The Bario, eh
Trip Start May 17, 2006
20Trip End Jul 01, 2006
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Gem's Lodge is awesome
The rooms were basic but nice, with some in the house and others in a separate chalet. However, they only have screens for windows and 68 degrees is cold after you've been in the lower parts of Borneo for a few weeks! I needed extra blankets at night.
On the first morning I went to go hiking in flip flops, but Jaman and my guide, Sylvester, started laughing and let me borrow Sumi's mud boots. Lucky, too, because Bario is fucking muddy.
My guide was really cool. He lives in Bario with his wife and three kids and acts as the local police at night when not guiding tourists on treks. On the first day I drank water from an unopened pitcher plant, which is supposed to fix stomach problems, and ate some edible ferns and orchids off the plants near the trails
Gas here costs about $10 a gallon, so stop complaining. They have to bring it by logging road as far as they can, then by boat and then 4WD. Jaman told me all about the logging situation nearby and the tourism board's efforts to make tourism a viable competitor to logging to try to slow it down. Still, I think that mass tourism would ruin Bario as it is cool specifically because it is out in the middle of nowhere and no one visits. I guess commercializaiton is better than the area being logged out, though.
The Brits had a debate over whether marmalade sucks at dinner. One guy claimed since we were no longer so poor we needed to eat orange peels, we ought to let marmalade go. I agree. I tried it for the first time and it tasted like cleaning spray
The next day I went out hiking again with Sylvester and saw the villages of Pa'Ukat and Pa'Umor. Like the Bario settlements, there were churches in the vilalges as some missionaries have come through and gotten everyone in the Kelabit Highlands on board. Kind of weird, right? We walked around and saw some water buffaloes who came up close, thinking we were there to take them on a walk somewhere. Then we visited Sylvester's aunt's longhouse and met his cousin and her daughters, who thought my camera was the most entertaining shit ever invented. On the way back we passed through some really thick jungle. You know you are in some jungle shit when the guide needs a machete. I was really glad I had spent the $5 on my own mud boots the day before because I stepped in mud a foot deep in places. We had Spam and corn fried rice in banana leaves for lunch, sitting on benches Sylvester made out of sticks on the spot.
Last night the Brits had all gone camping except one who had twisted her knee. Her name was Sarah.
This morning I got up early and got to town at 10 for my 1 PM flight, which is ridiculous because there are only about 20 people at the airport at its busiest. I was walking back toward the town to use the Internet and a lady stopped to pick me up. Then on the way back Sylvester and the son of the minister of tourism brought me back to the airport. I was really sad to leave Bario. The people there were really nice and there was so much to do, so many bugs, plants, animals. I hope it doesn't get ruined, either by logging or by tourism.
The whole thing (all meals, two full-day guided walks, accommodation, transport to and from the airport) cost me about $85 for 3 nights and 4 days.