A jungle night trek in the forests of Borneo
I hate mud. I hate bugs. And I might just be a little bit scared of the dark. So what the hell was I doing encountering all three at once in the middle of a Malaysian jungle?
The thick black unrelenting mud clutched determinedly at my wellly for the umpteenth time that evening, refusing to give up it’s easy prey. Half way up my shins it was dangerously close to spilling over the top of my boots, an act that would’ve finally sent me over the edge on this supposedly exciting jungle night walk. Already exhausted with the immense effort of every step I promptly deposited my sense of humour by the nearest tree, any shred of dignity having been discarded long before. Worryingly close to having a childish tantrum right there in front of the other hikers I wondered why it was only me who appeared to be struggling? Was I really that inept?
The gap in front of me just kept growing as I struggled to keep up, which meant in the dark I didn’t see the safe routes taken by the guide and had to choose my own, through countless spider webs and suspicious foliage. To make matters worse, some of the mud sections were so deep we had to balance on slippery submerged branches we couldn’t see, with nothing to hold onto for support. I just couldn’t believe I was willingly paying for this experience, and that I’d been looking forward to it for months.
Then of course the comedy moment came. I moved forwards but my welly didn’t, thus leaving me wobbling ridiculously on one leg whilst the other flayled around in all it’s baggy sock glory, trying desperately not to come into contact with the sea of mud below. I could see some people trying not to laugh, and poor hubbie couldn’t do anything but pray I would reunite the foot and boot, or there would be hell to pay when we got back.
Ignoring all the guide’s warnings about not reaching out to the bushes for support (you just don’t know what might be lurking there!) I grabbed the nearest tree and finally reingaged the offending footwear.
It was only then that I noticed the scorpions in my torch beam, two of them in fact. At that moment however I’d glady have taken poison over squelching another step. The irony is that we’d seen bugger all wildlife during the evening and my scorpians turned out to be the highlight of the entire venture!
A couple of hours later we were back at our cabin at Kinabatangan Nature Lodge, pulling off mud-caked clothes and trying not to think about having to repeat the experience again tomorrow. Leaving socks dangling over the balcony and slinging my wellies in a dark corner in disgust (normally the socks would go over the wellies to prevent any inquisitive mini-beasts from finding a new home) I stomped in for a shower, leaving hubbie hiding outside in fear for his own safety.
Having washed off all traces of the infernal gray gloop I was finally in a safe enough mood for hubbie to innocently ask what size my boots were. I told him that perhaps they were a bit big (about 3 sizes too big in fact!) and that they had been the only ones left in the wellie rack. That’s the trouble with having such standard sized 5 feet – everyone else does too! It was then pointed out that my troubles were likely because I’d been walking about like a clown rather than my lack of balance, and that since the others had beaten me to the welly rack (I was too busy checking the bathroom for spiders) they’d all got the right sizes. So perhaps I’m not such an idiot after all.
The next morning things seemed a little brighter, and we had a fabulous day on the river searching for orang utan and monkeys. When night fell however, and the bell ominously summoned us for the night walk, I was sitting guiltily in the dining area, a drink in one hand and a book in the other. I sincerely hoped the others would enjoy their torturous trek through the mud, almost as much as I hoped one of them would come back with a muddy bum. Hubbie didn’t seem to mind missing out, in fact I think he was almost as relieved as me not to be repeating the experience. Not long after the hikers left we were joined by another couple who’d opted out, and began to feel a little better at being the slackers of the group. Then others began to trickle in and we soon realised nearly everyone had chickened out, and in the end, only 2 people had gone on the walk. Apparently they saw absolutely nothing. Not even my scorpians. Meanwhile smug in the bar, with our beers and banter we all considered the evening very well played!