Alpha 5 and 6 have been trekking in the primeval remote rainforests of Long Pasia in south west Sabah. These are ancient lands steeped in history and local custom. Venturers will need to apply their jungle skills and work with their trek guides and project managers to not only survive in the jungle but live in harmony with it.
Armed with just their high frequency radio for communications, food rations and camping equipment the teams will need to draw on all each other’s reserves to complete the adventure. Trek is all about unity, support and taking responsibility. Day leaders rotate responsibility on trek and for many young volunteers, it will be their first chance to lead a group of people.
This stage of expedition is crucial in personal development and skills training. This experience will build confidence and should give young people a better chance of securing meaningful employment, reducing their economic vulnerability and giving themselves a more stable future.
Our communications officer caught up briefly with both Alpha groups to see how they were getting on out there in the jungle and away from the cyber universe.
We will have more from them and some photos when they return to Basecamp on the 10th March, until then here are some words from them.
Shaqil Suffian – Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
“As a Sabahan, I am really impressed with the wilderness here in Borneo. Trekking in the rainforests with a group of people from around the globe; going through obstacles and climbing steep hills. It is a tough challenge but worth it. After all this, I will have a lot of interesting stories to tell.”
Claire de Jong, The Netherlands
“I found the trekking phase even better than expected. When you have gone through a tough day, all you have to do is look around and you know it’s worth it”
Ellen Haines – Limerick, Ireland
“Trekking through the Borneo rainforest is such a unique experience, as it is unlike any place I have seen before. I found one part extremely challenging but with the support and encouragement of the whole group, I got through it and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Matty Beaumont Epstein – UK
“I’ve loved sitting and talking around the campfire at night. Listening to the sounds of the jungle and drinking my own weight in Milo*”
Will Powell – Westbourne, UK
“Trekking is extremely rewarding but also mentally and physically tough! Setting off at the crack of dawn would put most people off but not me or Alpha 5! We have grown stronger together and have helped each other through lows and shared each other’s highs”
Isabelle Tan – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“I’ve only been on Raleigh for about 3 weeks but there are already many amazing moments. Trekking has been physically and mentally challenging but will ultimately rewarding when the trek is over. It also feels amazing to realize how much strength I have to wake up every morning and put on a heavy rucksack. What definitely helped me through was a team of amazing individuals. Some awesome moments I would keep close to my heart are seeing a night sky full of stars and singing with my fellow team mates. Just today (1st March) my team and I were given bamboo straws and we drank through a hole in a bamboo tree. In retrospect, that was a little surreal, once- in-a-lifetime experience. I still have about seven more weeks here and I look forward to every moment”
Boudewijn Doedes Breuning ten Cate – Eindhoven, the Netherlands
“Trekking is tough both mentally and physically but it is worth it. The beautiful jungle around Long Pasia is an amazing place to trek though. After a bad day walking there is nothing better than to sit in your hammock with a cup of Milo, listening to music and reading a book. Even though we are not done yet I am confident that we are more than able to complete it is a team and we will all be able to look back at an amazing time”
Rebecca Cadman, UK
“In the last two and a bit weeks, I have travelled to the other side of the world. Spent 5 hours in a jeep driving through the wilderness, lived in the jungle, battled leeches, learnt to dive and trekked through one of the most remote and challenging environments in the world – needless to say, I’m feeling like Lara Croft”
Thomas de Wilton, project manager, UK
“A highlight of the trek for me so far has been the trees of the Long Pasia rainforest. One giant in particular sticks in my memory, a good 9 feet in diameter, rising up from the side of the steep ridge we were climbing, towering over the surrounding canopy. It could have only been improved with the addition of a small house nestled among its upper branches”
Arthur Lonsdale – London“Yesterday was a victory for team Alpha 5. We faced a severe uphill climb. This was by no means a small trek and we overcame this challenge together”
Chris Rowe, medic and project manager, UK
While on trek, one must expect to endure a lack of comfort but returning to a more basic way of life brings rewards, particularly a heightened appreciation of food “especially when you ‘curry’ it” Living in such a remote existence also highlights the value of simple precautions to ensure everyone’s wellbeing.
It is a place of immense beauty: morning lights up the dawn canopy while the darkening evening casts great silhouettes over its trees.
It has been a pleasure working with Alpha 5 – this group of young adults have show great courage, innovation and resourcefulness.
Callum McCabe – Bath, UK
“The trek was without a doubt the most rewarding experience of my life. The jungle was breathtaking, the hikes challenging and the team gelled perfectly together. I’ve seen some incredible jungle views and made some life-long friends. The jungle will hold a special place in my heart”
Gaby Vinson – Pennsylvania, USA
“On this amazing adventure we encountered everything from hornets to leeches! Lots of type two fun but what an experience!”
Tom Kenelm – London, UK
“To quote George Clooney’s character from Gravity ‘you can’t beat the view’. Those rare glimpses of the astonishing landscape in which we were trekking made all the mud, sweat, blood and bee stings worth it. What a team, what a week, what a life. And the banter was excellent”
Harriet Byrne – Malmesbury, UK
“Type two fun all the way. A fantastic experience and once in a lifetime adventure, thanks to an amazing team of people, it couldn’t have been better”
Evallie Duing – Sabah, Malaysia
“Life is short, live your dream and wear your passion” – unknown
Lee Jia Wei – Penang, Malaysia
“I was probably the worst ‘hammock putter upper’ of the group but now I’m in the same league with all of my teammates. The trek was amazing despite lots of leeches in all the wrong places and the river was a luxury in itself. T
he team was incredible. I have made so many friends. The food was awesome with Long Pasia chilli my highlight. The guides were super and amazing jungle warriors.”
Frederik Westerhout – Laren, the Netherlands
“Cross boundaries, meet the jungle spirits, persist, conquer, and enjoy lots of type two fun.”
Julia Hakkenbroek – Bergen, the Netherlands
“Reis ver, leer veel, lach hard, duik diep, kom terug”
“Travel far, learn a lot, laugh hard, dive deep, come back”
Roel Brinkhorst – Laren, the Netherlands
“Balancing above a long drop, wearing my underwear six days in a row, looking like a caveman, playing “rock-paper-scissors” for a peanut bar and constantly checking for leeches: yes I survived the jungle! One more cross on my bucket list.”
James Lugassy – Colchester, UK
“The leeches, the long drop, the luncheon meat, the hornets, the exhaustion, the dodgy radio, the hills, the views, the river, the banter, the camaraderie, the hard times, the hard laughs, the friends made… I only wish the words incredible, rewarding and inspirational could do it all justice.
“An amazing team of truly great people and memories to last a lifetime, a big thank you to A6 for the hard work that made it all possible – ‘beautiful people’”
Alice Trimble, UK
“The venturers were fantastic and an inspiration to myself and other project manager James. They were always smiling and always enthusiastic about their next adventure. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much in a while. Thank you Alpha 6”
*Milo – a delicious hot chocolate drink best served with a ratio of four-fifths granules to one fifth water preferably by the fireside.
*Type two fun – something extremely challenging at the time but upon reflection a shared, life-affirming (and sometimes hilarious) experience