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My Raleigh, Borneo. Phase 2

The second project was to build a Gravity Water Feed System to provide water to the village Kampung Vunui Locos, in one of the poorest regions of Sabah, Kota Marudu. A Gravity Water Feed System has a simple design – our task was to build the dams across two small rivers and the platforms that the storage tanks would sit on. The group after us would complete the project, fitting the piping and taps in the main clusters of houses. We were working alongside a sustainable business called the Asian Forestry Commission (AFC) who run community development projects as well as Coca Cola, who provided the building materials.

The village was very remote; it took a day to arrive there by coach, following on with four-wheel drives after the roads turned to tracks or rivers. It was an adrenaline filled journey – at some points we crossed water that was level with the windows of the car! Once we arrived, we met the person in charge of development for the village. He showed us where the villagers had cleared enough space for us to make a camp, (which we started to build with the help of a local carpenter) with static hammocks under a tarpaulin to sleep in. The locals were incredibly shy, only the children came to speak to us at first – however, it was clear from the beginning that they were glad to have us there: they had given us their market stall for part of our camp. Later, we discovered that the reason for their shyness was because before we had arrived, they had only seen one other non- Malaysian, the project organiser.

For the first few days, we worked with the local carpenter to design the dams and clear the appropriate spaces in preparation. During this time, it seemed we were the village’s entertainment – there was always a group sitting on the bank observing us! It was a little awkward at first, but their wariness was understandable. After those first few days, the locals became progressively more accepting and involved with working on the dams. They even helped us carry materials up the hill to the building site; something we were all grateful for, as lugging bags of cement weighing over fifty kilos up the hill was strenuous to say the least. Having moved most of the materials, we headed up to where the dams would be built, and started mixing concrete by hand. This was a rather arduous task, and it was a relief when we were allowed to rest in the middle of the day when the heat was too much for manual labour, but just perfect for lounging. With the whole team doing what they could, and despite a few hurdles regarding the design, we completed the two dams. One of the biggest problems was working out how to capture as much water as possible all year round, as the rivers flow varied enormously with the season. With water flowing out of the pipe from the dams, we needed to build a large base for water storage tanks. This involved carrying more materials up the hill and further mixing; the manual work was pretty exhausting. However, seeing the villagers’ faces when the water began flowing out the pipes made it far more than worthwhile and, fulfilling as many clichés as possible, it felt great.

Living within the village was an experience like no other. As we gained their trust, they transformed from being shy and reserved to becoming open and friendly, welcoming us into their day-to-day lives. They invited us to a church service they held once a week, in a house that doubled up as the church. It was strange to recognise so many elements of the customs and to realise that Christianity had spread to some of the most remote areas of the globe hundreds of years prior to our visit.

Although it was such a peaceful and welcoming place to live, a difficulty of living in this remote location was the water shortage. Our water came from a river roughly 2km away, meaning there was strict rationing and we could only wash at the river; slightly annoying when we had spent all day working in mud and cement, but certainly allowed us to appreciate a wash! The villagers showed us the way to a much closer river: this made life much easier, as water trips were more frequent and less arduous. In the brief time we stayed at the village, it was incredibly difficult to adjust to not having a water supply – which made our work seem even more valuable, as the inhabitants of the village had lived this way their entire lives. Once again at the end of the phase we travelled back to Kota Kinabalu for changeover and a comfortable bed, whilst we were told what our next phase of the project would be.


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Will Spence fills us in on the hidden gem that is Mui Ne Guesthouse and gives his recommendation.

Take Me back To Tioman

Lily Black

Lily Black finds an island haven from the bustling Malaysian metropoles.

Top To Toe

Holly Sanders

Holly Sanders shows intrepid beauties what to take and what to leave behind.

The Travel Virus: Unknown by medicine, sought after by youth

Will Spence

Will Spence relates his battle with an increasingly pandemic affliction.

China in Africa: A force for good?

Ed Thomas

Ed Thomas examines the relationship between the emerging superpower and a continent rich in natural resources but poor in development and infrastructure.

Disability & the Arts: Volunteering in Vietnam

Vicky Chiswell

Vicky Chiswell shares her experiences, good and bad, of volunteering with disabled children in Vietnam and provides her honest opinion.

Drinking in Asia: Alcohol In India

Rachael Hogg

Rachael Hogg drinks her way around India's varying relationship with alcohol.

Drinking in Asia: Ladies Night In Shanghai

Holly Sanders

Holly Sanders recommends getting the girls together for a free night on the town (at the top of the city).

Drinking in Asia: The Drinkers' Almanac

Will Spence, Hannah White and Thomas Frankton

From midnight bootlegging in Pushkar, through whiskey milkshakes in Laos and beer guzzling in China to Marijuana lassis in Jaisalmer, Exploration’s writers have bravely concocted a mixture of alcoholic experiences to give a wider understanding of t

The Young Man and The Sea: Xiamen: The Unknown City

Thomas Frankton

Tom Frankton experiences shore leave in a Chinese city off the tourist trail.

