A mum, dad and their three kids from Tasmania, go on an epic adventure in Borneo for 3 weeks in December
Apparently the bats in Deer Cave at Gunung Mulu create tons of turds every day (remember Jim Carrey saying “guano” in Ace Ventura?) upon which feast a moving floor of cockroaches, which sets up a whole food chain. Yummy. But I’m not scared of cockies, although apparently Nani was traumatized as a younker when she was little by the nuclear ones in SE Asia, that fly and are the size of a large mouse. But I’m not worried about them. They don’t bite.
I hiked the Cradle Mountain trail as a teenager and an enduring memory is a of one bloke sticking his head out of his tent on awakening and seeing a giant leech (it had swollen after feeding all night) stuck on his mouth. We broke it to him gently.
Leeches don’t hurt, in fact you usually never know they’re there until you find blood running down your leg because they’ve dropped off after drinking their fill. I took my fishing waders off in January to find my left pant leg soaked in blood. It continued to bleed for hours afterward and I looked like I’d been shot. I don’t mind being eaten, but for me, I get these blisters of exudate (clear yellow fluid) forming around the bites which take days to weeks to heal.
Malaysia has three varieties of the critters, including the Tiger Leech (the name is not inspiring me) and get this, the Kinabalu Giant Red leech. I’m fairly confident I don’t really want to get intimate with this one either.
Apparently to remove them, a Malaysian leech farmer (you can get 20 bucks a kilo for these parasites) advises “Push the anterior sucker aside using your fingernail and then do the same with the posterior sucker to remove it. Try not to let the leech reattach itself.” This breaks the suction and encourages the pest to remove it’s 300 or so teeth.
The enduring ideas of burning them off or just pulling them off aren’t great because they leave their teeth embedded in your flesh which then causes infection. I’m happy with the number of teeth in my body, and would like to keep it that way. My goal is to keep them off in the first place.
Bugger the leech socks, I reckon I’ll just get too hot in them and panty hose is gay (it’s Borneo not a Mardi Gras). So here’s some tricks I’ll try. One traveler reckons the Orang Asli use tobacco juice so that could be good, and if that fails, I could just make some rolly’s smoke it and burn the little bastards off for revenge. Elsewhere it seems insect repellent makes you less tasty (have you ever got this stuff in your mouth accidentally?), so maybe the recipe below will double against my other hated critter.
The mosquito. Or mozzie if you’re aussie. I absolutely hate em. Was out gardening on Friday night and there they are surrounding my hand and eating me. Then there’s the itch you try not to scratch, then you scratch it while you’re asleep, now you’ve got a sore, and in the jungle you’ve got infection and on it goes. We’ll be mostly using long sleeves and long pants, but I’ll be well armed because I read that they laugh at DEET (the king of repellents) as do the sandflies (which I hate even more) who smell DEET and think “Booyah! This one comes with topping!”
Apparently Uncle Tans have some homebrew stuff that really works when it comes to pesky needle nozed whiners and I wonder if it’s the same as this particular traveler recommends;
Take 70 per cent baby oil and 30 per cent Dettol, mix and smear on your body for the ultimate insect repellent. The sandflies stick to the baby oil and die, and the mozzies simply hate the smell of disinfectant. It worked a treat for me in Australia and New Zealand, and it beats paying a fortune for normal sprays. It’s more effective, too.
I reckon I might get one of those Mozzie Clicker’s too. At least if you do get bitten there’s an alternative to scratching. You can just shock yourself. Could get quite exciting and would certainly be useful for pranking gullible yanks or swedes if I happen to bump into some.
The only other critters I hope not to piss off is some kind of millipede that shoots out poison, some vipers, and maybe a croc in the Kinabatangan river where we’re staying in a jungle camp. If I don’t get mugged and dragged into the bushes by giant leeches and mosquitoes I’ll be a happy jungle trekker.