Gap Year in Borneo with Eva Reda gets really exciting to read every single time she gets us a blog update. The last we heard from her blog hereåÊ she was going to take up a Open Water Dive courseåÊ ‰Û_ What has she been up to in her second month in the program? Hello! Hope you’re all well! Get comfy in your seats now, because this blog is going to be a long (but hopefully informative) one… As promised, this week I was going to talk about our scuba diving experiences, and boy is there a lot to say! Gap Year Scuba Diving in Borneo Scuba diving was for the most part an activity that not many people thought about actually doing, but once they’d had a taste, they were really thankful they’d signed up. After learning the tricks of the trade (like how not to die a gruesome death by decompression illness) from our awesome PADI Instructors Dan, Eugene, Franz and Richard, we were literally ‘thrown in the deep end’ and taken for our first real scuba adventure. Honestly there was a lot of freaking out, partly because equalizing (popping) our ears is initially tricky, and mostly because knowing you’re separated from the surface (and precious air) by a 10m wall of water is actually quite scary…Gap Year Borneo   All anxiety aside, there’s just something so special about being under water with only the sound of your own breath to keep you company, and exploring a new world teeming with fascinating and beautiful life that åÊyou never even knew existed. And then there’s that amazing moment when a huge school of fish swims right at you and all you can see for a few seconds are silver glinting scales in every direction‰Û_and yes, we saw multiple Nemos (moreaccurately named ‘Clownfish’) poking their cute little heads out of their anemone homes. Other sightings included rainbow hued Parrotfish, Cuttlefish, long stripy Pipefish, Angelfish, Lionfish and even a sea turtle! All in all a wonderful experience, and we’re all dying to dive again very soon.Gap Year scuba diving in Borneo In the meantime, the non-divers had time to relax and explore the many sights, sounds and tastes of Kota Kinabalu. This week we also made our sad, yet excited farewells to Camp Tinangol and all its lovely staff. It had really felt like home over the last two weeks, so we made sure to go out with a bang – festivities involved traditional Rungus dance performances, karaoke, a few drinks and of course a feast! The following morning we made a gruelling ten hour bus transfer to Batu Puteh, a small town located by the 560km long Kinabatangan River (Malaysia’s second longest!) in Borneo’s east. Batu Puteh was a new and exciting change in both living style and project work. For five days we were placed in traditional Malaysian homestays, and truly experienced everyday life in rural Borneo. This included eating delicious meals with our right hands (pffft, who needs cutlery anyway?), waking up at the crack of dawn, playing with numerous children or grandchildren, being hot ALL the time, and on our final night even dressing up in Malay evening wear whilst watching traditional dance and martial arts performances the locals put on for us. And once again we were unable to escape the wrath of squat toilets and bucket showers… The project’s aim this week was rainforest conservation. This involved a jungle trek to collect seeds, transplanting seedlings, and then using machetes to clear away weeds in the damaged areas of forest and replacing them with small established native trees. Between twenty people, 230 trees were planted in one afternoon. Quite an impressive effort, in my opinion.Rainforest conservation on a gap year We also did a lot of sight-seeing, åÊincluding an overnight jungle camp in hammocks, and multiple river cruises. Along the Kinabatangan we spotted proboscis monkeys, a family of gamboling otters, Hornbill birds, Long tailed macaques, a tortoise, monitor lizards,tiny swarms of fish that ate the dead skin off our feet (nature’s pedicure!), a few leeches, and who could forget Jennifer, the lovable 15cm long millipede? The highlight was probably seeing three pygmy elephants whose trails we’d been spotting during our treks. Granted, we only saw their silhouettes from a distance (for safety reasons), but it was still amazing to be in their presence. ‘And what about the orangutans,’ you may be asking. Well, there were a few intense ‘almost’ moments where there was a promising looking silhouettes winging through the trees, but by the time we’d gotten close enough it’d gone… However, our final day in Batu Putih included visits to the Sandakan Prisoner Of War Memorial, a beautiful Buddhist temple, and finally the long awaited SEPILOK ORANGUTAN SANCTUARY! We were lucky enough to see five of them – and beautiful creatures they were, they were almost human! Emily even shed a few tears of joy, which was, frankly, adorable. Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary Borneo Wow, what an extensive list of sightings! It’s truly been a fantastic week for wildlife spotting. Actually, it’s just been a fantastic week in general. Thanks for staying awake (I assume) through that guys, more news on our upcoming stay on the beautiful Mantanani Island. Best wishes to everyone in Australia, we love you all! This is Eva Reda, signing off for Blog 4 Team Borneo 2012     If you are interested in joining Camps International on any of our gap year programmes please contact usåÊ