Friday, 12 March 2010

The Return of the Loop

The loop has returned from a whirlwind visit to the environmental and community projects with many exciting stories to tell. The loop goes out every phase and drops off post, blog comments, a mini shop for essentials (not sure Fruitella’s are essential but some claim they are) and just to have a catch up to see how the team and the projects are getting on.

The loop team this time was a wolfpack affair of Tom Accountant, James Logs and myself Mac CPM. The journey led to us covering over a 1,500 Km and travelling all over Sabah from the deepest darkest Imbak Canyon, the memorial to the allied soldiers at Kundasang and to the hills of Vunui Lokos in Pitas.

Alpha 2 Kopuron. Our first visit took us to the gravity water feed project at Kopuron. The team has made great progress. The weir at the water source is completed and the pipes are about to be laid into the village. When we arrived the team had just finished a long hard days work, but still had the energy to team up with the community for games of volleyball. We were welcomed after our long drive to a cup of tea and shown around the place. We were then treated to a great night of entertainment and food laid out by the team. The food by David Sparky Sparks and Harry T was great, as was the entertainment of pass the parcel with chilli forfeits organized by James W and Harry G and some acoustic singing from Sparky and Tish. Early the next morning we left with the team and the community getting ready for another hard day’s work.
Welcome to Alpha two
Dinner at Alpha two
Memorial to allied soldiers at Kundasang  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandakan_Death_Marches

Alpha 5 Imbak Canyon. After a long off road drive into ranger camp we were met by the team who were to help trek the final hour into BBC camp. So after fresh food supplies had been distributed amongst peoples' packs, we set off. The heat and humidity was incredible and we all looked like we had stepped out of a shower by the time we reached camp. Luckily for us we were greeted with a fruit punch and an invitation to Imbak’s first masked ball. First things first though it was agreed that before the evening entertainment we should all go to the waterfall for a shower. Not a bad way to end a hard day’s work of carrying rocks up hills for the foundations of the new 350ft suspension bridge. The team has been working hard to complete this task and when I returned to Fieldbase, I was told they have managed to complete this ahead of schedule.
An outline of the evening's entertainment
Special guests
After the best natural shower in Sabah we set to work on our masks for the evening during with Joel and Izzy. Carys began the evening with a singing introduction, followed by an introduction from the waiters to the evening all dressed in kilts. Ed Sants might start wearing one all the time he was heard to say. The meal was great and just shows what you can do with the Raleigh rations. We also managed to fit in a quick game of twister with Paul confirming his place as current Imbak champion. The big event of the night (apart from the rocky road dessert) was of course the masked ball. We made our way with our partners to the viewing platform overlooking the waterfall. It was a stunning way to end the evening underneath the thousands of stars and certainly one of the most surreal things I’ve ever done is dancing to YMCA in the middle of a jungle. So it was with lots of praise and thanks we began our trek out to start the journey to Alpha 4.
The waiters
 Dancing under the stars
Alpha 4 at Sepilok were happy to see us again and went straight into our collective good books with a nice brew and catch up. The team has been hard at work building the bridge and boardwalk to allow visitors access to the sun bear sanctuary, helpingto make it sustainable in the future and raising funds for the centre. The results are impressive for this physically hard and mentally challenging project. The foundations are nearly complete, ready for the next team to build the bridge. Keep an eye on the blog and we will update you on the release of the bears on the 4th April. The team really looked after us and we had another great dinner of fresh fish from the nearby market and then the entertainment began with probably the most intense games of Mafia witnessed on expedition. The discussions of tactics went on long into the night after the game was over. We thanked the team for looking after us so well and began the longest journey to Alpha 1.
 Dancing with Alpha four

Dinner at Alpha four
Alpha 1 Sulit Paitan visit was short due to traffic but very nice all the same the team is working really hard on the kindergarten. The roof is nearly finished and the walls are steadily coming on. Apart from working really hard on the Kindergarten the group has found time to make a football pitch and organize a sports day for the community. The team has been playing the community most nights at football and yesterday was the first away fixture. We missed a great night which was the murder mystery night which was enjoyed by everyone. After a traditional cracker and tuna lunch we were on our way again to Alpha 3.
The stunning view from Alpha three
Alpha 3 have one of the more spartan camps, although you wouldn’t think that listening to the team who have made home in a basha on the side of the village overlooking a spectacular valley. The team has been busily building the dam for the gravity water feed system and moving heavy bags of gravel up the 300m hill. After a great dinner of fresh bread and pasta we sat down under the stars for a quiz night. It was to be our night as the lads from the group won by an impressive margin. However one round was Topher’s round and it’s a bit funny how his team won we’ll say no more. It was a great night and a nice way to have our final night on loop. So it was again an early morning start to visit Alpha 6 at Kudat.
Bye from Alpha three
Alpha 6 had already had an overnight visit so it was just a quick call in to see how the team were doing and what progress had been made on the long house. Again impressive, the basic structure is complete and they reckon that the floor should be ready by the end of phase. We were given a quick tour of one of the best campsite views on Raleigh with the tents facing the beautiful white sand and turquoise sea about 10 minutes walk from the worksite. We left them in good spirits ready for another afternoon of work.
Work site at Alpha six
View from Alpha six camp
So that’s the second phase loop complete. Apologies for the lack of news on the adventure groups just to let you know they are all doing really well. Alpha 7 having completed their diving phase are well into the trek now in the headhunting country of Long Pasia. Alpha 8 have just finished the trek and will begin the diving phase soon. Alpha 9 have just completed the diving and begin the trekking the hunters ridge today.

Just a quick reminder to say that that everyone really loved receiving you messages on the blog and letters from home. The silence that happens on a project sight as the post is handed out is always special. So keep the messages coming the team is doing themselves proud at the moment.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010