Saturday, 22 October 2011

Alpha 5 conquer the Crocker range

I am pleased to report that Alpha 5 have now confidently conquered the Crocker Range, spent their last night at Utan Paradise campsite and are now settling into a routine of eating, diving, eating, swimming, eating, resting, easting, sleeping on the beautiful Mamutik island.  Here they will each complete a PADI diving qualification before assisting with coral plantation or an underwater clean up. on their final day. 

News this morning is that they are working hard to increase their pot-bellies.  After choosing  to leave lots of their food behind on trek in favour of lighter bags and a Dive Island feast, they have all learnt a valuable lesson on the need for feed and will hopefully be carrying a little extra for their second trek in Kiulu valley.

Alpha 5's home for the next 5 days

Before heading over to the island, Alpha 5 gave us a few comments about their adventure so far...

After 5 days in the jungle we managed to see some interesting animals such as a flying squirrel, a monitor lizard, a walking leaf, ants the size of crickets and crickets the size of mice. Furthermore Andy found a scorpion in his bed and indestructible leeches could be found everywhere. The winner of the worst leech experience goes to Jemma with a leech companion in her bed!
Stephanie van Berckel

Stephanie tries out a blow pipe. A traditional Bornean jungle hunting method 
The days of jungle trekking were tough, we walked and climbed with our backpacks on in the very hot sun. At the end of each days trek we had to make camp and put up our bashers and make dinner with not very much equipment. It was heavy work each day but now we are going to dive island for a week to regain our energy on the beach, with all the food in the world and diving every day.
Saar de la Hayze

Swimming in the river is absolutely the best feeling ever after being sweaty, dirty, sticky and tired for the whole day. But the feeling goes away quickly after you find that there is a leech on you - not so nice.
Julie van Wassenaer

It's not all hard work.  The group get some relaxation time by the river

Trek lesson number one – You will remain hungry for the entire time. After cutting down the amount of food we took in to the jungle to the bare minimum we have discovered that the novelty of eating crushed crackers and mayo soon wears off. The worst food moment of the week has to be the porridge in the morning.
Emily Obhrai

A friend stops by at the dinner table
Five days of working out, de-toxing and a strict diet of porridge and tuna I couldn’t be more prepared for the beach. Having learnt various survival skills such as setting up tarps and hammocks, effectively packing my rucksack and fending off every leech in sight has left me both emotionally and physically drained. I feel I have learnt a lot about jungle living and have come to appreciate the simpler things such as a chair with a comfy cushion, solid back and reclining function.  Quote of the week "Raleigh rations  I could do with a bit more".
Patrick John Rutledge
Alpha 5 prepare dinner each night over an open fire, in their makeshift kitchen
After living out of our bags for five days now, crackers and porridge have already become repetitive and unappetizing. Dreams of pizza, a full English and a Chinese take away are all too common.  I’d still like a ‘proper’ cup of tea with real milk, but I can only imagine. We top up with water each day otherwise we have everything already in our slowly lightening rucksacks.
Oliver Cobb

I am having a good time in jungle with the beautiful scenery and weather (even the rain). When it started raining I was looking forward to spending the night in the dry only to find the waterproof qualities of my tarpaulin to be severely lacking. Fortunately using my ‘commando-esque’ skills  I managed to construct a secondary tarp. It turned out to be a slightly damp, but memorable night. An ample serving on Raleigh rations ensured I slept like a king.
Rufus Morse
Jungle Kings need jungle jewellery. 
Local guide, Inus teaches the group the art of making bangles out of rattan
I’m having a wicked time, the food is "amazing"! But not to worry I brought a mini herbs and spices shop with me. Truly though having an amazing time meetings lots of new people and going to new places.
Michael Jarvis

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Alpha 2 Construction Started

Isla the photographer has stopped by at Fieldbase on her way back from Lingka Buguan, where building of the Alpha 2 kindergarten is progressing well.

Alpha 2's new home
The view from the house
Lingka Buguan
On Sunday the group received a warm welcome from the community at the church service. The afternoon was spent improving the living facilities and repairing the mud steps to the house after the storm of the evening before.
Alpha 2 In their Sunday Best for Church
With the location of the school confirmed, work soon started on site preparation. The arrival of the Belian wood posts and remaining timber was very timely.  The group carefully measured the site and applied Pythagorean theory to check the angles.  The lay out was critically examined by the villagers and soon given the thumbs up.  The four key corner posts were soon in place.
Phase 1 Ready to Start
Accurately measuring posts

The group also completed their lesson planning and are keen to start teaching the cute children of the school.
Painting lessons
Drew from the Asian Forestry Company visited and provided an insight to the group about the work of AFC and plans for the future sustainable development of the forestry of the area.

