Saturday, 20 April 2013

Update from Alpha 8

Update from Alpha 8

By Tash O'Sullivan

"Members of Alpha 8 boarded a coach to Sipitang, where we arrived just in time for a delectable lunch of seafood, roti and rice to fill us up for our trek ahead! Everyone then piled into 4x4s for a 5 hour journey to Long Pasia. Everyone was amazed by the beauty of this little settlement that was so open, yet in the heart of the jungle. It was also a surprise to be a bit chilly for the first time in 8 weeks!

PMs Mike and Harriet, with Noor, Daniel, Freddie, Hatty, Josie, Tash,
Kat, Sjoerd, Jeremy, Asher and Rex (taken by Belle)

Our first night was spent there in static bashas where we met our hero, the legend of the trek – our jungle guide Noor. The first few days were a whirlwind of getting accustomed to waking up at 5:30am and starting a fire for porridge, followed by a 2 to 5 hour trek through varied terrain. Even though on some days trek may be exhausting, the feeling of having set up camp at your new location and lying in your hammock knowing all the hard work is done for that day, is unbeatable.

Breathtaking views
Another highlight of trek is plunging into an ice-cold river and washing off the mud, leeches and cracker dust from your arms and legs!

Weather conditions so far can be summed up in one word: RAINY. Noor even said our group has experienced the most rain out of any of the groups he has led…. in 9 years! This means walking can often be more like ice skating. Needless to say there was some beautiful snow-ploughs, skids and slides down the mud slopes. The streams next to camp can also be raging and the water very high, meaning you go to sleep with one eye open. You will start dreaming of swimming pools and being swept away in your hammock.

Despite the rain we had a jungle party
One of our hardest days was the trek to Maga Falls – despite doing it in a record time of 4 hours, we were unable to cross the river as the level was too high and were left on the opposite side, looking longingly at the idyllic camp! With the amazing ingenuity of Noor and the other guides Jeffery and Daniel, we were able to cross the river the next day on a bridge they built us!!

A8 in the bat cave
It was definitely worth the wait, our next day was jam packed with visiting bat caves, clambering down rocks to a waterfall that most of us even braved to stand under. The experience of which can be likened to that of a pounding massage, delivered by 10 very large men.

Jewelery making
The next day we continued our trek onto Rekong Camp, where we had a jungle jewelery lesson and used our penknives to make bracelets. Everyone was really impressed with what we managed to produce. I felt like Bear Grylls’ apprentice.

Friday was our most challenging day – a hike to Sinupong Camp. With it raining the entire way we made it up the hill with the help of Freddie’s wise and motivational phrases, in 3 hours 24 minutes – record time in our muddy, slippery conditions.

The next day we made our final journey to Long Pasia. The feeling of seeing the colourful village again was incredible, topped only by our home stay welcome of bananas, donuts and the most delicious tea we’ve ever drunk!

Rex being dressed traditionally at the homestay
Overall, our two week trek through Long Pasia was a true test of our strength; both individually and as a team. I think it is fair to say we surpassed all of our expectations and excelled in a truly unforgettable experience."

A8 celebrating the end of trek and beginning of diving at KK's Filipino market
I have just spent the past five days on Mamutik Island with Alpha 8. The group are well on their way to completing their PADI diving certificates with final dives and coral planting on the agenda tomorrow. Whilst it does take some getting used to breathing underwater, the group are all getting on really well and enjoying it more and more everyday. My group - Hatty, Rex, Jeremy and Daniel, went on our open water boat dive today and saw turtles, puffa fish, a stingray and just so many amazing fish and coral plants. I'm looking forward to hearing how the second group get on tomorrow. 

Hatty, Josie and Tash pre-dive
With just a few precious days left, things are starting to wind down as people get ready for the Endex party at the Borneo Paradise and official closing ceremony which will take place on Sunday evening. I look forward to letting you know how it all goes on Tuesday, but in the meantime I will be uploading some pictures from the three opening ceremonies that took place at our community sites this week.


Robert Aitken said...

For Freddie Aitken: looking good Freddie! Looking forward to Skyping when you get to Australia. Lots of love Dad

David Lord said...

Hatty alpha8
Hi Hatty
At long last we have an Alpha 8 blog. We were really looking forward to hearing how you were all getting on with the trek and dive. We thought you had got lost in the jungle!
Mum has almost worn out her iPad checking the blog! It is great that you will now have completed your Open Water qualification and saw some amazing things in the process - turtles are just brilliant aren't they? I am looking forward to having you as my dive buddy- we can have some real underwater adventures! Hope you enjoy you final weekend and all the goodbyes are not to tear jerking! We will speak to you when you get to Bankok. Love you loads. Daddy xxxx

Nana said...

Fantastic experience Tash, I'm missing you madly, but thrilled that you are having such an amazing time. Nana xxxxxxxxx


Hatty Lord
Hey Hattster, nice to se you in your fetching diving attire! Water looks amazing, bet it was such an awesome week to end your borneo experience on, all your hard work paying off.. Well done you little munchkin. Safe trippp to whereever you're off next!

Speak sooooon! A xxxx