Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Survival Skills Training At T.A.C!

Having had a few days to settle into life in Sabah and bond with their new team mates, the volunteer project managers (VPM's) along with all us field base staff, were whisked off to the Traverse Activity Centre (TAC) to learn some jungle survival skills.  We boarded the bus armed with all the gear needed to camp out in the depths of the jungle for three days.  Sleeping bags, mosquito nets and roll mats.  Suncream, bug spray and first aid kits.  Mess tins, mugs and water bottles.  Walking boots, longs and waterproof jackets (which proved extremely useful when it started bucketing down on the first day!)

First up was radio training.  When out on expedition each alpha group will use the radio as their main means of communication, checking in with field base twice a day to let us know that everything is going well and to keep us posted on all the progress they are making with their project.

Next up we were given a master class in jungle survival skills- learning how to put up a hammock and shelter, how to safely use a parang (similar to a machete), and how and where to dig a long drop (essentially a hole in the ground to be used as a toilet.  Glamorous I know!)  

After a hard morning's work, we managed to squeeze in a swim in the river to cool off...

And then came the rain...

What better time to learn how to cross a river than in a tropical rain storm?!  When out on expedition, there may be times when you encounter a river that you can't go around or over, so you have no choice but to go through it.  Mac shows us the safest method to use in this situation...

The weekend was also a good opportunity to try Raleigh rations for the first time.  Porridge for breakfast- best served with a touch of milk powder, a spoonful of sugar and a handful of raisins I discovered.  Crackers with various toppings for lunch, including cheese, tuna, peanut butter and jam.  And rice, noodles or pasta for dinner accompanied with some kind of tasty tinned product.

We were up bright and early on day two to set off on our trek into the jungle where we would set up camp for the night.  The rain had finally stopped, our rucksacks were packed and spirits were high.   Bring on the jungle!

Having conquered some rather steep hills and some very slippery slopes, we set up camp.  With our personal hammocks up, long drop dug and group shelter fashioned from bamboo poles and tarpaulin, we set to work cooking dinner on a trangier stove.  With tired bodies and full bellies, we retired to our hammocks for the night.

The next morning, feeling very proud and a little surprised that our hammocks had withstood the rain that night had bought, we packed up camp and trekked back to TAC.  We had conquered the jungle- one of the harshest environments to survive in on the planet.  At that moment, anything seemed possible.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cat,
Looks like you are enjoying yourself.The programme is amazing, bet you wish you were doing the 13 weeks!
love Mum and Dad xx

Anonymous said...

Glad to see once again you survived your jungle trek although it was very short, & you are still smiling,bet you can't wait to start the first project. Your photoes on your blog of the monkeys looked good, but watch you don't get too round shouldered with the weight of your back pack! love Mum & dad xx