Isla was reluctant to leave Lingka Buguan, but before she left their was time to play human starfish with group.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Who is going where?

Day four at Basecamp, Deltas 2,4 and 6 have returned safely from the jungle via a small run in with a goat and after sharing the river rope bridge with an early motorbike commuter.  Deltas 1, 3 and 5 have completed their final training sessions and at 10:30 as the drum roll starts, everyone waits with a mix of enthusiasm and apprehension for Petr to announce project allocations for phase 1.

Building a kindergarten for Alpha 1 in Kampung Alab with Project Managers Matt, Nat and Kirsty are; Andy Hartley, Gary Lithgow, Hannah Wijmenga, Min Ng Zhi, Nicolien Wijburg, Oli Cowling, Paige Caldaralo, Ruben Bloembergen, Ryan Willis.

Also building a kindergarten, but for Alpha 2 in Kampung Lingka Bugan with Project Managers Joe, Claire and Nick are Ali Bathie, Barbara Tordoir, Ben Piggott, Cyril Gabil, Daisy Cooke, Gordon Proctor, Jeremy Critien, Jess Ewart, Renske Douma

Our photographer Isla will be going to both community projects for the first ten days so will be bringing back photos and stories for the blog

Going to Danum Valley with Alpha 3 are Project Managers Ed, Mat and Mary and Alex Edwards, Bobby Smart, Carrie Ka Yee Chan, Jonathan Walker, Lee Keam Lai, Lilien Woestenburg, Oliver Roos, Shaun Yandell, Sophie Pluck, Wietske Voorhoeve.

Working on the Sun Bear project at Sepilok for Alpha 4 with Project Managers Ted, Kirsty and Fern are; Evelien Memelink, Kinilus Sadampal, Lydia Hale, Maurits van Rhijn, Rowan Burt, Sara Webb, Seb Dunne, Siger Ramshorst, Sophie Shearer, Tarnya McKeown

Our Communications Officer Katie, will be spending the first half of phase 1 at the environmental projects before heading back to fieldbase to update the blog with news. 

Alpha 5 start their expedition trekking in the Crocker Range before diving then trekking again in Kiulu.  Going with Project Managers Jemma, Ru and Andy are;  Emily Obrhai, Frazer Ross, Julie Wassenaer, Michael Jarvis, Oliver Cobb, Patrick Rutledge, Rufus Morse, Saar de la Hayze, Stephanie van Berckel

Finally heading south to the village of Long Pa’Sia to spend 12 days trekking before going to Dive Island are the Alpha 6 team.  Project Managers Anne, James and Julian are joined by Barend van Marwijk Kooij, Chia Sin Liew, Cloe Donegan, Elliott Simpson, Eva Manneke, Jamie Player, Josh Spuyman, Leo Faulks, Megan Thompson . 

After some quick hellos to their new teams and goodbyes to the Delta teams, there was no time to rest.  The remainder of the day was spent learning more about the project, planning, packing, sorting out food, tools and equipment, re-planning, re-packing and getting to know each other.

Daisy and Ben check off the equipment for Alpha 2

Johnny and Shaun check there is enough food for Alpha 3

Sara and Evelien count rations

The trekkers need to organise and pack their food separately for each day

Ali, Barbara, Gordon and Jess pack up for Alpha 2
The logistics team – Nicki, Andy and Craig had a giant task of getting each Alpha project’s food, kit and tools ready throughout the week at Basecamp, as well as joining in training, trekking and games.  They have expedition thoroughly mapped out so that projects are fully supplied awith everything they need - nothing would run without them. 
Logs Manager Nicki oversees the equipment
Andy and Craig - never go anywhere without a role of duct tape.

Happy with a job well done, Oliver displays his signature move, which has earned him the name "Fame"
All groups climbed onto buses at 6am Saturday morning, ready for the long and often bumpy road to their project sites.  They have all arrived safely and have been busy settling into their new homes and getting to know their new neighbours, which we hear includes everything from local villagers to bearded pigs and orangutans. 

Our Fieldbase team will be leaving on Thursday for a week long visit to all sites.  Please post lots of comments, so we can take them with us.  It really makes a big difference to hear news from home.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

It's Jungle Time!

After an early wake up call from the cicadas, all groups had a hearty porridge breakfast and prepared for the day ahead.  Deltas 1, 3 and 5 were the first groups into the jungle following a lesson in camp craft and jungle survival from our local guides.  First they had to sort and evenly distribute the all important food and group equipment. 

Each group has a day leader who delegates tasks so that everyone gets to camp safely, happy and with enough time to put up hammocks, group tarpaulin, put up the radio, dig long drops and slops pits and wash in the river.

