TWO Irishmen swapped the traditional Christmas dinner for instant porridge, noodles and a Snickers bar so they could continue paddling the Yangtze river in China for charity before their visa runs out.
College friends Maghnus Smyth (27) from Limerick and David Burns (27) from Coleraine, must finish their rafting and kayaking of it from source to mouth by January 12.
The friends decided to travel 15,800km along the old silk roads from Istanbul at the furthest eastern point of Asia and conclude their adventure by going down the mighty Yangtze river.
Their 'Sand2Snow' challenge is all to aid Self Help Africa after both were deeply touched by the daily struggle to survive faced by people there which they witnessed on a charity cycle in Africa in 2009.
The pressure to complete the length of the river in time means they decided "we cannot afford to risk taking Christmas Day off so we will be paddling straight through until at least January 2".
Instead of tucking in to turkey, ham and all the trimmings they will have food they can make on the riverbank.
"A bar of Snickers and instant noodles taste amazing when you are truly hungry and exhausted in a tent at the end of nine hours paddling! Our Christmas day food consisted of instant porridge with three tablespoons of sugar for breakfast.
"We had two bars of Snickers during the day and in the evening 100 grams of instant noodles, 50 grams of dried cured pork and a sachet of Nescafe," they said.
Self Help Africa said they are "two exceptional and inspirational guys".
By the end of this expedition they will have cycled 8,500km from Istanbul to Kathmandu, run 1,000km over the Tibetan Plateau to the source of the Yangtze and then paddled all 6,300 km of the river.
Just as importantly they will have raised more than €30,000 which the charity says is "an exceptional amount in the current difficult economic climate".