Saturday, 12 November 2011

Jungle Living with Alpha 5

Alpha 5
Jess, Min, Ru, Siger, Wiesteke, Hannah, Ollie Cowling, James, Alex, Lydia and Sophie Pluck
Alpha 5, have arrived on Mamutik Island for 5 days Dive Course prior to their second trek in Kiulu.  Isla the photographer reports back on their jungle trek experience in the Crocker Range.

Within a couple of hours of leaving basecamp we were in the hills of the Crocker Range, despite being only  140km south  Kota Kinabalu it felt miles from anyway. Once Ru and James had ensured equal distribution of weight in the bags, and the most ergonomic fit,we were ready for trek.  We were met by our guides Florian and Genus who made offerings of rice to the jungle spirits and sought their blessing of the group to enter their jungle world.

Rice offering and a Parang
Florian performing ritual ceremony
On entering the jungle it soon became apparent that this trek was not about distance but the challenge of staying upright, easier said than done. Jess did spend a lot of time on the floor but always got back up smiling despite the group chorus of 'another one bites the dust'.

Jess and Sophie make the descent
Our guides were always on hand to help and provided the group with sticks to aid the descent, and James set about naming his new item of equipment.

James marking his kit

After the long descent we arrived at camp however the end of the trekking day is not a time for rest and relaxation as we need to construct a camp. In order to survive we need the essentials; water, food and shelter.  In addition we need to erect the radio antenna - dipole and provide a Situation report to Fieldbase.
Siger collecting water
Soon a communal kitchen/dining area is created
Min erecting the radio dipole
Ollie on the radio
Wietske and Hannah testing the hammock
Group dining
There are pros and cons of camping by a river.  Pros - plenty of water to drink and a great place to wash and swim at the end of a hard days trek.  Cons - the following morning the only way out, is up.  Our second day was a very steep climb, and we all got to the top with a sense of achievement and rewarded ourselves with a share of peanut brittle.  Unfortunately there was no panoramic view due to the tree canopy.  'What goes up must come down' so  we embarked on a steep descent involving the use of ropes due to the gradient and mud.  The river provided another great stop for lunch and a quick wash before heading to our next camp.  

Lydia making a rope descent
Eating crackers with a spoon
The guides told us that this was the area where a clouded leopard had once been spotted.  During our contribution to radio Raleigh on Sunday, this got lost in translation and became a clouded shepherd... The only clouds spotted that night were the heavy rain clouds providing a deluge of rain and a lot of wet kit.  

The jungle was alive with the sounds of insects and on one of the days, a very angry monkey.  Our wildlife sightings however were limited to; a poisonous spider, a river turtle with a nasty disposition (biting) and butterflies who seem to like the Australian Flag.  There were of course the leeches too. Everything in the jungle takes on a enormous scale, ants are massive and the leaves and trees are giant.

Ben with a butterfly
River turtle with a nasty disposition
A medium sized leaf
After more trekking involving river crossing, shoes off sandals on, negotiating streams, we arrived at the magical waterfall.  A place to wash and relax - a natural jungle spa.

Ru the seasoned jungle trekker
Guides provide a supporting hand
Alex and Jess washing jungle style
A good drying spot
Min takes the time to sketch
The group sang their way to the end of the trek although I thought it a little early for the Christmas song section. The finish line was Utan Paradise where the group had the opportunity to learn how to make jungle jewellery out of Rattan and to practice their hunting skills with some blowpipe target practice.  Hannah was a natural, although rumour had it that she had been practising on the community project.
Anton showing Jess his jewellery making skills
Hannah the blowpipe queen
Dive Island here we come.....




Fenna said...

Alpha 5, jungle
Heee wietsiee!!!
Wat leuk dat je een smsje naar huis hebt gestuurd!! wat fijn dat je ook even weer hebt kunnen zonnen! Hoe vind je het duiken? al mooie visjes gezien?
Hier is alles okee. Ik heb dinsdag mijn wiskunde herkansing.. dus ik heb alie net al op bezoek gehad.
Groningen scholierenfeest was heel leuk. met joris w stond ik in de rij, opeens zei hij tegen mij: ben jij een voorhoeve? hij herkende trekjes van jou in mijn gezicht. Kwam rob van h natuurlijk ook weer tegen. En zo wel meerdere maar dat waren friends van char.
Binnenkort is het leiden scholierenfeest en dan slaap ik bij femme!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Fen

Jenni Sharp said...

