The Ringwoodians blog continues from the jungles of Utan paradise by the crocker range, southern part of Sabah to the northwest coast of Kota Belud district, the team hopped on the boat from Rampayan Laut jetty to get across to Mantanani Island.
The forecast came in and if we were to stand a chance of getting there is was a 4am start! The bleary eyed team made it to the jetty and we boarded two boats and headed up the estuary to the South China Sea! We were up earlier than the monkeys that usually play around here but we were just pleased to be on our way.
The one hour crossing got rough. Green faces all around as the boat skipped up and down the waves. Any further delay and we were definitely not making this crossing.
Free showers for those sat at the back of the boats too.
We made it though! And once on the island our weather was hot on our tails.
The team were welcomed and briefed by Aida and her team and shown to their new homes made almost entirely from reclaimed wood and materials washed up on the island. Wilmslow team had already been here a week so it felt like we were crashing their party but party crashing is fun right?!
With the weather getting worse and a reported typhoon in the area, the diving schedule was delayed but all divers on standby for the weather clearing up. This made way for exploring the island, volleyball matches and hammock using.
Some of us decided to leave a monument to our visit and planned to use our spare time to make a rather ambitious bench to add to the chill out area. 5 foot in height and 10ft in length Richard the lead teacher was a cabinet maker and planned some tricky joins for us to do. But we had time on our hands and some determination.
Our project work was great with making an island craft shop with walls made from plastic bottles to sell things made on the island to the growing tourist numbers who visit this amazing location. A new toilet for the residents of the far side of the island with a proper septic tank and bricks we made from wood!
Mixing cement, carpentry and digging holes that filled themselves in kept us busy. Also some cultural activities like hammock making, bracelet weaving and a sandcastle contest on an afternoon off.
We had a night walk to spot the endemic owl and another day had a sunset walk which was a delight.
Everyone had their chance to experience the underwater world as the weather calmed down. Turtles, rays and uncountable species of fish were a treat to the eye and everyone gained their PADI scuba diver or PADI open water qualifications while diving in the most amazing reef.
A cultural dance by the staff and the young kids from the village and the bravest and looniest got up to try it too. Much harder than it looked.
We were treated to a bonfire on our last day and the staff showed their appreciation by giving us beautiful bracelets made from recycled packaging. A lovely end to our time on mantanani. The team feel exceptionally privileged to be able to experience this and were very sad to go.
Back on the boat the following morning and thankfully a much smoother ride back and off to the northern tip of Borneo to the amazing Camp Tinangol and our hardest challenge so far awaits….
Ringwood Academy Expedition Leader