Saturday, 18 August 2012

Bryony and the Bears. Alpha 4 Phase 2

By Bryony Hutchinson

I don’t think I ever registered that when I volunteered with Raleigh Borneo, there was the remotest possibility that I would be less than three metres from a wild Orang-utan. Insane, seriously, you cannot imagine it!

We walk to work each morning and more often than not Sepilok is buzzing with animal noises; squirrels chattering, hornbills, red leaf monkeys, macaques and most intriguingly ... Sun Bears barking. Yep, a little known fact about the ‘forgotten bear’ is that they bark, like a louder version of a yappy terrier with a smidgen of Great Dane growl. It’s an impressive sound for what is really quite a small creature. We are some of the fortunate few that get a backstage pass to one of the most amazing wildlife locations in Borneo. Our particular project is building bear enrichment areas (bear playgrounds and training areas) for one of the least known endangered species- Sun Bears.

After being here for a couple of weeks I thought I’d write a blog about them to share what I have learnt so far. The bears are fairly dog like in terms of teeth, excellent sense of smell, growling, barking and a devotion to Pedigree dog treats! They are about the size of a Labrador and are pretty shy, to the point where they bark at strangers, but unlike dogs their single biggest threat is loss of habitat.  The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is an organisation that rescues orphaned/ captive bears, and depending on their situation and experience, seeks to return them to the wild. This is often dependent on the success of their training and how much human contact they have been exposed to.
So this is where Alpha 4 come in; our enrichment areas are designed to teach the bears to climb and nest at height- a massive part of their life skills, whilst offering them shelter and sun bathing areas. Yes- Sun Bears like to sun bathe! We have completed one enrichment area which was started in Phase 1, designed two more and are currently sweating our way through constructing our two newest designs.










The new structures have stretched our creative and constructive brains to the max! Brilliant Alpha 4 minds have come up with a steel tire tree and a structure we have named ‘The Tripod’. We hope that our next design will incorporate as many climbing frames, nesting areas and feeding options as we can think of using bellian, or’ iron’ wood, fire hose and old tires. All in all we are pretty busy and working hard.








At the end of a long, hot, sweaty day in Sepilok the luxuries of Jungle Camp are a welcome sight- bucket showers are not to be underestimated! In all seriousness, getting back to camp and enjoying a 3 in 1 coffee whilst waiting for amazing Raleigh Rations (I love our groups culinary skills) is proving to be a joy I would not pass up!




So although my bruises have bruises, freckles have taken over 80% of my body, and unfortunately by addiction to peanuts and all peanut related snacks has increased, fortunately my construction ‘jungle guns’ (arm muscles for the parents reading this) are constantly growing!



Friday, 17 August 2012

A catch up with Alpha 8


Dearest parents, friends and loved ones,

Due to popular demand N-Dog nd Shah-dizzle are back for a special edition Opening Ceremony blog post from Alpha 8. Today we expect a visit from the Fieldbase team, the press, the Malaysian Government and representatives from Coca Cola.

We will be turning on the tap, and keeping our fingers crossed that clean water flows without any hitches. Our community project is coming to an end and our hard work has definitely paid off as we have helped to improve the lives of those in Kampung Borobi.

It should be a great day consisting of dressing up in traditional Borobi clothing, dancing with the locals and eating some amazing food made by the community. I think it is safe to say that we are relieved that we will not be having crackers and corned beef for once. Alpha 8 haven’t only been working for the last week, we have also had an awful lot of fun.

O Saturday night we dressed up in jungle gear for a bombastic black tie dinner. The guys used leaves as ties and the girls tried their best to make dresses out of what they could find(it’s the effort that counts...)

On Sunday we dressed up in traditional Rungus clothing. Cecilia even got an offer of marrying a local in exchange for a water buffalo. We are not sure if she will be returning to England or not- that’s a pretty good offer! Someone else who the villagers are reluctant to let go of is Big Shaw a.k.a Georrge. The masses flock to see the local Raleigh ‘giant’- at over 6’he is the tallest person the villagers have ever laid eyes on.
Alpha 8 Out.

Dearest parents, friends and loved ones,
Due to popular demand N-Dog nd Shah-dizzle are back for a special edition Opening Ceremony blog post from Alpha 8. Today we expect a visit from the Fieldbase team, the press, the Malaysian Government and representatives from Coca Cola.
We will be turning on the tap, and keeping our fingers crossed that clean water flows without any hitches. Our community project is coming to an end and our hard work has definitely paid off as we have helped to improve the lives of those in Kampung Borobi.
It should be a great day consisting of dressing up in traditional Borobi clothing, dancing with the locals and eating some amazing food made by the community. I think it is safe to say that we are relieved that we will not be having crackers and corned beef for once. Alpha 8 haven’t only been working for the last week, we have also had an awful lot of fun.