Hiya Little Bro (Alex Edwards),
Pic's are fab looks like your hard at it this week you'll soon be chilling out on the beach.. I've sent you a letter hopefully you'll get it when you get back to base camp.
Looks like your swans are still being fed fella!!! I've posted a a few vids to your so everyone can see what ur up too showing off your wind mill skills.
Moses and everyone is missing you he's a right little chunk now the whole family is going on a diet before Xmas (Including Moses)....
Enjoy every min :)
Lots of Love Jen xxxxx

Anonymous said...

Paige. Alpha 6 phase 2
Hi Paige, hope you are ok and enjoying your trek. We've just returned from the shops to find your letter addressed to Blaise in the post box. This made our day. Took us longer than normal in town because we met so many friends who were asking about how you were getting on in Borneo. We've picked up 2 letters, 1 from Becci and 1 from Danny which we'll be adding to the next one we post out to you. Blaise loved her birthday card, especially the drawing of where you stayed when building the kindergarten. We don't know if you're managing to get all the comments up to now, we did send 2 last week. Jasper and Giz got sorted last week, both ok. Blaise had a good birthday,we've sent u a photo of her with the cake. Your grandparents arrived safely from Italy. We're going to see Chloe soon. 
Take Care sweetheart. We all love and miss you loads and loads. Mum, Dad & Blaise xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Zhi Ying said...

Hi min, great job there. we miss you here <3

Niels T said...

@ Sophie Tigges, alpha 6 (?)
Hi Sophie! This is your little bro speaking. Don't know in what way you're in contact with the base camp during your jungle-trek, so I thought I'd do it in English just in case. I've sent you a letter already, I can sense how happy that makes you, I just know it's all you've been thinking about in between the gorillas and anacondas. Hope you're doing well, over here in Apeldoorn (weekend at mum and dad) it's freezingly cold and I wish I was there in the jungle as well. Feel free to contact me December the 3rd, otherwise you will have forgotten my birthday!!! Just kidding, you won't be able to. I'll post/send more soon! Bye xx Niels

Liz said...


Hi Alex,

Just at shaz and baz's having a G&T! Looking at your photos, looks like you are having an amaxing time i see you have a lot of different admirers especially the one leaning on your leg ;)

not much going on here except i nearly died this week when i had a car accident i was hit by an oncoming wardrobe! yes you heard me right a WARDROBE! you will be glad to know i am ok but the car is not so good. some idiot in a truck had not secured the wardrobe and it fell off and hit me :(

believe it or not everyone is really missing you haha - i even miss you annoying me and i am not as mean as you so will leave the payback for the facebook frape when you get home! looking forward to seeing you and having a Party and seeing your windmill dance me, jen and your mum are practicing some really hot moves to beat yours! haha

take care watch out for the leeches, trantulas and dont be cuddling upto the orangatangs too much!

see you in 4 weeks

lots of love Liz xxxx

Anonymous said...

For Hannah Wijmenga,
Ha lieve Hannah, blowpipe queen, Wat geweldig om jou op tefas te zien! Wie had dat nou ooit kunnen denken... De foto 's zijn prachtig, wat een mooie en pittige tocht hebben jullie gemaakt, en blijkbaar met hoosbuien en al een nacht doorgebracht. Indrukwekkend om jullie rugzakken zo vol beladen te zien. Hoop dat jullie genoeg te eten hadden? En nu duiken, dat zal ook wel weer heel bijzonder worden. Wat maken jullie veel mee in korte tijd. Hier niet veel nieuws, behalve dat de Sint weer in het land is.....vanavond worden er alweer schoenen gezet. We hopen dat jullie het op de volgende trek ook weer zo goed gaan hebben. Heel veel liefs, Reinder & Agnes

Elspeth yates said...

For James Yates

Wow the jungle trek sounds amazing and very glad to hear they're making you work for your diving teehee. Hope you have an incredible time learning to dive and don't meet anymore bitey creatures-loved the bit about the river tortoise witha nasty disposition.....maybe you prodded it with your James stick to save the venturers?? Miss you loads. Little Sis xxx

Anonymous said...

