Base Camp Manager, Ian Blessley, Gives His Account of Moving to Camp Foyle
The Move from Remote, to Extremely Remote
Journey by logging road
The following morning we arrived at Batu Ampar, where we were to move overland to Camp Bravo. This was a transfer from the Barito River to the River Joloi. The team and locals put in some backbreaking work carrying all of the equipment up a steep hill to the “road” that the jeeps would travel along to transport us to our next destination.
It took 6 jeeps (4 then 2 again) to move the team on all the stores to Camp Bravo along the logging road. In parts the road was very good and the jeeps seemed to cope well, in other areas the overloaded suspension seemed to struggle and the drivers had to stop to pour water on the brakes and wheels. That night the team had a chance to relax as the house that we stayed in had a pool table (this was to provide further welcome relief over the next few days).
The following morning, only one boat was available as communications had once again been difficult with the villages upstream. Martin left only to return 2 hours later after breaking down, but this time he brought 5 boats back with him. We spent the next 3-4 hours shifting all the stores down a very steep, muddy bank to be loaded onto the boats, before Martin departed as advance party to the village of Naan with Ung and Aspor to help him, and a total of 9 boats. Unfortunately darkness was against us and we were forced to stay in Camp Bravo for a second night.
The boats to take us to Naan arrived late during the night so with an early start we were on our way in good time having loaded the last of the stores. After the torrential rain on the first night the river had risen dramatically. During the second night it dropped back down by approximately 8-10m, a huge amount, meaning to get the stores onto the boats Munir and I got very muddy.
To Tumbang Tohan via Naan
Upon our arrival in Naan we were to discover that Martin had been made to unload all the boats as the boat drivers were worried they would sink. After a brief stop to load up again, we set off for the village of Tumbang Tohan (TT).
Disaster stuck en route and only Aspor’s quick reactions saved us from losing a boat load of equipment. It seems that one of the boat captains had been refuelling on route, and had driven into a tree and up the bank spilling his cargo into the river. Aspor had dived in to rescue the equipment.
Whilst this was all going on, we had been undergoing difficulties with our boats. Apparently our klotok should have been able to take 11 people, but I think the size and weight of 12 Indonesians might be slightly different to the 11 of us, and the engine had been overloaded, (this was a problem we encountered often).
When we caught up to the boat crash we were in 2 boats, and whilst one stopped to assist, Martin and his boat continued on to meet the villagers and send back help. Eventually we were on our way again and the whole team was once again together in TT.