Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Whimsical Traveling: Borneo – A walk on the wild side

Greetings readers, I return to tales of my worldwide adventure which had thus far taken me to India, Nepal, Thailand and The Philippines. The most recent leg to The Philippines had proved to be a dark time and even the most avid of travellers would have been exhausted by the experience.

I was struck with an illness after only one day and we had underestimated the true size of this exotic nation. The transport lords were unkind to us and many nights were wasted in nameless towns ad windowless hotel rooms. My sickness lasted for five days and I was unable to leave my bed.

For this reason, when the time had come to move on to Borneo I was filled with a sense of desperation. I had come to dislike The Philippines for all the had befallen me and I didn’t plan to return anytime soon. Despite this however, I did swim with a whale shark, which is up there with one of my most memorable travelling moments.

As the time approached to board the plane to Kota Kinabalu, I grew anxious expecting disaster to strike prolonging my stay in these forsaken lands. It wasn’t until I was in the air, with a beer in hand that I finally started to relax and look forward to the next leg of our journey.

I had dreamed for many years about Borneo. A mystical haven for wildlife and a land draped in exotic jungle. Up until recently, flights were only possible from Kuala Lumpur and I imagined it to be very wild and untouched by the hands of backpackers.

Oft I had fantasised of venturing here and trekking through the mysterious jungles, but it had thus far alluded me. The excitement of adventure had rekindled in my soul and the darkness of The Philippines began to diminish. I longed to gaze upon Orangutans and Proboscis Monkeys in the wild and swim in turquoise oceans. My time had come.

We landed into Kota Kinabalu at around midday and rather than spend a night in the city we decided to head straight for the Kinabalu national park. Rumours spoke of a land draped in jungle with grand mountain peaks rising into the clouds. I had developed and unhealthy passion for taking pictures of flowers and the national park was home to untold numbers of species which would satisfy my addiction.

After weeks of toil in The Philippines, the journey to Kota Kinabalu National Park was fairly swift and pleasant. The travel scriptures had spoken of a world heritage site, so when we were dropped off at the side of a very busy road with no mountain view I felt somewhat deceived. Acres of dense forest littered the lands as far as the eye could see and a mischievous mist hung from the sky, blocking any splendour we wished to behold.

Initially, I felt somewhat disappointed despite the views of the jungle. I had expected to spend the night amongst the wild, savouring the sounds of exotic birds, but instead I found myself lodging at a less than savoury roadside hotel.

The jungle lodge which we had heard about beforehand was full and they only had very expensive rooms available. As humble travellers we were forced to forsake this option and stay in a grey building which looked like something from the Soviet Union. Given the jungle surroundings, it was somewhat out of place, but fortunately for us our host was the very image of ‘Happy Harry’, and we were greeted with an enthusiastic, stony silence.

“Greetings madam, we be but humble wanderers and look for a night’s lodgings at your inviting abode. How much be it?” I asked

“70 Ringetts” Our host growled, before swiftly turning away and ignoring us.

I wondered whether I had offended her in a previous life, but then realised that there is no such thing. I tried to appease her unhappiness with a smile but was met with an angry glare. I began to suspect that maybe she was English, for only the people of my own lands tend to be so miserable for no apparent reason, but neigh this was not so.

Fortunately, we were saved by a friendlier character who I believe was the daughter of this woman. She offered Anna and I the ultimate compliment by giving up her time for taking selfies (which is what she was doing initially) to show us to our room. I was grateful beyond words, for all men know the Importance of taking a photo of oneself whilst pouting.