Monday, 21 February 2011

Update from Alpha 5

Belinda Whitehead, Expedition 11B’s Comms Officer, spent the first half of Phase one at the environmental gravity water feed project in Taliwas.
After weeks spent preparing for the venturers’ arrival, I was so excited to finally meet them all and get out to a project - and what a project it was! On the day of deployment from the hostel at Likas, I boarded a coach with PMs Stu and Pete, and venturers Nell, Joe, Matt, Avril, Charlotte, Ceira, Bobby, Will, Simon and Jenny. We were bound for the environmental gravity water feed project at Taliwas, a nine hour drive away. When we arrived, we were shown by Kai, the head ranger, to our accommodation; a large wooden structure with a big tarpaulin strung up over the top, underneath which was a row of static bashers on the left and a long wooden table on the right. We set to work sawing wood and getting the hammocks strung up, then sorted through all the food and prepared that night’s dinner.

Arriving at the Elephant Camp
Getting to work on camp improvements
Possibly the most beautiful bathing area in the world?
The lake near to camp
On the second day we had torrential rain which meant the main tarp started leaking all over our beds and we had to frantically leap into action stringing up smaller tarps to redirect the rain; by the end of it the place looked like a giant spider's web, but thankfully from then on the rain didn't trouble us TOO much (others might disagree!)

Our daily schedule on Alpha 5 generally consisted of getting up at 6am, having breakfast (porridge) and getting to the work site by 7.30am to meet Kai and his team. The work site was spread over two locations; the water source at the top, where we had to build a dam, and the tank site down below, where we had to get two enormous 20,000 litre water tanks up to. Kai had estimated it would take several days to get the tanks up alone, but he hadn’t reckoned on the legendary spirit of Alpha 5, who managed it in under 24 hours. Once we'd done that we finished getting the pipes up (including a massive iron pipe that needed all of us to lift it) and set to work on the dam. Given my total lack of propensity (and control) with tools, I was absolved of all responsibility on the tank site and spent most days lugging 20kg bags of soil, gravel and cement up and down to the water source. It was hard work, but also really rewarding, as we could see the progress we were making day by day.

Celebrating getting the tanks up the hill
Messing around in the tanks!
Carrying the iron pipe up to the water source
Group pic at the dam site
Preparing to carry gravel to the top
Ready, Steady......GO!
We also engaged a lot with the local community, made up mainly of rangers and their families. Most nights, the boys would play ‘takraw’ (a cross between football and volleyball) or ping pong with the rangers, and on our day off the girls did some drawing with the local children.
On my last night at Alpha 5 we had our 'come dine with me' evening with the Loop (more on that later), and the group presented me with a leaving card, which brought a lump to my throat! Having spent the best part of two weeks with them, I really felt part of the team, and I was sad to leave them behind. Alpha 5: Thanks for the memories, you’re the best!
Drawing with the local children
Will with his 'Hero of the Day' award - looking pretty pleased!
The Sunday fry up was a high point of my stay - Simon was ecstatic!
Sitting around the camp fire on the boys' benches


Anonymous said...

To Bente van Keulen, Alpha 1

Hallo, mijn lieve schat. Wat ben ik blij dat er vanochtend een update op het blog verscheen met foto's van jullie erbij. Zo te zien en lezen maken jullie heel wat mee. Wel effe wennen dat we zo weinig kontakt met elkaar kunnen hebben. Elke ochtend weer naar het blog met de hoop op een update en een klein teken van leven, om vervolgens weer uit te kijken naar de volgende dag. Maar vandaag was het dan zover. Ik zag blije gezichten en dat maakt ons dan ook weer blij.Hier gaat alles goed,je moeder en ik houden nog steeds heel veel van elkaar, 010 nog steeds op 15, AS.R zakt heel ver weg en staat op 8, voor zover het je daar wat interesseert. Ik ben ontzettend trots op je en hoop dat het echt goed met jullie gaat.
Ik mis je en hou van je.

Liefs, Papa

Sofa said...

hi nell!
looks like your having a blast - so jealous! edinburgh's freezing at the mo....they're even talking of more snow so am not happy but FINE.
we're all missing you lots, really nothing to report from home, but george is coming up to st andrews in a couple of weeks and stopping off in the burgh on the way up so im going to have to keep her under wraps to make sure she doesnt ruin my 'edgy and cool' reputation (meh).
i'm so pale but you still look pretty pasty too so not too bothered. work on the tan please.
sofa xxxxxx

Alison Homewood said...

