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Malaysia 2019 Part 3: The road to Long Semadoh

Far too early on Sunday the 23rd, Otago team A bid a sleepy farewell to Kuching and hailed a convoy of cabs to the airport bound for Miri. Meanwhile, some 7800km away, Otago team B boarded flights to Singapore. For both teams this was the first leg of a journey to the same destination: a town of ~1900 citizens in the middle of the Sarawakian jungle, Long Semadoh.

From Miri, team A took a 45 minute, 20 seater flight to Lawas where we met the multi-talented Dolphina. Dolphina was facilitating our stay with her family in Long Semadoh and would be our ever-patient guide, host, and mentor over the next week.

From Lawas, the team assembled in two trucks for the 4 hour logging-road hill-climb to the village. In recent years the road has been re-graveled and pressed- prior to that, it could take a convoy of trucks 3 days to reach Lawas from Long Sem. From my vantage in the covered bed of the truck, I was deeply grateful for the investment in infrastructure.

Upon arrival we were greeted by several members of the community- friends and family members of our hosts, teachers from the local school, and various members of the community just curious about the arrival of two Hilux’ full of stunned New Zealanders.


We were graciously invited to stay in the headman’s house where we made ourselves at home before driving down to check out the local school. The first impression from Dave Warren, after five years of chemistry outreach, was that it might be the most beautiful school we have visited yet. Hibiscus, orchid, and red fan palms flank the covered walkways; a bamboo sided hut built over a pond serves as a relaxation area for the teachers; over the netball court, a temporary structure had been built to serve as our lab in the days to come.


This blog will be updated periodically as the trip progresses, but you can also keep up with the team on facebook, twitter, youtube, and Instagram at the following URLs


Otago chemistry outreach page:





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