Jungle boogie

Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
Trip End Mar 28, 2007

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Friday, March 23, 2007

The truck for Uncle Tan's picked us up just before lunch the next day and we were on our way back into the Jungle once again, this time in the hope of seeing more animals... a lot more.

After a hearty feed, the rain came bucketing down again as we waited for the minivans to take us to the boat, we used our time wisely and waterproofed all our stuff, the staff at the office were very generous with their bin bags.  In the van we travelled with Tom and Katie, uh-huh TomKat, but we also refer to them now as the Science Nerds (in a nice way TomKat!).  Tom's doing a Phd in ant behaviour, so we picked his brain endlessly about how they organise themselves and the different types we've been fascinated by our whole trip.  Katie's writing a field guide to plants in her home country of Tanzania and had a pair of binoculars which she unselfishly shared with us all which made the bird spotting extra special.  They both knew so much stuff about the bugs and stuff we saw in the Jungle Treks, their enthusiasm rubbed off on us quite a bit and it was like having an extra two guides the whole way - thanks guys, we love your bug chat.

The jungle camp was about an hours boat ride from the drop off point into the jungle then a ten minute walk from the jetty to to the camp and on the way we were already impressed by the wildlife on view.  We'd hoped to see some Proboscis Monkeys at some point in the trip, we didn't expect to see a tree full of them round the first bend!  We arrived at the camp in the knowledge that the cash we'd laid out had already been well spent.  The almost constant rain over the previous 5 days had turned the trail to the camp into a quagmire!  We were so pleased to see a massive rack of welly boots in the camp, and were a bit smug about our decision to buy football socks (which were intended to be leech protection devices).  I tucked my trousers into those socks after the fist hour of getting there, and they pretty much stayed that way the whole three days!  There's great comfort knowing the jungle stuff can't bite you, I loved my wellies too, slipping, sliding and squelching around in the mud was so much fun, like being a kid again.

Despite the death of Uncle Tan some year's previously, his legacy lived on in a 'program' of treks and river cruises that seemed to have been well honed over time.  We tried to ignore the structure and feeling we that were being shepherded around like a flock of tourists to focus on the miriad of animal life on our doorstep.  Each time we ventured out we'd see something new.  I suppose the highlight of the trip might have been seeing an Orangutan, this was real wildlife, no rescues or feedings so we were amazed to find a young male who went about his business in our company for about 20 mins or so on our morning trek.

There was so much other stuff I'd never seen close up, not to mention in the wild, so the crocs were petty special too and the otters they have in that part of the world are easily 3 times the size of anything I'd known from the UK.  They're still just as inquisitive though and couldn't help themselves checking us out when the guide whistled.

The most enthusiastic guide we've met took us out on a night walk, in the pitch black we went looking for spiders, scorpions, snakes and other creepy crawly things in your right might you wouldn't normally want to bump into on a dark night.

And bump into them we did, loads of stuff, the scorpion was definitely the scariest and I was glad not to have found any snakes but we also learned how to spot wee animals like that in the dark, we'll share the secret with you if you reckon you wanna know.  So we saw some cool types of frog and saw hundreds of pairs of eyes peeping out of the darkness at us. 

There was always plenty of food and a cold beer or two to be had back at the camp and we enjoyed sharing our sightings with the other groups that had arrived before and after us.  Three river cruises and jungle treks later we were ready to be ferried back to Sepilok where we'd depart company from our Swedish mates once again heading off in separate directions, them to the scuba diving paradise of Sipadan, and us to Kota Kinabalu, where we thought we were gonna climb the mountain.  Yeah, we didn't.

Instead we spent a few days in KK where Daniel, a friend Erik used to work with, was visiting and we had time to relax after our busy Borneo schedule.  It wasn't a bad town to hang out in, we met Daniel in a club where a Filipino band were playing good covers of songs we all knew and sung along to.  Daniel's a trooper, he sorted us out with accommodation when we first got to KL, came to meet us to collect our excess baggage so we wouldn't need to cart it all the way to the UK and brought our laptop all the way over to KK after it got fixed then took us out for lunch and drinks.  Thanks for all of that Daniel, you're a good one.

Borneo was amazing, most of the time I couldn't believe I was actually there because the stuff you see in documentaries makes it seem so inaccessible, well, lucky for us, a lot of it isn't. 
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