Why you Should Never Wear a Playsuit After Dark...

Leah Eades

Leah Eades reveals the truth about Chinese nightlife- as well as the perils that lie in a boozy trip to the bathroom...

Halloween in Asia: Things That Go 'Tik' In The Night

Lexie Frost

Let Lexie Frost tell you some ghost stories…and the Filipino tour guides tell you some fibs.

Halloween Asia Style

Lexie Frost

Halloween has been heading East


Henrietta Brealey

Henrietta Brealey explores the ongoing impact of gender preference in Asia.

China and the One Child policy: Our Story

Joy Upchurch

Joy Upchurch shares her family’s experience of adoption in China

Stripping Off: Naked Adventures in a Japanese Spa

Leah Eades

Leah Eades bravely shreds her clothes in the name of travel journalism.


Henrietta Brealey

Henrietta Brealey explores the ongoing impact of gender preference in Asia.

Strange Japanese Candy

Lexie Frost

In the first of this series on the stranger aspects of Asian culture, Lexie Frost courageously spends the afternoon eating a mountain of sweeties.

India: The Economy of the People?

Hannah White

Hannah White studies the unavoidable issue of the poor in India, and how the growth of the Indian economy seems to bypass them.

Pakistan: An Uneasy Destination?

Sanah Zuberi

Sanah Saeed Zuberi investigates the roots of the political unrest in Pakistan, and how this may affect prospective travellers.

Feeling Leh'd Back in India

Hannah White

Hannah White visits the beautiful Indian city of Leh, and explores its many attractions.

The Parrots: Japanese Tribute Acts

Jeff Oakley

Jeff Oakley explores the incredible phenomenon of musical tribute acts in Japan.

Daylight Robbery in Bangkok

Chloe Walsh

Chloe Walsh gives valuable advice on how to avoid scams in the urban jungle of Bangkok, Thailand.

Put a (Fake) Ring On It in Asia

Leah Eades

Leah Eades gives some useful tips for female travellers in Asia.

A life in: Pyongyang

Alan Gregory

Erudition's Hong Kong correspondent describes his time in North Korea

A life in: Hong Kong

Alan Gregory

Erudition's former Hong Kong correspondent reports on his life in the city.

A life in: Beijing

Cameron Willard

Erudition's former Editor in Chief ponders his experiences in the Chinese capital.

Great Firewall of China

Ed Thomas

Ed Thomas on the ins and outs of Chinese internet censorship

Made in…the UK??

Henrietta Brealey

There are still some things the Chinese buy from Britain

The Young Man and The Sea: Big trouble in little Yantian

Thomas Frankton

In the first of an occasional series, merchant sailor Tom Frankton relates his experiences of low lives and high seas whilst sailing the Pacific.

Harajuku Loving

Lexie Frost

Lexie Frost relates the rise and fall of Tokyo’s street fashion mecca.

Britain's new obsession

Becca Hutchison

Becca Huchinson explores the new passion in England for all types of Japanese cuisine.

After the Terracotta Warriors

Leah Eades

Leah Eades opens her diary of experiences during the Study China programme, finding that it’s not always the designated tourist experiences that leave the biggest imprint on the memory .

Why travel 5000 miles when Yong Da is down the road?

Emily Fenlon

Emily Fenlon debates the local takeaway with her experiences of Chinese restaurant etiquette.

Top 5 Japanese Restaurants in London

Becca Hutchison

The best Japanese food you can get without leaving the country.

Tai Po Negative

Mat Jones

Having travelled to Tai Po and without the aid of IKEA, Mathew Jones meets his culinary the shape of noodles.

Spiders and Locusts and Bugs (Oh My)

Henrietta Brealey

Travelling in Skuon, Henrietta Brealey encountered a Cambodian local delicacy that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

A Gaijin’s Survival guide

Alison Todd

Alison Todd discovers the ornate rules of etiquette in Japan still apply today.

Study China

Leah Eades

Leah Eades gets a wonderful introduction to life in modern China courtesy of a unique cultural programme for students.

A vegetarian in China

Vicky Chiswell

Vicky Chiswell navigates her way around carnivorous Chinese cuisine.

Where's Wei-Wei?

Ed Thomas

Ed Thomas comments on the uncomfortable mystery surrounding the disappearance of China’s greatest artist

A View Above the Indonesian Clouds

Chloe Walsh

Chloe Walsh follows on from her article about the breathtaking Borobudur Temple, as she makes the difficult trek to the top of the infamous Mount Bromo in Indonesia.

Studying India

Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson writes about her experience as a volunteer teacher in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai with the Study India Programme, and how it is possible to become acclimatised to an environment so incredibly different from your own.

“Sleep Well”: Lub D Hostel Review

Lucy Rowland

A far cry from the sticky guest houses that line Khao San Road, is it everyone’s cup of tea – or should backpackers experience the grittiest of the true Bangkok?

