Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Say Goodbye to Danum Valley, the Jungle, and our special guide Andy!

Four hours drive in a 4x4 along a dirt track into the Borneo jungle (the Borneo Massage), and we were in the Borneo Rainforest Resort. An exclusive resort for the slightly squeamish! By day you pick off leeches by the dozen, tough your way through the jungle and then come back to lovely cuisine, extremely comfortable accommodation, fantastically helpful staff who'll let you use their sat phone to ring mum's to wish them Happy Mums Day, outside tub overlooking the Danum River, with the sounds of the jungle ringing in your ears. Seeing the orang utans in Sepilok was good. Their desire to touch base with their friends at the rehab centre is rewarded with forest food, and they are easily observed by the tourists. But seeing them in the Danum Valley is superb.
The jungle here is primary, in that it has never been logged or reforested, so it's pristine. Every time we went out with our guide, another Andy, we saw Sambah Deer, Flying Squirrels and Slow Loris on our night ride. We saw Orang Utan mother, baby and juvenile and a solitary gibbon calling out his territory on another walk. All the animal and birdlife are out there in this very inaccessible place, but you might have to pick your way through leech valley, and crane your neck and train your eyes to see it. But Ian and I felt this was a far better way than the spectacles at Sepilok and Sandakan. This is Borneo for those who want adventure but comfort!!
Last day of our trip with Andy , our guide. As we flew into Kota Kinabalu from Lahad Datu, Andy became more and more quiet. Clearly not happy about being back in "civilisation". He is at his best macheting his way through the jungle, informing of what you can eat, what you might get bitten by, and how best to deal with snakebites. Poor guy was completely fed up about being back in KK last night!! We were missing him within a few minutes, and kept looking around expecting to see him with his Billabong hat on and his combats, stretching his neck!!
Anyway, Andy honoured Ian by giving him his machete. We were both very touched and surprised by this personal gesture.
Nice to be back in a lovely hotel room again, but felt really strange not seeing jungle and hearing cicadas and night noises. Gone from being the only non-Asians, to being surrounded by Brits, in a typical holiday destination. Brits are all talking about the weather!! and yes it is raining again. Torrentially. But the mornings are usually sunny if you get up at about 6am to make the most of it!!
I miss everything about the jungle already, apart from the leeches. I feel so lucky to have had such a fantastic experience in Borneo, completely different to the usual tourist stuff.


Anonymous said...

Hi Marie & Ian-Seems like U are having a holiday of a life time. Good on yer (my Aussie talk). We are all looking forward to seeing you again. Mum says thanks for the Mother's day wishes. I am still very busy DIY'ing and wrecking certain thing as one does. See you before very long. Give Andrew our love when you see him on his 27th.
Love Dad & Mum

Marie said...

Good to hear from you Dad. Dont work too hard, and dont leave poor little mum without water for too long. Will send your love to Andrew. Hoping to meet his new girlfriend, who was supposed to be returning to her native South Africa, but has returned to her Andy in Slough!! Good to know that he's happy. Ian 's having palpitations cos he's just realised our first-born is going to be 27!!!! All my love and see you soon xxxxx