Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Flood! (Day 2 - 03/07/2010)

As mentioned in the previous post, a heavy downpour started at around 5pm on Day 1 and it carried on until the wee hours of the night. While everyone was soundly asleep, our Iban boatmen were restless as they feared that their boats will be washed away. The water level of Sungai Ingei is known to rise rapidly whenever it rains so you can imagine what the condition was when the heavy downpour stretched for hours.

True indeed, a bad flood occurred at approximately 2am and everyone in the base camp was awoken abruptly by the Iban boatmen. "Banjir! Banjir!", shouted Cikgu Haji, whom is one of our important Iban guides. The water level of the river was reported to be two metres away from the base camp floor and we feared that even the base camp itself will be flooded. The roaring sound of the flowing river was intimidating and the river flowed with such immense speed. No wonder the Iban boatmen were restless.

There was nothing much we could do and some went back to sleep. Some of the men decided to stay up for the night and constantly checked on the severity of the flood. It is perhaps one of the worst floods that has occured at Sungai Ingei but we're glad that everyone and everything was safe.


The aftermath of the flood was clearly seen the next morning on Day 2. There was an accumulation of debris around the vicinity of the base camp but the water level went down pretty quick. It was also reported that the highest water level reached by the flood was a mere metre away from the base camp floor. In other words, the water level rose to nearly 6 metres in height.

The water level of Sungai Ingei was still
very high early in the morning of Day 2

Accumulation of debris as seen near the river bank

During the wee hours, the ferns at the
river bank were fully submerged

The flood nearly reached the level of the base camp floor

Debris of wooden planks and loose soil below
the base camp as seen in this picture

Around mid day, the sky was clear and the strong heat helped in drying up the base camp area. A cleaning campaign was held and a few of the participants were eager to pick up as much debris as possible so as to keep the area clean. The Iban boatmen also assisted much during the cleaning campaign.

Cleaning campaign around the base camp

On the other hand, Angus (chief guide) met up with the forest police and discussed about the possible areas in Sungai Ingei in which the forest police could patrol throughout the expedition. The forest police were there for security, patrolling and escorting purposes, so as to assist any of the participants when necessary. With the presence of the forest police in Sungai Ingei, poachers would be intimidated to do their illegal activities there.

Angus and the forest police studying maps

Day 2 also saw the start of one of the research projects of the expedition as leaded by Dr. Zohrah, deputy vice-chancellor of UBD and also a senior lecturer at UBD. Dr. Zohrah's project involved the analysis of the diversity of fishes in Sungai Ingei and she was assisted by her younger brother, Amalul.

Since Dr. Zohrah's project involved surveying the stretch of Sungai Ingei for fishes, she would need the help of the Iban boatmen and their knowledge of the fishes in the river. Her methodology involved the intensive use of fishing nets that were placed at strategic areas along the river. Any fishes caught were then analyzed at the base camp after the field work.

Setting out for Fish Project
L-R: Cikgu Haji (boatmen), Amalul, BB and Dr. Zohrah

Haji Bakhtiar (boatmen) showing one of his catches

Dr. Zohrah in action!

Analysis of fish DNA at the base camp

Dr. Zohrah and Amalul recording their DNA for further studies

While Dr. Zohrah and her crew were working hard in the field, lunch time arrived much to the happiness of some of the jobless participants in the base camp. The menu was simple but good enough to satisfy most of the empty stomachs. But it was after lunch in which the most important task of Day 2 was to be done.

Our Field Coordinator, Samhan, instructed some of the participants to erect the expedition banner as sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank at the front porch of the base camp. The banner would be a welcoming sight for our guests whom were arriving on Day 3.

The base camp kitchen was always a very delightful place

What's for lunch?

Participants erecting the expedition
banner as supervised by Samhan

Happy people with the happy banner :)

To be continued...

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