Messing Around In Boats

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Park Chalet

Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our first mission today was to get out of the dorm and back into the sanity and safety of a chalet. Apart from Mikey and I flapping around about the insect attack Charlotte had been kept awake all night by a Japanese man whose snoring was even worse than Giles's. The head ranger, Jeremy, who has become one of Giles’s best mates, said that we could have the chalet for one night, but it was back to the dorm on our last night as everything else was fully booked, even the gorgeous looking Garden Bungalows we’ve been eyeing up all week. Maybe we’ll just refuse to leave tomorrow morning…

Accommodation issues sorted, we were keen to get started on our day’s adventure. We opted out of following the boardwalks through another show cave, and instead hired a boatman to take us on an independent exploration of the jungle. This involved another relaxing forty-five minute boat journey, this time out into a far larger part of the river. Our 'guides’ (they didn’t speak English, so their guiding was pretty ineffective!) then turned off down a small tributary which headed deep into the jungle. We got pretty excited at this point, especially when they stopped after about a kilometre and indicated that we should get out of the boat and into the river.

We knew that the idea was for us to spend a couple of hours walking up the river and exploring rock pools and waterfalls, but we hadn’t really thought the gear situation through, and Mikey’s plastic bag of our picnic not only looked ridiculous, but seriously hampered his ability to navigate the strong current and rocky bottom! The two men stayed in the boat watching as we fumbled about in the stream, falling over and nervously looking out for the dreaded leeches. We therefore decided to get round the corner so they couldn’t see/laugh at us and sort ourselves out.

Once we’d tied the picnic and rest of the gear in a convenient tree, we started to have great time. The water was absolutely clear and free of wildlife and swimming, stumbling and sliding up the river bed was brilliant. Giles particularly was in his element, leaping from rock to rock like his name sake the goat, and even trying to surf down the rapids. This last activity was ill-advised and he came into very close contact with some massive boulders. Picnicking surrounded by dense jungle on our own was really special and lots of mad insects came to enjoy it with us.

We finished just as the afternoon downpour started so we headed back downstream to find our boatmen waiting for us, eager to take us to another Longhouse and handicraft market. They weren’t selling stuff at this one for a change and after a silent guided tour with our massively shy guide, another man took over and showed us some medicinal plants. He spoke pretty good English which he said he had learned at the local school a boat ride away. Apparently the children from the longhouse all have to board at the school during the week as they boats can’t go every day.

The rain then disappeared, making for another chilled out boat ride back to the park headquarters. Once there we decided to make the most of our lovely chalet and stay there reading, blogging and best man’s speech writing. We ventured briefly to the café to eat and stock up on wine before returning to the chalet, this time to play that game where you write names of things and the other team has to describe them for each other to guess. I took it to a new competitive level writing lots of obscure chemical compounds, which G and C thought unfair. Luckily for them however Mikey hadn’t really understood the point of the game and chosen very un-obscure words like "goal" and “golf tee”!
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