James Ogilvie – England
I spent this week in a small village called Mligi village which is near Pacet, and about two hours outside of Surabaya. Although it is relatively close to Surabaya, and you can even see the city lights on the horizon at night, the two places could not be any more different. It is up in the mountains here so it is much cooler than in Surabaya, especially at night, although it is still very hot during the day. We spent most of the week preparing for the Eco-Camp that is taking place here this weekend, where about 50 students from nearby schools will be coming to take part in environmental activities in the area.
During my stay in Mligi village, I was joined by Yusuke, from Japan, and a new intern, Rhianne from Holland. It was really nice to have them both with me and we all had a great time here. Throughout the week we were taken around the area to observe the environment here and see how the people live. We visited a local biogas plant, where they use cow manure to make biogas, which was interesting to see, but was inevitably a smelly experience.
We also visited a local home industry, where they made crisps, which was really amazing. We helped peel and slice the potatoes and watched them fry them in huge pans, before leaving them to dry and finally packaging them up to be sold in the local area. We helped make several bags of crisps, which they generously let us keep when we left! The crisps were really good; much better than any you can get in England.
We were also taken around the area to observe the environment and the problems here. A large proportion of the land here is used for farming, including everything from mangoes to potatoes, and consequently a lot of water is required for these plants and trees. Fortunately they have rivers flowing down from the mountains and seem to be able to take enough water for their farming from the rivers.
However, the majority of the ground is very hot and very dry as it is currently the dry season and there is no rain. Tunas Hijau has been working to replant trees in the area, as many trees were lost to deforestation in previous decades. There is also a problem of forest fires here, as the ground is so hot and dry. Last night we saw a huge fire on the side of one of the hills; destroying trees this way is not helping Tunas Hijau’s efforts to replant the area.
My personal highlight of the week was our hike up Pundak mountain, a mountain directly behind Mligi village. We left the village at around 4pm on Wednesday afternoon, and hiked up to the top of the mountain. It took around 3 hours and was dark by the time we reached the top. It was a very tough walk and we were all very tired! It was also quite cool by this time and very windy at the top, and I must admit I felt a little bit cold; something I had not experienced since I left England over two months ago!
Once we had found a clearing to set up our camp, we put up our tents and made a fire, and settled down for the night. We cooked some noodles for dinner and tucked into several bags of our hand made crisps! We went to sleep quite early as we wanted to wake up early the next morning to watch the sun rise over the mountains. We woke up at 4.30am on the next morning and walked over to a clearing to watch the sun come up. We had an amazing view over the hills and it was a beautiful place to watch the sunrise. We then packed up the camp and began the long walk back down to Mligi village.
All in all I have had a great week here in Mligi village. It has been nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and enjoy the amazing views of the countryside out here. I am looking forward to the Eco-Camp this weekend, although it is a shame than Yusuke and Rhianne were unable to stay to help out!