Saturday, 20 February 2010

Breaking News From Alpha 5 at Imbak Canyon

Good morning and welcome back to the Raleigh Borneo Blog.

Today we have an exciting update from project manager Oonagh Hayes on how Alpha 5 have been surviving at Imbak Canyon.

Alpha 5 on their way to camp

"Alpha 5 have been having a busy fortnight in the middle of the jungle after a relaxed start due to weather conditions.

The 2-hour trek into their new home from Rangers Camp saw them becoming friends with the all too familiar leeches that lurk in the leaves and trees of the jungle. The number of bites brought out the competitive streak in the team and a leech tally has been put up in camp as a result – PM Eddie is winning by a clear mile with 16 bites so far, with Laura and Bas proudly remaining bite free.

 The tidy sleeping area

Lots of improvements have been made to BBC camp including a new shower fashioned out of tarp, sticks and a washing up bowl with holes in the bottom. The architects and builders on this project were Will, Hannah, Bas and Kim. Project manager Eleri tried and tested the new washing facilities and gave it the big thumbs up.

Hannah and Katie lay out the Raleigh rations in the camp kitchen

Hannah, Kim and Will with the wonderful new shower

Ching, Mark and Adam cracked on with building a new shoe rack with Brett helping them out to make backs to the benches so that the whole group could have a comfortable seat around the campfire at night. Other improvements include: fixing the steps down to the river with the rangers; Laura and Vikki helping fix the luggage racks in the sleeping area; and artwork and decorations for our new home which used the talents of Josh, Kim, Hannah and Katie.

Brett and Mark fix the benches

Ching, Adam and Mark proudly show off their carpentry skills with a new shoe rack

Work on the second suspension bridge is at the early stages with this phase collecting rocks from the riverbed and carrying them uphill to the campsite. We need to collect 16ft of rock to partially fill in the holes which will form the foundations for the bridge. The work is heavy going but everyone has been working well together to ensure it remains light-hearted and fun. Despite the new shower, most people are choosing to wash in the Imbak River and waterfall which is a welcome relief after a hard day of carrying rocks.

The stunning Imbak Falls/washing facilities

But it’s not all about work on expedition - the night before Valentine’s Day saw the venturers becoming contestants in a jungle version of Blind Date. With Oonagh and Eddie taking on the mantle of Cilla and Graham respectively, the venturers took on new personas in the hope of being chosen to go on a jungle date with one of their peers. Dates on offer included a picnic at the observation deck overlooking the Imbak Falls and walking over the suspension bridge as many times as you could for an hour...

Katie introduces herself to ‘Cilla’

Audience participation

Mark tries to win Katie over with his answer

 The girls' turn as Kim, Vikki and Laura try to win a date with Will

The lucky winners were Katie and Adam, Hannah and Ching and Will and Laura, although rain unfortunately stopped the dates going ahead the following night.

The Loop vehicle visit midweek brought messages from home on the blog which was really appreciated by all the venturers. It also brought out some fresh food, which was equally welcomed after Raleigh rations for the last two weeks.
Chilling out in the living room

Everyone is really enjoying their time at Imbak. The scenery is stunning – with so many creatures and plants that you’d never see anywhere else in the world. Most of the group were lucky enough to see gibbons two days ago – these beautiful creatures are very elusive and fast movers through the tree tops. Other animals include bats, which are flying around camp, a couple of snakes (one of which was a reticulated python) and a massive spider in Rangers Camp. No sightings of scorpions so far, but Eleri is remaining hopeful..."

One of the many forms of wildlife found in Imbak

View from the other side of the river

Relaxing with the rangers during a break

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tom The Accountant Visits Alpha 4

Good morning to all of our followers!

Here at fieldbase we were delighted to welcome Tom home from Sepilok!

During his nine day stay with Alpha 4 at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre project he had a wonderful time and I am sure that you will all be just as excited as we were, to see the first photographs from one of the project sites this expedition.

Alpha 4 - Great to see you all looking so happy!

Tom's bed!

The view from the bedroom window...

The bedroom

The showers

The water supply

Having a chinwag around the kitchen table

The view from the kitchen sink.

The trek to the work site

On the first day that the group arrived on the project site they built steps into the steep hillside to allow them to access the project site.

The group then commenced work on a bridge which will provide the main route of access for visitors to the Sun Bear Centre, when it officially opens to the public.

Working on both sides of the river, the group toiled to dig trenches for the bridge foundations. This involved digging two holes 1.10m wide, 2.5m long, and 1.5m deep! Not an easy feat in the Borneo climate.

The next step was to pack the bases of the holes with stones and cover with a thin layer of cement, prior to putting in the initial supports for the bridge, which will be done over the next few days.

Mixing the concrete

Inspecting All Of Their Hard Work

Waipak the head bear keeper and Billy, one of the project's architects

Outside of The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
(Spot the very excited taxi driver!)

A trip to the Rainforest Discovery Centre, where Simon is wowed by the size of the tree in the background. 

And finally... Harry shows off one of his new skills - making an aeroplane out of towel!

Alpha 4, it has been fantastic to see all of your hard work and adventures. Tom was so sad to leave you all, he said that the atmosphere at camp was fantastic and he will miss working with people who are so motivated and enthusiastic.

We look forward to hearing from the rest of the groups, but right now I am off to eat some pancakes x x x x