Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Karate Kids

Fieldbase some special visitors this week to celebrate Chinese New Year. A group of children from a local karate school and their teacher came to fieldbase and performed a traditional lion dance. For the Volunteer managers who had just arrived back from their project planning visitors it was a nice welcome home.

It is a typical practice for a martial arts school to have lion dancer troupes that visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of "cai ching" at new year. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune and the troupe is usually rewarded with a "red envelope" containing money. The lion dance has close relations to Kung Fu, the martial art members of the local kung fu club or school practice in their club and some train hard to master the skill as one of the disciplines of the martial art.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Allocations what you need

Drumroll please...the allocations for the volunteer project managers have been announced! The PMs may do one of each of the three different phases Community, Environmental or Adventure, the same one for all three phases or a combination so don't be suprised to see the same person on a couple of photos. 

Pictured right: Let's here it for Alpha 1 Community - Building a Kindergarten in KG Mandurian Laut (L-R Penny, Laura, Jerry and Natalie W being presented with project file by Deputy programme manager Stephen)

Pictured left: Alpha 2 Community - Building a gravity feed water system in KG Nibang Pitas and KG Binotugan Suyad, Pitas (L-R Penny, Craig, Nikki, Stuie, Natalie and Caroline being presented with the project folder by fieldbase Finance Manager Jerry)

Pictured right: Alpha 3 Community - Building a Gravity water feed system in KG Imusan, Tongod (L-R Nikki, Cat, Caroline, Astrid, Claire, Paul and Dave) 

Pictured left: Alpha 4  Environmental - Sepilok Sunbear Conservation Centre, Sandakan
(L-R Caroline, Chaitaly, Louise, Dave, Natalie - with her hair in a towel sorry Nat!, Kim and the other Dave).

Pictured right: Alpha 5 Environmental - Danum Valley, Lahad Datu (L-R Emma, Sam, Rich, Dan, Kristina and Alex being presented by Kim from logistics)

Pictured left: Alpha 6 Environmental - Bio-diversity survey, Kota Marudu
(L-R Dave, Tim, Craig and Penny being presented the project folder by Alex from logistics)

Pictured right: Alpha 7 Adventure - Trek and dive, Long Pasia (L-R Rich, Cat, Dan, Sam, Krystyna being presented with the project folder by Louise from fieldbase logistics)

Pictured left: Alpha 8 Adventure - Trek and dive, Long Pasia
(L-R Rich, Sam, James and Claire being presented with project folder by fieldbased Team Coach and videographer Ed)

Pictured right: Alpha 9 Adventure - Trek and dive, Kiulu (L-R Astrid, Cat, Joe and Emma being presented project folder by Natalie, fieldbase administrator - once again apologies for fetching blue towel)

So that's it the allocations have been done and the project manager have all gone on a project planning visit for a few days to scope out the site and requirements. They'll be back on Wednesday with plenty to tell us, just in time for a fancy dress party in the theme of the phonetic alphabet! Oh and in case you are wondering about the fieldbase team they will all get to go out on project for about 10 days including the communications team, that's myself, Greg the photographer and Ed the videographer who generally get to visit most of the sites as we need to bring all the news to you!

Carry on, into the jungle!

Thursday and the day after jungle camp we were up bright and early, packing up our bashas, making porridge on our trangias and setting ourselves up for the day making sure we drank a good two litres of water as we were off on our trek into the rainforest.
Before we set off, what we needed was some camp craft and Zul, Floyd and Sylvia our local guides taught us how to put up hammocks and tarps in the trees and how to use a Perang (a machete). The girls really showed us how chopping up bamboo canes is done with the boys taking a surprising back seat and Kristina, Kim and Emma leading the way, you go girls!

Crunch time...the jungle trek. The team had been split into three Tango groups and set off on their trek in every ten minutes. It was about 9am and 30 degrees already. The rucksacks weighed on average 20kg, the weight of a small child (or as some were saying an extra large/small adult!). We also had the task of carrying what was affectionately called the sausage or the kebab, depending on which Tango group you were in, which is a bright orange tarpaulin wrapped around a bamboo cane and measuring the length of six people. Groups took it in turns, two at a time to carry this piece of kit as well as their own rucksack adding an extra bit of effort sweat into the mix.

After arriving to big cheers at the clearing where we were setting up camp that night the next task was for each group to find their own Jungle Hilton, or two trees within 6-8 feet of each other where an individual hammock and tarpaulin could be set up. Harder than it sounds with all the best spots being taken on a first come first served basis.

If you were lucky you got a spot not too high up on the hill, close (but not too close!) to the long drop/hole in the ground aka toilet and had some friendly human neighbours from your Tango group.

Those that were unlucky had a spot at the top of the hill, a jungle trek in itself to get to the long drop, beastly neighbours such as ants and bees and a 75 degree angle ground space. Yes in case you hadn’t noticed by my tone I got the short straw! But it all added to the experience and everyone helped each other out in setting up their camp.

At about 3pm the jungle heavens opened and we were treated to an impromptu power shower in our clothes. Quick get all your kit under your hammock! Here is a short video of the ‘rain’forest from under a basha.

After a refreshing natural shower, we changed into longs (long trouser and tops to avoid mozzie bites) and set to work cooking our jungle dinner. Rations again, followed by a talk by the local jungle guides on their beliefs about the spirit of the jungle. Taking a moment to lie down under the cover of the big tarpaulin we all lay in silence listening to the sounds of the jungle. It was hard to believe we were actually here, and yes the sounds of those YouTube rainforest relaxation recordings are pretty realistic!

Borneo Jungle sounds at night

After a long and tiring but unique day we all climbed into our basha’s and went to sleep to the sounds of the jungle at night, praying we would remain dry and for some of us, not daring to move and snap our hammocks. Unfortunately for some the latter became reality to the background of giggles by their team members!