On Saturday night we dressed up in jungle gear for a bombastic black tie dinner. The guys used leaves as ties and the girls tried their best to make dresses out of what they could find(it’s the effort that counts...)
On Sunday we dressed up in traditional Rungus clothing. Cecilia even got an offer of marrying a local in exchange for a water buffalo. We are not sure if she will be returning to England or not- that’s a pretty good offer! Someone else who the villagers are reluctant to let go of is Big Shaw a.k.a Georrge. The masses flock to see the local Raleigh ‘giant’- at over 6’he is the tallest person the villagers have ever laid eyes on.



Your very own N-dog and Shah-dizzle, as well as Fionna, Razwana and Cecilia managed to blag our way into a home stay. We spent the night in beds, yes I did say beds, REAL BEDS! We were all very tempted to not see the rest of Alpha 8 again and stay in our luxury accommodation! Oh and did I forget to mention that Borobi dad (Papa) was a chef and we ate boar for dinner and delicious noodles for breakfast! Angela was very jealous of this as it is very common knowledge that Angela LOVES noodles. In fact Angela would prefer to eat only noodles for the rest of her life than never have noodles again!
Thanks for reading our blog! We are truly sad to see our project coming to an end, although it is currently 6am and we only have six hours to ensure that this dam is running absolutely perfectly for the Opening Ceremony. We are all in good health here and cannot wait for the upcoming adventure challenge. 

We will see you all soon, goodbye for now,
Alpha 8 Out.



Apologies for not having many photos, but check back soon for photos of the Opening Ceremony!


A message from Gabby Shaw: Happy Birthday Mum. Hope you have a great day, I am sorry that I cannot reply to any of the blog. Love Gabby.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

12D Phase 3 Allocations

Phase 1 and 2 have passed in the blink of an eye. Phase 3 is upon us and allocations have been as exciting as always! By a process of elimination, everyone knew what project type they would be going to but the anticipation of who they would be sharing the next three weeks with was eagerly awaited. On Friday morning Phase 3 allocations were announced;
Alpha 1- Kindergarten Build in Kampung Komburongo
PMs Adam, Emily and Simon
Amy Sedghi, Euan Judd, Fiona Bailey, Jermae Paynter-Smith, Pui Lyn Yam(Bernice), Sabrina Thomas, Shaelay Saltus, Shin Ng Shea, Umit Utku

 Alpha 2- Gravity Water Feed in Kampungs Lalapakon and Mansiat
PMs Conor, Candice and Nicki
Charlotte Ezaz, Christina Buchmann, Emma Hay, Euan Archibald, Joe Rowntree, Nas Radzi Nasrah, Ndavyah Williams

Alpha 3 - Water Tank Construction in Danum Valley
PMs Ernie, Max and Phili
Alastair Graves, Annie Moss, Claire Tolcher, David Campbell, Deanna Green, Kathleen Fairburn, Li Ying Chia, Peter Mardle



Alpha 4 - Bear Enrichment Areas in Sepilok
PMs Lucy, Nick and Emma
Alex Roberts, Amanda DeSilva, Amy Edwards, Charmaine Kagaga, Christopher Thomson, Helen Green, Jack Richardson, Jaclyn Kennedy, James Russ-Silsby, Victoria Hutcheson


Alpha 5- Trek Dive in Long Pasia and Mamutik
PMs Matt, Ian and Sheila
Amon Butler, Anthony Howden, Ben Allon-Smith, Clarke Dodd, Dwayne Ryton, Elizabeth Julie Anjun, James Doble, Michael Astwood Smith, Petra Dimitrijevic, Rayanne Brangman



The groups were up as usual at 5am on the morning of departure and left at 6am. There were a few tears and many, many hugs as the 10 weekers said goodbye to the 7 weekers. We would like to say a huge thank you to the dedication and hard work that the 7 week V’s have put in over the last two phases. You will all be missed!




















This is the last part of expedition 12D. It has been an outstanding 7 weeks so far and everyone is determined to make their last phase the best yet. So I am looking forward to giving you updates of all of the V’s hard work in order to get all of the projects finished, the opening ceremonies and most importantly all of the fun that they will be getting up to in the next 3 weeks!