That bathing spot looks amazing.....a memory to recall when you are back in the real world feeling down or waiting for the dentist drill....
Well done on completing your task in less than 24 hours!

Alison Homewood said...

Thanks so much for this - real news from Alpha 5, so good to see what you are all up to, and it all looks wonderful, especially the bathing spot. I'm still not sure quite how the communication links work but Mat, if you get this, we love you, miss you and are looking forward to seeing you in Thailand but make the most of this time with Raleigh and away from the UK with all its problems and cold glum weather and general. BTW Crawley Town nearly beat Man U in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup (only a goal by Wes Brown stopped them, and you know how I like him (not!)) and Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Leyton Orient, a week after beating Barca 2-1 in the Champions League! But maybe you don't care about football any more... Everyone is fine and sends their love - Daisy and Pauline flew out to Switzerland this morning skiing with Karen and Paul. I haven't forgotten your Edinburgh Admin stuff, YELM

mariem said...

Hi Joe Alpha 5
The pictures on the loop are amazing and you look great.

Sports update from Dad.
Everton beat Chelsea 4-3 on penalties after extra time in 4th round of FA cup replay . Play Reading in 5th round on Sat at home .
Take care
love Mum and DAD

The Lows said...

Hi Will

Fantastic to hear such detailed news of what you have all been up to. You are obviously working very hard but all look like you are enjoying yourselves. I'm sure all your hard work will be much appreciated by the locals. I hope you are taking lots of photos. Not much to report from here. Just spoke to Peter he is in Canberra at the moment but will probably be moving on this weekend. Put most of our news in a letter which hopefully you will get soon. Take care.
Lots of Love
Mum & Dad

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick, Alpha 6

Just got back from Scotland, the Aberdeen crew sent oodles of love. Half term here so we are working on the house and chilling, missing you though but not the extra washing! Will try and write this week a snail mail. Stay safe be happy love mum and dad xxx

Anonymous said...

to Bobby Breuer Alpha 5

Hé lieve Bobby, eindelijk wat foto's van jullie op de blog. Ik denk dat je nog nooit zoveel lichamelijk werk hebt verricht als daar, tjonge dat is krachtsport. Ben benieuwd hoe je die waterreservoirs naar boven hebt gekregen. Leuk om je te zien in een kleuterklas waar je een meisje helpt met kleuren. Wie weet.....Pabo? Als je dit mailtje te lezen krijgt, denk ik dat Bente en jij elkaar na 3 weken weer gezien hebben.Lijkt me zo lekker om even weer samen bij te kletsen.

Hier is het nu voorjaarsvakantie,
somber en koud weer dus saai.
Geniet maar van deze bijzondere ervaring, SUPER wat je doet.

Volgende expeditie zit er aan te komen: spannend ook weer. Ben benieuwd wat je gaat doen. Ik ga je weer volgen en hoop op wat meer updates van raleigh Borneo dan de afgelopen weken.

Geef Bente een dikke zoen van me.(ben wel een beetje jaloers dat jij dat kan doen :-) Hou je taai Bob, XXX Liefs Mieke

Anonymous said...

To Bobby, Alpha 5

Lieve Bob, leuk om even in jouw wereldje te kijken. Het ziet er allemaal erg avontuurlijk en nuttig uit. Wij zijn toch erg nieuwsgierig hoe het er daar aan toe gaat. Pappa, Flip en ik zitten inmiddels in Engelberg, waar wij de eerste 2 dagen sneeuw en mist hebben gehad. Vandaag was het stralend mooi weer, maar heeeel koud. Helaas wel veel klunen, liften zijn niet goed op elkaar ingesteld, maar ach, dat is goed voor de lijn! Wij wensen je een leuk weekend bij de changeover. Zal wel weer gezellig om Bente te zien! Nog veel plezier ! P.S. Hoe is de porridge? Liefs van ons allemaal xxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

You look amazing babes, really rocking the gap-yah look. Missing you a lot over here, but keeping extremely busy. Looking forward to Spring; loved seeing the piccies of you. As Pop mentioned though, you are looking a wee bit pasty.
Making sure M and D are on the old UCAS stuff too!!!
Can't wait to hear you so much.
George xxxxxxxxxxxx

moxys said...

