Venturer Induction Work

So! After 3 weeks of hardcore training and fun, the venturers finally arrived to put all our lessons and training to test. For the logs team this is the busiest time for us. We had to set off to base camp early to meet ‘hin gen’ – who we ordered all the food off – and then the same morning we had organised for a flatbed truck to pick up all the equipment from field base and take to base camp. However the flat bed truck never arrived. Therefore we left without any equipment but arrived in time to get the delivery of food and load it all into one of the army tents for distribution into alpha groups later. 


At base camp there is a central bamboo hut where we all have breakfast lunch and dinner. During venturer induction week and changeover the mobile office and shop are based upstairs. There is also a container in which Raleigh keeps bits and bobs between expeditions and between phases. Things like gas canisters and stoves and kettles and tarpaulin. It is also up to logs to set up the bamboo hut.


So already tired we then greeted the arrival of the venturers. At this point I was really excited to see Tim!! He had been picked up with the rest of the venturers at the airport and taken straight to a swim test at the city swimming pool we use (also where the Malaysian team trained for the 2012 Olympics!)!

When Tims coach pulled up it panned round and we were all stood there waving. I was searching for Tim amongst the faces on the bus all smiling and waving, and then there he was! Fast asleep on the back seat of the coach!! Was very funny. When he opened his eyes he saw me and looked very confused!! 




Once off the bus we had many hugs over the course of the afternoon. I however had to disappear back off to field base for the night with nat so that we could be there for the flatbed truck at 7am the next day. We arrived back at field base having driven in the dark for an hour. First proper night drive. Pretty weird. No cats eyes and the weather was pretty miserable and due to be rain all week. So pretty exhausted we had a short sleep before waking up to load up the flatbed truck. We then waved the truck off and had to go to cerelins to pick up and order more equipment. Stop of at the city mall to pick up various other bits and bobs, and then headed back to base camp.


The week for logs consisted of separating all the food out into alpha groups, and all the equipment out into alpha groups. A pretty big task especially in the pouring down rain. I did get a chance with the other logs team members to pop into the jungle for an afternoon to visit 3 alpha groups doing their jungle training, including Tims group, and that was a really nice break from the hard work of lifting and moving heavy boxes and equipment. I think my arm muscles are already henched up and toned! I expect to be pretty buff upon my return to the UK next year!! 


Tim really mucked in with his group, and despite them all being exhausted, having been thrown into the jungle pretty much straight away from a long haul flight, they all seemed in pretty good spirits. 

At base camp we all sleep in static bashas. I was assigned to one delta team ( the venturers are split into delta teams for the first week, and then for the first phase split again into alpha groups, so they will always be with different people throughout the whole expedition) and so I slept with them in one static basha for the week. My hammock was particularly short and with that and the torrential rain every night and the constant mosquito bites I didn’t have masses of sleep at all. 


We did observe  the venturer Raleigh Olympics which was pretty fun. And when the venturers arrived the host country venturers (having already stayed me night at base camp) had prepared a traditional welcoming dance for them. 


It was a hub of activity all week. Morning meetings, evening PM and field base staff meetings, training for the venturers. During the week a man called Din and his wife cook lunch and dinner, and this gets collected by logs every morning and evening from a garage about 20 minutes away from base camp. Just anther thing on our daily to do list!!


At the end of the week we realised we were going to have to do one shift of driving equipment and leftover things back to field base the night before deployment on the Saturday (12th October) so Alister and I left base camp at about 10pm for field base. Arrived back at about 11.45pm, unloaded the vehicles and then had about two hours sleep before waking up around 3am to drive back to base camp. The alpha teams had been allocated the day before and they were all to set off at 6am. 


Tim is working his first phase in a remote village in the north of Sabah where there are about 10 villagers. Here he will be starting to make a gravity water feed system for the village. Exciting stuff for him! And apparently by far the most labour intensive community project… So with lots of hugs and farewells the field base staff waved goodbye to all the PM’s and the venturers for 19 days! The first phase! Tim had managed to dump a bunch of his belongings with me to look after for him, and indeed in return to field base a few of his belongings had also found their way to lost property… I am wondering what he actually has left with him!!! 


I am excited for him and I know he is going to have an awesome time. Really looking forward to seeing him at changeover and hearing all about his experience in the village.


Meanwhile for the rest of us it was back to base camp to unload and sort out an awful lot of stuff!! A very small group of us now living in the house. Just 7 of us. Then four of them go on the loop in a week so it will just be three of us left!! Weird!! 


To my wonderment and joy on return to field base Loli had prepared us a full English breakfast. My first bacon since I arrived!! I’ve never missed bacon so much!! Raleigh rations for alpha groups and in general are all pork free. So I was literally over the moon. Mainly because my diet at home definitely consists of bacon pretty much every day. I have found a store that sells it though so may have to buy some for my own breakfasts 🙂 


The next few weeks will be pretty steady for logs. Not quite so hectic as last week. Need to order food for phase two, spring clean and re stock on consumables. Do another inventory on food and equipment etc. and then there is radio duties and shopping and picking up/dropping off of Loli and laundry etc. 


Will blog again soon! 



HCV’S welcome dance






Loading up of the truck…




Visit to Hun gen supermarket to pick up some missing stock…




Drive to base camp




Raleigh Olympics!!! 




Their version of the wheelbarrow race 




Tug of war 




Tim and his delta team




Pushing the land rover!!




My view in the morning from my hammock




Arrival of food!!




Delta teams to pick up there food and equipment for their mini jungle trek experience!





Mini trek into the jungle










Tim setting up his bed for the night…




Trek back out of the jungle to continue with logs duties…






Plenty of time for French hair braiding!!




separating out the food




Logs dancing in the rain on completion of sorting out equipment and food for phase one into army tents! 




Phase one alpha team allocations!!




Teams arriving in the rain to sort through their equipment and food for phase one




6am getting all the food and equipment into the buses




Tall Tim!! 




Off he goes for phase one!!! 





So! I have arrived in Borneo! 

The flights over to Kota Kinabalu (the main city of Sabah Malaysian Borneo) were not the most pleasant. When I boarded at heathrow the pilot explained that the last four hours were going to be full of turbulents as we would be going through monsoon storms over the Bay of Bengal.

The first leg was fine, the plane was one of those double decker panes: huge. But as promised the last four hours felt like we were on some sort of crazy rollercoaster. The lady next to me was obviously a frequent flyer as she just continued watching something that was apparently very funny and kept laughing every now and then. Which was I suppose relatively comforting but actually when I thought about it rather weird. I was very happy to land in Singapore where as soon as you step off the plane you can feel the humidity sinking through your bones! 

After an hour and a half wait I boarded a 2 hour flight to KK. Much smaller flight, and it was daytime so at least you could see everything. However again there were turbulents. I finally landed at about 11.00am KK time and the day looked to be a good one. Blue skies, sunshine and stunning scenery as we came into land. Kind of felt we were going to land in the water as we literally didn’t touch the ground until what appeared to be about 10 meters from the water!

But I made it! A huge sense of relief and then a moment to get my head round the fact I am here for just over 3 months and that the next few weeks are going to be fully packed with training and learning.

I met philli the rep out here at the airport where we waited for another girl zahna and her flight to arrive and then the three of us headed back to field base in one of the famous raleigh land rovers. 

Field base was far more than I expected. It is basically a house in a lovely suburb and is rather huge. The main offices are based here along with our bedrooms, living areas, big room with a projector/cinema room. Lovely outdoor space, air con, kitchen (where Loli our cook makes delicious food for us everyday) and there is wi fi! So a lot more glam than I had originally thought it would be.

We met all the other advance team, there are 9 of us in total. We are basically the team that remains at field base the majority of the time. In my team of logistics there are two others, Natalie and Alister. Everyone seems really lovely. The in country host is called mac and he’s been living out here for many years, and then the other in country rep is a guy called Chris who had just come from another Raleigh project in Tanzania, and at the beginning of the year had done this Borneo one too, so this was his third expedition on a trot!! 

After a tour of the field base and then being able to get changed (jeans were proving pretty stifling by this point) we then had lunch together. At about 3pm we had a health and safety briefing followed by watching a few intro videos to show us what our time in Borneo may be like. I found it pretty hard not to fall asleep. After this I got to have a power nap before we all walked a few blocks away where we were to have dinner. This was at a open plan bar restaurant serving Malaysian style food. We were give water to drink which had sugar and lemon in it and was very refreshing. I will have to keep on top of my water intake here. At least 5-8 litres a day. Pretty hot I tell you! We ate such things as rice and noodles and meat all prepared and spiced in a totally foreign way and delicious! I hadn’t really eaten anything on the planes. Call it nerves. So I was pretty hungry. After food we went to a bar called the brass monkey where I had a tiger beer. It wasn’t a late night we were all pretty exhausted and so back to field base for sleepy time.


Every morning we have a meeting at 9am where each member of the field base team runs through what they are doing for the day. We then do an energising warm up and crack on with the day. My first day consisted of reading the previous end of expedition reports. Basically this outlines the logistics role and what order and when we should be doing things. There is heaps to do and a lot of this advance week is really for us to get our heads around it all before the rest of the VM’s arrive (volunteer managers) Loli made us lunch and dinner which was again delicious. In the afternoon myself, Natalie and Alister (logistics team) had our driving assessment. Those land rovers are pretty bulky loud and heavy machines to operate! We each took turns to drive around the city and as well as getting a hang of the vehicle it was to orientate ourselves of local spots we will be visiting a lot in the next few months. Thankfully in Malaysian Borneo they drive on the same side of the car and road to us so its not too hard to pick up. But the local drivers are nuts. Literally NO signalling, cutting in all over the place and generally just a nightmare. Apart from within the city we are not allowed to drive at night. No roads are lit up and there are no cats eyes. It’s pretty dangerous and due to a Raleigh fatality a few years ago at night it is now a strict part of Raleigh code not to drive at night. Quite understandably. And in all honesty I am relieved about this. Day time is crazy enough! 


After dinner me Natalie and Alister ventured out on our own to drop Loli (the cook) back to her home on the sea front (one of those houses on stilts) however it happened to be Malaysia day. I believe this is the celebration of the Sabah region in Borneo joining the rest of Malaysia. Once we got downtown we were at a stand still for 40 minutes. Even in the evening it’s pretty boiling and we were all still pretty exhausted too! Loli eventually got out and walked home with a friend she had spotted, and eventually the traffic moved so we could u-turn and make our way back to field base. 


Here we then ate dinner altogether, chatted and eventually we all decided to watch a movie together. We chose ‘life as we know it’ funny rom com. People began to drop to sleep, and when the film finally finished at midnight I was definitely ready for sleep!! 


Today, Tuesday, has been pretty busy making to do lists, reading through literature, all 3 of us LOGs team went out separately at different points to run errands for people. My brain is literally fried!


Tonight we are going to the Philippine market where we will eat dinner and then head to a bar to chill out with a few beverages before returning back to FB. So much to do!! 


Over and out x



View from the girls bedroom balcony




Driving long the waterfront in the city




Bravo 1 (there are 3 bravos/land rovers)




Looking pretty tired drinking sugar water 1st night




More interesting venue names to follow. Some are very rude….




View from the other side of the balcony at back of the house




Tiger beer








Driving around the city




Monsoon weather about to kick in…