Aug 172006

I’m now back at field base – only been back for a day but it feels like an age.

I am pleased to say I’ve had a whole host of experiences in the last few weeks though which I’ll just skim over at the moment. I’ve been to several project sites throughout the state of Sabah, and seen a whole load of stuff that the average tourist wouldn’t see. There are a few opportunities I’ve missed, but nothing I’m regretting too much in the time available.

Within the last few days I’ve tubed down the river at Danum Valley in the middle of the rainforest. I joined the Raleigh camp at their suspension bridge work site (the Rhino bridge if anyone makes it there) and looked down over the river every day which became my relaxation spot, bath and shower for the last 5 days. The river was really low while I was there which meant it was safe to swim across. The first day I explored an area next to the work site we named the Rhino pools and was treated to superb water pools bathed in shafts of sunlight creeping through the rainforest canopy. The following day I triple bagged my camera in drysacks and waded it across for some pictures. After returning to camp one day, I was sitting on the beach and watched long tailed Macaque monkeys jumping around the fruit trees. When everyone else left the riverside beach area, three of them became a bit more inquisitive and walked around the rocks on the other side of the river from me.

The following day, I walked down to the field centre when all of a sudden the tree in front of me sprung alive as I disturbed an orang-utan. Unfortunately I didn’t see it full on, but saw it’s orange fur jumping around until he was a few trees away from me. There were a few pygmy squirrels kicking around the camp area, and we had a resident lizard living on the tree by the dry food slops area.

Unfortunately I headed away from the camp in a bit of a hurry the night before my departure to escort an ill participant to the comfort of the field centre. We had to move down just as darkness approached and were taken down by the rangers who camped close by us. The up side of this was we were taken by boat, in darkness, guided by the spotlight of the rangers. This was an amazing journey, and something you’d never get access to normally. All you could see was the rangers spotting the banks and the currents by spotlight, and headtorch when they cut the engine on the lower parts of the river. When you looked up, the only thing visible was the outline of the trees and the stars.

At the start of the trip the Permanent Secretary of Youth and Sport visited the project site at Danum, treated us to lunch and dinner, and planted a tree. At night we went to a talk from a Danum ranger then in true Asian style we sang karaoke with the Ministry staff until late o’clock…but remember 11pm is late o’clock in Raleigh time, never mind when we were rising at 4am… The Ministry’s hospitality was immense and the whole team were taken to a viewing platform for the sunrise over the surreal misty Danum Valley, then treated to a slap up breakfast on the platform

Today I was looking through the photos from the last few weeks, but was subjected to the artificial stresses created at field base….although I’m loving the stuff I have to do over the next few weeks the simple life of a project site becomes all the more appealing.

I’ll write more and put some pictures up soon, but it’s likely to be later on next week as the madness of changeover has came round again, so tomorrow it’s back to Borneo Paradise for a mad few days with some new participants, and many more knackered ones finding out which project sites they are heading to for their final few weeks….

 Posted by at 11:43 am

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