Thursday, October 23, 2014

Borneo Trek For Orangutans: Day 8.

This post covers the very last Friday of our trip; our journey back to the cities. We travelled from Bukit Peninjau Wildlife Research Station back to Meliau longhouse to say goodbye to the villagers and wait for our boats back to Lanjak—but Borneo wasn't done surprising us yet. Little did we know our afternoon would involve us getting stranded in shallow water before making our way to Putussibau, many hours later than expected.

Day 8: From Bukit Peninjau to Meliau, Meliau to Lanjak, Lanjak to Putussibau. 

This morning it was time to leave. We were heading back to Meliau, back to Lanjak, then back to Putussibau. I had gotten used to my jungle routine; a cycle of fumbling around for my headtorch at 5:30am, peeling my sticky skin away from my sleeping bag, ducking underneath my mosquito net and heading to the bathroom before getting dressed and packing up. Getting dressed usually meant choosing whichever clothes were dry enough and didn't smell too bad before lathering on the sunscreen and 80% DEET. I could feel the aching of my hips and back after days of sleeping on wooden floors and concrete.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Borneo Trek For Orangutans: Day 6-7.

Our last two days in the jungle would be spent at Bukit Peninjau Wildlife Research Station, about a half an hour boat ride from Meliau longhouse. We did most of our trekking in the mountains here—one day of trekking in the scorching heat, the next in the cooling rain.

We conducted a data survey of orangutan nests and fallen fruit with the research team, learnt some jungle survival skills with the locals, watched proboscis monkeys from our boats in the stillness of Danau Sentarum, and went night-fishing. There truly was never a dull day in Borneo.

Day 6-7: Bukit Peninjau Wildlife Research Station

The next morning I was woken up (a few times) by the roosters crowing and dogs howling and pigs screeching. When they all burst into a simultaneous cacophony at 4am (I called it the Chorus of Animals), I promptly gave up on any further "sleep" and got up to use the bathroom—a single squat-style toilet in a concrete block outside the longhouse, at the far end of the village. Just a single toilet for the whole village (though we were pretty sure the locals didn't use this one).

There was no power running in the village now so I walked out with my head-torch, sanitiser and toilet roll in hand, stepping lightly on my toes across the wooden floors which creaked underneath me anyway. As I opened the front door the village dogs congregated excitedly at my feet, whining and sniffing for my attention. 4am, in the dark, on the way to the toilet wasn't really the time and place for pats, I thought.

It was nice being up before everyone else; before even the sun. I liked hearing the village go about their business. I had already heard some activity at about 3am: people heading out very early on their boats, perhaps to the plantations or to check fishing nets and crab pots. I used the time to pack my things ahead of our next campsite: Bukit Peninjau Wildlife Research Station, our home for the next two nights.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Borneo Trek For Orangutans: Day 5.

Today we would leave our beautiful campground in Betung Kerihun National Park for another day of travelling and little else. We'd be on our way back to Sadap, saying our last goodbyes to the men who had spent time away from the village to help us with the boats and in the forest; then we'd be back on a bus to Lanjak for lunch at the WWF offices before another very long boat ride to the village of Meliau, where we'd be staying with host families in a longhouse.

Day 5: From Tekelan to Sadap, Sadap to Lanjak, Lanjak to Meliau

Oh, how I wished for just one more day in our quiet sanctuary by the river. I knew I'd miss this place the most, even though we hadn't yet been anywhere else: it was so serene and cosy, and sleeping in our little tents out there meant that I, for the most part, felt like part of the jungle—like this place could really be my home and I could get used to it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Borneo Trek For Orangutans: Day 4.

On that Monday, we woke up in our beautiful jungle home. Our office would be the trees, and we didn't know it yet, but today we were going to have the best (and most challenging) fun ever. We would do two forest treks, swim in a waterfall, trek along a stony riverbed through moving water, and then float down one of the many tributaries in Betung Kerihun National Park in our life vests. We lived. It was my favourite day of the whole trip, and one of the best days of my life.

Day 4: Exploring Betung Kerihun National Park

Today was our first real day in the jungle. We woke up early at about 5am, to see if we could spot gibbons on a 6am trek. 

It was so pleasant here, sleeping by the river in our tents; all the insects and birds calling around us. As expected, the rainforest was cooler in comparison to the heat in the cities, but I'd still sweat within mere minutes of doing anything, even standing still.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Borneo Trek For Orangutans: Day 3.

