Hardcore Borneo Style

Trip Start May 17, 2006
Trip End Jul 01, 2006

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, June 12, 2006

I left Sandakan after returning from the Turtle Islands and went to Uncle Tan's Wildlife Adventure on the Sungai Kinabatangan (river). Uncle Tan is no longer alive, but he was an outspoken critic of the logging and oil palm industries and set up the camp to bring tourism to the area in the hopes of slowing down the logging. The whole of Sabah has been totally hosed by clearcutting and the jungle has been replaced with oil palms (look these bastard plants up if you get the chance and see if you can stop buying products that contain palm oil... good luck), leaving small ribbons of jungle along the river where the wildlife are crammed in and having a hard time of it. As shitty as this is, it makes for easy wildlife viewing.

On the boat ride to camp it rained so hard I thought the drops were breaking my skin because they stung so much, but when it stopped we saw all kinds of cool stuff. A family of wild pigs came to the edge of the river to say hi, then we saw about 100 proboscis monkeys, some hornbills (coolest birds ever), macaques, eagles, kites, a crocodile, pittas birds, and kingfishers. This was all before we even got to the camp.

The place was muddy as hell, so I am glad I kept my boots from Bario. The rooms were huts with mattresses on the floor (super dirty as they never take them out and it is jungle) and no lights or anything. The toilets were squatters and the bathing situation was buckets of brown water pumped right out of the river. We got a sheet to separate us from the mattresses, but no pillow or anything. I got there with four Canadian girls, and they made the five of us share a hut with 3 double mattresses. Luckily I got to sleep by myself as I was not down to share a mattress.

After my bucket shower, I went to the main area where there are chairs and tables for eating and saw the 9 Brits I met in Bario. They had discovered a new species of tarantula, so they were super pumped. I mean fucking PUMPED. They had about 3 cases of Stella down and were partying with Lan, the head guide at the camp, who can't be more than 25. In honor of their discovery, Lan was making each of them down beers in an improvised beer bong, Hardcore Borneo Style (HBS). There were five guitars in the joint, and all of them had HBS written all over them, as did the tables, ashtrays, etc. Lan was on the guitar playing some G 'n' R (why is it that every dude in SE Asia with a guitar knows the same 5 G 'n' R songs but none of the words?), with Pete and Sarah (two of the Brits) on spoons and vocals. Hardcore Borneo Style, indeed.

We went on a night boat trip on the river to see some animals, and it was really cool because it was a full moon and there was lightning. We saw a civet, another croc, and some sleeping birds and monkeys.

Lan tore off the next day as it was his day off (they get one every three months) and he was off to Sandakan to see his friends and do some "hardcore Borneo drinking," but Remy (I'm sure that's his real name), the guy who did our trips, was really cool. He took us on a daytime jungle walk and we saw some interesting plants, some crazy-looking trees with rippled roots growing all over the place, plus a small bat, some frogs, cotton bugs, and a few spiders. That afternoon we went on another boat ride through the mangroves and out onto the river to see more proboscis monkeys and macaques, a shitload of hornbills, and the oriental darter (a weird bird).

This may not have any relevance for some of you, but one of the people at the camp was the owner of the Sanctuary, the yoga/health resort on Koh Phangan.

I skipped the night jungle walk and the 6 AM boatride because I was tired and have not gotten more than 5 hours sleep for a long time. The others said I didn't miss anything, so I wasn't too sad. All in all the camp was cool. It was 2 nights, three days, with three boat trips and two guided treks, and including food and transport and everything was about $75. I think it would be a lot more fun if I felt like drinking with the guides, because those fools know how to party. Next time.
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