complete with a cutting of the ‘concert’ ribbon. The concert was well received by an appreciative audience and gifts were exchanged at the conclusion. Many boys from the Sam Tet Voices left the hall with koalas clipped to their ties! Mr Ancell commented that our next stop was ‘Koala Lumpur’.

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