After two full days of travelling by air, our third day would be a full of travelling by land and by sea. We had a 2.5 hour bus ride from Putussibau to Sadap village, which would then be followed by another 2.5 hour longboat ride from Sadap to Tekelan Camping Ground in Betung Kerihun National Park. I didn't bother writing anything in my journal for this day seeing as we were mostly on the go, but rest assured—I have plenty to talk about.

Day 3: En route to the jungle. Putussibau to Sadap, Sadap to Tekelan.

Today we were finally on our way to the jungle. The idea of spending 2.5 hours squished into a bus with no air-conditioning (except nature's air-conditioning, which as it turns out, was pretty strong) may not seem ideal, but we were pretty happy. I had spent some time before bed last night preparing my bags for the boat ride this afternoon—waterproofing everything that couldn't get wet; putting my sunblock, insect repellent (tropical strength, 80% DEET—a necessity in the jungle), sunglasses, hat and water in easily accessible places on my day pack; putting my bigger rucksack into a huge plastic bag and knotting it tight. My camera was really my only concern, but I had a special waterproof bag just for that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Borneo Trek For Orangutans: Day 1-2.

It was a week yesterday since I landed home after 10 days in Indonesian Borneo. It's just as surreal to me now as it was when I was leaving that this trip even happened. After over a year of talking about it, training for it, fundraising and campaigning for it, it didn't seem real that I was going to be in this place I'd only ever heard of. Even now that I'm back to normality, I wonder if perhaps it was all a dream...but the photographic evidence sits in my hard drives: all 3,581 fragments of memories and moments from Trek For Orangutans to remind me I was there.

I have over 800 final shots that I want to share with you, so I'll be doing separate blog posts that cover 1-2 days from the trip. Unlike my other blog posts, I'll actually be including some writing as part of my Borneo photo series. As comprehensive as photos may be, there's so much they won't tell you about—the smells, the noises, the atmosphere; the view outside the frame; all the genuine, proper conversations I had with people who were once strangers; what I wasn't able to or didn't have time to capture; and that which I chose not to capture because a moment was too good to waste on shooting it, versus living in it.

I committed to writing a pretty detailed journal while I was in Borneo, so I'll be including excerpts from those pages in these posts.

Here goes.

Day 1: From Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to Jakarta.

I write this on board our flight to Jakarta, Indonesia. My second flight today; my first ever flying solo. I may be with my tour group, but most of us have only just met, and in many ways lots of us are travelling alone.

I was emotional when I left Brisbane. I didn't expect to be; I wasn't sure why. I felt every different feeling right down into the pits of my stomach. I was hoping to leave on a positive note, but I guess the reality of everything was hitting me.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why I'm trekking for orangutans in Borneo.

With just two weeks to go until I leave for Borneo, I've finally written this post. Over the last year as I've been training, fundraising and campaigning for the trek, a lot of you have been so supportive and have—rightly so—been curious as to why I decided to trek for orangutans.

I believe we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to inspire change. I've always known that I wanted to do something that will keep on giving even when I'm gone. I don't want to live out my days contributing only to myself and my own life when there are so many beings around the world in need. It was never going to be enough to only do well in my career; I wanted everything else I was passionate about on the inside to be something I was actively involved in on the outside.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Ones We Love Exhibition, Künstler Magazines

Some photos from The Ones We Love exhibition & book release at Künstler Magazines. An exhibition of the most beautiful, tender & raw portraits of love, humans, life by photographers all around the world. It can be so hard to capture a person's essence, all of the facets of their being, in one single photo, but these photographers get it right. I hope to be taking more of these kinds of photos in the future.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Type By Hand: Hand-lettering workshops with Wayne Thompson.

Yet again, my design & photography worlds collide. If you're a designer & type-lover living in Australia, then you've probably already heard of Wayne Thompson's Type By Hand workshops. Teaching you to refine your hand-lettering skills through a range of techniques, you'll learn the art of blackletter, brush type and even how to make your own ruling pen from a soda can. These workshops are a must if you love typography or doing anything by hand, not to mention you get a lot of one-on-one learning time with some of Australia's best typographers.

It was such a pleasure filming the workshop (which I've been wanting to attend myself for some time now). I first met Wayne when I photographed Typism 2013; almost a year later, it's great to be able to work with Wayne after our brief chats about videos & photos at the conference.

If you went to Typism, you'll also notice Wayne's fellow speakers Matt Vergotis (attending as a helper) & Nicole Phillips (attending as a keen student) appear in the video.

Just quietly: plans are already underway for Typism 2015, so keep an eye on the website for the line-up and more news to come.

More photos from my day capturing Type By Hand below.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Self, 2014.

It's been a while since one of these.
Photo taken by Martin.