Saturday, 14 June 2014

Clearing Camp

With Bob's enthusiasm, language skills and general flair for getting things done his arrival soon accelerated the pace of activity, in particular the search for a new home. We visited a number of options, all beachy coves in between our temporary camp on the Longom river and the North Tip of Borneo itself.

Location was key, it needed good beach access for snorkeling and scuba diving and access for TRACC's boats. A good beach for monitoring turtle activity, a bonus if turtles nested there too! Shade from the relentless tropical sun and seclusion from unwanted interruption - not everyone is keen to have nosy scientists and turtle protectors, particularly the local poachers and dynamite fisherman - both illegal activities in Malaysia. Enough height above the high tide line to avoid storm surges during the monsoon season and protection from the storm force winds too.

After a few days we agreed a beach 2 bays down from the Tip of Borneo called Onion Beach was the best spot and Fletcher and Bob went to the nearby village to negotiate a rental agreement for the land over a few cheeky glasses of rice wine - the traditional deal brokering tipple!

With a deal agreed we hired a few local chaps and set to work clearing a space behind the dunes for TRACC's new home. Leaving mature trees and shrubs in place for shade and shelter, we cleared mainly scrub and bushes to create a 50 metre deep and 150 metre long strip of land 30 metres back from the beach. The decent wood we saved for construction the rest was burnt and the ash raked back into the soil. After 3 days toil in the heat we had the main areas cleared and construction could begin.

Looking to the north end of our west facing cove, Onion Beach

And looking south

Our cove sits on the latitudinal line where it meets the cost on the west side of the peninsular

Just back behind the dunes we clear ground for the camp

Fletcher digging out the tree stumps and levelling the ground

Barna removing dead palm fonds with his lethal looking machete

The well towards the rear of the land used by a local family, our nearest neighbours

Scrub was cut and burnt and the ash raked back into the soil

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