Hi Avril. Not sure if we are sending this the right way but hope it gets to you ok. Thanks for you letters great to read how you are as well as seeing your pics on the blog, looks like you are having a great time. The scenery looks amazing. Keep enjoying yourself ,miss you love Mum, Mick and the rest of the us here.xxxxx

Alex and dad said...

hi smelly!
It was really nice to hear from you today, sounds as though you're having a good time and you sound really well. Hope your foot is better for your trek, and you get a chance to wash soon...for the others sake!Grandma said she was 'delighted, just delighted' to hear from you. We hope you have an amazing time on your treks and diving and sleeping in hammocks all night long- lucky devil!! Speak again soon. Lots of love, dad and Alex xxxxxxxxxxxx

Andy Clift said...

Hi Sam Clift,
Happy to see that you arrived in good shape, you certainly look relaxed on the veranda (or is that due to the welcoming refreshments?). Judging by the content of this blog you'll be requesting extensions for the rest of the year; there's a lot to pack into a short time.
Daniel sends his love and is insanely jealous of his big brother. I can't see him following in your footsteps unless you can arrange a 5-star rainforest. Everybody sends love/regards and all are very interested in your progress. We hope you have an amazing stay. I'll natter to you when I see you in 3 or 4 months, heading back to Cairo on 10th March. I'm hoping they put all of the rocks back in the pavements, or it's tin hat time. Love xxx

Anonymous said...

Adam Hext,
Hey adam, hear your having a great time, keeping safe? I've been in my room all holiday as i've recently setup my xbox on my t.v! ( unlike yours, my rooms tidy!). Hope you have a great week, i've got exams soon so my life will be hard. haha! Enjoy yourself, Love liam x

Anonymous said...

Hi Adam Hext,
It's Megan here, mum recently bought me a new laptop! But i went on this Facebook banner site and Bang! 30 viruses popped up saying I couldn't do anything until I had bought this Security thing...:( Mum took it back and acted dumb saying it was her computer and she turned it on and then viruses came up!!! So now I got a new Dell laptop and i'm on it all the time; which isn't so great but never mind.
Hope you are having a great time where you are- do you think you will ever come back?? :) If not, can I have your room when We stay? I will have to tidy it up first though because It is a pigsty!!! Just had lush Sunday dinner and back to school tomorrow which I suppose Is a good thing for this year because we need to revise really hard since we are one of the schools chosen to do 2 extra Science SATS! See you soon and have a great time while you are there, Megan xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Adam Hext, Alpha 5,
It's megan here, thought I'd send you another one so you don't forget me!!! :) I had a good parents evening yesturday, mum was pleased which was good x I have my SATS coming up too so everyone is constantly revising-hoping they will get good grades! I got intomy school choice too(Abbey wood community school) which is 5 minutes away from the house so I wont have to walk far... Today(Friday 4th) Wasnt so great because I was having my dinner and then i felt a lump in my fish finger and i thought it was a bone until I said "my tooth" because my tooth was bleeding so i ran to the girls toilets leaving all my friends confused!! lol :) And then went to the office and then realized the thing i felt in the fish finger was a bit of my Molar tooth!!!!!! :s Cant see the dentist till Monday and Havent been to see the dentist today..:( Have to go to Dads this weekend :( Hope you are having a fantastic time, havent spoken to aunty Jude so dont know how your room and the mole is going on lol :) xx Lots of love, Megss xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe!

first off, happy birthday for the other week mate. ermm i'll try give a quick summary of music news, the leeds line up is out in two weeks so i will post again to let you know about that. the glasto headliners are u2 beyonce and coldplay so we really didnt miss out not getting tickets. ermm the new streets and radiohead albums are both pretty good and the strokes album is out same day as the leeds line up. sadly everton are a joke atm, reading knocked us out the fa cup, so you aint missing much. anyway, hope your all good mate. all the best,


Anonymous said...

Hi Joe its pakka

Its looks like your having a pretty epic time lad. Everton are doing averagely so your not missing out on much. ALso white lies new album is really really good. Went to see them in newcastle they were epic. Also do you remember that new years resolution we both had? well i have achieved it so im pretty smug with life. Also callum is now single. side

karol said...

Hi Lee Alpha 9?hope you are well and have anjoyed the diving and your ears are still ther!!!All is well here Jez ope is 27 april so not long now then life will get better,nice and sunny today so might go for a short ride on the bike,we cant wait to here about all your adventures miss you loadsBrookes parents are going to aus on 12 april ive got to meet them and give them Thomas guitar to take,iam so jealouse!!!Thomas said he sent you a mp player so i hope you get it.What are you doing next? coming home to give your mum a hug ha ha take care love you loads speak soon ,can you walk okay with your trench foot??bye bye xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx