5th February 2014
Brahnk-brahnk, hu-hu-hu, ack-ack-ack, chacala-chacala, myrgyllllllllll, cheep-cheep, wak-wak, nak-nak-nak…
Lying in hammocks suspended a couple of feet above the jungle floor, an incessant cacophony of noise swirls in our ears. In the absence of light, pitch darkness provides the rainforest’s backdrop for a nocturnal symphony. The sounds of thousands of species calling, warring, nest-building, mimicking , hunting, singing. Life has never sounded this alive.
Dawn had barely broken by the time we reached basecamp. A morning briefing in the bamboo hut that overlooks a rushing turquoise river sets the agenda: radio communications, mock casualty evacuation, first aid tutorials, jungle skills. By the end of this weekend our project managers will not only be able to survive in the jungle but live in harmony with it.
The importance of risk assessment
On expedition, risk assessment is a constant consideration for project managers when they are leading their team of venturers (young volunteers). Raleigh has a code of conduct to ensure the safety of everyone on expedition but as parts of the expedition will take place in unpredictable areas, project managers need to be well-drilled in time-tested Raleigh procedures such as casualty evacuation, safe river crossing, and swim area assessment.
Life’s a jungle
Local trek guides were on site to give a rundown on the key aspects of jungle living. From these guides who have spent years exploring Borneo’s rainforests the project managers learned how to use a parang (a Bornean version of a machete); and how to assemble a ‘basher’ – this is a jungle ‘bed' which consists of a tarpaulin, a hammock and mosquito net. A basher is hung up between two trees and supported by rope, bamboo and canvas straps. After a hard day’s trekking the quality of your basher bed dictates the quality of your sleep.
Later we trekked into the jungle and set up camp. As night descended, the trek guides bestowed some fire-side wisdom on how to respect the jungle and the wildlife that reside it . They also spoke about the ancient jungle spirits and most importantly how to keep on the right side of them.
‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’ and never has this wisdom been borne truer in the art of jungle cooking. Rations are meagre and ingredients are basic but meals of epic imagination have been created on expedition: lasagne made with crackers, paella made with chicken luncheon meat. Raleigh jungle cooking is half Ready, Steady, Cook and half the miracle of fishes and loaves. As they say on expedition: ‘old bread is not hard. No bread, that is hard.’
Trangia - a portable cooking stove. The entire packaged stove, including pots, is about the same size as standard camp cooking pot. Volunteers will be primarily using these on treks to prepare grub.
Malam yang baik - good-night from Borneo base camp!