Hello, the researchers on our trip have been writing about their experiences measuring, describing and sampling the rocks around us here in Samarinda, East Kalimantan. I thought I'd show you where we're staying and what day-to-day life is like at the 'base camp' (see photos!).
We are staying in Hotel Putri Ayu, up in the hills above Samarinda. The hotel is lovely - a ring of wooden cottages overlooking the Mahakam River that flows out through a delta to the east of here. We get up for 7am, earlier than some of us are used to but I'm sure it's healthy, and breakfast is served in the eating area in the middle of our cottages. We eat fried rice or noodles with eggs, toast, fresh watermelon juice, tea and coffee, which is what a group of hard-working scientists need to set them up for the day.
Hotel Putri Ayu
We then gather all the equipment we'll need and assemble around the cars. We have hired five cars so that small groups can go to different sections and do their specific work. Where everyone will go is decided the night before and is logistically complicated, but we have phones in each car so that we can stay in touch and move between the groups if we need to, or meet up for lunch.
Lunch in a restaurant near the Stadion section
The sections we're working on range from 40mins to several hours away, so our drivers have to work out where to go based on our sometimes vague descriptions, GPS co-ordinates and shouts of "Ooh look at that reef up there in the jungle, can we go that way?". They are very patient. At lunchtime we find a restaurant nearby and sample the menu - we're still learning what all the foods are and it's often a surprise to see what we've ordered. The food is really good here, not as spicy as in Java but there's always some killer red sauce around to dip bits of chicken and fish into. I think we're all big fans of the fresh fruit juice. I can't quite move on from the mango, it's perfect on hot days...
By the way, I hear that Europe is experiencing something of a cold snap. We all feel for you.
So, then it's back to work for the afternoon until five or six, when the light begins to fade. We put all our sample bags into the car and go back to the hotel for much-required showers. In the evening we convene for dinner (beef, chicken, prawns, tofu, rice, fruit, it's not easy you know) and then have a meeting about what we found during the day and where we'd like to go tomorrow. This is important as it gives people a chance to find out what each section contains - is it good for corals? Are there any bryozoans? What is the preservation like? Were there any deep-water facies?
Then it's early to bed. No really it is. Everyone is usually very tired and by the time we've sorted our samples, recharged our cameras, scrubbed the mud off our boots, downloaded our GPS tracks and said goodnight to the geckos, we're all ready to sleep. And peace reigns over the tiny encampment of intrepid explorers.