To Sophie Tigges

Sophietje!!! Even een klein berichtje om te zeggen dat de tweede brief per postduif naar je onderweg is. Hoop snel wat van jullie op het blog te zien. Misschien als jullie gaan duiken, raar hoor zo zonder communicatie.
dikke kussen mam

Michiel en Annemiek said...

Voor Olivier Roos now in Alpha 1
Hé Ol, Heb net de foto's gezien van jullie tweede deel van Alpha 3. Echt indrukwekkend dat maagdelijke regenwoud. Je bent nu alweer een weekje in je Community project, dat zal wel heel anders zijn. Contact met de lokale mensen en een nieuwe groep, we zijn benieuwd naar de verhalen. Ik ga disndag naar INSEAD, Papa naar London en dan wandelen in Duitsland. Dikke zoen, Michiel e Annemiek

Died en Ther said...

to Julie van Wassenaer, Alpha 2
hee lieve Julie, schiet het al een beetje op met het schooltje? ontzettend leuke video, heb hem in het woold aan iedereen laten zien. dit keer waren daan en huig mee als drijvers. een mooie herfstdag. Duuc bleef alleen thuis, een beetje gechilled met z'n 11-en plus Biertje die volgens mij op je bed heeft gelegen, als een soort Goldilox. ze gingen stMaarten vieren, er was weer strijd met een paar kinderen en alle snoep lag op de stoep. ik weet niet hoe ze dat voor elkaar hebben gekregen, helaas kan jij me even niet meer inlichten! gelukkig is alles goed gegaan, alles opgeruimd en wel. je bent alweer op de helft. Sevilla geboekt! take care, dikke zoen, mama xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Oke lilien ik hoop dat je deze nu krijgt, aangezien ik de vorige keren heel boos ben geworden op google, de site, en bijna de hoop had opgegeven. maar oke niet boeiend. jeetje wat een mega bergschoenavonturen (zag zelfs teva sandalen voorbijkomen) ! heel jaloers, komen er al allemaal oermensgevoelens naar boven? denk het wel. was ook zeer onder de indruk van het olivier roos-ondekkingsreiziger filmpje, ook al begreep ik het dansen met een blaadje op je hoofd aan het eind niet helemaal maar dat ligt waarschijnlijk aan mij. oke den haag is echt niet boeiend, buiten het feit dat hele vieze mensen 15 jarigen bezwangeren en ik versierd wordt door bibliotheek medewerkers uit syrie met ook al zeg ik het zelf, uitermate creatieve openingszinnen is den haag vrijwel niets veranderd. Ben daarentegen mega benieuwd naar al je jungle verhalen! oe ik kan je wel een mini beetje jaloers maken : vrijdag was ik bij innervisions feest in rotterdam waar ik ook echt te hilarische dingen heb meegemaakt, van schoenen-uit-want- we- hebben- een- tapijt- borrel ergens in een zaal tot de welbekende jeanne rondjesloopavonturen. jaja. maar goed dat mag ook wel aangezien ik een soort van net klaar was met mijn se week! jeej joepie woehoe. naast een zeer legendarisch punt in jeanneschoolcarriere (2,7 voor duits (vietnamese koffi was niet zo'n succes volgens jeanne's maag)) is de rest natuurlijk weer uitermate pre-proof. ben natuurlijk ook al een kopje koffi bij huize woest gaan drinken, en volgens mij komen je papa en mama ergens volgende week ofzo hier eten! leuk! oke ik ga me mentaal voorbereiden op mijn squash- avontuur morgen. en moet ook melden dat ik je HEEEEEEL ERG MISSSS!!!!!!!! pinipanapower tijd moet snel weer komen! en sta natuurlijk heel trouw om half 7 op schiphol op 18 december (als het lukt) oke lilien: HEEL VEEL PLEZIER ( en hoop trouwens ook dat mijn brief is aangekomen die echt nog 8 keer zo lang was) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx PAAAAAAN

Kate said...

Matt Alpha 1
Berlusconi's gone!

Guy said...

Daisy Cooke (Alpha 2)

Hey dazzy.

