Our first blog from a Expedition Leader from Ringwood Academy team in Borneo of their time at Utan Paradise…

While my team are taking a well earned break plucking Tea at the famous Sabah tea gardens I’d thought I’d take an opportunity to let you all know how we are doing with just under a week to go.

After a few minor delays we got to our Hostel in KK about 2am to get our heads down and get ready to head to our first camp, Utan Paradise. An Eco camp in the mountains to help us acclimatise and get a taste of what’s to come in the next month!

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We were met by Al and Mel who gave us a nice welcome and briefed us on the importance of Hydration and Hygiene and other good advice to make the most of this.

Utan was set in an elevated jungle with steep slopes and rough paths. I offered the team the chance to head in to the jungle as a mini adventure thinking three or four might join me but the whole team wanted in! So 27 of us and guides prepared our boots and took a trek into the jungle in monsoon rains to check out the Cascade (waterfall) at the bottom!

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Now this was a baptism of fire! Steep does not do this justice and the path was slippery than a greased eel. We descended slowly and carefully using vines, trees and our bums to get down.

Once at the bottom, a little play in the steam and under the waterfall for some, and it was time to head back up. Punishing but very rewarding.

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The rain kept us cool and that night we were treated to some entertainment for some locals who played us music by gong and bamboo and the occasional yelp of KEEEIIII!!!! We danced and were definitely ready for bed.

Our second day at Utan had a real challenge ahead. Going back down that slippery slope to hammer in some steps.

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Before we entered we took part in a spiritual ritual to the forest and were shown some amazing traps that can be made for the days when people should have to trap their prey. Real cunning and craftsmanship with traps for the smallest bird to the biggest deer.

We had to use tools to carve out the steps and use cut branches hammered in to keep the mud steps in place. A massive challenge to work on the slopes as big group ensuring everyone could participate.

Once to the bottom we made a new route, cutting our way and moving fallen trees to get back up.

That evening the boys made a volleyball net out of bungees and we saw some great bugs on a viewing sheet with a light to attract them.

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The next day we packed up and back to KK. For we have the island in our sights and the seas to explore.

More to come later.

Jumpa lagi! (See you later)

åÊJames

Ringwood team leader

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