Sunday, 7 April 2013

Alpha 2, Phase 2 – Venturer account

by Asher Spencer

Our time at Alpha 2 started with a heart warming black tie dinner. Both Venturers and PMs went all out with their costumes either wearing penguin suits or dresses. Inhibitions were broken down as the camp was rife with dancing and laughter; the ridiculous costumes were a great way for us to bond as a new group.

Work began at the weir and involved digging trenches to lay the pipes by the header tanks and mixing cement to concrete the weir. Despite a minor setback from a small leak in the pipe the problem was quickly resolved. Laying the pipe itself was hard work but immensely satisfying once complete. The group could finally see the fruits of their labour as the gravity water feed began to take a firm shape. The excitement in the air was and still is palpable.

Clearing the route was also a key part of our work. This involved using parangs to slash away at dense undergrowth to create a path for the pipe to be laid. Unfortunately, we were often reduced to watching as Aunty (the Head of the Village) and her fellow villagers had ninja-like abilities with a parang and worked them with ease and sped the process up.

Our first night staying at Aunty’s house was hilarious. All the villagers came together to welcome us. There was a really vibrant energy coursing through the house and once again the place was alive with laughter and dancing. The cause of much of this laughter came from our pretty awful karaoke efforts. The night was a major success and both the locals and Alpha group parted the next day feeling considerably closer and more comfortable with one another.

Soon it was time for a well deserved and much needed rest day. An impromptu barber shop was set up as Sal produced a mixed bag of haircuts. Two stripes for Alpha 2 were branded into many heads – we even managed to attack members of the Loop. We also spent the day filming some of the Expedition music video which began to take shape with some hysterical spontaneous choreography.

Our second night at Aunty’s was slightly less energetic but the food was very impressive, with a range of dishes for us to try.  Everyone was really eager to dig in and there was a really great atmosphere between the villagers and us. We were bursting with a real sense of community and left the next day with full stomachs and big smiles on our faces.

World Water Day was arguably the most emotional and significant day the team experienced. Both Mitch and Jimmy gave moving speeches about water co-operation which were translated by Sabrina and Shirley. Then it was Aunty’s turn and as she spoke tears began to flow freely down her cheeks. No translation was needed to convey the power or intensity of her emotions. It was a touching moment which will surely be etched into the memory of our group for years to come. The speech was followed with the cutting of AWAS tape and the weir was declared finished. We watched the water rise to the top in awe. Yet another memorable day in Alpha 2.

The rest of the phase was filled with clearing paths and laying lots and lots of pipe, integrating with the local community and enjoying ourselves as a group. Our fancy dress efforts remained fantastic until the end and watching the gorgeous sunset in Bulud Batu as the pleasant afternoon slipped into a cool evening was always great. It was a unique experience, during which the entire group shared an equal appreciation of the wonderful community in which we were living.


Frances Birley said...

Hugh Birley - Alpha 7

Just seen the photos of the diving - looks amazing. Glad to hear that you passed with flying colours!
You'll be pleased to hear that your car started first time and has been happily purring round the island. It's beautifully clean inside!! Gave Ellie A a lift and she was very impressed with it! Saw the Garners last night (James was doing some physics with Ruth) they all sent their love and have now looked you up on the blog site.
Not long to go now till I see you in Australia - can't wait.
Everyone sends lots of love
mum xx

Anonymous said...

For Rosie Rich; Alpha 2

Hey Rosie,
Final comment from me via laptop and wifi; it will be all 3G and thumb typing on my phone from here on in! The previous alpha 2 seem to have a had a great time in Bulud Batu with black tie and mad hatter's tea parties and lots of socialising at Auntie's house, so I hope that it is as enjoyable for you and the rest of the team; although karaoke has also been mentioned? Probably leave that to the imagination! You are probably really enjoying spending more time in the jungle clearing paths and getting the remainder of the water pipes run out to connect up to the taps; it will be really satisfying to be there at the end of the construction project and see all of the alpha 2's hard work come to fruition and see what a difference it makes to village life. I think that the way the phases have fallen for you through the whole expedition has been absolutely awesome.
You will be glad to know, I'm sure(!), that it has finally warmed up a bit here during the day but it is still cold at night. So the grass has had it's first cut of the year, although it wasn't exactly T-shirt weather while I was doing it.
I am back off to Portsmouth tonight to pack my seabag (lucky I didn't lend it to you to take out there!) and then down to Plymouth tomorrow before going to sea on Tuesday. So take care, enjoy the rest of the exped and your time in KK before flying back and I will see you shortly afterwards! I will continue to blog between now and then when I can.
Lots of love Dad :) xxx

Off-on-holiday-again said...

