Wednesday, 22 October 2008

QLD Urban Challenge Day!

Our Queensland Expedition Teams took to the streets of Brisbane on the 5th of October for their Urban Challenge Day. From Mt Cootha to South Bank, the Botanic Gardens to Toowong our intrepid teams completed a number of challenges as part of their preparation for their upcoming Expeditions. With 15 teams from St Aidans, Somerville House, Brisbane Girls Grammar, Moreton Bay College, All Hallows, and Brisbane Grammar the city of Brisbane was awash for white and navy shirts, hiking boots and travel guides. Here are some of our Expeditioners!

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NSW Expedition Urban Challenge Day!

A sea of Antipodeans Abroad t-shirts could be seen around the Opera House on Sunday the 12th of October on our very successful Urban Challenge Day. Six teams from Roseville, Abbotsleigh, Loreto Normanhurst, Ravenswood and our intrepid Venturers team travelled throughout the city completing a series of tasks to prepare them for their upcoming Expeditions. The groups travelled as far as Cabramatta and Bondi Beach using ferries, buses, and trains to travel throughout the city with their teachers and Antipodeans Abroad leader. Here are some photos from the day!

Friday, 17 October 2008

IGS Team B Update!

Written By IGS Group B - India Expedition 2008

This is team B, we are currently staying at the Dekaline Hotel in Darjeeling. It is our second day hear and we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. The shopping is amazing, the people are friendly and the streets are clean in comparison to the dirty streets of Calcutta. Over the last week we have completed our trek along the Singalilla Ridge line. The highlights were the fantastic view of Mt Everest and Mt Katunchanga at Sandakpu and our fantastic accommodation at Raman. The sherpa's were great.

They provided great service, food and friendly attitudes, especially our main guide Gyaltshen who formed everlasting friendships with many pf the groups members. Although we experienced many difficulties with various illnesses, our group kept a positive outlook and completed the trek in an excellent time. The erratic and generally torrential conditions of the Himalayas frustrated many members.

We have just completed a day of shopping and a tour through darjeeling city. We are currently comparing and bragging the goods of the day. The tour was a let down with the zoology park closed and the Himalayan mountaineering institute also closed for the day. The sites visited included the Japanese pagoda, tea plantations and the Tibetan refuge self help centre.

In the coming days we plan to spend any remaining money, overnight train from Siliguri to Kolkata and return to Australia.

cya soon

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Monday, 13 October 2008

GapBreak in Ghana!

Photos by Jackie Mates, Rachael Lord and Kelei Gentles

IGS Team A Update!

Written By IGS Group A - India Expedition 2008

We began our trekking week in Manabajang. The first day was challenging and by the end we were exhausted but rewarded with a magnificent view of Mt. Kachenjunga the next morning after the mist and fog cleared. The next few days were not as difficult and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely!

Everyones highlight of the trek was the view of Mt Everest and being given hot tea while admiring the sight from Sandakphu. Although that was the best point of the trip that day we enjoyed a heavenly walk directly along the Singalila Ridge. Everest and Kachunjunga were in our sight all day and even though it started raining (heavily) we were glad to arrive at Molley where we spent the next two nights. over the next two days the sherpa Mingma took us to his favourite viewpoint and we went to a yak hut were we tried yak milk tea! We then had a friendly cricket match with the soldiers on border patrol, after a thrilling game we ended up losing but our spirits were still high for the evening quiz. The last days of our trek were all downhill or flat, we got to know the sherpas very well and were able to give them a lovely send off when our trek finished.

Our next destination was Gangtok, after a full day of travelling we were all exhausted. In Gangtok we visited the Rumtek monastery where we had a hilarious guide who we all wanted to take home with us. We bought souvenirs at every place we went to, especially some people in particular! Today we trravelled to Kalimpong and we begin our community project tomorrow. We are all very excited and ready to begin the work!

From Team A

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Talking Masai!

Written by Ali McClenaughan - GapBreak Tanzania Volunteer 2008

Well i have officially been in Africa for a month and am still loving it to bits!!

I have been continuing to work on the school project which is building a dining hall. pretty much we mix cement and carry bricks all day but it is fun! the kids are really cute and hold your hand as you walk home, this one little kid called esther is our favourite as she is such a cutie and is always around!

Last week i went to Ndarakwai which is a wildlife camp, where they focus on providing a safe and stable enviroment for the animals to live. It was amazing as it really made you feel life you were in the real africa. we camped out in tents and pretty much in the middle of no where but we had an electric fence around our campsite to keep the animals out! we went on early morning game drives and day drives and a night one which was really fun. we saw monkeys, impala, wilderbeast, zebra, giraffe, and elephants. the park only has lions when they migrate so very rarely. we also did some project work, like weeding a tree size plant, painting at a school and attempting to dig a dam for the animals to drink from.

It was such a lovely place to just chill out and the guy who looked after us was this cute little africa who literally did not stop smiling!