Hows it going? Hope your project is going well and your really enjoying yourself. thought i'd leave you another blog comment cause i've been thinking about you loads and wondering what you are doing now! want you8 to tell me all about it. when you get home we'll have to have a whole day skype won't we! :)

Still in byron now. thinking i may stay here for a little bit to be honest cause i quite like it here at this hostel. right near the beach. need to find a job soon too. mainly because its quite hard work not doing something! need something to get up for really! forgot to tell you in my last blog, i've stopped bitting my nails and they are so long now! used stop and grow and is working a treat! by the time you get out here i'll have lost all of my annoying habits! smoking, bitting my nails and i've stopped chowwing really loudly on my food too! Dorito crisp rustling must improve though i think! been missing being silly with you daze. hope this blog comment finds you safe and well and with a huge smile on your face. will write soon! i really do love you more than anything you know beautiful xxx

Sharron Edwards said...


OH Al we got your letters today, well one on satruday that made me cry and laugh at the same time...
Another today to whcih I will be racing home to read.
It really really is lovely to hear from you son, and we are so glad you have met good friends and that bornoe is amazing.
We have sent you letters and I really hope they reach you. We wait pateintly for the next installment and news and it really makes our day to see you.
Ireally do hope you know how very very proud we are of you, and cant wait to hear about your journey and about the friends you have made.
Chin up be strong as I am Ha ha!!
love you very very much
Mummy aka sealion xxxx

Tinka said...

Heeee lieve han:D
Ik heb al een keer eerder een bericht proberen te sturen, maar lukte niet! bij deze dan:) hoe gaat het? het ziet er allemaal echt heel vet uit! totaaaal anders echt! hopelijk heb je het top! binnenkort krijgen jullie brieven! ik mis jullie wel een beetje hoor :( duurt nu wel lang! heeeel veel plezier nog xxxxxxx tinka (ak)

Sue & Peter said...

Hi Andrew (Alpha 6)
Hope the trek went well. I guess you must be scuba diving now.
Busy preparing for the Fun Day this Saturday.
We're saving all the Economists for you because you will have masses to catch up on. The euro zone has gone crazy with new leaders in Greece & Italy. It all happens when you are away!
Haven't heard site nor sound from Nick. I think he is at sea.
Dad is pracising his sax at the moment and there are some dreadful squeaks coming from downstairs with lots of cursing. He has a competion this Sunday held at NSB.
Had an e mail from Caroline & Mike giving your flight details. You are going out on the Sunday 11th from Gatwick on the same flight as Will & Mungo.
Just off to dancing.
By the way, where are the postcards!! Other people leaving blogs seem to have had one!!
Looking forward to hearing all your stories. Hope you have taken lots of photos. Take care
Lots of love Mum & Dad xxx

Caroline Bridging the Gap said...

Hello Gorgeous Ben,

Loving the photo of you with the butterfly!! Awesome - this trek looks just a wee bit more challenging than our Bibbulmun aye heheheh you're looking happy and well, we're soooo proud of you mate.....keep on trekking, and keep on smiling hugs from all your CPLA mates and BTG cant wait to have you back on the Bibbulmun!!! hugs from Caro

Henk Voorhoeve said...

Voor Wietske Alpha 5
Lieve Wietske We hebben net de foto's gezien. Uit de foto's blijkt dat je veel plezier hebt. Blijf genieten. Veel liefs van oma en opa.

Penny Yates said...

Hi James, "he of the special walking stick". As always loving the blog and lots of great photos. the leaf was astounding, I'm sure you could all wrap up in those in place of a raincoat, it's HUGE. The grumpy turtle though takes the prize, he really did look a bit cross. I wonder if that is full size or whether they get any bigger - I hope not if they are all grumpy! Good to see you standing in the river helping the venutrers across - home from home for you I'm sure. Enjoy the rest of the trek and I do so hope your ear is OK for the diving. The photos from the previous group at the dive centre looked so beautiful, lucky you.
Had a wonderful walk here at the weekend, proper English autumn: glorious colours and the leaves trickling down on the still day and catching shafts of sunshine - no leeches and no rain for me! Lots of love Mum xx

Grandma Pluck said...

To Sophie Pluck Alpha 5.
Hi Soph great photographs looking forward to seeing you at Christmas, hope you got my little letter. Loads of love Grandma xxx

Mary said...

