Report From Borneo (Continued)

JULY 1998

DAY 11

A day to relax. We thought that it was time to just take a day off before we head back home – there is nothing worse than arriving home to find that you need a holiday to get over the holiday. So we decided to laze around the pool and write some postcards, catch up on reading, and also to explore a little around the Batang Ai Resort. We even slept in and had a late breakfast, which had been rather unusual for us on this trip.

Canopy Walkway near the resort

After breakfast, we booked ourselves into a nature walk, with Winston, the resident Batang Ai naturalist. At the desk we were told that it was going to take about half an hour, however, when Winston turned up at 10.00 hrs to take us on the walk, he informed us that it would in fact take about 1.5 hrs if we decided to take in what we were seeing and did not rush it. That was fine by us – there is always room for finding out more about the areas you stay in. It turned out that we were the only ones on the walk (there were not too many others staying in the resort to do the walk, anyway). The walk is primarily through secondary jungle, not far from the resort itself. Winston was very interesting – he knew a lot about the vegetation from his days in the police and the army, and the various uses for many of the plants found in the jungle, from food to sandpaper! (there is a plant which has leaves, which when dry, are just like a medium grained sandpaper. It is even used in the Selangor pewter factory in Peninsular Malaysia!) Winston also has a keen eyesight, and must have been a very good tracker in his earlier days. He was easily able to notice the tracks of a barking deer, where we were struggling to even see that a track of any animal was there at all. We found a stingless bees’ nest, which had recently been raided by a Sun Bear, and were clearly able to see the marks on the tree left by the animal’s claws. The walk took us up a hill, where we walked past a warrior’s grave (it’s interesting how all the walks around this part of the world involve climbing up a hill!) and across the ridge, before heading back down the other side and back to the resort. We thought that it was 1.5 hours of our time well spent.

For the rest of the day, we were able to laze around and soak up the sun. My son also managed to master the blow pipe – the resort had a target set up and allowed the guests to try their skill with the blowpipe – a full size pipe (about 1.8 m long). Nikolaus was able to hit the bulls eye with monotonous regularity – more than I could.

We managed to write enough postcards that day to keep all our friends satisfied. In the afternoon another few people arrived at the resort, and it was not long before we were all involved in a some pool water sport, using a water polo ball and water polo nets which seemed to be set up permanently by the side of the pool.

That evening a tour group from Taiwan arrived, so we had a buffet dinner of local foods together with entertainment and a demonstration of handicrafts by people from one of the nearby villages.

This was to be our last night in Borneo!

DAY 12

Another sleep in, and then after breakfast we packed preparing for our trip home. We still had time to spare, as we did not have to be out of the room until after 12 noon, so we decided to spend more time around the pool – it was going to be a hectic afternoon with a 4 hour trip back to Kuching, flight to Kuala Lumpur, and transfer to our flight to Australia. It was a beautiful day, and warming up fast. Sitting beside the pool, we could feel the bite in the sun, and were glad to be able to dive in the pool to cool off every now and then.

The Hilton shuttle bus leaves the other side of the dam at 14.00 hrs each day (providing that someone is booked to leave on it, or alternatively, if someone has come up on it in the morning). We caught the launch from the resort at 13.30 hrs, and we must admit that we were very sorry to have to leave. Even though there were not too many house guests, it was a very peaceful, tranquil and interesting place to stay. We could have easily spent another few days here as it is an area overflowing with interest.

Just our luck that today was the day that the air-conditioning in the bus (actually a minibus) had to break down. We therefore had a 4 hour trip with all the windows open, which although not all that uncomfortable, as we maintained a steady pace the whole way, meant that by the time that we arrived in Kuching, we were all a bit windblown, and also a bit dirtier than we had expected to be. We stopped a small service area after about 2 hrs and had a bit of a break. It was also the local pepper trading town – every second shop was a pepper buyer with the current prices for white and black pepper displayed at the front of the shop. (The interesting thing was that the prices in each shop were different to that in the shop next door.) Out in the street behind the shops were straw mats laden with pepper corn drying in the sun. It was possible to walk along the collection of mats and see the pepper in various stages of “dryness”, starting with the greener ones at one end and the nicely baked black pepper corns at the other end. The rest stop proved to be a bit of an education for the three of us. The others on the bus proved not to be quite as inquisitive as us, and chose to stay around where the bus was parked.

As we got closer and closer to Kuching, so the traffic started to increase – you could easily see that we were approaching a larger centre. We finally arrived on the outskirts of the city, and we were dropped at the airport at 18.00 hrs, with plenty of time until our flight to Kuala Lumpur at 19.00 hrs.

We were not to know, however, that our flight was going to be delayed, and it seemed an eternity before we were actually called to our plane – 1 hour late! We now had a bit of a problem, because we would land with only about half an hour to spare before our flight to Sydney was due to leave. As soon as we landed at KL, we headed off to the International Terminal to make sure that we did not miss our plane. Luckily, we had been booked straight through from Kuching, so there was no need for us to check in again in KL (unlike some others who were travelling on to Zurich, and were also very late for their flight – at the immigration control in KL we were permitted to head off to the international terminal, while they had to go to the transfer desk to complete their paperwork) We finally found our departure gate, and determined that we still had a few minutes to spare. We had fortunately packed some extra clothes and basic toiletries in our cabin luggage, so we were able to refresh ourselves a little before finally getting on the plane.

Once on board, Nikolaus was a little disappointed to find that it was not one of the new Malaysia Airlines 747s, and that he had to be content with the usual in-flight entertainment. In the end, it turned out not to matter because we all went to sleep and it was just prior to breakfast before we woke again.

DAY 13

Sydney in the middle of winter can be quite cool, and when compared to the temperatures which we were experiencing in Borneo, it was certainly cold – 8 degrees! Of course, our luggage did not arrive – however, we decided that it was more likely to have been due to the fact that our flight from Kuching was so late arriving, rather than the fact that the new terminal at KL still was not working properly. There were, however, a lot of people standing at the carousel when it was announced that there was no more baggage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 123.

The good news was that our luggage eventually arrived a couple of days later.

It was a fabulous trip – full of adventure, and enough stories to live on for some time to come.

Thanks for sharing our adventure with us. We hope that you enjoyed it too!!

Trip Travelogues

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