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Published: October 3rd 2007
Scenic Overlook in Jungle
It was an interesting hike up the mountain but worth it for the view
We intended to send this blog from Myanmar. We had gotten up that morning, and even had a taxi lined up to go to the airport. Our flight was scheduled at 10:00 AM. We were sitting in our room watching the BBC, and saw that the situation in Myanmar was deteriorating by the day. 9 were dead, many Monks had been taken from the temples in the night and beaten and jailed, 6 PM curfews had been set, the government shut down the internet, and the 5 main temples in Yangon had been shut down.
For those wanting a little background, the ruling junta in Myanmar raised fuel prices without notification in August. In a country as poor as Myanmar, this was met with anger. Last week the Monks in Myanmar were staging a peaceful protest in response to the recent fuel price increases. The Military Junta that has run the country since 1988 and wanted the protest to stop. The 20,000 or so monks were joined by tens of thousands of people, so the Junta took control. They continued to arrest organizers of the marches and closed many temples and imposed a 6 PM to 6 AM curfew.
Covered Long Boat
This was our transportation 3 hours up river to our lodging.
We looked at one another and decided to do the prudent thing, so we changed our plans and canceled that part of our trip. Our decision created some sadness but we know that we did the right thing.
The events in Myanmar are the kind of things that make us realize that we really do live in a wonderful country.
Since we needed to be flexible we took off to the airlines to change our tickets. Everyone was nice and polite and made the necessary changes for us but it took nearly 4 hours to change our ticket. We do take things for granted in our country!
At this point it was time to escape from the city life.We arranged a trip to the Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia. From Kuala Lumpur we took a three hour bus ride and then a three hour boat ride to get to our hotel. The theme song from Gilligan’s island kept playing in our heads. As we sat in our long boat, mesmerized by the river, the flora and fauna around us, the monkey’s and birds in the trees, the locals along the river- just living their life,
we had to smile. A contentment came over us as we enjoyed this surreal moment and realized how smart we were to quit our jobs and enjoy these times and these places.
In all our life we never really imagined that we would be riding in a long boat heading into the jungle of Malaysia. We were calm, peaceful and enjoying this moment.
Our first night we took the “Night Jungle Walk” with our guide Abdullah. We saw glow in the dark mushrooms, walking sticks, wild boars, grasshoppers, spiders and snakes….three snakes. They were small but deadly. He showed us a scorpion in his hole but he never came out. We are out in the middle of no where with a local guide that has lived there all of his life and he is fluent in English. Not only that but as we spent more time with him we learned he knows many things about botany and ornithology.
At the hotel, you could see small monkeys and small jungle hogs about. We also saw an oriental hornbill and a crowned hornbill. We have a good friend Andy who warned us not to mess with the
Dave and Merry Jo
Happily riding up the river unsure of where we are going.
monkey’s as they bite….. The ones at the hotels were more like pet monkey’s but we did see wild ones along the river.
Early the next morning Abdullah took us on the three hour jungle trek and canopy walk. We were eager for some exercise - but I must admit it sounded so benign. Actually, it was a grueling hike up the side of a mountain (they call them hills) to a scenic overlook. Then we went down the mountain and back up another part of the mountain to walk across the Canopy- a stroll on planks with netting on the sides so that you don’t walk off and kill yourself about 100 ft. high. All in all a great work out. A tree had fallen across the main path and so we climbed over a tree that was 15 ft. in circumference. Keep in mind the temperatures are 90 degrees and the humidity was 90 percent. We stopped to rest on occasion as we have spent too much time sitting in our jobs. We were pleased to see the young and physically fit struggling a bit also.
At one point during the hike, Abdullah jumped backwards quickly,
then Merry Jo did the same, almost in domino fashion. The reason was that Abdullah had spotted a viper snake on the trail and almost stepped on it. It was fairly entertaining to watch an experienced guide and the person behind him jump in that fashion. Merry Jo said later that she wasn’t sure why she jumped back like that but was following Abdullah’s lead.
We rested for a couple of hours and had lunch before we took the most wonderful boat ride up the Tumbling River and another interesting hike into the woods to another river where we went swimming. This was so beautiful that it was worth the hike. Everything in Malaysia is uphill!!We had a marvelous time, got some serious exercise in, and ate well.
We’ve had some positive feedback from our friend Richard, from Toastmaster’s to add a few more stories. Reach for the emotional appeal, romance, suspense, danger, humor….you get the idea. A wonderful idea and so we are working on that. With that in mind we could discuss squatty potties!!
As I’ve traveled the world I have learned that not all countries have the toilets that we have in the
Adjusting to life in Asia
western world. As a matter of fact I had a very traumatic event in a restroom in Greece back in 2003. Fortunately for me, my good friend Deb came to my rescue. Now that this is behind me I can laugh until tears come but at the time …. it wasn’t so funny.
In Asia they frequently have the squatty potties available for your pleasure. Please refer to the photo. Basically, it’s like camping and you have to squat and aim for the hole. To make matters worse they often don’t have toilet tissue….so please don’t leave home without it. They have a hose on the wall so that you can wash yourself off….and believe me they would not pass any US heath standards. My advice is to hold your breath and move fast.
We have free internet for the next couple of days so we would love to hear from you. Please send any ideas of how we can improve our blog and what you would like to hear about. We have wanted to be informational, as we both love to teach- but we will be including more stories in the future.
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