On our second day in Bintulu, we take a taxi ride to the nearby Similajau national park where we embark on a jungle trek through the ancient rainforest. Crossing crocodile infested rivers, ascending and descending leaf strewn trails, balancing on fallen trunks to bridge gullies whilst carrying a weighted stash of “baby stuff” in my day-pack, I became exceptionally sweaty indeed.
There is no breeze, and not long into the hike my brow produces a slow yet incessant cascade of perspiration. Even my khaki shorts are quickly dampened by sweat glands in my thighs I didn’t even know I possessed.
What strikes me most about the Borneo rainforest apart from the remarkably diverse shades of green that cocoon
us in all directions are the incredible shrill sounds of the jungle.
Birds, insects, the rustling of reptiles or small mammals, and the occasional hoop and holler of a primate all come together to create an atmospheric cacophony that makes us feel like true adventurers.
On several occasions we stop and just listen. Even “The Boy” is deeply intrigued as he stares upwards towards the canopy trying to fathom out what these new and unusual sounds are.
Here in the lush forest is where life is at it’s most abundant. Damp, hot and unkind to my great honky bulk, it is not I place I would like to call home. In contrast, “The Boy” already likely thinks it is home.
We have moved so much over the past few weeks he must identify with the character Dr. Sam Beckett from the early 90’s TV show “Quantum Leap”. As soon as one adventure is over, he wakes up in a new and different place having to make sense of the world around him.
Usually these respites are most welcome and we get the down time that other travellers seem to have in spades.
Sometimes he wakes up at an inconvenient time, out of synch with the rhythm of our travels so the next step is lulling him with the theme tune of the “The Littlest Hobo” 😉
“The Boy” seems to have acclimatised rather well over the past few weeks, and even riding high in a back sling, wrapped in it’s cosy cotton confines, he is sweating a lot less than me.
I wasn’t designed for the jungle.
I’m comfortably over 6ft tall, carrying too many spare tyres of late, and with a circulatory system that pumps sweet European blood tropical insects seem to consider ambrosia.
I am not Tarzan. This is not my natural state of being. It is however, a state I’m glad I’ve experienced.
The other highlight of our time in Bintulu comes as I run a late evening errand to engage in some haggling with a Chinese shop owner to provide some cheap beer. I soon realise that after dark the dockside strip outside our hotel doubles up as a red light district.
As I made my way along, I reckon that of the eight or so brass that lined the street between our place and the beer shop, at least six propositioned me with what sounded like genuine desire.
I’m sure I even heard one lustfully gasp “Oh my gawd!” in poor Ingerris.
And why not I reasoned? I am after all double the height of their average punter, well groomed (I’d shaved that day), and likely a fine catch who would be in town on some natural gas business and therefore spending heavily on an expenses account with plenty of grey area.
I nonchalantly brushed off their advances. They could look, but they couldn’t touch this particular king of the jungle.
Returning to our hotel room full of beans, and now confident in the knowledge that “The Boy” clearly gets his lady magnet skills from me, the 0.5 felt it necessary to shatter my illusion.
Heartlessly she pointed out that as my encounter had been with members of the oldest profession, making me feel good was quite probably just part of their job.
Pop. Hiss. Bubble. Burst.