Just over a month ago, German civil engineer, Andreas Bussinger, better known as Andi, set out on a major run across Borneo. He is running 1500 km, from Kudat, Sabah, to Pontianak, Kalimantan (wahh… this guy really wants to be fit hor). Actually, this guy is doing this for a reason, but before that, lets tell you a bit about Andi.

He is 28 years old, he has a wife (who is from Korea), and 2 kids (3 and 5 years old), and he hails from a town called Nürnberg in Germany. About 2.5 years ago, he quit his 9-5 job, bought an old van (which he transformed into a camper van), and set out with his family to travel the world. He drove from Europe to the Middle East, visited Turkey, Iran, and went through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan into Russia, Mongolia and entered Southeast Asia.

Photo courtesy of Andi.

Andi with his family in Georgia (the country). Photo courtesy of Andi.

He has been travelling in Southeast Asia for about 6 months now and has been Malaysia for 2 (1 Month in Semenanjung and 1 month in the East).

 

So, why is he running 1500km across Borneo?

So basically, Andi’s project is called the Trans Borneo Run. His aim is to raise funds for some of the pre-existing Malaysian NGOs that work with nature conservation. There are 5 organisations he is raising funds for, which are:

Andi's trusted camper van at... Photo courtesy of Andi.

Andi’s trusted camper van at the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Photo courtesy of Andi.

Having travelled to 25 countries, Andi says that he has seen vast amounts of barren land and lifeless deserts. So when he got to Semenanjung Malaysia, he saw that where majestic rainforests once stood, there are buildings and palm oil plantations now.

“It was too painful to watch this rich landscape being destroyed in the name of development. We just couldn’t continue travelling any further and decided to do something.”-Andi to Cilisos.

Fortunately, the Bornean rainforest still has hope. There is a lot that still can be saved. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), between 1985 and 2005 Borneo lost an average of 850,000 hectares of forest every year. If this trend continues, forest cover will drop to less than a third by 2020. But Andi says that this can be stopped if we act now.

Actually, Andi decided to do this run after being inspired by the recent GE14. He says he was in KL during elections and saw so much positivity and love among Malaysians that he got inspired by the spirit of #MalaysiaBaru and decided he’d do something positive too (wahh…#MalaysiaBaru spirit quite contagious ah).

Andi and friends too tired to smile. Photo courtesy of Andi.

Andi and friends too tired to smile. Photo courtesy of Andi.

Andi has a crew of 3 people, a friend from Russia and his daughter have joined him in the run, and he also has friends from the UK who provide supplies and motivation to him every 10 kms. They even regularly organise beach cleanups at certain places along their route where the locals come and join them. These guys really semangat to do gotong royong one.

Roman and his daughter Maya from Russia, joined Andi for 3 weeks. Image from Facebook

Roman and his daughter Maya from Russia, joined Andi for 3 weeks. Image from Trans Borneo Run’s Facebook page.

So… What is it like?

Andi started running on the 15th of July from Kudat, Sabah and has now been running for over a month. We wanted to know what is like to be running in this scorching heat when we can’t even stand under the sun for 5 minutes without melting to the ground.

Andi putting Barry Allen to shame. Photo courtesy of Andi.

Andi putting Barry Allen to shame. Photo courtesy of Andi.

We were quite curious so we shot him a few questions.

#cilisoskepohlagi with Andi

  1. Your legs not pain ah? “Pain, but I rest (sometimes for 2-3 days) when it gets too much.”
  2. Not hot meh? “Hot. I burn everyday, but I use a big hat and sunblock.”
  3. How many km in a day? “30-40.”
  4. You run whole day? Even in the afternoon? “Of course not, I would burn to crisp. I run from 6 am to 11 am everyday.”
  5. Where do you stay? Do you just run 40 km and then get in a car and go back to your hotel? “Lol no, I have my campervan and my crew. We camp out sometimes and sometimes people invite us to stay at their places.”
  6. What’s the craziest thing you have experienced so far? “The traffic. But then again, no one expects a crazy orang putih to be running by the roadside.”
  7. What you wear? “Shoes. T-shirt. Shorts.”
  8. Where do you get treated if you fall sick? “So far no serious injury so I just let it heal. Plus the Orang Asli walk muuuch  longer distances than me everyday. What I am doing is nothing.”
  9. How much weight have you lost so far? “About 3 kgs I think.”
  10. Why not just hitch a ride for some of the distance and cheat a bit? 😉”Err…No, that wouldn’t be right.”
  11. What you eat? “Banana, dates, bread, no junk food. I always order 2 portions of food at restaurants now. Perks of running everyday. 😎”
Different sun protection strategies. Image from Trans Borneo Run's Facebook page.

Different sun protection strategies. Image from Trans Borneo Run’s Facebook page.

 

But…how is him running 1500km going to save the forests? 

Well, the whole idea is to get people’s attention. Andi says that when you do something unusual, people pay attention and you can use that attention platform to spread your message.

“Just like how celebrities pull publicity stunts and get the media’s attention to promote their new work, I am doing something like that. I hope to get people’s attention through this run so that they will listen to what I have to say.” -Andi to Cilisos.

We asked him how come people don’t really know about this effort that he’s making and he told us that it is difficult to get people’s attention on issues that don’t affect their daily lives. He says he posts his progress almost everyday on Facebook. Well, this is kinda why we are doing this article also la…We felt that what he’s doing is pretty cool tbh. 

Andi's campervan at Maliau Basin, Sabah. Image courtesy of Andi.

Andi’s campervan at Maliau Basin, Sabah. Image courtesy of Andi.

Buut…will efforts to improve the current conditions work? 

Although initially the run was supposed to end on the 15th of September, due to the hot weather and other obstacles, Andi will be running for another 5-6 weeks. Andi says he doesn’t want to offend the locals by telling them how to live their lives. He wants to work together with Malaysians to preserve one of the most magnificent beauties of the world.

Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah. Image from rustic-borneo.com

Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah. Image from rustic-borneo.com

Although it sounds too idealistic to the average cynic, check out our recent article on the corals of Tioman Island. Our Editor-in-Chief, Chak actually went down to Tioman Island to volunteer as a participant in Reef Check Malaysia‘s reef-monitoring program. While the world’s reefs are dying, Tioman’s are actually improving! How did they do that? By working together with the locals… and that sounds like something Andi could do with the locals at Borneo.

Andi hopes to raise US$10,000 (RM 41,000) for the five organisations that he supports. So far, he has only collected about US$500 (approx RM 2,000), most of which comes from t-shirt sales (you can message their Facebook page if you would like to order a t-shirt for yourself).

All this can be reversed. Screenshot from World Wildlife Fund.

All this can be reversed. Screenshot from World Wildlife Fund.

“We are not here to point fingers. Many people expect corporations and the government to take the first step and develop sustainable technology. But what they don’t realise is that the technology already exists. Waiting for the authorities is a slow process. What we can do is take action now and work towards a better world.”-Andi

 

[Writer’s Note: If you would like to follow Andi’s adventures, follow his Facebook page hereShould you wish to know more about his efforts and donate, visit his official website hereVisit his Crowdfunding page here to donate! Thx ugaiz!😊]

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