It’s ICC-Bintan day today!!!
A small group of us from Singapore (Siva, Airani, Huaqin and I) left for Bintan Island, Indonesia last night at about 8 p.m. I took a cab from Clementi and then picked Airani (who just knocked off from work!!) and Huaqin and then we went to Holland Village to get our boss, Siva!
During the ride to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) chatting about so many issues, we had to stop when we realised the taxi uncle wanted to listen to the TOTO or 4D results over the radio.. :p
There, I discovered I was supposed to be the Expedition Leader – maybe because I am the only Indonesian amongst the four of us! [No, Dewi, its because all of this was your doing, from proposal to the earlier recce and briefing in Bintan; we are merely your followers! – Siva]. Sadly this Expedition Leader did not even print out the complimentary ticket sheet generously provided by Mr. Ranan Samanya, our contact person in Bintan, who is also the overall coordinator for ICC-Bintan. [Luckily Airani jubilantly announced she had it!]
We reached Bintan at about 8 pm. (Yes, I did not make a mistake here :p the time difference between Bintan and Singapore is 1 hour). Mr Ranan met us at the ferry terminal and then drove us for dinner at Pasar Oleh-Oleh or the Souvenir Market after Airani’s enthusiastic suggestion that we eat first! There, we had a feast! We had satay, crabs, otak-otak and a lot more good food! Thanks a lot for the treat, Mr. Ranan! :p
After a good dinner, we headed to Bintan Lodge for the night. It was a big serviced apartment which was nice and spacious. And more important, it was also generously provided for us by PT. Bintan Resort Cakrawala! :p
Most of us had a good sleep. We woke up at about 630 a.m. (local time) and was rather disappointed with the very heavy rain that had started at about 6 a.m. It continued to rain till about 7.20am when Mr. Ranan fetched us from our place of stay to Pasir Panjang, the cleanup site.
Pasir Panjang is also a site for turtle landings. There has been a lot of turtle eggs found along that stretch of beach. One staff, (I think his name was Muradu) said that he once collected 128 eggs from just one turtle nest for the hatchery project! Villagers had also been collecting eggs for consumption, however, gradually, it is hoped that with education and patrols, this will stop. As part of the turtle conservation program, the eggs will be collected and then placed in the turtle hatchery at Nirwana Gardens. After the eggs hatch, the little turtles are released!
On our way to the cleanup site, Mr. Ranan nearly made a wrong turn; we we looked back, we realised there were about 5 cars and a bus following us! These were the other participants driving from the BRC staff housing to the cleanup site.
And so…it the midst of the drizzle, all of us, participants of ICC-Bintan braced the rain and headed towards the site. The trash load was rather heavy. It was very obvious that plastic bottles and Styrofoam chunks and bits were all over the place!
Mr. Ranan did a short briefing about the cleanup. At first, I thought I would have to conduct some kind of briefing for the participants (like I do in Singapore and so I brought my briefing materials). Gladly, however, I did not need to! We were introduced to the participants as “team from Singapore”! Hoho… :p In this sire, three teams were formed from the 63 participants from Bintan Resort Cakerawala (BRC) and the four of us. Technically, each team was supposed to take care of a stretch of approximately 50m. Next came the distribution of gloves, data cards and gunny sacks and some trash bags. The cleanup started at about 8.20 am.
The four of us from ICC Singapore started immediately right where we were – there was so much trash that we realised we would not be moving very far! We then worked on an area approximately 5 x 10 metres and the first that struck us was the number of slippers and shoes that we found! These were just numerous! They came in various sizes, for adults as well as children. Airani even found some pairs! I thought that it might indeed be good if these can be reused! Haha.. :p
The other common trash items were plastic bottles, Styrofoam bits (and chunks), glass bottles, ropes, nets, lighters and rubber sheets. In order to cope with the heavy load, we put the same kind of trash in heaps and counted them as we bagged them later. The Indonesians nearby overlapped our area and we worked together bagging, counting as well as recording.
We kept up the work and kept gathering the trash in piles. When we finally looked up from our work, the shoreline was cleaner, and a heap of bags had been arranged on the beach!
