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Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures

About

Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures is a travel company with a bite. Let us connect you to nature!

Our team members are all experienced & passionate people who love adventure and sharing their knowledge. Our business model utilizes revenue generated from voluntourism to establish self-sustaining conservation & community projects. The projects contribute to the local economy through services rendered. We are working with the marine parks in Perhentian to co-manage the islands in terms of its waste management, the conservation of its marine lives, the education of its future Eco-leaders & to set up a fully equipped research station via our 3 sister projects that are based on the Perhentian Islands.

We manage over 40 school and university expeditions and service trips each year for universities, grammar schools and international school students throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. Our aim is to make education and conservation fun, insightful while also connecting our participants to nature!

Reviews

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Rachel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer Conservation Projects in Malaysia

last year, I was inspired to join a volunteer program but I wasn't so sure where to start searching. A friend of mine recommended Fuze Ecoteer's Perhentian Turtle Project and ever since then, it has been the best volunteer program I've ever joined so far. It was definitely eye-opening as it was also hands-on. During the program, I was taught on how to swim and kayak in the open sea, identify turtles and was even lucky enough to get to name a new identified turtle during my program. We lived in village amongst a local community, which is also a unique experience for even for a Malaysian myself who has come from the hustle and bustle of cities. On the 4th and 5th day of the program ,we've also camped at the beach and joined a night watch to watch over the turtle hatchings and released them at night. It was a well structured program for volunteers looking to learn something new and work closely with the program team leads. It was a good combination of volunteer work and relaxation, as you get some downtime to go snorkelling at Perhentian's beautiful and clean waters or just relax by the beach. I had an amazing time and I would definitely recommend anyone to join.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was honestly afraid when they said that we would have to swim without life-jackets in order to get close to the turtles (although it was not mandatory), but the team leads were very supportive and great at showing how it's done and since then, I was able to learn how to swim in open waters confidently, even without a life jacket.
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Peter
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A nice programme for understanding the complex nature of conservation.

Really interesting and changes one's thinking. However the length of the program is not enough to do a lot (one needs to train for some of the activities) but it gives an insight on the required activities for conservation of coral reefs and related nature. And during this it provides useful experience, interesting connections to the local people, and lots of fun which we still talk about almost a year later. We actually want to go back to do something even more (less training and more action). Recommended for people who try to do something and want to be involved!

What would you improve about this program?
Definitely more activities as time easily passes by and we were there to help.
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Lauren
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience the underwater world and learn how to protect it

To breathe underwater is a magical thing, and this is a great place to do it for the first time! If you’re already a diver, you will also learn a lot as you will be trained in improving your dive skills and being ecologically minded while diving, learn about specific marine life and the challenges they face, and get an intro to scientific diving. Use these skills to support monitoring, clean ups, and maintenance of an artificial reef. For you, you’ll learn a set of skills that you can take anywhere to work to protect the ocean. For the project, the data collected helps to make informed decisions to better protect the marine park. Unique to many conservation projects, you will stay in the village, which is an amazing opportunity to learn about another culture and get to know the local people. I had fun interning with this project and meeting divers from all over the world!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you can, get any materials ahead of time to study (especially marine organism id). You’ll have trainings there, but it could be fun to have a head start.
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Dan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Work Placement!

I was a volunteer coordinator for the project from June - November 2017 and it was an incredible experience. I learned so much about turtle conservation and met so many great people during my time there. The work that is done has a real impact on the turtles within the area, we carried out worthwhile research and did our part to protect the local environment. The perhentian islands are a beautiful place to work and the local people are extremely kind, I had an amazing time and would recommend to anyone!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Diving at temple of the sea and seeing many sharks!
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Jacob
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Perhentian Turtle Project

Dedication. The tea at the Perhentian turtle Project are dedicated to their cause, and do it all the while with a positive attitude. Everyone on that team loved what they were doing and to be able to experience something so special... Recording nesting or feeding turtles... Releasing hatchlings back into the ocean... Was something no one could soon forget. I hope this project flourishes and progresses far into the future. Projects like these will save our marine turtles and keep them among us in years to come.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Joanna LaFrancesca

Joanna LaFrancesca: Volunteering in Malaysia

What was your funniest moment?

At the end of the week, the FUZE volunteers and interns plus a group of elder Batek women (local indigenous group) went camping in the forest together. It was an unbelievable experience. On the way out to our campsite, myself and another volunteer named Rachel were sitting in the back of the pick-up truck with the Batek. We were chatting and leisurely taking in the gorgeous scenery as we off-roaded. We started to get closer to a hanging tree branch so we ducked as we went under the fruit tree, which was covered with ants. We didn’t realize until we were in the thick of it and then the ants started biting us and we were all screaming and in the fiasco, I dumped my coffee all over Rachel who was screaming “Ants, ants, ants” and then “Ants and coffee! Ants and coffee!” The bites stung a little, but we were all in hysterics. Rachel had left her GoPro on during the drive, and the footage of the ant and coffee bit is hilarious.

Pick one word to describe your experience.

Surreal

What was the strangest thing you ate?

Durian! It’s the weirdest fruit with an odd smell. Malays LOVE it, with all due respect I think it may be an acquired taste.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?

One of the days we did a cave tour trek where we climbed inside and hiked through several caves. One of the caves was nicknamed the Star Cave, and when we got to the darkest and most open part of the cave, the entire ground sparkled like diamonds. It was so gorgeous, and of course looked like thousands of twinkling stars. I had never seen anything like that before (besides bioluminescence in the ocean) it was as stunning as it was surprising.

