Mantanani island was stunning! The camp was right on the beach and we slept in bung houses which had 3 level bunk beds and were completely open. The first evening we took a walk around the village and bought a fresh squid for dinner. The cooks cooked it in it's own ink and fried it like calamari.
On the second morning we had a session on coconuts. We found out how to climb the trees like the locals, were taught about their many uses and how to weave the palm leaves that we later used for walls! We were also able to drink the water from young and mature coconuts and eat the white bit!
A couple of afternoons were spent doing beach clean up. This mainly consisted of looking for flip flops that could fill the pillows and beanbags that we were making for the local community centre. We made the outside cases from the old tents that can no longer be used in the bongkud camp. The camp manager Aida seemed convinced that flip flops would make a comfy bean bag filling. She was wrong but maybe the people on Mantanani won't notice?!
On Thursday evening Aida held a lesson on the types of turtle that are in the seas around Malaysia, the threat to them and how it can be improved. On Friday we then planned a lesson to teach at the school. We taught them about the turtles and what they could to help and ended the session with a colouring competition using pictures of the 4 turtles that 2 of the girls had spent the morning drawing. The lesson went well and Aida said that the more marine conservation is taught to them, the more likely they are to take notice.
Our weekend was spent on the beach and finished my 7th book of the trip.
Monday was the first day of the water project. A couple of people from an organisation called architrek arrived to start monitoring and researching how much water is under the island. There has been a rapid increase in tourism and no one really knows what the water situation is and the fear is that it will soon become contaminated because the water cycle cant replenish it quick enough. We took questionnaires around the village asking whether they had noticed any changes in the water quality or availability, if they ever expected it to run out and how much they used. The best part was that we had to speak to them in Malay. On my first house I had teenage boys laughing at my attempts and the translator had to repeat my sentences pronouncing it correctly so that the people could understand. I definitely improved and they all seemed to appreciate my attempts! The scary thing was that, although most of the locals had noticed that the water had become more salty, no one thought that it would run out or become too contaminated to drink in the future.
To help with the project we also worked on a model of the village to help the villagers reference the water changes around different parts of the island. We used pva glue (a bit of a throw back), tissue paper and a sculpting foam that we found on the beach and used to carve out houses. It was easy, fun work and was much appreciated as we neared the end of 2 months volunteering!
Although it sounds like we were doing quite a bit of work, our lunch break was 11-2 and that tended to be more like 10.30-3. A lot of our time was spent on the beach!
On Saturday we were having lunch an Aida ran in and told us that the riots and pirates around the east coast of Sabah had gotten worse and they feared all transport would be stopped to the island. We were given an hour to pack and then a boat took us back to the mainland and we travelled back to Kota Kinabalu.
Although we were initially sad to leave the island, it meant that we had extra time in the capital so, myself and 3 others went white water rafting. We got picked up at 5.20am and drove to a train station where we were told that we were 'very lucky' because the trains weren't running that day so we would be travelling on plank of wood with 4 wheels down the train track. We were convinced he was joking until the guides started putting the wood on the tracks and climbed on with sticks to push us! It was so fun and we took lots of pictures as evidence. The white water rafting itself was even better than I expected! We had purposely chosen the 'not suitable for children' tour so you can imagine the rapids :) On the flat bits we took it in turns to push each other out but after the others saw the ungraceful way I fell into the water, I became the target. All in all a great day!
On Tuesday I did my last bits and pieces before we all went for a big group meal in the evening at the Italian we went to in the first month. It was a really good last night but we were all quite sad.
The first couple were leaving at 5.30am on Wednesday so we all woke up to wave them off and stayed in the common room to say goodbye to everyone else throughout the morning. There was a lot of crying! I was picked up just after midday for my afternoon flight to Singapore where I will meet my uni friend Jess.
Although I'm extremely sad to say bye to the group I have been with for the last couple of months, I'm really looking forward to starting the next part of my travels and moving on at a quicker rate.
Love to all xxx