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On the unpopulated island of Pulau Bidan, an hour boat journey from the Sungai Udang, Yan Kedah, we have been building a small community to run conservation efforts and protect the island from irresponsible use.
We build mostly from scratch, using materials found around and also brought in from the mainland, making use of available natural resources, and growing our own food to sustain ourselves. Permaculture ethics and principles guide our development process.
Boats come in weekly to transfer people and food items. During the week some fisherman come to have a rest and spend night on the island. And on the weekends, we get tourist groups coming in to camp and fish. Here, too, we are trying to raise awareness by creating a sustainable, low-impact, tourism model. Educating of local people (especially groups with children) in ecological ethics issues and nature respect is one of our main goals.
Life in Pulau Bidan is an experience itself. On your own, isolated from society, you are fully responsible for your own well-being as well as the place you are living in.
This requires being mindful of your surrounding and your own behaviour, as every action has a consequence, and in a small, close-knit, self-sustaining community surrounded by wild nature, your actions can have a direct impact. It also demands your effort to learn about the work required to sustain the community, from general maintenance to basic construction to caring for the gardens and the animals.
We make an effort to be mindful and compassionate towards local culture, as this is an important factor to the success of any community project. As such, visitors, especially volunteers, are expected to be understanding and sensitive towards local culture and values. Showing respect to others - is the best way to receive it back. We also believe that this is a part of low-impact tourism, and a good skill to learn on your travels.
VOLUNTEERING WITH US
As a volunteer, you will be supporting our permaculture project on Pulau Bidan Island. This is an initiative to protect and conserve a remote local island through permaculture, sustainable living, and collaboration with the community.
WHO ARE WE?
We are Padil and Predo, and have been running this project for 4 years. Beforehand, we used to camp on Pulau Bidan just for fun. After spending some time here, we fell in love with the island and decided to develop a project that would help protect it from growing environmental threats. We’ve since very much enjoyed deeping our knowledge of permaculture, developing the project on the island, and connecting with many like-minded volunteers who help keep our work alive!
We’ve also had hosted a permaculture course, successfully graduating 25 students! Write us to learn more about the upcoming courses.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Helping with Tourists
Travellers coming here have a opportunity to immerse themselves in rural Malay culture. The Malays are a shy, gentle and welcoming people with a laid-back approach towards life. They are Muslims and spirituality plays an important part in their life.
By spending time with the locals, they can learn their values and outlook on life, as well as their traditional cooking, architecture, fishing and rice farming. There will be opportunity to mingle with local folks when there is a wedding in the village, where authentic traditional Malay cuisine is guaranteed.
General maintenance and cleanliness, community living, construction work, farm work, garden and animal care. Keeping operational the infrastructure for tourist (water supplies, power, camping cites). Sometimes help teaching at the charity education center. Experience and skills are highly appreciated.
Camping, dormitory, shared accommodation. Separate male and female accommodation available.
Pulau Bidan is a tiny, unpopulated island off the coast of Tanjung Dawai, Kedah, in the North of Malaysia. It is about half hour boat ride from Sungai Udang jetty (Yan).
It is a part of the island chain, consisting of 5 islands, which are part of ancient volcanic coldera with mountain Gerai in its center.
The island is a Forest Reserve and most of it are rocky hills, covered with rainforest with tall trees. Only tiny sandy sea terrace, less then 10% of its square is suitable for living and agriculture. The island is the only one with whole year acceptible source of fresh water, provided by 3 wells. There is plenty of space and beauty to enjoy. There are trails going into the forest, out to the other side of the island and around its souyhern shore where visitors can view the sunset and explore marvels of volcanic formations variety on shore cliffs and beauty of rainforest himself.
Volunteers will be living in a survival-like setting, close to wild nature. Being isolated from society and in such closeness with nature, it is a good place for reflection and contemplation as well as picking up experience and skills.
We are looking for people with love for nature and people, who can appreciate a good conversation and also silence.
The accomodation is shared dormitory style. Separate male and female accomodation is available.
We provide mattresses and mosquito nets, but bring your own mosquito repellent. Camping is also an option.
Internet access is available on mobile devices, but we do not have wifi, so you will need to purchase internet before you come. Maxis (Hotlink) and Celcom is what we recommend. However, we urge you to stay disconnected during this time, and connect with nature and people instead.
Go to the nearest town,GURUN, kedah It can be reached by bus or train.
