A Bumpy Ride Into the Virgin Rainforest
Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
138Trip End May 01, 2013
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When two buses came around the bend the comedy of errors began; Paula was trying to read the destination signs on the windows and noting that the first bus was for 'Tawau' (our bus) stuck her arm out to flag it down. Vikki, stepping backwards to do the same, fell backwards over Paula's rucksack, the bus whizzed past, the random guy still talking 'at' Vikki whilst on the floor then flagged down the second bus (not our bus) and as it pulled in started asking if we had been to such and such a place....we were dumbfounded - we had just missed our critical bus (Vikki in the absolute physical sense missed it by millimetres as she fell in the road) and he wanted to pass the time of day idly chatting whilst Vikki scrabbled to her feet and Paula stood frozen in shock with her mouth open
Plan B - persuade the Sandakan bus (not our bus) to chase the first bus (our bus) until we caught it, pursuasion done we dragged our rucksacks off at the interim stop and got on the intended bus - by some miracle this transfer occurred successfully at Ranau and we settled in for a further five hour journey to Lahad Datu - a race against time to arrive in time to pick up our Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) transfer scheduled to depart at 3pm that same afternoon. The way we had calculated it, we'd have about fifteen minutes to find the pick-up point when we got there - it was "somewhere near the airport?"
We settled into the journey and tried to relax and when one of our fellow passengers announced we were only 2km away from the airport and it was 2.15pm we dared to hope - then, traffic jam....bumper to bumper - shit balls arse....
The coach crawled it's way to Lahad Datu but eventually dropped us right near the airport at 2.45pm where, after several frantic phone calls, a communication problem and a sense of humour failure we finally found ourselves on the minibus, with money and supplies, heading out on the three hour drive to the DV Conservation area
As is obligatory in SE Asia, we picked up two random locals and a crate of eggs from the side of the road and travelled with Nate and Patty (USA) - the only other tourists with the same idea - along the windy track to the Field Centre. Patty as it turned out suffered from travel sickness and had ended up at the back of the bumpy bus, where consequently she filled her 'barf' bag with the orange, semi-digested contents of her stomach over the course of the journey (poor thing!). Vikki sitting in the front, having taken her travel sickness tablet, was feeling perfectly comfortable and even stopped at a roadside stall to purchase a huge pineapple for six ringgit.
When we arrived at the DVFC we registered and then headed to our dorms where the three of us girls had the entire forty eight bed bunkhouse to ourselves. We wondered why we had been so worried that the place would be over-subscribed.
Bunks selected, and having decided days before to bring our own food into the Field Centre we made use of the extremely basic 'catering' facilities to prepare noodle pots for our evening meal.
Having quickly realised that there was no bar, no shop, no TV, nothing but trees, animals and lots of bugs, we settled into our bunks for the night and planned our hiking routes into the Conservation Area for the following day.