‘ Making it out of the pub and into the rainforest. Words: Kirstin Smith
travelling. you know . . .‘ is mtrttered trnconvincingly in the pub
on a weekly basis by people yet to set foot in the travel agent. a bit scared of jabs/snakes/flying btit still intending a Beuelz-style escapade any time soon. As the weeks turn into months. it becomes clear that most of us will get no further than a fortnight in Kavos.
‘This isn‘t going to happen to me.‘ I decided as l slapped down my deposit for Trekforce: two months in Sarawak. Iiast Malaysia. building a research centre in a National Park. Iiight weeks of sleeping in a hammock in the rainforest and working in an ()rangutan Preservation Centre. ‘l'm going to the jungle.‘ l cried. grinning madly at each person entering the pub (whom I knew) (at first). The smile started to wane as the questions began. ‘Where exactly is Sarawak'." they demanded. ‘What do you wear/eat/do'." I needed some serious information.
When Jess Rigby mentions Trekforce her eyes widen and she starts htrgging herself with glee. It was the best two months of her life. she tells me. I begin retreating into a fuzzy dream world of swinging hammocks and baby orangutans before Jess worries me with: ‘Do you like porridge'.’ And Spam? Make sure you bring loads of foot powder ms you never really get dry. Try to get pretty lit first: it‘s tough work and the trekking is knackering. Have you had your first vaccination‘.”
Make no mistake: volunteering is no holiday. ()nly limited supplies of food can be taken so the diet doesn't vary much from rice. noodles and tinned foods. You have to be stringent about inoculations. purifying water and taking malaria medication. And if the thought of coming
' ’m taking a year otrt. Yeah. working just now — hoping to go
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across a leech is unbearable. you need not apply.
But the experience of seeing the wildlife and meeting the people of East Malaysia. judging by Jess. isn't easily forgotten. The group of around twenty begin with a week of training on jungle survival from how to string up a hammock to which plants should be given a wide berth. Then the project begins. Trekforce plans the tasks in conjunction with the National Park. Forestry Commission and local government. and typically it involves building a research or visitor centre. bridge or paths. After six weeks the group celebrate the project‘s completion and head out to trek through the rainforest for the final week. visiting places to which it would otherwise be almost impossible to gain access.
The downside is that Trekforce is expensive: the eight week expedition costs £2350. The idea of three months waitressing. going to the gym and having injections might sound grim. but I‘m keeping my eyes on that fuzzy hammock.
Find out more at www.trekforce.org.uk
. . . can’t get a copy of the sun anywhere . . .
I Ride the world’s highest rollercoaster Situated in the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. this ride is not for the fainthearted. The Big Shot launches passengers 160ft up in the air in a mere 2.5 seconds. For more information see www.pcap.com/strat03.htm.
I Visit the Hermitage in Russia
Housed in St Petersburg. the art treasures gathered in more than 100 rooms of this vast museum reflect the stages in the development of European painting from the late middle ages to the present day. For more information www.hermitagemuseum.org/html.
I Go wildlife spotting in Nepal
Although few trekkers are lucky enough to spot a snow leopard or a blue sheep. there‘s still a good chance of seeing rhinos, monkeys and possibly bears at the popular Chitwan National Park. See www.visitnepal.com.
I Get a part as film/TV extra in LA
Fancy yourself as the next Spacey or Kidman? Producers are often on the scout for audience members and extras. Contact the LA Video and Film Permit Office on 213 957 1000 for studio tours and details of location shooting.
I Survive Death Valley in California Hemmed in by nine mountain ranges, D.V. is one of the driest and hottest places in the world. Don’t forget your jumbo bottle of water. For more information see www.gorp.com/gorp/resource/USNNationaI“P ark/ca_ heathhtm.
I Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge One of Australia’s most impressive landmarks, the bridge takes three hours to scale. Expect
to experience stunning views across one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For more information see www.bridgeclimb.com.au
I Visit Sanrio’s Puroland in Japan Forget Disneyland and Universal Studios as you experience the wonderful world of Hello Kitty. Situated in Tama City. the park's most popular attractions include an interactive water wall. a wave tank and a bubble blast machine. For more information see www.advancedanimationscom.
I Go on a spiritual quest in India
Leave your vices at the door for this one. Expect a daily regime that kicks off around 5am. Sex. drugs and drink are forbidden and some leaders ask that you stay silent for most of the day. Rewarding but not for the weak of will. www.journeysmart.com.
I Learn the art of massage in Thailand Get friendly with your fellow travellers by learning the basics of traditional Thai massage in Chaing Mai or Bangkok. For more information see www.spasamui.com/classes.htm or www.bangkoksite.com.
I Design your own souvenirs in Malaysia or Indonesia
Paint your own wall hanging with short courses in design and dyeing in Yogyakarta (Java) or Ubud (Bali) in Indonesia. Or take a week's worth of lessons in backpacker's paradise Cherating in Malaysia. A week‘s course costs 26—5315 and includes materials and tuition. For more information see www.story-of-batik.com. (Anna Millar)
'1 (@5ngin 2002 run LIST 19