Thursday, 26 February 2009

News from the Alpha Groups

On Sunday evenings, the Alpha groups huddle together not only to listen to the entertaining sounds of Radio raleigh but also to let everyone know how each of their groups are doing. 

We bring you little snippets from the Alpha groups!

Alpha 1
They are enjoying their time in the beautiful Kampung Rugading, and the rain has finally paid a visit to the village after about a week of scorching heat. 

In other news, Charlotte has fallen down the long-drop, Peter has broken a pickaxe, and the iron shack gym has opened. The Alpha One team has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen with Milo cake, fruit cake, banoffee pie and fresh bread! On top of all that they have been making great progress on their gravity water feed system. 

Alpha 2
Alpha Two has now carried the tank up to the mountain and locked Harry in it. They went to church and gave football cards to the kids in the village. They've made garlic bread and weather wise, they had a drought but the rain is now pouring. 

Alpha 3 
Rain has also been pouring down on Alpha 3, but they have now completed the bridge and handrails on the bridge. 

Alpha 4
The group is looking forward to the loop, after which they plan to go on a day trip to the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. Their days have been filled with fun, including a mud fight on the banks of the Kinabatangan after a hard day of work at the Eco Lodge!  

Alpha 5
The crew is chilling out, around the campfire, in the rain. They are enjoying the leeches and have done 7 river crossings in a day. They also gave Alpha 6 a kind preview of the dive island!

Alpha 6
Alpha 6 continues to thrive in the dangerous jungle environment, and are thinking about nothing but food! On Thursday they begin their diving stint on the island of Mamutik off the coast of KK!

Note to our readers: 
Dave our Photoman is working hard on the photos and editing them, so be patient, you will soon see photos your loved ones at their project locations on the blog, as soon as he's done, and that will be ASAP!

We at Raleigh Borneo would also like to thank everyone for the massive amounts of messages left on the blog! It feels great to know that you're eager to be kept updated with the expedition and that our blog is doing just that for you.  

Keep them coming, the venturers will be reading the blog posts and the comments at changeover, which will happen next Tuesday. No, we can't believe Phase one is almost over either! So soon! We will be wallpapering Borneo Paradise with blog posts, and don't worry if you've posted a message on a previous post, we'll make sure posts with new comments are also printed out for everyone to read!

'Til the next post, jumpa lagi!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Loop Mission Accomplished!

With Mini Loop II returning from Alpha 4 yesterday, the Loop Mission to get supplies, equipment and love to Alphas 1, 2, 3 and 4  was accomplished!

Mini Loop I + Main Loop to Alphas 1, 2 and 3

As you know, the loop troop for these two loops consisted of our Country Director Jim, the logs team of Steph and Esme and our special guest from down under, Martin. 

Upon returning and with minutes to spare, Steph and Esme scribbled a quick tale for us all, a rather nice story which was read out to the Alpha groups who could hear us on our 4pm weekly Radio Raleigh last Sunday. So if you please, have yourselves seated comfortably, and if you're from the UK then you'll need your tea as well, and we'll share with you the narration in the next couple of paragraphs!

Before we begin, however, I feel a little vocabulary lesson is necessary for comprehension. 

Satu = One, 
Dua = Two, 
Tiga = Three, 
Empat = Four, 
Lima = Five and 
Enam = Six.     

Ok, enough of suspense, let's begin!

The Loop's Grand Adventure - A Story for Bedtime

Hello Alpha groups, I have a fabulous tale of far off places, fire breathing dragons and daring dos for you. So if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll begin. 

Once upon a time in The Land Below the Wind, four intrepid explorers set off on their quest to visit the lost alpha tribes. Our intrepid explorers were main man Jim, and his fair maidens Esme, the wandering PM looking for her long lost tribe, Martin the vegemite eater from the land down-under and Steph the Raleigh rations improver and pilot of the chariot Bravo. Little did they know the dangers they would face. 

Although Tribe Satu in the kingdom of Rugading had already been discovered, a flying visit was needed to ward off the evil Jap E, fought off by our very own witch doctor Jim. 

Next our explorers set off to find Tribe Dua, on their way encountering Father Christmas at a roti shop in Telupid, who agreed to join in the quest. Off they went down the bumpy, bumpy, bumpy trail but after many grueling hours they were thwarted by a wayward warry of wood. Our dedicated explorers were forced to retreat for the night and were offered shelter by the kindly King Felix of Manaman. Overnight, to the entertainment of the local children, Father Christmas lost his beard and revealed his true identity as Photoman Dave. 

At dawn the next day, the road was still blocked and with the disappointment of not reaching the famous pancakes of Tribe Dua still ringing in their bellies, our fearless five set off to seek out Tribe Tiga. 

