3. Spotting animals & pug marks (saw tiger marks on 2 different treks)
4. bushcraft (blowdarts, lean-tos, bamboo cooking)
5. teaching English (3 X Batek & 1X Meraph village)
7. caving (one with waterfalls & climbing inside the best)
8. night drives (4 leopard cats, 2 x palm civets, 1 owl)
9. river swims
10. getting to know people on the project, local Malay, & Batek
11. Malay dinners
Suggestions for future volunteers:
1. use the local Cap Gajah rubber shoes for treks (best for muddy tracks, river crossing & easy access to remove leeches) 2. pack less (1 pair shorts, 1 short sleeve shirt, 3 pair underwear, 3 pair socks, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair light but tough pants, swimwear, hat, sandals, sunglasses, strong bug repellent, 2 X 750 ml water bottles)
3. buy a SIM card with data for your smart phone,
4. Learn all you can when you're hear by reading (culture & lang of Malay & Batek, local wildlife, Malaysian history), asking questions, and talking to everyone you can.
I do hope to return one day, maybe not to Meraph, but definitely to another Ecoteer Malaysia project. You are doing important work and I have enjoyed my stay here in Merapoh and the time in 2012 in Perhentian at the Cmmty Proj there. Keep up the good work!
What would you improve about this program?
1. Sort out the trash & recycling (I helped to clear out a massive heap of recyclables during my stay & identified several sources of info in the village about trash pick up -- stores with dumpsters, villagers collecting glass)
2. Keep up the improvement projects on the roof (it has a lot of potential if you get more shade trees & some sort of shelter from wind/rain/sun, possible rain water harvesting)
3. Don't require your interns to regularly drive 12 hrs round-trip to drop folks at other projects (this is not a good use of their time & its a morale killer)
4. Buy some cheap solar chargers to reduce electricity costs & night vision goggles to make night drives more enjoyable
5. Consider doing night treks as these are offered by local adventure companies and will likely be more fruitful than drives
6. Engage more regularly with local Malay villagers. I and several other interns & volunteers were surprised how many villagers did not know anything about Ecoteer or the house. Maybe hold some local info sessions thru the mosque or just do regular walks thru the village talking to folks.
7. Better record keeping & hand-over of admin duties when people leave. I was told several times that I owed 5000RM after I paid GoOverseas & the Ecoteer person took several days just to confirm that I had indeed paid. Also, the Know Before You Go Guide & email contacts for the program were not updated properly. I booked in Aug 2016 and when I tried to reconnect in March/Apr 2017 it took me several weeks to find the right people to talk to about the project.