Thursday, July 07, 2016

My Backpacking Brexit: Down deeper with nature in Danum Valley

Danum Valley wasn’t on my original loose traveling plans around Borneo. I was sitting somewhere about a week ago looking at ‘where next?’ and this looked good.

People will no doubt ask me ‘Did you climb Mount Kinabalu and watch the sunrise? It’s THE thing to do in Borneo.’

My response will be ‘No. I climbed a 2500 metre mountain in Ethiopia which doesn’t hold that many fond memories – and I had a panic attack on the narrow ridge in bad weather on the Rhyd Dhu trek up Snowdon, so generally mountain climbing doesn’t sound that enjoyable. And it’s my holiday after all.’

Borneo to me is about the jungle – so the jungle was the choice I made when deciding what next and I came to Danum Valley.

I was due to be on the 6.10am flight – it got as far as Lahad Datu where I was due to land but bad weather stopped us from landing so went all the way back to KK. Finally flew back and landed at midday – five hours later than planned.

Was picked up at the airport in a spanking new 4×4 truck with my fellow passenger, a 60 year old Japanese man. In broken English he told me the last time he visited he got attacked by flies and fell over crashed his head and was in hospital for three days.

Yes my friends – seems like the jungle is a dangerous place! Actually the poor feller seemed quite unlucky – he also told me he had stomach cancer and they operated through his throat leaving a body long scar and not much of a voice. This could have been lost in translation but he definitely croaked.

Anyway. It’s a two hour 70km drive into Danum. Five kms out of Lahad Datu you turn onto gravel road and just keep going – further and further into the jungle. Saw plenty of monkeys and wild boar (think Puumba – sp?) on route.

Have to admit to being gobsmacked when I saw the lodge – it’s absolutely stunning and the only place that has been allowed to have been built here – research centre aside. Within 30 mins we were doing our first jungle trek (after purchasing vital leech socks!).

At this point let me talk about jungle attire – me? Combats, a vest top, these sodding leech socks and a pair of white rubber shoes with massive studs (my walking boots gave me a blister hole in foot) – but just like at festivals when you wear clothes you never would at home there is actually some jungle chic.

I saw plenty of Jane’s (before she stayed with Tarzan), khaki trouser with handy water bottle attachment, brown belt, floral short sleeved blouses which tightened at the end of the sleeves to puff out and of course the obligatory ‘neckerchief’. It was wonderfully stereotypical :0)