Leeches! That’s what will be my biggest challenge on the trek, not the 22kilo back pack, or the 12 day trek in the humidity and jungle terrain, nor the smell from wearing the same clothes for days on end, but nasty , horrid, insidious, blood sucking little leeches! I mean what exactly is the point of them?
4 of us have just returned from doing a 4 day risk assessment and project planning visit for the trek phase of the expedition, and leeches were what dominated our conversation and nightmares, in fact we have even written a song as to how to dispose of them! But hey, none of the others were violated quite like I was, I mean I found wounds, but not the perps, where 2 of the little monsters had sucked my blood…..on my bikini line, I mean how gross!
Anyway, enough of the horror stories, to be honest mine was nothing compared to some of the stories Hanry, our guide, told us about other leech violations!!
So, having had nearly 2 weeks of very intensive and exhausting training, we are nearly ready for the arrival of the venturers next week, and have now been given details of what we are doing in each phase. My first project, running from the 8th to 30th October is the Dive/Trek, which is why the 4 of us travelled to Long Pasia to plan the phase. We travelled by long distance taxi from KK (Kota Kinabalu,) to Sipatang on the coast of Borneo close to the Indonesian border, where we transferred into a 4 x 4 for the 5 hour journey to Long Pasia. The village is very remote, and until relatively recently Head hunting was still practised. The village is surrounded by rainforest and steeped in folk lore.
The 4 of us: Shirin, Oliver, James and myself, were lucky enough to stay both the first and 3rd night in the long house home of Fauzie, one of our guides, which was really fascinating. We then trekked for 2 days into the jungle with our guides Hanry, Fauzie and Nooh, (the legend!) where we built our bashas, or homes for the night. Absolutely amazing trek but it was really hard work, both in terms of the terrain and in the weight we were carrying! The next time I do the trek it will be for much longer, and with 12 venturers!
But I start with the diving which is exciting. Padi 4 day Open water tuition, followed by some marine conservation work on the reef, then off for the trek. We then return to basecamp for 3 days before heading off for the community project, a gravity fed water system in a village in North Sabah. My last phase will be environmental work in a conservation area of primary rainforest where research is being conducted. The whole area is divided into ‘coupes’ and we are working in coupe 1. This is particularly exciting as the public are not yet allowed in these areas. What we have to do there sounds both exciting and exhausting, and includes hacking through dense vegetation and building a track with a very serious gradient, collecting data for the scientists, setting camera traps and helping to present some of what is being discovered about the area.
Well I have probably put anyone reading this to sleep, sorry, but I have done so much in the time I have already been here, I have so much tell and we have so little free time. It is actually now nearly midnight and most of the others have gone to bed. If I get a chance before we go to basecamp, I will write another post and say more about the others in the team! A great crowd, made up of some really interesting people. Tonight’s entertainment by the way, was a land rover pushing competition, everyone is a little excitable, cos we have a day off tomorrow My team won in case you’re interested!
Well that’s it from me, I am off to bed, (a bottom bunk in a room of 12,) cramped but at least there are no leeches…or as far as I know!
Diane 2nd October 2014