07-12-2008

I crossed Borneo on a boat and trekking trip

Tags: Borneo Kalimantan Indonesia
On a long trek from West to East Kalimantan (The Indonesian name for their part of Borneo). Starting on a long boat up the rivers until the boat could not take us any further and then continuing with a hard trek through the dense/humid and extremely wet jungle for 7 days crossing rivers hundreds of times, some days walking in rivers the entire day ...... blood leeches become so annoying as they bite constantly.

08-03-1998

Trekking in the jungle of Borneo

Tags: Borneo

Every time I went from Copenhagen to Penang in Malaysia for work it would take me a few days before I got over the jetlag, so I tried to stay at least a fortnight, thus I always had one weekend in Penang to relax, sometimes I went to Kuala Lumpur or small islands close to Penang for the weekend,  but on this trip I asked another Danish colleague if we should get the office to try to arrange that we go somewhere else.

My colleague was quite young, and not used to travelling ..... I looked at the get-away packages that was presented by the secretary at the office, and Kuching was listed. We would leave Penang on Friday night and go to KL and then on to Kuching. Kuching is the biggest city in Sarawak, one of the two Malaysian states on Borneo. The main part of Borneo is Indonesian and then there is also Brunei.

We arrived late Friday evening and got to the hotel. We stayed at Hilton, and spent all Saturday relaxing and walking around in Kuching, I got the reception to plan a trip to drop us off at a beach early Sunday morning and pick us up late Sunday night, this would give us one full day to explore the jungle on our own, and we would still make the plane back to Penang late Sunday night.

A taxi drove us for a long time to a water front where a long narrow boat was waiting, we had not planned nor prepared anything, and it was the local guy who in his poor English asked us ........ he looked at us like we were two stupid tourist - which we were .......... don't you want to bring any water with you ???

Oh yes ......... probably a good idea. We bought 2 * 1½ liter bottles of Evian each at the water front and went into the boat. But hey ..... stop and think about it, we were going to spent a full day in the jungle, and we had no water with us ........ but this is only the first mistake

It was early in the morning, but the sun was up and this narrow long-boat with a huge power full engine at the back is really fast. The boat sits very low in the water and after a while we passed some mangrove forests before we finally end up at a beach. For obvious reasons the boat cannot up on the beach, so we have to take our shoes off and walk in ....... he tells us that he will be back to pick us up 9 hours later and then he takes off, we have no way to reach him, no telephone number, only his word. Mistake number 2.

When we got to the out of the sand and into the grass we were going to take our shoes back on, but since we now had sand on our feet, we decided to open one bottle of Evian each and poor some Evian water over our feet to rinse off the sand, we never really thought about how precious the water would be later ........... mistake number 3.

We don't have any guides with us, however there are trails in the jungle we can follow and we have a "rough" map on a piece of paper. I can see a water fall on the map and we decide to go towards the water fall. My colleague was very heavy and he drank his water very fast, I asked him to slow down and preserve the water for the whole day, but after less than 2 hours he ran out of water - I ran out of water after 3 hours ........ Mistake number 4, but not the biggest mistake yet.

We walked along the trail and we had no precise idea how long the trail was or how difficult it was going to be to follow the trail in the jungle. We also took detours when we saw something interesting, like a little beach we passed. It was very hot and quite humid in the jungle, but we still felt fine and enjoyed the experience, the scenery, the wildlife ........ everything.

At the beach - please look at the pictures - it was a little uncomfortable to stand still as my feet was slowly sinking into the sand.

We were still far from the waterfall, so we started to run towards the waterfall ....... at this point none of us had any water left ....... mistake number 5 .......... and yes, this was the most stupid thing we did.

My colleague got so exhausted that he stopped and told me to go ahead alone, he would sit on the same trail the same place until I got back, I gave him all my things, Id, money, phone etc ......... mistake number 6

So I started to run towards the waterfall alone. I always enjoy using my body, and actually enjoyed running in the jungle. When I got to the waterfall, some local Malaysian girls were also swimming in the water, so I joined them and really enjoyed it. They asked me if I wanted some candy, but I said "no thanks" and forgot to ask them for water ........ Swimming in the cool water revitalized me.

When I got back to my friend, I told him about the girls and the waterfall, and he asked me if they had some water ............. He told me that while I was gone he started to think about the cool water in the waterfall too, and ran towards the waterfall, but then realized that I would not be able to find him if I came back another way. So he ran back to his spot. The spot he chose when he stopped was on the top of a hill, with no shade, making it unbearable for him to sit and wait, and he started to panic, and try to call for a helicopter to come and pick him up ........ newsflash - GSM coverage in the jungle is not existing. Mistake number 7.

On our way back to the beach, I had to go take a leak, and he was so exhausted that he sat down on the trail for the 30 secs. I was gone.

When we got back to the beach we still a little bit of time before the boat came to pick us up.

Late that Sunday night we were in the airport and after presenting our passport he accidentially packed it in his suitcase and it went onto the suitcase belt ........ he didn't notice this until we came to security. He ran straight back to check-in and ran up onto the belt and into the bagage area found his suitcase and came back with the passport.

When we sat in the plane towards KL he told me, that he would never go to the jungle again with me ........ he then corrected himself and said he would NEVER go to the jungle again.