The Plight
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1st May 2008 - Back again
Aww, I'm back in Newcastle again. When I stepped out of the train station I was greeted by the smoggy smell of traffic, followed by a late bus and the snapping of the plastic bag I was carrying. Yep; definitely back in Newcastle.

Still, I get to see Chris. I also get to read through the load of orangutan names waiting for me, and marvel at the handmade necklace that a friend has made for a competition prize donation!

As I passed a local charity shop I noticed closing down signs all around it. It's such a shame, but I managed to rescue a white orangutan teddy from it. Homeless orangutan teddies shouldn't be left hanging in a closing down shop so I took it home. It looked a bit sorry for itself so I gave it a bath, let it play out on the washing line in the sun for a bit, and then brought it in to get to know the other orangutan teddies. Even though I know I'll most likely have no physical contact with the real orangutans on my trip, I can't wait to go and help them. Real orangutans will be much happier swinging around in the wild than anywhere else, and I'm proud to go and help them stay there. Long live the orangutans!

2nd May 2008 - Judging commences
The time is nigh for the judgement of the Palm-Free Name Me competition. It's also the time to get my malaria-preventing pills for my trip. I've organised for a prescription to be sorted out so that I can get the buying of them out of the way. You have to start the pills before you go on the trip, so it's best not to leave it too late.

The visa is sorted, or at least it will be when I go on my plane flight. Dawson and Sanderson mentioned visas in one of their letters, so I wandered off to see what they had to say. They were very friendly yet again, and gave me the information I needed. I actually don't need to send off for a visa; I can buy a visa on arrival since I'm not spending over thirty days in Indonesia. It's only twenty five US dollars, which was a lot less than I thought. There are some conditions for obtaining a visa on arrival, but I should be able to meet them all. Sorted!

4th May 2008 - Ouch
I wondered whether I was going to complete my two hour walk this week, but I managed it. Yesterday I had started walking to the cinema to see the film "Iron Man", with my friends. We set off for a later showing, so I wasn't able to do the full non-stop two hours that I had first planned1, although I did walk for just under an hour.

The main semi-disaster that I came across was that partway through the trip, my back started to hurt. It eventually eased off when I sat down so that I could enjoy the film, but as soon as I stood up again, I could feel it. There were no buses around so I ended up grabbing two things; a taxi back home, and pain relievers from Chris. By that time even when I lay in bed I could feel it; not excruciating but uncomfortable nevertheless.

As I lay there my back started to feel strangely warm. I didn't like the thought of failing this week's training, but by the next morning I didn't have to worry about it. My back had stopped aching all the time so I walked with Chris for a bit before heading off on my own. I managed to get back home going a totally different route near the end, then I spent the rest of the time walking round and round Heaton Park, taking the most imaginative and training-worthy routes I could find. I must have looked as if I were lost because if someone sketched out my route it would have resembled a bowl of spaghetti. After deciding it was more or less impossible to get lost in the park, I made my way to the shops before finishing triumphantly on my doorstep. Whatever the reason for it, I'm hoping the nasty back ache will never happen again. My week's training is complete!

1. We did discuss whether walking for half of the training, seeing Iron Man, and then doing the rest of the training was cheating, and decided it was.

6th May 2008 - I gaze in wonder at my lack of prescription
Well, that was very unfantastic. The tr...

Oh, I got a call after all! Just as I was typing that the travel clinic hadn't rung, they rang me - thank goodness for that. It was getting so late I thought they'd not bothered. I had a nice chat and cleared up a query I had, and finished the phone call happy because I don't need a prescription after all for my malaria-preventatives; I can just buy them at the chemists.

The query was about which pills I take because there seemed to be two mentioned in the box that was ticked. At first I hadn't realised, thinking that the names were just different names for the same thing, so was surprised when I saw two mentioned. I actually have to take two types of tablets to more fully ensure safety against Malaria where I'm going. One of the potential side affects of my medication are mouth ulcers... lurvely. Hopefully I won't react badly, but I was told to bring a tube of Bonjela with me, just in case. Magically enough I for some reason have a tube of it on my desk. Funny what you find in my room.