To Sophie Pluck - Alpha 5
Hi Soph - hope you are still enjoying the jungle, can't wait to hear all your news. Your Mom has just read your letter to us - it all sounds fascinating, what an adventure! All my love Nanan x

Penny Marshall said...

Dear Jess (Alpha 5)

We have now caught up with your news about the first trek thanks to the blog - and pictures and happy jokes about Jess and others falling over "another one bites the dust!" ....My good ness it looks challenging. You will now have just about finished the second one I expect. Thanks for your text after dive island - what an achievement too!
All well home wise although I hve a touch of flu. Ive finished the family film thank god although Paul hasnt yet okeyed it. Giovanna's single comes out this week and was single of the week on some Radio 1 show so there was great excitement in their house and they are hoping you will sing again with her on your return. They are staying in the UK for Xmas now so we are having a family meal at the depot on CHristmas Eve.
We saw Alice and Jamie last weekend and little Josh> they will all be here for CHristmas and are just trying to work out whether we see them CHristmas supper or Boxing Day. (depends on their mum) Ben and Tasha and the HArrison by are thriving< Harrison is nearly crawling and I suspect will be by CHristmas!
GRandma is still doing well and I doubt you will notice any change in her. The chemo is still working and she is happy.
We had a great few days in FLorence with her and Honor and GHeorgia who behaved un-stpidly. Grandma managed to walk 6 - 7 miles a day!

We watched Holly in her school play of Hamelt last week. SHe was very good as the evil king.

Ive finished at ITN for the year so will be concentrating on the ITV training and around lots in the run-up to CHristmas.

Georgia is away with Leo this weekend at some party and Dad is making Holly and me tuna pasta bake for lunch. Plus ca change!

We have Bart staying with us for 3 weeks over Xmas.
I expect we will hear from you anyh moment. Hope the second trek was ok. We are so proud of you

Lots and lots of love
Mum x

GengQian said...

Ah Min! You look so awesome in your jungle look!

take care and have fun!

xxx geng qian

Jenbo said...

Hi Sophie, Alpha 5.
I finally got your letter, dated 2nd November! Took it's time getting here! Did you get mine yet? It has some gossip for you. (I have more gossip now so I'll have to write another one!)
Sorry to hear about your bites and the mud. It sounds like you're having a hard time of it all, but i hope you're having some fun at the same time.
Me and Ship have moved in, been there a week now. It's amazing, but I'm defaintely going to struggle with no money. Can't wait til you come home cuz you're going to be with me all the time.
We had a party on Friday, a sort of house gathering, so there's gossip from that. Plus more... haha, I'll get writing another letter tonight, you're going to laugh.
Thanks for my birthday card, I cried when I read it. Can't be too long now til you're home. I've lost count of the days, but I know I'll see you again on 18th Dec.
Love you loads, can't wait til you get home.
Jenbo XXX

Anonymous said...

For Hannah Wijmenga
ha lieve Hannah, we zitten nu met z'n allen aan de keukentafel en bedachten nog even een berichtje aan je te schrijven dat je dan nog net kunt lezen voor je weer verder gaat. Emma vraagt:" hoe het met jou en Saar is? En hebben jullie het daar naar je zin? En veel ananas gegeten?" Reinder: "Hoe is het met de lange trek geweest? en met het duiken? En of de rugzak goed zit? nog wilde dieren gezien? veel foto 's gemaakt?" en Sam: "hoe zitten de tefas;)? " Agnes :" heb je het gered met het eten? Niet verhongerd? Je kamer is ondertussen koud en een heel stille plek in huis...." Kortom: we zijn weer reuze benieuwd hoe je het hebt (gehad) en hopen zeer je donderdag te spreken...heel veel liefs Sam, Emma, Douwe, Reinder & Agnes.

Allie said...


Hi Sophs! I love reading this and seeing all of these amazing things you are doing! I miss you so much! Wendybird posted some of them so that we could all see them! I hope you are doing well! I miss you guys even more around the holidays, remember all of our holiday parties, particularly one that ended with a permanent marker mustache courtesy of my mother! we must plan times to see echoer as soon as you are back! anyways, i hope you are having such an amazing time, and cannot wait to sea all of the details when you are back! LOVE YOU XXXXXX