Thursday, August 08, 2013

the rainforest

I like to believe our honeymoon was different. Where, if there was a prong in the fork of choice - can you see it? Can you see the prong? Can you? - we'd veer left side, towards the deepest jungle and a few wild beaches, and others might veer to the right, where Mauritian and Maldivian package holidays (All alcohol inclusive!) await.

Hey, the all inclusive-booze thing would've been nice actually. Would've made it eight thousand times less expensive.
Nay. What we wanted was to choose our honeymoon, step-by-step. Custom-create that bad boy. A bespoke tailor-made journey - both luxurious and adventurous (read: rustic).

It was just glorious. Besides being able to spend time together, with not a stress in the world, (maybe one or two like, choice paralysis when faced with the cocktail menu, and things like whether we should go snorkelling today or tomorrow), the main thing was that we could actually do nothing together.

The luxury of us being able to do nothing and everything together is a ginormous one. We lead extremely chaotic and stressful lives in London, and it was especially crazy before we left. So the honeymoon wasn't only a gift; it was a goddamn necessity.

Also got to do things like read actual books (with pages and everything), take naps whenever we felt like it, in between eating, swimming and walking through the world's oldest rainforest. Where I thought it had disappeared forever, I actually got my [life] mojo back.
Ah, the rainforest. If there's a landscape that intrigues me the most (think desert, savannah, mountains, seaboard..) I'd have to say it's the Earth's fucking lungs.
This one is 130 million years old. It saw dinosaurs and shit. When I'm stressed and they say, "Imagine your calm place," I imagine cool, green, forests. This was green, but it was also about 43 degrees Celsius. Rainforests are the Earth's natural saunas. You sweat like a Swede.

They are also alive. They don't stop moving; they're filled with crazy, dangerous, bizarre creatures and plants. So, in lieu of staying in and walking through lots of rainforest with guides (one who was doing a pHD in rainforest sciency stuff), I thought I'd share this aspect of our honeymoon with you.

If plants, animals and weird shit with trees doesn't interest you, well,..fuck you.

This is an Orang Utan. Which means "man of the forest." You can only find these dudes in Borneo. They contain 96% of the same DNA as humans. Only one down from the gorilla, who is our closet animal relative. And bananas apparently.
Here's a mama, with her baba clinging on while she swings from the ropes. This was at a sanctuary near Sandikan, a city in the north-eastern tip of the island, near the Philippines.

They're not shy. They like shiny things and have been known to take cameras off people, as well as clothes. Stripped a French lady naked, or so we were told by our gregarious guide. (What was she wearing?)

We spent almost a week in a communal camp - a basic wooden collection of stilted houses on the Kinabatangan River. It's wild. There are not a lot of humans that live here. We went to a small rainforest village, otherwise it was us and trees and a fuckload of monkeys everywhere.
We were on a 'rainforest safari'- we did everything people would do going on safari in Africa, or going on an Okavango house boat trip, say. Game drives, (on boats with a guide) and eating a lot. Huge Malaysian-style buffets, and jungle walks.
 Our bungalow.
They always cooked and served us breakfast inside the jungle, which was amazing.
We stayed on the boardwalk when we went into the forest. Rainforests are wet. So if you walk on the ground, you're usually in mud, mangroves or puddles. Which are FILLED with leeches. That apparently always find a spot of skin to suck your blood. They sense you. What the actual fuck.
So yeah, did it the boring way.

The jungle camp was filled with bougainvillea. River in front. Filled with crocodiles. Above us in the forest was a sleepy Orang Utan the staff call Ross.

My favourite time to enter the jungle was at night. Mainly because the temperature had dropped by a fraction and you could think straight. During the morning walks, you sweat like I sweat after an hour on a treadmill.
It's humid, the air is so thick you have to just breathe. Very slowly. But the noise! At night, the jungle literally pulses with life. The birds come out and start shrieking, the snakes are out, mahoosive insects. It's CREEPY AS FUCK. Which makes it the biggest rush ever.
You have to put insect repellent over every atom of skin, because you'll get bitten literally every second. (We counted. Mozzies love the Brit. And he got bitten every. Single. Second in a place he forgot to put repellent.)

This is the shit you see on the safari cruises and in the jungle.
 Spiders as large as your hand. They hunt in packs. There were another 7 of these bad boys nearby.
My favourite thing EVER: a smoking fucking mushroom.We felt like we had stumbled into Alice In Wonderland by accident. This mushroom fully emits smokes at night (hence the smoky tendrils), to keep predators away. What do you reckon if you ate it: high or die?
Flowers are LOUD in rainforests. Couldn't hear myself think next to this one.
 When the tropical rains come (almost every afternoon) you do a rain dance. Or stand in it to cool down. It comes down in sheets and it's bloody marvelous.
 Everywhere you turn, there's something to see. Spiders, snakes, weird insects. You just need to look.
 Like this.
 This is a wild pig. The staff call him Junior. He's semi-tame, and he hops up - cloven hoves and all - onto the deck for toast in the morning where we eat breakfast.
 We saw a herd of pygmy Asian elephants on the banks having an evening graze. Much smaller than our African counterparts, and less anxious.
 Vines baby. It's all about the vines.
 And the rain. You literally see steam come off your skin when you stand in the beautiful, miraculous, amazing rain.
 On a river cruise, looking for stuff. Like the boat ahead.
See if you can spot it - a green viper. Back-fanged, haemotoxic. (I know my snakes; I know my enemy.) Probably the most common snake. Not particularly long either, but everywhah.
 We also saw a cat snake (black and yellow stripes - screams danger and yet, false alarm! It isn't), and another grey snake with a red tongue that the Brit almost stood on on the way to breakfast. He was so chilled. 'Oh check it out,' he says, like he's pointing towards a pair of alloy wheels.
"GET BACK, STAND BACK, NOW." Was how I approached the situation.
More weird, strangely formed flowers. Get a load of these.
 Night viewing.
This is the small village near to our lodge. Built on stilts, as the river floods regularly. They have some solar panels installed for the school. Put it this way, these people aren't on Facebook.
They treated us with special care, bless them. Every night they did something new for us and other honeymooning couples there. Baked a cake one night, gave us a concert the next, and then one night mysteriously made us coke floats.

After 'roughing' it in the jungle like a bunch of hobos (fuck did I enjoy it, despite the humidity and heat), we went all. out. luxury. five star. private.tropical.island.for.six. full. days.

Which I'll share another day. It was fucking sublime.


Val said...

Awesome! But must admit the wild life would freak me out - especially the snakes and spiders! Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
btw hope the house deal went ahead without a hitch. A lovely home.

Coffee and Books Cape Town said...

your photos are getting better and better boo. dad x

Coffee and Books Cape Town said...

your photos are getting better and better boo. dad x

MeeA said...

Damnit, I can't find the green snake & it's freaking me the fuck out!!

Sounds like an awesome adventure - so cool that you picked something totally different for your honeymoon.

We've been married 10 years and still haven't had a honeymoon, so I'm thinking that when we do, it's going to have to be EPIC... ;-P

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