For Max Sheldon Alpha 2
Dear Max, Dad and I have been following all the postings from previous Alph 2s and the account of World Water Day. You are part of something really special and life-changing and we're very proud of you. By the sound of it you'll be having a lot of hard-working fun completing the gravity water feed at Bulud Batu. It'll be a fantastic achievement for the whole Raleigh team and what a privilege to be part of it.
Your PADI certificate come in the post yesterday. How brilliant is that! You look very happy in the photo with all that white shell sand and blue sky and sea in the background. Lucky Max.
Your letter from Borneo came this week too, tucked into the one you sent to Yasemin. Thank you. It was lovely to hear from you and I've passed on your love to Minnie.
The dogs have had a shampoo and set with a beard trim for Ellie, so they're ready for their long weekend away in Shropshire. Dad and I are going to a place I stayed in when I did the B and B course which will be fun. And of course we've got Suffolk to look forward to when you come back.
After more snow last week it's finally turned a bit more springlike here with a few sunny warmer days. I expect that by the time you return everything will be back on track.
All our love Mum and Dad xxxxxx

On holiday again Mum said...

Dear Max,
This is my third time of trying to leave a comment for you. The first one failed because the internet connection failed, the second failed because I pressed the wrong key and I can only hope I get it right this time. It's technology, that's what it is Max. Technology.
Dad and I have been following previous Alpha 2 Venturer postings and the account of World Water Day. You're part of something really special Max and we're very proud of you. It sounds like you'll be having a lot of hard-working fun completing the gravity water feed. It'll be such a life-changing achievement for the villagers of Bulud Batu and the whole Raleigh team.
Your PADI certificate came in the post yesterday. How brillian is that! You look very happy in the photo with all that white shell sand and blue sea and sky in the background. Lucky Max.
We also got the letter you slipped into the one for Yasemin. Thank you. It was lovely to hear from you.
The dogs have had a shampoo and set and Ellie has had her beard trimmed so they're all ready for their long weekend away in Shropshire. Dad and I are going to a place I stayed in when I did the B and B course. It'll be fun.
After snow last week, Spring feels like it might finally be on the way. I'm sure everything will be back on track by the time you return.
Lots of love Mum and Dad xxxxxxxx

Leo Blom said...

To Nicky Blom

Hoi Nin,

Ik bekijk al een week fotos van Alpha 2 maar ik zie jou nooit?
Begin een beetje4 ongerust te worden.
Kan je een teken (laten)geven dat het goed gaat?


caroline van ravels said...

To Emma van Ravels , alpha 6

Ha Em, toch maar weer even een berichtje op het blog. Je krijgt volgens mij bijna weer visite van de loop en aangezien je het zo leuk vindt om post te ontvangen, even een krabbel van je moeder. Het is niet te geloven dat jouw raleigh avontuur er al weer bijna opzit!! Ben benieuwd naar jouw verhalen over deze laatste fase! Er is heel veel op de blog verschenen, maar nog niks over alpha 6. Dat zal dan hoop wel snel komen. Wij hebben heel rustig weekend gehad. Eindelijk zon!!!!!!!!! Daar is iedereen zo blij mee! Merel vermaakt zich prima in Amsterdam. Verder eigenlijk helemaal niks te melden. Het is stil hier in huis zonder alle kinderen. Bij de kindertelefoon loopt het prima. Het is leuk en heel afwisselend werk! Pap had jouw terugreis omgeboekt naar eind mei, maar nu zagen we dat ze er eind april van hebben gemaakt. Vandaag dus maar weer aan de slag om de boel te veranderen!! Vergeet niet , als je hier klaar bent, om meteen een CV te schrijven voor de hotelschool (in het engels natuurlijk) Dat kan je dan naar ons sturen, sturen wij het wel weer door. Ze zullen in Kota K wel ergens een internetcafé hebben toch? Nou lieverd, ik stop er weer mee, schrijf je weer als er wat nieuws binnen is over alpha 6!! Veel plezier maar weer en de groeten aan Beerend. xxxxxxxx mam

Viki Williams said...

