A few years ago Berlin and Brandenburg’s regional public-broadcasting TV channel was looking for 4 people to have them travel to Borneo. In order to raise awareness of a sea turtle protection (and adoption) program those 4 travelers were supposed to go to an island on Borneo’s coast and learn first hand what is done to protect the sea turtles that come to lay their eggs.
As some of the very first foreigners on the island Pulau Talang-Talang Besar they would learn first hand what it takes to protect one of the world’s most endangered species. The Sarawak Forestry would allow them to spend 4 days at the turtle conservation station and join the team of dedicated professionals with their routine duties.
Before this incredible experience of course there was a selection process and the producers had to weed through 250 people in order to find the right fits for this adventure. After several interviews in person and on the phone I finally got the call that I was selected and one of the lucky 4 who got to travel to Malaysia.
Feeding the cliché
So how were we selected? I would not want to have the job to choose the right participants for a tv series like that but if you know what people want to see, it might be a bit easier. They want everyone to be nice and get along with each other so they can be one big happy family. Right? Wrong!Sadly enough, people are craving drama!
That’s why you would select people who are very different from each other to maybe create a little bit of tension. It turned out we were a fun little group.
- there was Taina, an ex squatter but working in an office at the time
- Ralf the “Hauptkommisar” at the German police (which would be a lieutenant in the US I think)
- Lutz the nude photographer
- and I
We had only 2 things in common. The love for animals and a great sense of humor. Isn’t that all it needs? So there was never really the danger of us not getting along. However in the beginning the producers really wanted to feed the stereotype. Guess how I was supposed to look like?
I suppose it could have been worse and I’m not complaining. Just after we arrived in Borneo and they – again – wanted me to put on mascara while being filmed, I really had enough.Just because a woman takes care of herself, that doesn’t mean, a pretty outside is all she has to offer.
Even though the first stage of the trip was a luxury paradise I was happy and ready to leave the so-called “civilization” and trade in my own room – which was actually a house – with two king size beds all for myself into an 8 person bunk bed room and a “shower” in form of a water-tap next to the toilet.
Before we took off to Malaysia
Prior to the trip we had the chance to get to know each other, we were introduced to the audience of the tv channel and also had some fun activities to attend to. What a 175 lb python has to do with that? Stay tuned for my next post!
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photos © Lutz Behnke