Well, the Malaria-preventatives are almost sorted, and so is my training for the week. With a walk home from town yesterday, and some time around Heaton Park with my huge rucksack today, I've completed two of the walks already.

Today's walk was in hot, hot weather. I was going to walk with my friends but they weren't ready and I needed to be home for the travel clinic call, so I wandered off on my own. All the bulbs in the park are growing into full plants now, and the Bird Cherry tree is blossoming. What a pretty sight.

7th May 2008 - Anybody home?
Just a quick recap, since it's been ages since Iíve typed about this. I never did get over 4 out of 6 MP's replying. Someone deleted one of my messages with my address added on it, so they are certainly not going to reply by post. 4 out of 6 isn't bad though; thank you to the MP's that did reply.

I never got a reply from past people that have been on the orangutan conservation trip either. I guess I'll have to find out for myself when I get there exactly what it is like. Personally I'm looking forward to it a lot. On that note I'm going to have to choose my insurance policy for it pretty sharpish, because I need to send copies of all the documents to Frontier soon, as proof that I've got them all sorted.

Another pet portrait is almost done...

9th May 2008 - The waiting game isn't so fun

My drawing of a furry cat

Let me oooouuuuut. There are a tonne of things I want to do; get my Malaria-preventatives, post some pet portraits off, do some training... but instead I'm waiting for a parcel. The sun is shining outside, but nobody else is in to collect my post if I leave the house, and what I'm waiting for probably won't fit through the letter box. I'm even reluctant to go and have a bath, just in case the doorbell rings.

I've made use of my time by buying some insurance for my trip. Now all I have to do is get all of my trip information to Frontier and then I will feel better!

10th May 2008 - So much walking!
My two hours training this week is certainly done. I set off around eleven minutes past eleven in the hot sun, did two hours of walking, then wandered around the shops looking for kit. My training took me around Heaton Park, down to another park nearer town, and then into and round town.

I made sure that I explored the second park until at least an hour had past, because I knew once I got into town, training would be less interesting. My circuits round the park became larger each time as I roamed up and down the slopes. I even found a bit with trees and steps where a cute, tiny bird lived, although I wished I couldn't hear the rumbling of cars and trains amongst the bird calls. I also wished I could always smell the sweet scent of flowers around one side of the nearby stream, and not the stinky smell when I walked up the opposite side of it.

After the park, I walked into town, trying to keep in the shade. I have the sun tan lotion for my trip, but I need to find some for my training. I was worried about getting sunburned, so as soon as I reached town I dived into the indoor shopping centre, hoping that I could walk brusquely and be in the protected from the sun at the same time. The thing was that Saturday shopping centres tend to be busy, so in the end I went back to my "walking in the shade" routine again until the two hours had been up.

I managed to miss posting my portraits because I didn't realise the post office shut after lunch, but I did manage to get my insect repellent. The first shop I went into only had tiny expensive bottles, but a friendly guy in Millets showed me some bigger bottles for about the same price. I got student discount on them too, so now I have my DEET. I just have to test it to make sure I don't react to it, and keep it away from plastics and nylon-type fabrics. Because the DEET melts them. I am keeping that stuff well away from my specs, else I won't be able to see!

I poked my head into the Lush shop whilst I was out, to see if their new soap contained palm or not. I heard that they are now swapping over their soap range to a palm-free formula, but I would like to double check after the confusion last time. If all the soaps are turning palm-free I will be ever so pleased; the orangutans might be a miniscule amount safer, although there are the other products to sort out after that. Every little helps.

Oh yes; Chris helped me to gain copies of the forms I have to send off to Frontier, so everything has been sorted now. I'm going to ring them up later to make doubly sure they have received the forms, because if they don't, my trip may be delayed. The letter said I could send bits via email, but email replies have never been Frontier's strong point.

See you later people. I have to go food shopping now!

12th May 2008 - Yay!
Yay, brimmed hat!
I bought it myself today and got some student discount on it. It has high sun protection, somehow helps prevent nasty bugs from biting me, helps keep me cool and is waterproof too. If it blows off into the water it will hopefully float, but it has a cord to go underneath my neck so it shouldn't blow off anyway. It is a lot cheaper than the fancy hat at Carsington Water, and I think it may be a superhat. I have been promised by the people in Blacks that with 50% DEET insect repellent, my hat will not get ruined, no matter how much I spray on the hat.