We were taken out to a Masai boma which was incredible. we learnt about the boma and how the man who owned it had 8 wives and coudln't tell us how many children he had as he hadn't counted.... at least 5 per wife though... he told us about hi livestock and how that was their only income and what they do everyday. His wives are pretty much on a rotation as when he gets sick of one he just moves on to the next!! he was quite a "wealthy" masai even at one stage bringing out his mobile phone... so random when they can't even afford food! the women came up to us (all of which had little babies who were sooo cute) and took our hands and lead us into their mud houses. They showed us around their house and our guide came in to translate as they didn't speak a word of english or swahili only masai!! they sat us down and started to make us some beads it was really cute as the braclets were so imperfect as if they ran out of one colour.. no worries just use a different one! my lady gave me a premade necklace then made me two braclets. we had little conversation which mostly consisted of her trying to tell me something and me smiling and laughing as i had absolutely no idea what she was saying... oh welll smiling helps she just smiled back! fthen we met the head wife or the 1st wife. and she showed us her home and it was slightly bigger than the others. she explained more too us and how they only eat maize and milk and rarely get to have meat. at the end she took off her metal braclet and gave it to was a bit radom but apparently she wanted me to have it so it was really cool as no else got one so a very special gesture! apparently metal means superioty so i was very impressed!!

We had some of our chefs family come and visit and sing for us as they are masai and it was very cool. got some good videos and photos so will try and send some later. they explain to us how the masai men "book" their wives from before birth and asked us how our culture got was quite awkward tring to explain love and that men only had one wife and how females could say no if they wanted to!!

Returning from Ndarakwai was very sad as we all enjoyed it so much and it really showed you how a different culture truly live.

I am back at our main camp for a few days doing a painting until next week when a group of people go to climb kili but i decided not to so i will be going to Kidea instead.

sorry for the essay long email, i will continue to keep you updated!!!

From Murals to Volcanoes and Pirrranha's

Written by Ella Fisher - Ecuador GapBreak Volunteer 2008

I have been having a great time in Quito lately, I absolutely love working at my placement. I have been working in two classes lately, the one i wrote about and a year 1 class which is an absolute ball. It is completely different work from my other class as their mental abilities are extremely more advanced learning about the rain cycle and the life cycle and parts of a plant. They are gorgeous kids I am swarmed when I enter the room with hugs and kisses and about three different kids trying to crawl into my arms.

I help some of the children write and attempt to read/translate the possum magic book that a past volunteer had brought over etc. At the moment we are thinking of painting a mural on a really long boring wall behind the play equipment to make it look less like a prison with the gray wall and barbed wire, the school wants cartoons so i think we are going to try to make it as colourful as possible to brighten the place up a bit.

I have done a few weekend trips since I wrote last, I dont´know whether i have written about Laguna Quilotoa, so I will tell you again if I have. We went on a tour which took us to a country sunday farmers market, a traditional highlander family´s home where we got to go into their pitch black home made from grass with guinea pigs living in the corner. We then got to the extinct volcano, which when it erupted created a canyon in the surrounding area and a lake in the middle of the crater. We hiked down to the laguna, which was basically me sliding down on my butt, lol. It took about 40 min’s and the views were incredible. Instead of hiking back up the crater, we got mule rides. I had this young energetic mule who basically found it entertaining to overtake everyone else and go cross country but Sarah´s was really old and it sounded as though it was going to die as it slowly plodded up the crater.

Last weekend Annabel, Jo, Sibella and I decided to have a look at Volcan Cotopaxi which is the highest active volcano in the world. Dressed in our thermals we hiked up to the refuge and then the glacier, over 5000m above sea level, I swear I was about to have a heart attack, after 10 steps I was out of breath. The glacier is too dangerous to walk on in the day so we took some pictures and then walked back to the refuge for lunch. We got to see Andean foxes running around and as we descended it began to snow. It was loads of fun pretending to ski down the volcano in the sand with our crazy tour guide who ran down backwards. From the car park we road mountain bikes to the base of the volcano and a laguna, which we couldn´t see because of a fog but looked really spooky.

I'm heading off for the Oreint (Ecuador´s part of the Amazon) on Wednesday night, we get to fish for pirranha and look for Anacondas, tralantulas and Crocodiles on night walks. I’m heaps excited.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

First Impressions....

Written By IGS Group A - India Expedition 2008

We arrived in Kolkata at 1:06 in the morning on the 29th of september. As we steped out of the plane onto the tarmac our shoes began to melt under our feet as we walked towards the airport on this humid night.

The first thought that came into our minds as we steped into the airport were the differences from our culture that we could immediatley see. After picking up our luggage we headed onto a coach which took us back to our hotel. driving through the streets we experienced an immediate culture shock with the amount of poverty visiable. After a rest we headed out on a guided tour through Kolkata. At this stage although it was only the first day, we began to adjust to the culture. we visited sites including Mother Teresas missionarys of charity, the White House of Kolkata and an aray of temples.We then headed back to the hotel to pack our bag ready for the over night train. The over night train was an experience in its self which we all quite enjoyed. After 10 hours we finally reached Siliguri, spliting into 3 groups and taking a jeep ride up to Darjeling. With alot of bumps and bruises we finally arrived into the vibrant streets and found our selves sitting on the couch of our hotel sipping on tea and eating biscuts before eating our lunch. After, we spent our time getting comfortable in our rooms before we headed out into the colourful markets.