Saturday, 28 March 2015

borneo part two: jungle

Bella and I walked into the airport in Kota Kinabalu at 5AM. We were so focused on not being late for our flight that we arrived a full hour before any of the other passengers. None of the shops were open yet, so we had a picnic with the snacks that Bella had packed from England. We sat in the waiting seats and ate raisin bread, popcorn, and mentos for breakfast. A Canadian couple from New Brunswick (whom we had met on our tour the day before) were some of the first passengers to arrive after us. We laughed and learned that we would be on the same tour for the next four days.

We flew into the city of Sandakan and from there, were driven away from civilization down winding dirt roads surrounded by green. This was the first time that I became aware of the palm tree plantations. The trees are so dense and so endless that they almost look natural and— at the beginning— we were nearly fooled into thinking that these were real forests. They stretch onward for as far as the eye can see, extending over cresting hills and gentle slopes. I never could have imagined the size of that overgrown destruction. I still don't think that I have fully grasped the scale.

We visited an enormous cave filled with swallows, cockroaches, and bats. Bella and I took silly pictures, I tried my best to terrorize her with cockroaches. And then we were on our way again, this time heading to a lodge on the Kinabalu River where we spent two days relaxing and going on river cruises. Bella nicknamed me "Eagle Eyed." I spotted monkeys jumping into the bushy trees across the river and birds with crowns flying in distant, rosy skies. We were incredibly fortunate in that we saw TWO WILD ORANGUTANS. A male and a female. A man and a woman. It's times like those that make me wish that I had a zoom lens instead of just my trusty 50mm.

I remember the storms vividly. I am so grateful for the jungle rain that drummed down with such great force and left us brimming with emotion. Bella and I stood on our front step and watched it fall. Earlier, when the thunder had just started to roll in, I declared that if it rained— really rained— I would dance in the water. It rained. It really rained. I danced in the water. Bella documented. She danced as well though under the protection of the cabin roof. We laughed until our sides hurt. The air felt so good.

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