To Alex Williams 13C Alpha 5
Hi Sweetie!!
Hope you are enjoying your final phase. It's amazing how quickly your adventure has gone. I obviously cannot wait to see you but at the same time it's sad it is coming to an end as I should imagine this has been a once in a life time experience. An envelope from PADI has arrived for you today. Not sure if it is your diving certificate.
We have decided not to go and watch Elias run in the London marathon in a couple of weeks time. It would be too much for us as it would entail going to London on the Saturday night to meet up with everyone, coming back home on Sunday, back to work on Monday and then we are driving to Heathrow on Tuesday after work and staying over ready to collect you from airport on Wednesday morning. I only have the morning off on the Wednesday so everything is a bit rushed. Let me know if you want me to bring anything to the airport.
Dad says the football presentation night out is on the 10th May and it looks like you will hopefully be around to play in some of the matches as they have a few catch up matches to play. I've cleaned your boots just in case - I know don't faint it's a one-off!
It is still cold here but the sun is shining. Will bring plenty of warm clothes to the airport for you!
Well nothing else to report - the Williams household is very boring without you! Will keep on checking the blog for any updates.
Everyone sends their love.
Keep safe, take care and have lots of fun!

Anonymous said...

Message for Sam Griffin Beat

Hello Baby Boy, I put four messages on this blog while I was in uk and only one has appeared!!!! dam annoying. what the heck am I doing wrong??? sitting here back in CT with Jonty on my lap, I bought him a doggie jumper when I was in uk and he loves it! He looks very stylish, sent you two letters from uk I do hope you get them, they say not to send anymore as they wont get there before you leave, its two and half week, i cant stand it I have missed you sooooooooooooooooooooo much, in the last photo you look like stig of the dump!!!!!! ive never seen so much facial hair, dad said you looked like a nutty professor!!!! it snowed right up to the day we left, but we got lots done, got new stove fridge freezer dishwasher sorted kitchen cupboards wall and floor tiles etc, some days it was actually to cold to go outside, got back to CT and its autumn, leaves falling, raining etc. but much warmer than uk, do you remember Andrew in the house at end of garden in uk the gay guy, he is selling so looked at his house might buy it as well, it has 3 big bedrooms and room for 2 more. we will see what we can work out money wise when dad gets home later in the week. while I was away valerie had a serious relapse and is back in rehab x went to visit her yesteday, shes doing better she will b there for 4 or 5 weeks x poor thing x you have been back to camp for your last changeover, and didnt call me, you are now alpha 3 and back at the water gravery thing, when do you get to go diving? hope all is well I love you and will thank fully be seeing you soon all my very special love mum xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

For Harry Glatman
Hi Harry
Your adventures with Alpha 2 look amazing on the blog and I can't wait to hear all about everything when you come home. I love the photo of you with the baby on your lap!
All well here and Sam is looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. He is trying to get as much work done as possible so you can have fun together! And a Singapore Sling or two!
I can only find one football result which is SU v Walsall 1-1. Sorry I am not as efficient as D.
Still v v cold here though we did have a lovely weekend. I hope Spring will have arrived by the time you return and then you will have avoided the worst weather!
Dogs all on fine form although Hector's haircut has made him look seriously ugly! Phoebe will be so happy to have you back.
When you see Sam you must make some plans to have an adventure together in June.
I hope the trekking and diving is amazing.
Can't wait to see you on 27th.
Lots of love M xxxxx

Anonymous said...


I CANNOT believe this has happened while you're away. I'm going to have to have a second party when you get back.
Anyway, did Claire say we'd bumped into each other on an Ostgut Ton night at Easter? We were convinced it was the spirit of Natalie watching over us...
Thanks for the postcard! As you know all FCO advice should be ignored, hope you went on your adventure!
Lucy xxx

Anonymous said...

For Ellen Peacock, Alpha 1

Hey Ell! This is my third time trying to post so fingers crossed!! Looks like you are having an amazing time but im missing you loads and loads and loads so hurry home! No news from here, but can't wait to hear everything that you have been up too.. It's so weird not talking to you for this long :( We will defo not be making a habit of this! We May just have to spend 3 years in Sheffield together ;) I have no idea when you get home but ring me as soon as you do!! I'm so so excited to see you.. stay alive, lots and lots of love! Tillie xxxxx

Anonymous said...