What was the scariest moment?

The cave trek we went on was a bit more advanced (there are many different options you can choose from). While I wouldn’t say it was particularly scary, there were several times on that trek that gave a rush of adrenaline! We walked in water up to our waists with bats, turtles, frogs, spiders, and snakes, crawled through tiny passages on our bellies, and even traversed between two tight walls with a 10-foot drop below. Felt very adventurous, and a little scary but in a good way!

What were the locals you met like?

The Malays we met were so kind and outgoing. Everyone was really friendly and happy to engage in a conversation to learn more about Fuze and what we were doing in the neighborhood. Generally (outside of Fuze) I found Malaysia to be a friendly, warm and safe place to travel. The locals definitely attributed to the impression the country left on me.

What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how big of an impact American music and media has on the rest of the world. I cracked up when a Malay friend I made at Fuze knew all the words (and dance moves!) to the latest Drake song. We sang (and danced) to it all week, it made us laugh and put a smile on both our faces! (Kiki do you looovee me?)

What was it like getting there?

It’s very far from California! I definitely recommend arriving a day or two early to stay in Kaula Lumpur and get acclimatized to the time difference and weather before heading to the jungle. The bus from KL to the project site was super nice and very well organized. Really easy to use public transport in Malaysia, much easier than public transport in the States in my opinion. The Fuze staff meets you at the bus stop when you arrive to take you to the volunteer house.

Where did you stay?

Fuze has a volunteer house in the town of Merapoh. It’s the home base for the volunteers, interns and Fuze staff. The volunteer room had AC (score!) and the place had the vibe of a laid-back hostel. The roof was my favorite, great place to do some yoga in the mornings and evenings. We even had a bonfire one night.

On my program there was one other volunteer from the UK, and we met several of the Fuze interns from Malaysia, the U.K., and Australia. It was great to get to know the interns because they are stationed there for a few months and have a ton of conservation knowledge. Was inspiring to be around folks so passionate about the forests we went to visit each day.

What was your favorite part?

Camping was my favorite! It was a great way to end the week, and we had a really fun time as a group. It was incredible to see how the Batek make their local tents out of the forest and to learn how to cook traditionally -- inside of fresh bamboo that we cut down.

What was the hardest part?

This is going to sound silly. But I was kind of a baby at the beginning with all of the bugs (mozzies + leeches!) It had been a while since I’d been in a jungle like that, and I forgot what it was like to be surrounded by bugs, and well nature. It was hard for me to be comfortable with flicking leeches off my legs at first (I screamed every time), but quickly I realized that it wasn’t that bad. Just took some getting used to! For the record, leeches are totally harmless and are in fact good for your circulation. That said, Fuze provides you with leech socks and I didn't have one attach to me the whole week, in case you’re worried like I was, don’t be.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Shauna Tay

Job Title
Project Leader at the Teaching & Community Project on the Perhentian Islands
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What position do you hold at Ecoteer? What has been your career path so far?

Shauna: I am the new Project Leader at the Teaching & Community Project on the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. I started off as an intern for three months, and loved my time there so much that I applied to become a more permanent part of their team in 2015. My path in conservation in Malaysia has only just begun. Sparked by my passion for nature, I gained my degree in Wildlife Conservation at DICE, University of Kent, UK. I graduated in July 2014, moved back to Kuala Lumpur and luckily found myself working with this team! This is just the start of many things I hope to accomplish in Malaysia.

Did YOU volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Shauna: After finishing college, I took a year off studying and decided to volunteer for causes I believed in. It was growing up in Malaysia that led my interest in wildlife and the environment - captivating tropical forests and reefs, buzzing with life, but with not many people fighting to keep them that way. I volunteered in Bogor, Indonesia with a slow loris and macaque rehabilitation centre (IAR), and later in Sabah, Borneo with a sun bear conservation centre (BSBCC). Both great experiences that opened my eyes to the power of conservation and education!

What does the future hold for Ecoteer - any exciting new programs to share?

Shauna: We do have some new programmes planned for next year. These include up-scaled village composting and recycling, cooking classes run by local women from the Perhentian Islands Ladies Association (PILA), as well as a new upcoming scheme converting used cooking oil into biodiesel and scented soap. Our programmes are based on developing the community, but also protecting the reefs and nature that surround us. We still conduct weekly coral health surveys, awareness campaigns and English/Environment classes at the school. We always have new ideas coming up so do keep track of us via the website or by contacting us directly to see what we’re up to.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?

Shauna: I think volunteering abroad is becoming a much-desired way to travel the world now and will only continue to grow in the next coming years. Traveling whilst contributing to a cause and learning about different cultures and environments allows people to have a more enriched travel experience, and can even make life-changing decisions for some. People are looking to explore countries in a different way to the everyday tourist, and volunteering is most definitely the way to do so.

Which volunteer abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Shauna: My own experience has only been in Southeast Asia so it wouldn’t be fair for me to compare it with other places. However, I can say that Asia is a region of the world that is full of opportunities. There are so many projects out there that need people, their skills, their ideas and their support. Even providing financial support by being a paying volunteer is a huge contribution in itself, as many volunteer abroad projects need that funding in order to continue their work. Of course, having an enthusiastic and positive attitude is just as important. ☺ Volunteering allows you to see the world in a different light… it creates a platform for learning and for meeting people with similar values to yours.