Yay, head net!
It wasn't on the kit list, but after seeing what it can be like bug-wise at Carsington, I decided to buy one, out of my own money of course. Some head nets were about £8 but this one was only £1.99 and it seems fine. It was the last one in the shop!

Yay, anti-malarials!
Finally, I have the anti-malarials; enough for my trip and the time before and after that I'm supposed to take them.

Yay, TOC Aromatherapy!
I'll be getting my wonderful insect-repellent soap and oils soon that they made especially for my trip! If you want some other great soaps and the like, you should visit their stall at the Newcastle Farmer's Market because they sell them there.

Yay, palm-free!
I rang up Lush today and was assured that their new soap is totally palm-free, no hidden palm or anything, and also that they are swapping their other soaps to the palm-free formula too.

Yay, received!
Frontier also got a call from me today, and they said that they'd received my document copies.

14th May 2008 - Palm-free soap is cool
The Palm-Free Name Me competition winners have been chosen1, and I've been off for a walk. I took my large rucksack to practice with, filled with miscellaneous items. The route included walking around town2 and through Heaton Park. A man commented about the massive load I was carrying, so I mentioned my conservation trip and he wished me good luck. I wish I'd mentioned orangutans, since I only mentioned rainforests and Sumatra, but I normally do so I shouldn't bash myself too hard. My walk made me ponder more on whether I could advertise what I am doing whilst training.

After my walk I visited a friend's house. We chatted and then my friend gave me some bits for my medical kit; along with one of my Mum's ziplock bags, it is the start of my own medical kit collection. The plan is that if I collect all the kit separately then I won't have to buy a ready-made one from Frontier. That most likely means money-saving on my part, which then means that more money goes towards the helping more ooks3 via the Orangutan Foundation!

Ook ook, insect-repellent TOC Aromatherapy soap and oil arrived yesterday.

1. Congratulations to them! For those that didn't win or enter, another competition will be surfacing soon.
2. and back to my house so that I could grab something I thought might come in handy.
3. aka orangutans

15th May 2008 - Cleansing of the socks
I've hand-washed some socks today. I could sugar coat it and say that I've been practicing for when I go on my conservation trip, since there won't be washing machines in the rainforest. The vapours from my minty soap were refreshing and invigorating, unlike the floral, bug-attracting scents of washing machine liquid.

But when all's said and done, the long and the short of it is still... I've hand-washed some socks, and proud of it I am too.

16th May 2008 - £500 TARGET REACHED!
Palm-Free Name Me competition entry money is now stored, and so are large sums of donations, and some pet portrait money! If you do your maths, we are over a quarter of the way there to the final target. Yippee!

My boyfriend took me on an over-two-hour walk today. We found a stables and a river with a funny boat on it and some cute ducks. There were a few steep hills on the route before we found ourselves at the Quayside. Sometimes it feels as if places are trying their best to be "nice" and "pretty", but the cars, dirt, and/ or rubbish get in the way at times. Still, I'll just keep remembering the flowers and the cute ducks, and try to wipe away the noisy people and the muckiness from my mind. Oh, I've put it in my diary. Oops. Spending some time with my boyfriend is always good though, so I'll add that in my entry for me to remember.

I had to start some work for uni yesterday, because I was told my placement wasn't long enough. It's going to make things more tricky again, but I have to do it; I have the feeling that if I didn't take the job, the placement office would kick up a fuss. At least I get paid.


Well I was going to have a bath, but Chris has just discovered a leak coming from cracks in the kitchen ceiling, which is underneath where the bath lives. Great. Now I'm scared to even run a bath, never mind sit in it. This time period has been full of great up ups, but also some downs, and I really don't want to add the celing falling "down" as one of them, especially if I'm in the bath falling through the ceiling at the time.

19th May 2008 - The A4 pet portrait

One of my more detailed cat drawings

That picture's my first A4 pet portrait - if you compare the other pictures I've done you may be able to spot the difference, because it looks more detailed to me. I'm really proud of it, but off it goes to its owner.

