Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Jungle Fever

Day #48, 49 and 50
(Sept 30, Oct 1 and 2)

The morning that we were leaving the springs, i found this massive critter in the sink. Freaked the crap out of me. Im so glad our bugs are smaller in Toronto.

We took a four and a half hour bus to the eco camp where our three day jungle journey begins.

For the first day, we had to pack a day pack taking stuff we needed for one night. Everyone knows i am never a light packer, so instead one one pack like everyone else, i had two. Hah,

After a ten min boat ride from the eco camp reception area, we arrivedmat our jungle huts. This one was mine and jennys.

It should be noted that there are only three walls to this hut and one side is actually open to the jungle. Inside the hut, we had a matress on the floor and a mosquito net.

We were told to remove all food from our packs and bring them to the common area to put them in a plastic box, else we would attract rats.

Unfortunately, what i found out later that night when i went back to go to bed, was that even a pack without food can attract rats. The damn rat chewed two holes through my bag, and somehow chewed three slits to the side. Sigh. Damn rats.

Our first order of business was to take a boat ride out to check out the wild life. We had to wear these fetching life vests, as scott had kindly modelled for us.

The boat ride was on Kinabatangan river, which is 560km long, thr longest in all of Sabah. We saw some monkies, some birds and lots of trees. I was evidently very very sleepy and dozed off at some parts...so i dont have that many pics lol.

After the boat ride, we got back and it just started to poooooouuuuuurrrrrrr. Just in the nick of time. The meal was rather simple with soy chicken and some sort of pumpkin dish, but that pumpkin dish was ammmaziiing. I have no idea what else was in it (maybr crack or something) but it was soooooo good. Also, Scott made some home made Sambal sauce, which i had no idea was meant to burn your tonge, but it was also amazing.

After a horrrrrrible nights sleep of fearing rats, other critters and the horrid non-stop snoring, we got up at five to go for a morning boat ride to try and see more wild life.

We managed to see some monkies realtively close up. My camera zoom sucks tho so i couldnt really take a good pic. If you look closely, one is perched on the branch near the middle and one to the far left.

Freaky little things. Ive never been a huge fan of monkies. Little devils.

After the morning boat ride, we headed into the jungle again for a nature walk with a local guide. I think having scott as our intrepid guide has slightly spoiled us cuz when the local guide took us around, i couldnt wait for thr walk to be over. I was near the back so i couldnt hear a thing he said...so i was amusing myself by staring at all the bugs that could potentially eat me.

We headed back to the reception area via boat to make our own lunch. I picked thr Sambal making group. Key ingredients: chillis, shallots, garlic, sweet soy sauce, kumquats and a pinch of salt. You take all the ingreduents excet the soy and mash them together in a mortar and pestle.

Once ground into a pulp, place all contents into the sweet soy, stir amd its ready to serve. Yum. Beware, it is super spicey.

Other people made salads, soy chicken and sweet potatoe cake.

What was interesting about lunch was that we had to eat with our hands, them the traditional malay way. It was a cool experience, a bit tricky with rice tho, it kept falling out! Given that the sanitary conditions were not ideal here, i washed my hands three times and hand sanitied it twice before eating with my hands. Unfortunately, this also stopped me from picking up my camera. boo.

There were kids around the main reception area...this one in particular looooved attention and would jump on th lap of anyone who was around.

Next stop, up a random hill to visit ancient log tombs. Two hundred more steps above the tombs was a look out point that gave us a gorgeous view of the sabah area.

See this group pic? See the ppl in the back laughing? Its because elko, the guy second from th left pushed me down from squatting position to kneeling. Lol what a jerk.

In order to get up to this beautiful spot, we had to climb a billion stairs. Do you know what happens to a person when they climb a million stairs in the extreme heat? They melt and/or sweat buckets.

I was wearing a white tshirt but it was soaked through. Gross.

After our pleasent climb up to the top, we returned to the reception camp to watch a cultural show of dancing by our chefs from the eco camp. It was really nice to see.

Below is Atai, one of our local group leaders who was doing a local martial arts dance mix. It was pretty cool, unfortunately, his lack of skills as a guide cannot be helped with the fact that he can do a dance.nice guy tho.

Once the show was over, it was free time unti, we were shipped off to our homestays. I wandered around the yard to watch the kids play. These kids were not the most innocent of children. This little girl in particular loved to push other kids. Lol

Ali, Maria and I were thr first to get shipped to our homestays. We stayed with the Arbayah family - a grandmother with her daughter in law, and grandson Akim.

For dinner, we had soy chicken, veges and egg with ketchup. It was a nice family meal, the only problem was that we had to eat with our hands again. Im telling you, picking up rice with your fingers is hard!

Akim was the most adorable kid ever - extremely full of energy. He probably could have run around for the whole night had his mom not put him to bed.

The home was much nicer than expected. It was really wierd to see this wooden house with the most basic washroom ever ...and then a big flat screen tv. The "shower" was a scoop and bucket filled with rain water, which is common in this area. The hoouse was very laege with ample open space.

The whole family was very sweet and accomodating. We chatted for the whole evening and learned about each othrr cultures.

For breakfast, we had fried noodles and these funky green pancake things with coconut filling inside. We noticed that sweet things and sugar are a very loved thing in malaysia...everything is soooooooooooo sweet.

The family was super sweet and kind to us, the three of us coudlnt have asked for a more pleasent home stay. Kudos to them for teaching themselvea english just by listening and speaking to tourists. Amazing.

After the homestay, we leave and head to the city of Sandakan. I got around easily here since there is a very large cantonese settlement here. Spent the day just walking around and relaxing in the harbour cafes enjoying the wifi.

For dinner we had hot pot, or as they call it here, "steamboat". Being close to the sea really has its benefits - this being all-you-can-eat seafood. Yummmmy!

All in all, a pretty good day. Any day with unlimited seafood is good for me;) especially when it ony costs $25 ringit, which is about $8 cad.

Next up? The highlight of my Sabah trip ;)

Location:Borneo jungle, Malaysia

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