Bears, night hikes and lots of hard work for Borneo expedition twins

Rachael and Heather Knight - in purple shirt- with the team, front row, left.
Rachael and Heather Knight - in purple shirt- with the team, front row, left.

Two students from Thame who fundraised for the adventure of a lifetime in Borneo have returned home to share their experience.

Twin sisters Heather and Rachael Knight, students at Lord Williams’s School, spent more than 500 days fundraising and needed just under £2,000 each for the expedition, which began in late July.

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Here they recall their trip:

“Our trip began with an early start, and a 15-hour flight, and we arrived in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Borneo - where we spent two days acclimatising.

From here we travelled by bus for 6 hours to the other side of the island to commence our first project at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).

This project involved a brief introduction to this lesser known species before we split into work teams and began working.

Our work revolved around the construction of gravel walkways in rehabilitation enclosures for newly rescued bears. To do so, we were required to fill buckets with gravel and carry it to the enclosure so as to create three walkways: The Phoenix Trail, Wyburn Way and Bills Boulevard.

Other tasks included weeding enclosures and shovelling compost. After 3 days of hard, but rewarding, work we were given the opportunity to visit Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre at feeding time.

The second stage of our trip involved a three-day stay at Kinabatangan Nature Lodge. During this we completed a multitude of river cruises along with three hikes (including a night hike)- allowing us an insight into the ecosystems and history of the area.

Next, we moved onto our second project- based at the Northern tip of the island. We were the 120th team in the past six years to visit and work at this location but there was no lack of work for us. During our stay we completed many tasks including: the construction of a pig sty roof; the painting of a church Sunday school; rebuilding of a compost bin; the digging of trenches for a 29-metre suspension bridge; and the carrying of supplies to work sites.

Throughout this project, we worked closely with locals- giving us an insight into their lives. Before we knew it, it was our final day at the project which meant one thing: sports day. Working at the beach we were tasked with running a sports day for the local children, and although this didn’t go entirely to plan (with many children simply heading straight for the water) all the children walked away happy with a collection of prizes.

With our work complete, we returned to KK on yet another bumpy bus ride for some well-earned R&R. This took the form of a day trip to the TAR islands for some snorkelling and sunbathing, along with a chance to buy last minute souvenirs before we returned home.

Once again thank you to everyone who helped us to fundraise for the trip. To see pictures and a video from the trip, visit our Facebook page- H & R Borneo 2017,

The girls are holding a licensed pop up restaurant at the Wee Bookshop, Chinnor, on Friday, September 15, with a 3-course meal and sittings at 6.30pm and 8.45pm. Diners can see photos from the expedition.

The cost is £25 per person and you can book at h.rborneo2017@gmail.com