Friday, February 03, 2017

The Tuk-Tuk To Paradise: Borneo – Part 2


From Part 1

Entering the Bornean Rainforest, the Orang-utan Sanctuary and on to Bali:

Our trip to the rainforest didn’t start well – firstly because we were up at 6.30am; and secondly because the 24-hour restaurant we went to for breakfast was closed. We rattled the doors and peered in through the window, but it was the open-all-hours eatery was well and truly shut. Our only option was to have a McDonald’s, despite Jo’s claim that she “would rather go hungry than have a sausage and egg McMuffin.”

We walked through town to the bus station, which, as with so many things on this trip so far, wasn’t exactly where the map pointed us to. This meant a minor panic and a major search, before eventually finding the right place and having to wait twenty minutes before the bus actually left town.

On the bus we met Paul, an early 40’s lifelong traveller from Germany, who spoke perfect English and had that been-there-done-that vibe of a well-travelled man. He was cool, and we decided to team up to hire a guide for the rainforest, which we did as soon as we arrived at Bako National Park. His name was Alex, and although originally from China, he had lived in Borneo for 30 years and knew the park back to front.

What Alex also told us was that we needed a fourth person to make the required number for a boat down river, which lead us to Lo, a 68-year-old Chinese man who spoke about five words of English. But we was happy and smiley and with a little help from Alex he joined our bunch of merry men on the boat.

Half way to the national park drop off point the river became too low for the boat to move, so the captain had to get out and push our way through the mud, despite several warnings that crocodiles lurked in the murky waters.

“Do you want some help?” I asked as the ageing man heaved the boat through the mud.

“No. Too dangerous for you,” he said, waving me back.

“Why’s it not too dangerous for him?” I whispered to Jo, half-disappointed, half-relieved.

We were dropped off near a large sandy beach and had to wade through the last twenty metres of water to the beach. It wasn’t exactly D-Day in Normandy, but it was tough work, with the constant fear that a creature of the deep was going to come up and pull us into the water by our ankles.

However we were now in the park and Alex immediately lead us over to some trees to show us some Probiscus monkeys – the really weird-looking ones with oversized, bulbous noses.

“The bigger the better,” Alex informed us. “Nose-wise anyway.”

But while we were watching the Proboscis troop we ‘lost’ Paul.

What actually happened was Paul abandoned us, leading Jo and me to re-name him Paul the Skank. We continued on through the park without Paul the Skank and Alex showed us some more Proboscis monkeys, a troop of macaques, some wild boar and various different species of carnivorous plant as we headed up a long, steep, windy path through the forest until we reach the top of the island.

Here there were great views out over the river to the sea, and it was also a good opportunity to rest for a while, the demanding walk in the midday heat making us both hot and sweaty.

Then as we were walking down we bumped into Paul the Skank. Jo tried to ask why he abandoned us but he just shrugged it off in a typically casual European style, which was hard to hate, despite his abandonment.

The walk down was considerably easier, despite the constant threat of tripping over on tree roots, but the boat ride back was painfully slow as we had to wait on three separate occasions for the tide to go out enough to let us continue. This meant we had to run to catch our bus back to Kuching, which we just made.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Tuk-Tuk To Paradise: Borneo – Part 2
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