Blog 4: into the thick of it



Posted on 29 October 2012  | 
We asked the students to keep diaries. I'll let them tell you their stories.

“Today was the most scariest and exciting and adventurous things I have ever done.”

"Today will be a very long day as we will ride on a long boat and will have to be in it for more than 7 hours. Before facing the ride, we went to a plantation where they plant plants that will help the orangutans to migrate from one area to another. This will also help the orangutans in being able to have more food. I had the chance to plant my own plant, this includes digging the hole by myself, this is a new experience for me, which I enjoyed."

“It felt good to give back to the environment.”

“We were also shown the different types of plants grown in the area, like iron wood. I also found out that some plants are specifically grown as food for the orang-utans.”

"This was the first point in our trip where we were exposed to nature. In the restoration area, we planted plant and trees and also learned about the vision and mission of the restoration area. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that the restoration area involved more than 100 families (and it’s a voluntary work!). The reason why I was pleasantly surprised is because it was voluntary, and such a numerous number of families contributed, I realized how thoughtful and concerned the people are who lives along the restoration area. "

“After that, we made our way to a micro hydro plant located near a long house. On the way there, I rode in the trunk of an open trunked truck. For me personally, it was the zenith of the whole trip. The view on the way to the micro hydro plant was cinematically picturesque. Along the way I just thought repeatedly to myself ‘Thank God I carped this one diem’.”

“I’m pretty sure this was my first time seeing a long house in real life. It was so amazing to learn that the entire extended family lives in this one house. We were brought inside where we watched a lady traditionally make an Indonesian-designed cloth. The designs were so intricate – I probably would have gotten cross-eyed I was so impressed.”

“We were then taken on a short hike down to a river where the local micro-hydro station, which supplied electricity for the people, was.”

“I think the concept of the micro hydro plant to supply electricity and energy for the long house is a grandiose idea as the local people were able to take advantage of natural renewable resources!”

“The plant wasn’t working at the moment because of a lack of rain but you could see how it worked. They piped off a section of the water into the generator. Idea is that if nature is providing them with power, they will think twice before harming it.”

“We hiked a little more up the river to where the river was separated into two. One to supply water to the micro-hydro and another to continue flowing down the river. Because of the need for electricity, the local people now know that in order to get electricity, they need to protect the environment surrounding them. If they pollute the river or ruin its surroundings, it not only affects the environment, but it affects their source of electricity.”

One group’s boat ride went well – just long:

“After that, we went on a long boat ride to get to Meliau. It was honestly a bittersweet experience haha! During the prolonged boat ride, I bonded with my schoolteacher and my friends. It was really hilarious how we went “crazy” because the boat ride seemed never-ending. But it was an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. When we arrived at the local village, I was both relieved and sad that the boat ride ended.”

The other group’s ride wasn’t so comfortable:

“The trip in the boats down the river to the long house was a real life adventure a city girl may only get once in a lifetime. For the river drivers of Borneo, it’s just another day in the life…for me and my four students, it’s a story we’ll be telling friends for the rest of our lives.”

“Had a few close calls when we smacked into submerged logs, our boat captain had incredible reflexes and even better eyes. The river was littered with logs so navigation was slow going.”

“It started getting dark and our captain’s light ran out of battery.”

“We spent a scary 3 hours inching slowly down the river in the dark hoping not to hit anything.”

“We recited poetry to the moon to light our path.”

“Eventually all the last boats gathered together and sailed in a convoy. There were light signals between boats signalling safety and danger.”
“Dinner was ah-mazing.”

They made it safe and sound, hungry and tired to the Meliau long house.

“At the village, I just knew that the toilet is made out of two planks of wood and what came out of us will go straight inside the river, this pretty much amazed me. Although what surprised me the most is the fact that we have to use the water from the water to take a bath while the water itself is brown. In this village, the electricity is generated by genset which means that it is not possible for them to turn on the electricity all day long. The electricity itself is on when it is night time.”

“To be honest our stay in this village was more or less a “wake-up call “ for me. I realized how fortunate I am and that I should never take it for granted. As cliché as it is, I can truthfully say that I learned as much life lessons as environmental knowledge from this trip.”
 
A highlight - riding in the back of the trucks to the restoration area
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
The hike to the restoration nursery
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
Students planting trees around the corridor restoration project nursery area
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
Students watching a woman weaving a traditional cloth in a local long house
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
Students exploring a micro-hydro system in West Kalimantan
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
Dodging submerged logs during an epic long boat trip
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge
Riding in a long boat for 7 hours was quite an adventure!
© WWF-Indonesia / Sugeng Hendratno Enlarge

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