The bath leak seems to be sorted out, so I'm thankfully not smelly, and as for the university work I've discovered that I'm allowed to just work the hours I can, so there's no worry about it clashing dreadfully with my conservation project.

What else can I say? I'm still on-target with my training; yesterday I walked around... you guessed it, Heaton Park. This week I'm going to have to find a four hour walk for my regime!

20th May 2008 - £600 TARGET REACHED!
Another walk out of the way and another target reached! It feels great each time we hit another target. I have a sleeping bag liner too, since I noticed Blacks was doing 15% student discount this week. At first I didn't get the full 15% and so had to go back in, but all is sorted now.

Thanks to my Dad I can also make and sell pet key rings and magnets, but you have to buy a pet portrait first!

25th May 2008 - Busy and ow
These past few days have been busy; buying kit list, collecting donations and delivering portraits. I used the 15% discount in Blacks to buy some more bits, including some water bottles and some rainforest clothes. I bought the clothes out of my own money, as well as one of the bottles1. Later Chris noticed a flaw in the rainforest trousers, so I had them replaced. It was a small flaw, but I wouldn't be happy if my trousers fell apart whilst on my trip!

Over the weekend I visited my Grandma. She gave me lots of bits for my trip, including medical kit items, emergency toilet roll2 and a lunchbox, and then bought me a wristwatch, because I need one of those too. Mine is up to 50m water resistant and has an alarm so I can be reminded to take my anti-malaria pills, a little light to read the time at night, and an extra compass-like device for emergencies in case my normal one gets broken. I chose a man's watch because the female's, although they were the same price, paled in comparison to what the male's watches had. There was one pence change, so that's gone in my fund.

I had a little setback with my training. I've done the four hour walk, but I haven't completed the last one hour walk that was supposed to be on steep terrain. Near the end of my four hour walk my leg started to play up. It's been doing that a bit lately but the four hour walk triggered it more. My feet hurt loads and my legs ached which is natural for walking a long way when you haven't had much practice3, but behind my knee has started to feel more and more uncomfortable. I'd already organised a physiotherapist appointment4, but I may have to take it easy until the appointment. Boohoo!

Well, at least I managed to get to see the new Indiana Jones film with Chris after my big walk! Indiana Jones films are some of my favourite films. I also got to hang out with one of my friends called Fran, because she helped me to find a nice walking route for most of the way. We went through about three or four parks on up, down, and straight routes. One park had some waterfalls. Maybe there are more nice places in Newcastle than I thought after all.

I brought my big rucksack for three out of four hours, then I swapped to my day sack because there wouldn't have been anywhere in a cinema to put my huge bag. I wore my jungle boots all the way.

1. I need more than one bottle; it says so on the kit list.
2. Yes, that is on the list!
3. Baths really do help, and so does Grandma's muscle ointment.
4. Because my trip loomed and training was important, the nurse tried to get me a physio appointment asap. I was given a number and left a message, but for a while I wondered if they were ever going to ring me back.

29th May 2008 - Field Brief
I've been sent my field brief today. My whole trip suddenly feels more real. We get to spend quite a large part camping inside the forest doing fieldwork which I am looking forward to.

Most of me feels excited, but there is a small part of me that feels sad that I have not been able to raise more funds than I have done at the moment. I will just have to keep trying.

30th May 2008 - Learning to speak
I'm getting quite nervous about all the little bits I feel I need to do, so I'm doing some today. I did have a couple of wanders around town for an Indonesian phrasebook/ dictionary, but nowhere seemed to have a suitable one1, so I resulted to ordering one online. My friend Fran tracked a good one down for me, so I've got that. At first I tried buying it second hand, but the price of postage brought it over the amount to buy it new from WHSmith! I'd searched in WHSmith in town, but they had other phrasebooks, not Indonesian, so I've now bought it on offer from WHSmith online, with free postage.

1. I could have bought a whole course complete with book and CDs for an expensive price, but CDs don't fare too well in the rainforest and expensive, heavy books aren't too good there either.

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