Lou Alpha 2

Hi Lou,

Just read the blog with latest update plus amazing to see the final stages, plus cutting the ribbon, must have been very moving, and such a sense of achievement for you all. Aunty does sound a lovely person and she must be so grateful to you all.I love the photos with all the jungle vegetation and the sun breaking are looking very tanned I must say! Danielle leaves today , she was so excited, especially as it's still very cold here so lucky her! I went back to work yesterday, after 3 weeks off...everyone thinks I'm always away on hols so I made big fuss explaining that I had been VERY ill haha! I went to see Jane at the house on Saturday to take Amelia's's her birthday this weekend. We had a good catch up, she was thrilled with your letter and sends her love. It's nearly your birthday, so hoping you get this in time....HAPPY BIRTHDAY, one you will always remember, hope you celebrate Bulud Batu style. Will be thinking of you, take care and enjoy every last minute lots and lots of love Mum xxxxxxxxxx

Caroline said...

Hello Asher! It has been fantastic to read your blog of experiences in the village with Aunty. Your descriptions were great and made me smile thinking of other things you have written (including your UCAS form) and your enjoyment of words!Even though you are deep in the jungle I feel you are quite close as I have dreamed two nights running that you had just popped back for the day and I was so happy to be able to give you enormous hugs.Needless to say we miss you.Last week we celebrated Lara's 21st, which was wonderful. Yaya and Tim turned up straight from the airport to surprise Lara and to be there for a together breakfast.Michael also came and Robert was also there. Croissants, Bucks Fizz (champagne and orange juice) and the room festooned with balloons and streamers. Later we took Lara for a beautiful inner courtyard restaurant for tea and in the evening to a very special meal in a converted church (which had never actually been used as a church) in the city.A beautiful place with fantastic food though not necessarily to your even newly refined or extended taste. Lara had a wonderful day feeling very celebrated. On Friday in lieu of a party she went with ll friends on a canal boat for the day and had a brilliant time. Today she flew to Belfast (Robert's birthday present to her) to stay in a hotel for the night - great, though it deprives her of necessary work time! We are off to Shropshire for three days in her absence. I send you so much love. Mum xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Dad not in to add a note, but he also sends all his love, as always!)

Lucy McMahon said...

Lou hake alpha two
Hey Lou. Just a quick note to wish you a happy birthday for the 12th! I bet this will be a birthday to rememeber. Judging my all the photos of what you lot get up to in spare time I am sure you will have a blast and be spoilt. Elaine emailed to say my messages were blocked. Sooo sorry about that. Had no idea what I did. I must be turning more Aussie as they use that word on the radio and tv here! Totally bizarre! Did make me laugh though. Only me huh? All good this end. Rufus is in the gym crèche playing with Lego and I am eating a donut in the cafe. Decided to skip swimming today! Boom. Got Annie and Paul for dinner tonight. You will like them. She is soooo similar to Nic. One of my good buddies out here is going home on Sunday which is a shame. It was all quite sudden cos of her husbands job. That's the problem with this lifestyle! People come and go too easily. No other news. Got scan soon. Can't wait to find out if its a boy or a girl. Am convinced its a boy bit who knows!! Skyped Helen the other day who is good. She is exhausted with two but doing well. It's been freezing at home supposedly. Lucky us on the other side of the world! Suddenly just bought of us in that taxi stuck in the snow after Emma's wedding. Ha ha! Anyway lovely. I hope this message gets through and I haven't slipped in any naughties without realising. Out it down to pregnancy brain! Wishing you a wonderful birthday and will be thinking of you loads! Wish u had phone reception. Good luck with the rest of phase. Can imagine it will be hard to leave the villagers after such a long time. Loads of love. Lucy and the gang. Xxxxx

Becky Churchill said...

Lou Lou, I hope I'm not too late to wish you a happy birthday. Been reading up on all that you are doing and can't wait to hear about it in person. It looks amazing. We miss you so much. It's Emilia's first birthday tomorrow and I think mum is bringing your pressie to her party. Jean and Jane had a catch up the other day and I had a little chat with your mum. Sounded like they were having a giggle. We should have dinner with them when you are back. Thinking of you lots darling. Big hugs from me and sloppy kisses from your goddaughter. She's changed loads in the last few months. Lots of love xxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Lou Hake: Alpha Two

Louiseeeeeeeeeeee, Happy Birthday, did you get my card and letter? How are you? Feels so wierd that we've not spoken for so long! I hope you are having a wonderful experience, you look super happy in the photos posted and super brown ( how did you do that?!) I can't wait to see you and catch up on everything over the last few months, i hope you're definitely coming back?! Anyway ill keep this short and sweet otherwise my letter will be very boring and repetitive! Much love, Rosie and Jim xxx