19 hours 59 mins and 55 secs – bus journey! The route took our team over 8 border crossings from Brunei to East Sabah in order for us to commence the Death March route, westwards.
After our 3.00am arrival in Sepilok the priority was to unload kit and prepare for the first leg of the march later on that morning; quite difficult when four people are sharing a room the size of a broom cupboard. Thankfully during the night a storm reduced the humidity considerably so that the small amount of sleep we had was comfortable.
That morning after breakfast we met a local guide, Tham, who is an expert in the history of the Death Marches. He proceeded to explain to us that we were the first group ever to attempt the entire route. He presented each member of the team with a colourful beaded necklace incorporating a bell which symbolises the idea that a British prisoner of war will be brought home with us when we return to the UK, finally allowing their spirit to rest.
20 Miles Down… 144 Miles To Go…
Starting at 9.00am we set off on our first 20 miles of the march and we could already feel the temperature and humidity rising. Morale was high with the first 10 miles covered before we had lunch under the shade of some palm oil trees. The afternoon was a different experience with the midday heat and humidity bouncing off the tarmac.
The team successfully completed the route in a respectable 6 hours. All the team arrived back at the lodge, limped up the stairs and set about attending to the blisters which had developed during the day. As I am writing this it is 8pm and many of the team are already heading off to bed though some are slightly redder and thinner than before. A good day was had by all and positive and successful start to the march.
Follow the intrepid trekkers
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