Saturday, 1 October 2011

Project planning

6am. Project managers have left fieldbase and are on their way to project sites across Sabah. Over the next few days they will be planning projects - identifying camps, meeting local guides and project partners and getting to know the community and environments they'll be working in. 

The radio room is set up and manned 24/7 at fieldbase and we will be getting updates from the groups twice a day until they are back on Tuesday.

Winning the most epic journey award is Alpha 3 -  Matt D, Ed, Mary and photographer Isla load up a taxi to the bus station where they'll get a long distance bus for 8 hours, travel in 4x4s for 4 hours and trek for another 6 to get to the project site.

Ready for the wild: Ted about to leave for the Alpha 4 sunbears project in Sepilok.

Heavy load? A typical PM's kit.

Trek leader Ruth ready to check out the Alpha 5 trek in Kiulu and the Croker range.

Claire and Alfie the Elephant on their way to the Alpha 2 community project where they'll be building a kindergarten in Kg Linka Buguan.

Snap! Anne's shoelaces didn't make it past fieldbase. Spares are with Anne and the Alpha 6 team on their way to project planning Long Pasia trek.

James with an extraordinary amount of luggage.

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

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Full staff team at fieldbase

 Fresh after travelling from the UK, Oz and across South East Asia, project managers arrived today and joined the fieldbase team - completing the 11K staff family. 

Many of the volunteer managers attended a development weekend in London or had met in a previous life on a Raleigh selection weekend, but this was the first time the entire team met.
First arrivals JUMP! um, that means JUMP!

Cuddly Kirsty the Kangaroo arrives with her famous big Scottish hug

And the first induction was Raleigh’s classic name game. For those who know what we are talking about here you’ll understand that for Enigmatic Ed the Elephant who was last in the circle of 28 it was quite a challenge. 

Taking turns to remember everyone by their first name, chosen animal and adjective all beginning with the same letter -  the person to go first has to remember only their own, and last recalls all 28.  

 Jolly Jemma the Jaguar kicked off the Raleigh name game and had a pretty good deal compared to Enigmatic Ed the Elephant and Katie the Clumsy (with a K) Koala

Volunteer managers are 25 and above and come from all walks of life and professional backgrounds including engineers, accountants, builders, IT, media, activity and youth leaders. 11K is in safe hands with eight medics out on expedition.

Over the next two weeks everyone will be trained up at Raleigh’s base camp in the jungle, visiting projects and preparing for when the venturers arrive on 10 October. 

Keep following the blog for updates.