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Published: July 24th 2014
Beautiful light into the forest.
INTO THE JUNGLE
In addition to the river cruises, each day there were two scheduled jungle walks. Rubber boots and high cotton boot liners with draw strings could be rented for the duration of your stay. The trails through the jungle quickly became a mire with so many guests following guides on the same paths.
My first jungle walk started out quite briskly around ten a.m. and, at first, I was concerned about keeping up the pace for three hours. Soon my focus was almost entirely on avoiding giving a free ride and a free meal to a leech. During the day walk you were almost guaranteed to see, if not experience, leeches. The guide explained that they have an anticoagulant in their venom and the doctor’s wife told us they were good for extracting pus from infection sites. Good. I don’t like them! And having the experience of one crawling on my arm now eliminates this from my bucket list. I was so adult about it…I saw it and said, “Ew!” I flicked it and it just lurched to another spot on my arm. I said in an embarrassingly panicky voice, to no one
I am really embarrassed by the lack of good photos of the rainforest but the mud was ever present, deep and slippery. I had trouble staying on my feet.
in particular (maybe to me) “Get it off me!” and flicked it again and it went sailing into the bushes. Thank goodness. The guide just gently pinches them between his fingers, rolls them up and tosses them back into the jungle. This doesn't hurt them, just keeps them from sticking to you over and over again.
There was a lot of very slippery mud (in the rain forest) and most of my time was spent trying to keep my left foot out of deep muddy water because I had a hole in my left boot, and trying not to slip and fall.
We saw a couple of insects; a stick bug, a large “roly poly” about the size of a walnut that is high in protein if you need food, a few birds, a caterpillar, a vine you can cut a segment from and it will produce drinkable water, maybe. And more leeches. The most interesting creatures we saw were small catfish in the lake, the mid-point of our hike. The guide had brought slices of day old bread, I was almost willing to fight the fish for. When dragged through the water the
slice of bread attracted hundreds of small catfish boiling over and around it. The kids soon were breaking the bread into pieces and tucking them between their toes for the catfish to nibble. I even got a good photo of the fish. Three hours was a long walk and I was grateful to get back to camp and more than ready for another meal. A couple of us lingered after lunch and was a large monitor lizard sunning itself near the dining hall. It was an impressive five foot long specimen and the young woman with the camera got a couple of nice photos of it.
I was grateful for the four hour break; time to rest before the evening river cruise. We returned from the river for dinner, followed by the night walk.
I almost opted out of the night walk, I was tired of being wet, but I am glad I went. There is more of a sense of being alone in the jungle, at night, especially since my headlamp was running low on battery power. During the night walk, focusing on my next step, I was aware of the surrounding sounds
We saw many insects but I was too busy watching out for leeches to take photos.
of the jungle; cicadas, birds, hush…the stillness. The lights of the other groups of tourists moving through the darkness was surreal. We saw a large insect or two, but the highlight of the trip was an impressive sighting of a civet cat up on a branch. It was amazing and quite beautiful. I was pleased to learn that leeches are only a problem during the day, and the night walk was only 45 minutes.
Then there was a bit of free time till bed time. Morning came all too soon, with a six o’clock river cruise, breakfast and check out time. I skipped the cruise to sleep in, then took a shower while everyone else was gone. Right after breakfast we boarded the bus to Semporna. I was glad to get back and squeeze in a couple more dives before heading back to Kuala Lumpur and my connecting flight to Melborne.
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