4 Months ago…The blinding noise of the jungle surrounded us, mocking us, fear and anxiety flooded through me as the magnitude of our situation slowly sunk in.
Going through the motions we both started to set up our hammocks, hanging them of monumental, towering trees that glared down on the pair of us. We were alone, the Dayak guide who had been leading us had deserted us the previous day, not that we could blame him much, what we were embarked on was beyond insane. The sunlight, shielded by the thick, canopy was in its death rattles, it would soon be dark, more likely than not it would soon be raining as well. Hammock up, we set to work making a fire using deadwood, and scraping it with our perangs to its driest part. Nothing stayed dry for long in the jungle. A delicate flame took to the tinder, we both nurtured it like a new-born I slowly fed it piece by dry piece, shielding it where I needed to, blowing softly to let it develop, whilst Louis got to building a shelter for it to protect it from the storm we now knew was imminent. The Dayaks called them “The Winds From The West” unmistakable when they came, would signify the impending tempest. Sure enough, over the palaver of the rain-forests natural orchestra, it came crashing through, howling its battle cry, shaking dead-fall from the canopy which dropped around us like incoming mortar shells.
Today. I’m sat looking at the battered and stinking map that led us through the blackest heart of Central Kalimantan. Pinned to my wall it acts as a poignant reminder of what we accomplished and what misery our ego fuelled pig-headedness got us into.
Tonight, we fly to Papua New Guinea; land of the unexpected. Over a thousand distinct ethnic groups, coupled with nearly 900 different languages means this will be our most complex challenge yet. Once back in the UK, after catching up on all the hugs, kisses, and usual concerns we returned to the proverbial drawing board to see how our lives could be made easier. Number one concern had to be weight, so every single piece of our kit has gone under microscopic evaluation to determine whether it is absolutely necessary. The ridiculous turtle like backpacks we wore in Kalimantan were ditched, replaced with new much lighter expedition packs. I’ve even taken the hugely bold step of omitting my sleeping bag, reasoning that my warmers jacket will probably suffice. Personally, this was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions of my adult life, as deeply conditioned into my brain from the Marines is the idea that your sleeping bag is always the last line of defence. Louis has stayed smart and kept his, so we shall see quite how this choice pans out. (watch this space).
We are both acutely aware that the human situation within PNG is completely different then what we faced in Borneo, it’s capital Port Moresby is one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Abject poverty, coupled with rapidly changing ways of life has caused huge gang problems in and around the major settlements. With this in mind we have spent the past few months, researching to the last possible detail our intended route, whilst making a network of on the ground contacts we can utilise to guarantee safe passage through the more troubled areas.
Despite our reservations, we are both tremendously excited for what lies ahead. Away from the cities and larger settlements, the way of life lived by the locals has remained unchanged since the dawn of time. The fantastically diverse population looks unlike anything we have ever encountered, and will open our eyes once more to a world completely different to our own.
We have planned our route with our thirst for adventure in mind, and will be cutting off the beaten track almost immediately. Knife edged mountains await, WW2 routes used by Australian forces long since forgotten, but for the old diaries we unearthed them in, tribal communities uncontacted by civilisation, raging rivers infested with crocodiles and miles upon miles of shadowy unending jungle.
Louis and I will endeavour where we can post blogs throughout our journey to keep you all updated on the progress of our adventures. At points, we may be hampered by impenetrable canopies, colossal mountains and lack of power so please bear with us, it certainly will be worth the wait.
We mention on a regular basis the motivations behind our challenge, but for us they are an integral pillar to what we are trying to achieve. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may have ended, however many of our service men and women still bear the physical and psychological scars from these conflicts. Using our challenge as a platform we wish to raise funds for 2 phenomenal forces charities who do so much towards improving the quality of lives for countless wounded veterans and their families. If you enjoy our videos, our blogs, and the photos we post, as much as our aforementioned egos love a like and a retweet, it doesn’t help as much as a simple donation does.
So as always #ChuckusaFiver by clicking below . . . . . and thanks so much for the support.