Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lauren Baillie: Who wants to know about spiders? – Kinabatangan Jungle

Semporna is a world away from Mabul, the water brown with the saddening site of floating litter, clapped up cars chugging through the streets and daily life passing by for many fish and fruit sellers lining the street. 

As Colin and I had both planned to travel on to Sepilok junction to visit the Kinabatangan River and jungle, We needed to spend the night in the town.  With a rather different sunset experience to the previous nights we had dinner on the water front.

Our very young and keen waiter struggled to understand our order but maintained a grin throughout, so a pleasant surprise when the meals turned up, even with a few expected surprises. The evening temperature barely falters from the heat of the day and we got ice cream and joined others on the bustling wharf to listen to a band who were performing music outside.

The drummer had little more than a symbal but it didn’t dampen any enthusiasm as the singers grappled with the high notes. 

In the morning we made our way through the dirty alleyway of fish, fruits, knock off films and indescribable smells, passed the sleek contrast of the blue mosque to the bus station and after a light breakfast boarded a highly civilised air conditioned coach north towards the Sepilok Junction.

Every time the bus pulled over food vendors clambered onto the bus, packets of crisps tied together on coat hangers and stray lengths of rope.

I realised a flaw in asking “what is that?” in the local language, as if the reply wasn’t banana or rice I was pretty stumped and had to nod and walk away. Colin however purchased bus snacks Borneo style, fried strips of banana and a multi pack of wafers.

With some confusion our bus was going to drop us a little further than our destination. After confirming this with the driver several times we were booted off roadside where a smaller, basic mini bus would get us a little closer.

Adorned with stickers of Che Guevara and Hello kitty, the open window took the place of air con and a small boy came around to check your destination and collect your fare.

About 40 minutes later we were once again pointed in the right direction, junction mile 14, and began a short walk to Uncle Tan’s, the tour operator who would take us into the junction and just in time, it was lunchtime!