Raleigh rations - yum!
Delta 5 prepare for the jungle

Delta 1

 Delta 3

The first challenge is only a short way into the trek

Jungle bound Jamie

The remaining teams stayed behind at Basecamp to continue training in radio procedure, first aid, navigation, tool and water safety.  They finished their day with Ted's pub quiz and Delta 4 (coincidentally Ted's own team) claiming victory for the second time. 

The following morning, all groups woke at first light to heavy rain.  Deltas 1, 3 and 5 began to de-camp for the trek back to Basecamp.  Deltas 2, 4 and 6 were also busy packing and learning vital jungle skills in the rain as the two groups switched places.  With slippery paths both in and out of the jungle everyone was on high alert, however this did not dampen spirits and luckily the sun broke free very quickly.

Delta 2
Delta 4

Nicolien and Daisy get ready

Delta 6
Frazer and Siger burn off some excess energy before the start
and they're off

Ben shows off his bed for the night

Lydia weight tests her hammock before properly getting in

Time to break out the crackers and iced gems after a job well done
After another full day for all, Delta 3 took winning place in the Basecamp quiz and deep in the jungle Saar and Oli prepared a winning combination of noodles and mock duck for dinner, which Elliot claims "tastes just like scallops".  As the groups in both camps settled down, praying for a dry night, Sabah’s full moon came out and all slept soundly dreaming of the next days project allocations.  

Check back with us tomorrow to find out where everyone is for phase 1.

11K Is Out Here!

Getting ready for expedition

The staff team have spent the last two weeks at Fieldbase getting ready for the arrival of 56 Venturers from across the world and preparing to deploy to project sites across Sabah.

Last Saturday, project managers and fieldbase staff headed to Kota Kinabalu International Airport to meet the Venturers and quickly formed six ‘Delta’ groups.  Teams stay in their delta groups all week - learning everything they need to know for project life from radio language to crossing rivers safely and everybody spends a night in a self-made bed after trekking into the jungle.
PM Claire waits with excitement for her new team at the airport
First things first and we went straight from the airport to the swimming pool for the Raleigh swim assessment, which consists of a 200 metre swim and 4 minutes treading water.  Often a bath on project site comes in the form of a river, so it is important we have a good understanding of everyones capabilities, however with the guidelines we have in place, even non-swimmers will be able to join in.  There's no excuse for smelly people out here!
For most people, a refreshing splash after almost 24 hours travelling on buses, trains and planes

Basecamp is in a beautiful location near the village of Kiulu and in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.  Our Host Country Venturers (HCVs) arrived here a day earlier than everyone else and along with setting up the camp, they prepared a Raleigh Borneo style traditional dance to greet the revitalised swimmers on arrival at Basecamp, which gave everyone a final boost to get their beds ready for the night ahead.
We were lucky enough that Mount K popped out to say hello the new arrivals

Min helps Ali get ready for her first night at Basecamp

Preparation for a good nights sleep
After a night of fresh jungle air (and no rain), day one of training began.  It kicked off with a over 80 amoebas battling it out through games of rock, paper, scissors to evolve into chickens, then monkeys before final reaching the final stage of evolution - human.

Once all but a few had reached human status, Delta groups spread across Basecamp to continue with games, activities, preparation and training ready for the months ahead.

Delta 6 learn the art of lowering a bamboo pole as a team - not as easy as it looks
Josh, Oliver and Jin cross a "crocodile infested" swamp

Emily and Delta 1 get knotted up

Sylvia, one of our jungle guides shows the teams how to put up the perfect hammock

Many rivers to cross....  Julian shows us how to do it safely

and the teams like to practice....

...a lot!  (Well, it was a hot day).

Nick, Johnny and Elliot eagerly anticipate their chance to get in the river.

Rufus gets to grips with a perang (machette) aka the jungle Mastercard

In less than 24 hours, Delta groups had formed bonds strong enough to take on the Olympic stage. So that's just what they did! Under the watchful eye of Raleigh Borneo Royalty, Delta groups competed in an incredible line up of Raleigh style games.
Queen Sarah and King Petr.
 Raleigh Borneo's Country Programme Manager and Deputy Programme Manager
Let the games begin...

This is crackers!  Yes it is, but which team could eat the Raleigh lunch staple in the fastest time?

Heave!  The teams put their muscles into action

and the girls show them how it's done

Human wheelbarrows tackle the assault course
The grand finale Bravo push

The Gold Medal goes to Delta 4
After a long day, a lot of tired but happy people, put on "longs" along with a good spray of deet to keep the mosquitoes at bay.  We were treated to an incredible sunset over Mount K before settling down for a well deserved good nights sleep in comfy bashas.