Friday, 30 September 2011

What happened in the jungle?

We are back! After two nights in the jungle we have returned to fieldbase bursting with updates from the jungle – projects have been allocated to project managers (PMs) and the entire team has been trained up in jungle craft. We’ve experienced the most amazing scenery and wildlife, put up our own camps and beds, celebrated Joe’s 30th birthday by headtorch light and picked up a new member of the team in Kota Kinabalu.  

While PMs are busy planning their project visits, here is an update from the last few days and most importantly who will be going where.

Never seen anything like it

Kicking off our first jungle adventure prematurely on Monday night was an epic storm. It rains in Borneo. A lot. But the storm here on Monday was something else, and up there on everyone (and Borneo’s) ‘never seen anything like it’ list.

And to add to that list is our arrival into the jungle early on Tuesday morning, when the sights, smell and beauty of Raleigh Borneo’s base camp took the entire volunteer manager team’s breath away. Cue music.

Moments later we dived straight into a crash course in jungle and expedition life.
Venturers will arrive and come straight to base camp when they in a few weeks.

There are showers and purpose built blocks of bashas at base camp.
For training, we have been split into three ‘Tango’ groups with a spread of medics, project managers and fieldbase staff across them.

Tango 1 is Julian, Ed, Mary, Petr, Nicki, Fern, James, Cuddly Kirsty and Katie.  
Tango 2 is Ted, Killer Kirsty (unfortunate name game tag), Jemma, Jen, Andy, Matt D, Isla, Joe and Nat.
Tango 3 is Shana, Claire, Nick, Matt H, Nick, Anne, Craig, Ruth and Marcus.

We practised dealing with medical emergencies to crossing a river safely, setting up and using the radio and got used to cooking on trangias.

Kirsty saves Craig

Getting ready for safe river crossings: Ted, Craig and Claire

Team kit.
Talking logistics – Andy goes through the tool kit with Tango 2

Training is designed as a dummy run of expedition life so each team was allocated a radio, medical kit, cooking equipment, food, hammocks, tarpaulin and a huge team basha wrapped around a bamboo. Before dark we shared out the kit in our teams, ready for the next day’s trek and home making deep into the jungle. 

Birthday celebrations
At ‘longs o’clock’ teams got mozzie repelled up and hit jungle’s finest headtorch lit restaurant to celebrate Joe’s big 3-0.

Tango teams got creative with their expedition rations and discovered the delights of boxed cheese, mock duck and custard.
Celebrating Joe's birthday

Off to jungle camp
A storm free night meant we had a dry start on Wednesday and our day started with jungle craft training from local guides Floyd, Zul and Sylvia.

Floyd demonstrates how to put up a basha
Mary getting acquainted with a machete
Then we were all set out for a challenging and very muddy three hour trek to jungle camp.

Entering the jungle

We arrived at jungle camp with enough time before sunset to set the radio up, dig the long drop, short drops, put up the tarp and build our ‘beds’ for the night.

Tango 1 setting up the radio at jungle camp
Joe and Jemma roger that

Three bowling with Nat
Inspect spotting: Julian's close up for Elise : )

 Knots, loops, ropes, bamboo and a lot of parachord/twinning/string later and a full set of little homes appeared.

It's amazing what a few knots can achieve
Feeling very Indiana Jones we hit the river for a well earned dip as it started to rain.

More ready steady cooking and amongst the favourites was Ed’s spectacular mock duck noodle curry and Killer Kirsty’s ninja noodle pea and baked bean surprise.

With milo, iced gems and peanut brittle in hand we learnt about village and jungle life and living alongside nature from Floyd and Zul and headed up to bed.

Back to base camp

While we took our camp down during sunrise, reports on the night’s sleep varied - from broken snoozes between lively conversations of the loudest beetles on the planet to ‘the best night sleep for years’.
GP Mary packing up Tango 1 kit
Beating the heat, we set off at 7am to trek back to base camp where Sarah and Petr were going to be announcing project allocations.
Trekking back

The trek back took a (pre planned) twist when medics, on instruction started dropping like drop-bears - Tango 1 had paramedic James fall over a log and 'badly injure' his ankle. Dr Nick in Tango 2 did exactly the same and in Tango 3 Dr Jemma 'seriously hurt her knee'. Being in severe pain in the heat meant their conditions got worse quickly and all three had to be stretchered out. Remaining medics mysteriously struggled to help without their beginners guides to jungle medicine and so it was up to the non medics to treat the casualties, set up communications and get them out. Being the deepest into the jungle, finding a signal was difficult for Tango 1 but with Floyd’s help Julian and Ed paranged a bamboo into an aerial pole so they could radio in to Sarah at base camp.

Unaware of each other’s situations we used hammock stretchers to carry James, Nick and Jemma out. But then, according to jungle sources all three patients simultaneously recovered, hopped out of their stretchers, medics regained medical knowledge and teams got back to base camp without even needing a spray of savlon.

Concerned: Joe ready to stretcher talented actress Jemma out
So! After that drama we were back with Sarah and Petr at base camp where project allocations were announced. Cue drum roll.


Building a kindergarten in Kg Alab on the Alpha 1 project will be Matt H and Nat with Nick, Fern and Kirsty for a phase each.

Alpha 2 in Kg Lingka Bugan will be Joe and Claire with Jemma, Anne and Nick.

Alpha 1: Nick, Fern, Nat Matt H and Kirsty

Alpha 2: Nick, Joe, Anne, Claire and Jemma


Our trek leaders Matt D, Julian and Ruth will be out for a phase each on the Alpha 3 Danum Valley project and joined by medics Mar, Jen and James.

On the Sun Bears Alpha 4 project will be PMs Ted and Kirsty with medics Nick, Fern and Jemma.

Alpha 3: Julian, Ed, Jen, Mary, Matt D, James and Ruth

Alpha 4: Jemma, Kirsty, Fern, Ted and Nick

Running the Alpha 5 trek and dive phase in the Croker and Kiulu areas will be trek leaders Ruth for phase 1 and two and Matt D for phase 3. They'll be joined by medics Jemma, James and Kirsty.

Alpha 6 trek from Long Pasia will be Julian for phase 1 and 2 and Matt D for phase 3, with Mary, Fern, Anne, James and Ed.

Alpha 5: James, Jemma, Ruth, Matt D and Kirsty
Alpha 6 team: Ed, Fern, Julian, Anne, James, Mary and Matt D
Celebrating project allocations with Zul's samba band

All that jungle air.
And finally, if that wasn't exciting enough, we've got a new arrival for the team. Mr Boogaloo who arrived from Kota Kinabalu after being carefully selected by Julian and Ed to keep them company on treks and in the Danum Valley. 

Mr Boogaloo chills out in the Bravo


Anonymous said...

To Natalie

Happy birthday for Saturday. Following the blog with great interest.
Lots of love
Ma & Pa xxx

penny yates said...

Wow, that storm sounds amazing, it must have filled the rivers for your training. So exciting to hear which teams are on the projects. We home-bound relis really appreciate all the photos and news, thank you

alastair yates said...

To Medic James: well done to Tango 1 for getting you out safely - you obviously taught them well. I am copying the photos posted on the blog; do you see them as well? Love Dad x

Hilarie Fryer said...

Hi Team J2
Wonderful to see photo's of you all and to see the teams in action. The storm must have been quite an experience. Its good to get a sense of the area and to see the rest of the team. I hope Mr Boogaloo will pull his weight!
Our Indian summer continues with temps in high 20's. Getting ready for the England Scotland match to which neither side will give any quarter. The blog is great, helps to keep the distance between us small.
Miss you. Much love
Mum and Daddy (A&H)