After 125,000km and about about 6% of that something else other than bitumen tarred roads (gravel, sand, kaolin, mud, river beds, rivers, etc), it was time to swap out the factory installed shocks. They’ve grown rather soft and in the case of the rear pair, one side was definitely much softer resulting in a slight tilt. Must be all those crazy teenagers from our Church Youth ministry riding shotgun in the tray, singing, jumping and doing everything they can to fall off while I’m trying to do the opposite. Eight teenagers can weigh quite a bit and you’ve got to throw in 400 kilos of rice and supplies to boot.
Trawled the forums for suggestions but most came down to Rancho‘s. Remember that unlike many 4×4 drivers I see in my daily commute, my truck gets dirty regularly. It’s just so silly to see a 4×4 with solid rear axles, low-ratio 4×4 mode with 18-inch super polished rims and low-profiles. The forums also strongly recommended me to go to Off-road Equipment in Batu Caves. So off I went and a full set of Rancho RS9000XLs got installed in under fifty minutes. Great service, good people and well, I’ll be back for more upgrades later this year!
The RS9000XLs are heavy duty adjustable shocks which seemed like something I would need as an unloaded tray tends to bounce on KL potholes so I figured I can adjust the rear stiffness based on loading. Right now, my front is set to the mid-point which is 5 (it goes from super-soft 1 setting to hard at 9). My unloaded rear is set to 2. I just had them for two days and what a difference it makes to the handling. Ride quality is improved along with reduced bumpiness when the tray’s empty. Overall stickiness to the road’s also better, especially taking corners although I can’t quantify it. Well, the big test in coming in two weeks when we head off for some community service in conjunction with Sanofi-Aventis. The road’s pretty tough but don’t take my word for it — members from the Land Rover owner’s club in Malaysia who went with me once judged the trail at about 4 if following this scale here or about 7 to 8 (depending on wet weather) using this rating scale. Ok, let me go and look at some MT tires…
A month back, I was helping with selling fund-raising dinner tickets for SEMOA which stands for Semenanjung Orang Asli (Indigenous Peoples of the Peninsular). They were raising funds to help empower the next generation of Orang Asli kids who lack not only a lot of basic things we city folks take for granted but most importantly, the access to education. They purchased a large plot of land in Raub and opened the Kebun SEMOA which I covered here.
I generally do pro-bono photography work for SEMOA so when, Pastor Timothy called me at the last minute to cover the event, it was definitely a yes.
The SEMOA Fund-raising dinner for the Orang Asli children was held at the Chinese Assembly hall in KL. It was co-organized by the Melia Hotel Kuala Lumpur. With over 70 tables, it was really wonderful to see so many people show up in support. There was a small souvenir booklet along with several performances, including Francissca Peter, Elvis “HT Long” Presley, AMPAC and CDFM Ballet. The food was excellent and so was the dessert.
It’s also interesting that they had Arno Thony, GM of Melia KL and David Jones, the President of the Malaysia-Europe Chambers of commerce in attendance and also giving speeches. Arno had this wife, daughter and son even performing a couple of musical performances! A bit sad to see no local company or MD/Director/GM participating in what is a Malaysian cause. Hong Leong and a few others had notable mentions in the booklet but sending some senior people would have lent more credence.
The guests also had a lot of fun as both Francissca and HT Long mingled with the crowd. At one point, almost everyone was on their feet dancing away. Here are some of the photos for the night… if you want to see the entire collection, you can head over to the OA Ministry Blog over here.
Sheer coincidence or divine plan?
When my friend’s brand new Triton’s spare tire was stolen in a shopping mall two years ago, all he can do is curse the thief and go buy a replacement. Since the original rims and tire cost a fair bit, he bought a regular steel rim and tire. After all, a spare tire is for emergency use so who care’s about bling anyways. For us off-roading for God’s work, bling and vehicle looks are the last thing on our minds. Anyways, just last Saturday, the Pastor’s Hilux had a shredded tire valve. His spare tire had about as much air as the replacement plus he had forgotten his jack! With my hi-lift jack and hydraulic jack from the triton, we managed to get the car lifted out of the muck to change the tires… BUT where do we get a second replacement tire ten kilometers deep in the rain forest. Our stock rims wouldn’t go onto another makes (we’re on Mitsu’s BTW) wheel hubs plus the bolts and nuts wouldn’t fit.
And behold, the steel rim, in the exact size, fitting and tire as the wheel on the hilux. Oh, thief, you’re forgiven and How great is our God? They say that often, we can’t see beyond the next bend — how true when driving off-road in the darkness (it’s actually just 7pm) and visibility is just over thirty-feet — and God sees the entire journey so when things happen, it might feel terrible at that point in time but if we can step back and see from God’s point of view, I bet we all will think differently. Similar entry on our OA Ministry Blog.
I know I’ve not made any updates for over a week but there’s been a whole lot of activities that just leave me totally zonked out by day’s end. Good thing is that I finally got my wife’s PC up and running. Everything’s sort of installed and in place except for a few minor utilities like DVD authoring software and the like. Then came the big bathroom leak incident. For poor workmanship (gone are the good old days), the master bathroom of my condominium started leaking into the unit below. We’ve been using the second bathroom for a week now and that doesn’t help my weariness as I’ve got to boil water to get hot water since I don’t have a water heater installed there.
Loading durians for the trip home!
Last weekend was Sanofi-Aventis’ Corporate Social Responsibility trip into the SEMOA villages and we did eat lots of durians and donated some needy supplies. And I had to rush to deliver the photos for their marketing department within 48 hours! Oh well, I still have got two weddings to process, a photobook to complete by next week and another wedding shoot the week after!
Yes we ate all that!
Stay tuned for more info… or go here for the details (not yet but give me a day or two!)