Thailand: What not to do

Jeff Oakley

Why do young Western people flock to South East Asia to extend the drinking culture they have at home?

A Rare Invitation: Rural Laos

Charlotte Drummond

Charlotte Drummond-Chew visits a tiny, rural village in Laos at the invitation of an resident.

Backstreets are Back: Vietnam

Emily Booth

Emily Booth writes about the importance of spontaneity when travelling, and remembers some of her own experiences in the backstreets of Vietnam.

30p Fish Pedicures

Emily Booth

Emily Booth gives us a punchy insight into the vibrant of Siem Reap in Cambodia.

My Raleigh, Phase 1: Sepilok, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation

Simon Skelly

In the second instalment of Simon Skelly’s series, he writes about the first phase of his trip with the renowned charity Raleigh International

Dancing Ducks and Three Dresses: A Thai Wedding

Lucy Rowland

In the second part of her pair of articles about her volunteer placement in an Elephant Sanctuary in Surin, Thailand, Lucy Rowland has the opportunity to experience a traditional Thai wedding.

Indian Classical Music: Fourteen Years Too Late

George Howlett

George Howlett continues his series of articles about the difficult art of Indian Classical music, as he spends his visit to Varanasi learning how to understand, and play, the complex style of music.

Dude, where's my Andrex?

Adrian Jankowiak

Adrian Jankowiak gives an invaluable lesson on what to take and what to avoid like the plague when packing for a trip to India.

An inside look at an Indian charity

Nitin Rishi

Seva Mandir, based in Udaipur, Southern Rajasthan, is an Indian non-profit organization that has been working with the rural population for over 40 years. Nitin Rishi writes about his experiences of volunteering in India’s rural development sector.

Behind the scenes in Kerala

Tim Woods

Tim Wood makes the journey through the labyrinth of backwater canals in Kerala, India, with useful hints on how to make this famous trip worthwhile.

Paradise in Indonesia: Gilli Trawangan

Chloe Walsh

Chloe Walsh gives an evocative account of the beautiful island of Gilli Trawangan, off the coast of Bali, with recommendations of how to spend your time and how to get around this peaceful paradise.

Both Sides of the Camera

George Howlett

George Howlett goes deep into the intricate streets of Varanasi, experiencing the life that makes up this diverse city, with things sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, and sometimes terrifying.

Please Do/ Definitely Don’t in Bali

Chloe Walsh

Chloe Walsh gives some useful tips to help you make the most out of a trip to Bali.

Drinking Lao Lao in Laos

Jeff Oakley

Jeff Oakley talks about the notorious Lao Lao liquor, the reasons behind its popularity and its role in the traditions of Laos.

Voluntourism: the price of helping out

Lucy Rowland

Lucy Rowland explores the invasive mode of charity by volunteering, examining the motives of profit-making organisations.

The Divide: The Streets of Mumbai

Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson gives her take on the unavoidable debate of the divide between the poor and wealthy in Mumbai, India.

Vietnam: The New Orient?

Emily Booth

Emily Booth explores the rise of Vietnam after its war-torn history and complicated past – how has it now become such a flourishing part of South East Asia?

The Rise of South East Asia

Emily Booth

Emily Booth wonders at the booming industry of tourism in South East Asia

One Thai Wedding and a Funeral: Elephants and Orange Robes

Lucy Rowland

Lucy gets more than she bargained for in Surin, Thailand

The Unforgettable Borobudur Temple

Chloe Walsh

Chloe Walsh writes about the beauty of ancient Indonesia, through her visit to the Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta, at sunset.

A Night in a Longhouse

Becca Hutchison

A family holiday with a difference: Becca Hutchinson spends the night with a native tribe in Borneo, experiencing the two different faces of the tribe, and beginning to understand the role of tourism in their daily lives.

Wheel of Hope

Tim Woods

In a study of a new charity, Tim Woods explains the origins of the Wheel of Hope, and how it can help the impoverished side of Indian society to get back on their feet.

The Icey Cream Parloor (Part 2)

George Howlett

In the second article of his series, George Howlett takes us through the streets of Varanasi, India, as he begins learning the fundamentals of Indian Classical music.

Goats on a Train

George Howlett

In the first of a series of articles documenting his stay in India, George Howlett gives us a sense of how it feels to arrive in this incredible, diverse country.

Mae Hong Son- Crossing the Border

Charlotte Drummond

After the busy, built up southern islands of Thailand, Charlotte Drummond-Chew wanted to discover the more rural parts of South-East Asia – so she and her friends headed to the Burmese border for something in ‘the road less travelled’ style!

My Raleigh Experience, Borneo

Simon Skelly

Simon Skelly’s first instalment of the documentation of his incredible trip with Raleigh International in Borneo. He explains the challenges of raising money for the project, and journeys into a completely different style of living as he arrives.

Laos: Where Mud is measured in metres

Becca Hutchison

Becca Hutchinson experiences an extremely different mode of transport in Laos, as she treks through dense jungle and mud on an Asian elephant