Thursday, 19 August 2010
I Can't believe its the end of phase 2 already!
I don't know where the past 3 weeks has gone!
We have just deployed the 6 Alpha teams out onto phase 3 (the final phase), and I can't believe that we are now on the last leg of this epic expedition.
A little about what I got up to on Phase 2.
I deployed with Alpha 2 on Thursday 29th July. This entailed taking a bus from KK to Kudat, then the public ferry across to an island called Bangii, and then a private charter of a boat owned by the WWF to Maliangin Island.
Maliangin was to be my home for the next 6 days/nights and the Alpha team on the island are working in partnership with the WWF building a community workshop for the resident community.
Maliangin island is a small island and is part of an archipelago off the north tip of Borneo. The island is populated by 7 (seven!) families, who all live off subsistence fishing and by selling their locally hand crafted mats.
If you think desert island, you have a clear picture of Maliangin. The place is idyllic, with beaches of white sand, lapped by aqua marine or azure seas. The beaches are backed by palms.
There is a reef and some small rocky islands. The sea has the temperature of a tepid bath, and the beautiful sky changes colour throughout the day.
The sunsets are superb.
Conches and clams wash up on the shore, and small grey fish nibble away at your toes.
I had to live on this island for a week. Bliss!
I have been to some wonderful places on this trip, and I have had a heavy heart when leaving most places. I really didn't want to leave this island.
But leave I did, at 6am on Thursday 5th August, when the loop picked me up and we left for the Kindergarten at Maliau Layung. When we left there was a 8' swell at the beach and we were forced to carry our rucksacks above our heads and cling on to the WWF boat. I'll never forget being up to my sholders in the sea catching the boat to return to Kudat.
I had spent a week on Phase 1 at the Kindergarten and it was really great to go back to see what progress was being made by Grahame, Rachel and the Alpha 1 teams. Most of the photographs of the children were taken at this village.
Sunrise at Kampong Maliau Layung
The foundations go in for the Kindergarten
Sunset at Maliau Layung
We spent the night at Maliau Layung and left early the next morning to travel to Sepilok to visit the sun bears and orang utans again.
The purpose of the loop is to resupply the Alpha teams with logistical needs such as medical items and tools as well as taking in the post. It is a great way of catching up with people on the expedition, although it doesn't necessarily present the best opportunities for photography because you are moving about so quickly.
After Sepilok it was on to Imbak canyon and on my first visit to Imbak, I just didn't want to leave. I was really looking forward to going back and the visit didn't disappoint. I love the place and also managed another swim beneath the magnificent falls, photographed by one of the PMs, Franz.
The impressive Imbak falls
We left Imbak the next morning and the loop dropped me off in Ranau on their way back to fieldbase in KK. Ranau is a town at the foot of Mount Kinabalu and the next day I had a rendezvous with a bespoke schools group that was climbing the mountain as part of their Raleigh Challenge.
So on Tuesday, I climbed with Dr Challenors school to the Labatan Rata hut from the Timpohon gate in Mount Kinabalu park. The next morning at 2.30am, we set off to summit, which we did at 5.45am, just in time for the sunrise over the north of Borneo.
The sunrise was spectacular and bloody freezing. I reckon that there was -5 windchill, which made a refreshing change over the baking hot equatorial weather that is omnipresent in Borneo. It felt just like it did last time I was on Helvellyn in March.
At 4095.2 meters, it is the highest that Ive climbed and the highest group shot that I've taken!
After watching the sunrise we made our way down the mountain and my legs were mush by the time we arrived back at the Timpohon Gate, which you reach by walking uphill over the last 100m, which is a real tester.
But I did it, and lived to tell the tale. We arrived back in KK later on Wednesday evening. You can read more about the ascent and see more pix on the Raleigh blog
Fieldbase in KK (The reason I like to be elsewhere!)
So the past week has been spent at Fieldbase catching up on things and putting together the expedition magazine, with a deadline of tomorrow. It is almost there!
This morning we said goodbye to the Alpha teams again as they deployed out onto their project sites. For the first time I havn't deployed and am putting in some shifts at Fieldbase, and its allowing me time to catch up on my admin and my processing.
I've huggins of pix to work on, and wont have time to do them out here, I'm working with some wonderful people, and the whole experience is enriching me. I love it here, love the challenges and love the people who are all working towards making sure that everyone on Raleigh Expedition 10D get the most out of the experience.