Update from Ashford & Hanham Schools in Borneo

The following are 2 exerts written by students of their time in Borneo on a school expedition with Camps International: Ashford & Hanham Schools in Borneo

From the jungles of Batu Puteh:  Currently sitting suspended in a hammock under a tarpaulin waiting for today’s rain to come.  We moved to this camp (somewhere in the jungle) yesterday.  It is about 15 minutes by boat from the nearby community, from which all our meals re being sent.  The camp is very basic, with one “long drop” toilet and showers in the form of river water in a bucket.  We have one small communal area in the form of a few benches underneath a big tarpaulin, but apart from that we really are very much in the heart of the jungle.  As such, we have been lucky enough to see an abundance of wildlife, particularly on our early morning river cruises.  We have been here no more than 24 hours and so far I have seen a couple of ocelots, a wild orangutan, a giant stick insect, a few crocodiles, kingfishers, stalks, all sorts of monkeys, big and beautiful butterflies and on our latest visit to the loo an enormous lizard (probably 1 metre long!).

The project work we are doing here (of which we have completed one day as I write this) aims to restore the rainforest through tree planting.  So today we were using machetes to hack down grass so that we can begin planting 200 tiny tree saplings.

Our bus journey from Camp Bongkud took about 4 hours and during our stop en route we made an amazing discovery – Cadbury’s Dairy Milk! Finding such a brand far from home was an exciting luxury – even if it didn’t taste quite the same as at home! Our last night in Camp Bongkud was great fun with a “super heroes” theme.  There were some very creative outfits given our lack of resources, although for the majority of people, underwear over the top of clothes sufficed.

From the beach on Mantanani Island – written 25 July  - Hola! We have now arrived at Mantanani Island where we are spending 9 days doing our PADI Open Water diving qualification amongst other things.  We arrived here at about 9am yesterday morning after an exceptionally early start from Kota Kinabalu.  So far we have just been settling in really, messing around on the beach and a village orientation visit.  This morning we have had an introduction to the camp Marine Conservation Programme for the surrounding area.  One of the main issues is that a lot of the locals use the blast fishing technique which is destroying the habitat of the very fish they are trying to catch.

Our accommodation here is the best we have had so far (excluding hostels).  We are staying in bunk beds on 3 tiers with mossie nets hung over the top.  This camp also has a well stocked shop on the site and there are a couple more a few minutes walk away in the village.  The Advanced Open Water divers started their diving very early this morning, but I think for the rest of us we are learning all about the kit this afternoon.  The landscape here is, as expected, very beautiful – particularly at first glance.  There are, however, issues with rubbish (mainly plastics) being dumped a lot, especially on the white sand beaches.  Despite only 8 of us being allowed in at a time, everyone is enjoying the lovely, clear blue sea which at the surface is a very pleasant temperature.


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