More Bornean Adventures!

As I sit in my staffroom where the temperature is currently hovering around 13.5 degrees Celsius, hugging my hot water bottle and drinking cup after cup of hot tea, I find it almost impossible to believe that I was ever in Borneo.  I glance down at my body.  It has become unnaturally puffy and fat due to the two pairs of socks, long underwear, leggings, jeans, 2 long-sleeve shirts, wool turtleneck, wool sweater, and fleece jacket that I’m wearing.  Let’s not forget the blanket I’m also covered in.  Was I really wearing nothing but shorts and a tank top a few short weeks ago? 😀

Once again, I will try my darndest to keep this short and sweet.  It’s just that Borneo was so incredible.  Go!  Everyone should go! 😀

After soaking off the last of the leeches at Poring Hot Springs,

Photo: Alex MacKay

we boarded a bus and set off for parts unknown.  The “inflight” entertainment was a movie called Johnny English.  Slightly surreal to be hurtling through the rainforests of Borneo watching Rowan Atkinson.

The bus pulled over on the side of the highway to let us off at a small village.  We were met by goats.  We followed them down the town’s only street and wound up at the home of MESCOT, a community-based initiative promoting conservation and sustainable tourism.  (  They were going to take us out to their jungle camp. (The goats were not invited.)

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

As we made our way down the Kinabatangan River, we passed people’s houses,

and several controversial but beautiful palm oil plantations.

The camp was built along the shore of an Oxbow Lake.

Our accommodations were tiny huts on stilts and were located very far away from the bathrooms.  I made a mental note to drink nothing after dinner.

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

After we settled in, (we had to lock our belongings in metal boxes so the monkeys couldn’t get at them) we went on a boat ride to look for animals.

Spotted lots of monkeys!

After dinner, we played a little Asshole (a card game!) and waited for darkness to fall before setting out on a night jungle trek.  Our guide carried a wicked looking machete, “for protection.”  I’m not sure what we needed protection from as the only things we saw were sleepy birds and a LOT of mud. 🙂

Photo: Sebastian McNeilly

Night in the jungle camp sounded like this:

The next morning we saw some gorgeous millipedes!!

Next we visited the Gomantong Caves, home of the bird nests used in Bird Nest Soup.   The brochure claimed “A well maintained boardwalk makes it easy to explore this dramatic cave with its specialized ecology.”  The brochure went on to describe how collectors risk their lives to harvest the bird nests in a cave that “soars up to 90 meters high.”  Nowhere however did it mention bats.  Or bat poop.  Which frankly is a bit difficult to understand since that is all you can see, hear and smell in the cave.

That black mass on the upper right hand side is all bats. And the boardwalk meanders around what must be the largest pile of bat poop in the world.

And what the brochure fails to mention is that although the boardwalk is structurally sound, both boardwalk and handrail are covered in bat poop and giant cockroaches.  These two combine to make a slippery path of doom: when I slip, should I grab the cockroach covered handrail or should I fall to my knees in bat poop?

Cockroach infested handrail of doom

Thank goodness for Tiger Beer! 😀


About Carrie K

Teacher, writer, traveller. Slightly neurotic. Overly talkative. Loving life. You can also follow me on Twitter: kimchigirl72
This entry was posted in Borneo, Korea, Korean schools, Malaysia, teaching in Korea, Travel, Ulsan, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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