From there take a cab (MYR20 -30) or by GRAB (MYR 15-20) to the Sungai Udang, Yan, Kedah where we will come to pick you up by boat.
The boat goes to the island weekly to transfer people and resources. The cost to get to the island and back is MYR80 per person.
As we are working on an isolated island and move by boat, our operation costs are significantly higher. We are yet to make a sustainable income to cover our costs, and your contribution really helps. For the moment we request a daily fee of MYR20 (USD5) to cover the living cost. Three meals (vegetarian/fish) a day are provided, including tea and coffee brakes;)
You’re a great fit if…
You are interested in learning about permaculture and passionate about environmental sustainability
You’re happy to disconnect from the rest of the world for a few weeks
You’re positive, easy going, a team player, and the type of person who rolls up their sleeves and helps out wherever needed
You enjoy learning about other lifestyles and perspectives and immersing yourself in another culture
You have skills or experience in environmental conservation, permaculture, farming, or general maintenance (Not required, just a plus! :))
The rural Malays are a shy, gentle and welcoming people with a laid-back approach towards life. They are Muslims and spirituality and culture plays an important part in their life.
They dress and behave modestly. Loose shirt and long pants are the most appropriate in this culture and climate. T-shirts and knee-length shorts are acceptable. Inappropriate clothing makes the locals feel uncomfortable, attracts unwanted attention and creates tension. Also, it affects the image of the project from the eyes of surrounding communities.
They normally sit on the floor in a circle around the food when eating. This circle is sacred. Make space for people, and care not walk over any food or drink as this is very offensive to them. Walk outside the circle if possible, and not break into it and walking in front of people sitting to eat. If you have to pass in front of people sitting, you can bow down when walking across them to show respect.
There are social boundaries between men and women. Please refrain from hugging a local person of the opposite sex. A hello and a smile is enough.
It is important for volunteers to understand that respecting local values and sensitivities is an integral part to the success of any community project. If we are here to help the locals, the least thing we could do is make them feel comfortable and respected. In return, they will respect and welcome you as family.
As the island on 95% consists out of wild rainforest, you must know several things about its wildlife. There are a number of potentially dangerous animal species, including big population of monitor lizards, at least two species of venomous snakes, scolopendras, ants and wild bees. As well in surrounding sea there is a presence of poisonous jellyfish and some species of fish. Due to it we ask for a strict following of safety rules during swimming, walking in jungle and during night time, to reduce the risk of meeting dangerous animals.
If you have an allergy reaction on bites of this creatures you must take it in account. Also we deeply recommend to have an insurance for the cases of accidents and especially snake bites. The medical service in Malaysia is on high level, but coasts for treatment for foreigners are significant.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This is an incredible opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and get back in touch with nature, while learning about the local culture and environment, reducing your environmental footprint, and doing without many of the unnecessary products we are used to consuming in our day to day lives.
Our project is a work in progress and we have a long way to go, but with each volunteer contributing their knowledge, skills, and positive energy, we are constantly moving closer to our goal.
Daily tasks can include cleaning in community living zone (common spaces kitchen, and bathrooms) and tourist campcites. Also preparing daily meals, watering/planting/picking plants, feeding chickens, managing composte, and cleaning up the beach and shoreline. Also we have complete separation of all trash and garbage we produce and find on island, with some types of it being sold to recycling companies.
Special projects might include building a new water filter, developing new, creative ways to utilize garbage we’ve collected, building or refurbishing various parts of our buildings (including painting, design of interiors, making new furniture out of natural matirials, etc.) and anything else you come up with!
Otherwise, expect to take a random dip in the ocean, take shower in the well, learn the complete processing of all parts of coconut tree (including making coconut milk, dried flakes, oil and natural soap out of coconut shell charcoal), look for some bioluminescent plankton, observe the beautiful wildlife, hang with the animals, chill with the team, play cards, and enjoy the island life!
We look forward to working with you!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
In developing countries (Where most hosts are involved in charity work or community development) some of our hosts may ask for a small donation to help the host family or charity (often less then 5 dollars per day) Workaway will allow this listing when the donation goes directly to the family or charity and is just to cover the cost of the volunteer‘s stay. (This will be clearly marked on the host listing).
We will strictly not allow listings posted by agents, “middle men” or projects who we feel are looking to profit from a volunteers stay.
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