The road was to be their biggest challenge yet and they passed many other defeated lorries. Travelling to the sounds of ‘We’re on the Road to Nowhere’, using three different chariots and then their feet, at last Tribe Tiga were found. Initially welcomed, our explorers beat a hasty retreat early the next morning after discovering that the Mafia Lord Ben and his Dutch henchman, Youp, were slowly killing off the villagers. 

Emboldened by their previous day’s success, the explorers set off again to track down the elusive Tribe Dua, the path was long and arduous and many dogs had to be swerved around on the way, but finally Dua was reached. Photoman Dave was left with tribe Dua as a sacrifice to permit safe passage home for our original fieldbase explorers. Disappointed yet again at not having the famous pancakes of tribe Dua, our explorers returned home for showers and food to prepare them for their next quest to find the still lost Tribe Empat (and for a good night’s sleep without Jim’s snoring).

We hope you enjoyed that as much as we enjoyed listening to it on Radio Raleigh! 

On Monday, Mini Loop II headed out, this time with Esme, Mac, Val and me. 

The Mini Loop Troop: Mac, Yo, Esme, Val and Bravo 3

Interlude - We stopped at the famous Gomantong Caves before continuing to Batu Puteh. 
Our 8-hour road trip to Batu Puteh was sectioned with a trip to the Gomantong Caves, a cave system just a half hour's drive away from Alpha 4, where birds' nests (a local health delicacy, expensive and difficult to harvest!) are harvested twice a year. We visited one of the caves, called Simud Hitam. The smell of swiflet and bat-poo reached us before we reached the cave, but once we reached the entrance, Simud Hitam was an assault on all of our other senses.  

The large limestone cave was mostly dark, lit in places where the ceiling had gaps and let the sunlight in. It was dripping all over the place, some drops being water, some drops being bat guano and swiftlet droppings. The air was pungent with the smell from the poo, and when we looked up, careful to keep our mouths shut at the same time, we could see swiflets flying about at the roof of the caves, but only where the light shone. The sight of the falling drops of water against the light was mesmerising, quite like snow in the night under a street lamp. The place echoed with swiftlets' twittering, which let you know that the cave was alive and well.  

The entrance and the ceiling of Gua Gomantong (Gomantong Caves)

There was a wooden path built for visitors, going round the cave and coming back to where you started. We mentally tossed a coin and chose to start on the path to the left.  

That's when my sense of touch was awakened, and my sense of sight was shocked awake. A cockroached scurried across my right foot and I let out a high-pitched girly scream, knowing very well what it was. But when I looked down, the wooden path ahead of us was glittering with the light reflecting off of the backs of hundreds of cockroaches. The handrails were covered in them as well, and so were sections of the cave walls. If you had slipped and fell, not only would these critters be crawling all over you, you will be covered in poo! So we slowly and carefully inched to the other end of the path. 

After a truly thrilling walk around, our cave adventure was over. We buddy checked each other for any uninvited stowaways and headed on to Alpha 4!
Interlude over. 

Alpha Four was in good spirits and good health! When we arrived we were greeted by Robbie and Venda, the two 'housewives' for the day, followed by the trickling in of Alpha 4, who'd just arrive from the Eco-Lodge. They were staying at the goat-shed, which was pretty nice, the goats have been living the life by the looks of it. Also Alpha 4 did a very good job at making it look homely and comfortable! 

We (the Mini Loop Troop) stayed at a home stay, which our guest blogger Val will tell you about in the next post. The venturers at Alpha 4 will have also stayed at a homestay, and will tell you about their own experience (if they get to it...)

And now for some photos! We have here just a few for you but rest assured that once the Photoman Dave is back from his tour of duty, we'll be posting so many photos they'll be coming out of the blogs ears, so hold your horses!

Alpha 1!

Alpha 2 PMs Daisy and Matt, Alpha 2 Venturers

The Alpha 3 PMs, the venturers, the bridge, the river and the waterfall. 

Alpha 4 Goatshed, Alpha 4 at the Sepilok Rehab Centre. 

After visiting the Orang Utan rehab centre, we drove on back towards home, habitually stopping by Telupid for our roti and also picking up Dave who had been in Alpha 2, who we dropped off at Alpha 1 for the last leg of his stint this phase. 

After dropping Dave off at the excited-to-see-us Alpha 1, we then continued on our journey back home, reaching KK just in time to enjoy the stunning sunset. 

More news within the next couple of days, including news from the Alpha groups, tons of photos from our photographer Dave on Thursday / Friday, and the homestay experience described by our very own admin personnel, Val, so watch this space!