Hard mats, Jeremys back, Pongo hunting.

Trip Start Dec 12, 2012
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5
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Trip End Jan 03, 2013


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Up early just before dawn and I head out the back and climb the hills behind the longhouse to catch the dawn. It's slightly misty across the ranges because, surprise surprise, it rained most of the night.

Up the steep ridge behind the fields of rice, corn, cacao, pepper vines and other produce I climb to the top and take in the morning. Cocks crowing, pigs squealing and birds twittering across the valley as the sun rises.

Back down for another hearty breakfast and we’re all looking uncomfortable on the floor. 2 days of hard rattan mats gets to us whiteys. We’re so soft. It begins with the charm of sitting down with the locals and within 48 hours we are all desperately eyeing the one and only lounge suite in this longhouse which torments us in the room we eat in. But it's traditional to sit on the floor. Oh, do we have to? There's a comfy lounge going to waste right there.

We had noted that the old folk here seem surpisingly fit and manage to sit around on the floor all day. They smoke, they drink Tuak and beer and they are as strong as athletes. How do they do it? We're two days in and all we want is a comfy chair and a soft mattress. Softies.


We tour the gardens and shoot a blowpipe. The target looks remarkably like Jeremy, we think maybe they drew it yesterday after his near-miss incident. Jeremy arrives in his usual rambunctious way with cock in hand. Fighting cock that is. We shoot darts at Jeremy’s likeness and watch his cock. Fight that is. It’s a bit hokey but all part of what we paid for. Tour of the garden I’ve already seen at dawn and we’re off back down the river. But first, we have to shake everyone’s hand goodbye , all 417 of them again it seems.

We were told Jeremy was banished from boatman duties due to the 'incident’ yesterday but there he is on the riverbank loading our bags into the boat. He’s a little quieter and there’s an old woman with us, she gets into the boat too.

‘What’s this?" we ask Mawi. "Jeremy has to bring his mother along.”

Aaah, he’s under Mumsies care. She sits at the front of the boat and we’re calmed by the knowledge that he’s been put under matronly escort, as he’s unlikely to careen his Mum into the riverbank. But then again with Jeremy who knows?

Back down the river and a rather uneventful (Iban style) drive back to Semenggoh for our 2nd attempt at the Orangutans.

Mawi leads us deep into the reserve and along a very hot, humid and difficult track. We find Durian and Rambutan trees in the middle of the reserve. We peer up and find nests high in the canopy…but not one Pongo.

We come across a family of sweaty and mostly annoyed Brits, partially lost and not really having a good time. They follow us along the trail.

At the far end of the trail we ask Mawi what we would do if we actually came across an Orangutan in the middle of this forest. “Oh, run away. Fast.” he says quite seriously. Mmm..very consoling. We want to see an Orangutan, not get mauled by one.

J-she speaks to the Brits and passes on this fearful knowledge, yes, Orangutans are wild animals. “Oh dear, seriously?” respond the Brits. They seem to have no idea. The teenage daughters sweaty misery is now heightened with some serious mortal fear. Now they look really happy.

With that sobering thought in mind, Mawi leads us straight back along the trail again into the wild animals lair. But alas, no Pongos. Maybe a good thing…The Brits stay close to our group all the way back.

We get back to Lime Tree and bid farewell to our travelling companions. We go to a corner bar and drink some cheap beer and eat some average street food. Sitting in a real chair ! yay. We stop in at our favourite Everise store and grab some essential. Retire to bed. A real bed. And no more sitting on the hard floor. Hooray !

Still no Pongos, still no Durian. No more Tuak.
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