DownUnder2Borneo

A mum, dad and their three kids from Tasmania, go on an epic adventure in Borneo for 3 weeks in December

Bako and the last night safari

We repeat the night safari with Nani but the girls don’t go this time so it’s just Mark and his boy jonathan, Lachie, Oscar and I. We are assigned two guides for 45rm so i get the chance to have a really good talk to one heading down the lintang trail in search of adventure. The mafia have retreated to their favored tree to sleep in pairs cuddled up together like fur pom poms in an almost defoliated tree. The guide tells me the proboscis never sleep in the same tree twice to avoid predators which makes it a challenge finding them each day. He say he can tell the species apart by the broken foliage trickling from the canopy in the distance even before he sees the animal.

Tonight we see frogs, and the lone kingfisher again, and stick insects. We find a pool and the guide pulls out some boiled rice and sprinkles some in. Native catfish make a feeding frenzy in our torchlight.

Oscar has decided to skip wearing socks tonight claiming all his were wet and now his feet have blisters. I try and wipe them off with a wet one. His feet is full of sand so he has obviously sanded his skin. Theres not much I can do except bandaid the worst of them and try and do his laces up better to stop the rubbing. He is the pits when it comes to lacing up properly and when we look at him he nearly always has at least one shoe partly unlaced and no amount of reminding or lecturing him has any effect.

Nani provided some entertainment on this walk. Earlier I showed her the viper in the tree near our cabin and she exclaimed “fuck!” and covered her mouth. Having known her for 20 years I can offer the translation as “fuck that’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen! fuck why am I here? Fuck I can’t believe I’m staying in a place where so many things want to eat or kill me! fuck, my children are here and they could get seriously hurt! Aaarghhh!”. So she was pretty amped up even before the night walk and then I noticed it. A spider on her shoulder. This after we’d already been wowing over a tarantula in its nest. I told her to keep still that she had an arachnid on her and she froze in a cardiac arrest type stillness while I got mark to photograph it for posterity then flicked it off as gently as possible (the guides were watching).

At one point I flick off my headlamp, sneak up behind and grab her ass – a favorite trick of mine. She jumps and lets out a muffled yelp. Down the trail further she suddenly jumped and starting saying “ouch! Ouch!” and grabbing her ankle, brushing it. The guide says keep moving. She’s standing on a convoy of fire ants. I guess most people have the same reaction – to stop and try and deal with it, but moving forward at least prevents you from being swarmed. The guide cheerfully says it will only hurt (itch was his word) for a half hour and that camphor will help. I feel a bit sorry for Nani now and I let her know I have some back at the cabin. She is right out of her comfort zone and I try and reassure her that since she was born in Sibu just north of here, this is in her blood, but deep down I know she’s an amazon of the concrete jungle.

Later I get swarmed by a giant moth the size of a sparrow. It tries to have sex with my headlamp. I want to check it out but can’t focus that close so I switch off and it goes over to Mark. I tell Nani and she has another mild heart attack. Moths are her feared sworn enemy. When she was a child her mother told her some bullshit story about moth wing dust being able to blind eyes instilling a fear in her I have not been able to put a dent in over the last two decades of trying. She covers her head with her hands to try and protect herself.

The guide asks us to switch off lights. He turns on his UV and a scorpion sitting outside its nasty looking burrow glows in the dark. He offers it the tiny stick he has carried all night. After noticing his stick and the cicada on the end of it I has wondered about this. The scorpion latched on and the guide is trying to lift it out of the undergrowth. There is a tussle which the scorpion manages to win by tearing off the cicada and hunkering down its burrow to enjoy its meal. He won’t be lifted up for tourists to photograph tonight. That would make it one all over the last two nights.

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