Airani took a look at those bags piling up and suggested we start the weighing process – earlier, the Indonesians had climbed up a tree to suspend a weighing scale! An efficient weighing team was in place so we left them to it and helped the few who were transferring the weighed trash to the trash collection point (TCP). Unfortunately, this involved climbing a steep slope and moving the trash proved to be tiring and difficult!
We kept forming a human chain whenever we could and we joined the Indonesians in pouring out the contents of the bags and sacks into specific piles at the TCP. The empty bags were sent back out to the beach where they were sorely needed. A lorry was coming later to pick this all up for the landfill.
The participants were hardworking and excited. Working in the midst of a drizzle, they worked enthusiastically to collect, bag, count and record the trash. Kudos to them! Their spirit was really encouraging and that somehow helped to keep the four of us, who were exhausted, going!
Weighed, bagged trash started arriving by boats form other sites. Time for another human chain! From the shore to the weighing station, we tossed the lighter bags and carried the heavy bags and the human chain mae it manageable! With more bags weighed, Airani, Siva and Huaqin formed another human chain and Siva started tossing the lighter bags with plastic bottles or styrofoam “up-in-the-air” at Hua Qin further up the slope! :p
More trash came in by boats. Work, work,work! We heard later that the plastic bottles would be sent to a recycling plant in Bintan. How cool is that!!!
By about 9.20 a.m. some participants from distant sites started making their way back to us. Most of them were really tired. Some of the volunteers are even fasting! I really salute their high spirits and strong determination. Well done!
The cleanup was also conducted at other resorts. In total, more than one hundred people were involved. It was indeed encouraging to see such a good response from the people, especially the management team.
During the cleanup, we met Irene, a Singaporean working as the business development manager in Bintan. She was interested in incorporating the cleanup with educational activities for students and she and Siva had a very good talk right at the end of the cleanup.
The cleanup ended after about 90-100 minutes, with majority of the bagged trash removed by boats or collected at the TCP. The logistics crew stayed behind to account for the walkie-talkies, clipboards etc and the bags/sacks and data cards.
In Mr Ranan’s car, the rest of them joked about how pink I was and the pink, Japanese-looking hat was such a disappointing image for an Expedition Leader! Shrugs… what can I say? Pink is such a lovely color! How can they not appreciate how pretty pink is!!! *complain complain*
Yupz…so…after washing up, we had lunch. Then Mr. Ranan brought us to Wisma where we met Albel Singh, the General Manager of BRC. To our pleasant surprise, we were each given Bintan Resort caps as souvenirs! :p We were told by Mr. Ranan that the management was enthusiastic about sponsoring the event next year and hoped to involve the whole island, especially the local people. Yay!
Before leaving, we dropped in for a quick shopping trip at the Bandung Factory Outlet while Siva and Mr Ranan discussed the education programme in Bahasa that should accompany next year’s cleanup. Then we off on our 2.30 pm ferry looking through the photos taken, receiving Mr Ranan’s about the data and after some time, everyone went silent…zzzzzzz!
And yeah! Here we come back to Singapore!! It was pouring lor… :p
Initially, I had hoped we could have recruited more participants from Singapore. Busy with a seemingly hopeless final year project…still, I should not be giving excuses… [You also just completed your ICCS Site Captain duties and the t-shirt project, so I’ll readily agree you were busy]. However, Siva might be right – keeping the group small for the first time out might prove to be a good option. After knowing more about the site and operations, we can better plan for next year. Then we can publicise!
I personally feel that the cleanup was really a success. The coordination was excellent and the participants were really good! The use of gunny sacks was really useful since trash bags would not be able to handle glass and the heavy load. The reuse of the gunny sacks (when we ran out) and the reuse for next year’s cleanup was really brilliant! This cleanup was more tiring than any I have done before, and thus was more fruitful and satisfying!
Thanks to BRC for sponsoring the trip! We really had a great time, away from the busy lifestyle here in Singapore. Truly, the city can wait!! =)
We said Dewi, being an engineer, could not write a long story. Well, she obviously proved us wrong! – Siva