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When hiking in the jungle, please give blood.

Summer Vacation 2008 - Danum Valley Conservation Area Day 4

sunny 32 °C

This was our last day in the Danum Valley Conservation Area. We were quite sad to go. We really really enjoyed our time here. Leo, our guide, was excellent. He was a lot of fun and very informative to go hiking around with. He also told us that he was glad that he really enjoyed the last few days hiking with us. That was good to hear.

Last night, we decided we'd do one longer activity. That way we could sleep in a little bit later. We got up at 6:50 today. We're not sure if it's good that 6:50 now qualifies as “sleeping in”. But we felt more rested today. We quickly ate breakfast and met Leo at 8:00 to start hiking. He quickly answered the questions that had come up yesterday and we started off.

On our way to the restaurant for breakfast we found this snake on the ground. We had no idea what kind of snake was. We just assumed it was poisonous and stayed away from it.

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We had about three hours to go hiking. We had to get back in time to pack and shower and get ready to go. Leo outlined a plan that involved about four different trails and a lot of if we have time we can do this. But we didn't have time. We found too much stuff to look at as we went along.

About 400 m into the first trail we heard something crash in the woods off to our right. We looked around from the path for a while to see if we could see it. It was too difficult to see. The next thing we know Leo was off into the woods and we were following him with the same warning to watch out for snakes. The animal turned out to be a maroon langur, but we didn't get a good look at it.

We were pretty far into the woods and I started to look around. It would be soooooo easy to get lost in there. Every direction looks similar and it's so dense that you can't see very far. Today it wasn't so bad because we could always hear the river. We figured if we got separated we'd make our way to the river. Plus, Leo knew where he was going.

We wondered if Leo had previously had a negative experience with snakes, as he seemed a little preoccupied with them and warned us about them a lot. We asked him a couple of leading questions to try to shed a little light on the subject. Leo told us a little bit about his fear of snakes afterwards. First, when Leo was a child a couple of his dogs were killed by cobras. I suppose that's a good reason to be worried about snakes. Secondly, every so often someone is killed by a python. He said the last one was in 2006. A man went out to his vacant lot and didn't make it back for supper. His family went out and found him with all of his bones crushed. The python had tried to eat him but his arm was folded parallel to his shoulder with his elbow sticking out so it couldn't swallow him. He did tell us what to do if a python does grab hold of you. Make sure your arms are free, and that you have a machete of some blade with you. Use the blade to cut through the just the scales of the snake. This way, if the snake tries to constrict you, the pressure the snake generates will start to apply outward force to its organs. The snake then has a choice: crush you, and in the process, force its organs out, or let you go and find another meal after it heals. Invariably, it'll choose the latter option. If you don't have a knife or machete there is another way. You have to make sure your arms are free. The pythons weakness is its tail. While it's crushing you it will tuck its tail under the other coils it's made. You have to grab the tail before it can tuck it under the coils. Then you can just unwind the snake. But I still didn't want to have to worry about that.

We made it back on to the path and continued on. We didn't see a whole lot in our travels. We saw lots of little insects and plants. As well, at one point we saw two Bornean gibbons swinging overhead. We tried to get some pictures of them but they swung too quickly then hid behind some leaves up in a tree. It's quite difficult to spot animals when they are at the top of the canopy and we are on the forest floor.

We made it to a junction point where we could do other trails but we all realized we didn't have enough time to do anything else. Here, I felt a little sting on my stomach and saw that a leech had crawled up under my shirt and bit me. It was just preparing to start taking some blood when I flicked it off. Needless to say I still bled a little bit. It took us a lot longer than planned to do the first walk. We settled on quickly doing the canopy walkway.

On the walkway we did see this little green insect. It was called a lantern bug, and is apparently quite rare. Leo was very excited to see it.

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At this point we had to go back and pack. It was almost time to leave the Danum Valley Conservation Area. When Court was getting in the shower she noticed some blood on her sock. It turns out a leech had crawled up under her gaiter down her pants and bit her just above her sock. She was a blood donor too. We had to be checked out by 12:00. We didn't have a clock in our room. My watch broke and we lost the alarm clock we were carrying with us. But somehow we managed to get up to the main lodge by exactly 12:00. I was very impressed.

I cleaned off our boots and gaiters. We didn't clean Court's boots, because they weren't going to make the trip home. They were finished. There was a hole forming in the heel of her boot. Duct tape and a bandage on her heel were the only things standing between her and blister city. She just left them there. We had a moment of rememberance for the boots. They've carried Court through seven countries and countless miles; they will be missed.

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Then it was lunch time. Another fantastic meal.

Just before we left, we met up with Leo again. He came out with a form for us to sign and a stack of books to answer some previously unanswered questions. We really appreciated this. Then it was time for the ride into town.

The ride into town started off well enough; it was bumpy and kind of hot in the van, but what can you do. Then we noticed a big line of logging trucks waiting for something. When we got to the start of the line we saw that one of the logging trucks was stuck in the mud. Its left wheel was up in the air, its right wheel in the mud and the logs embedded in the ground. This was kind of interesting until we realized we had to go through this mud as well.

There was a truck traveling with us and it went through first with no problems. Then it was our turn. We all got of our vehicle. It was a little 8 seater mini bus. Our driver figured it would be safer for us to wait on the other side. We got out and watched as the bus tried to get through. It didn't go very far at all. It got stuck about 2m in. Out came the chains. They hooked the chains up to the back of the truck and to the bus. After a few attempts, and some panicked looks from all the people with a flight to catch, we were back on the road.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. It was still bumpy and hot, but no more problems. We arrived at the “airport” (I use that term loosely, it was more of a bus station) in Lahad Datu. We had about an hour to spare. This airport was so small that the lady that checked us in also was the lady who took our boarding pass to go on the plane and made all the announcements.

Our flight was a little over an hour to Kota Kinabalu. But, we hit some turbulence. Man was it ever turbulent. I suppose when you are in a flying school bus, any little turbulence feels worse. Surprisingly for Court, we made it in to KK in one piece. Her sanity, however, did not. She though she was going to die.

Then we had to catch a cab to our hotel. We are staying at the Tune Hotel. These hotels are owned by the same company who owns Air Asia. There business strategy is to charge you a bare minimum for the room and then charge for the other stuff you need. MYR5 for towels, MYR7 for the TV, etc. We wanted to try to it out and see what it's like. The hotel we are staying at is located next to 1Borneo, a 'hypermall'. We strolled into the mall to find some dinner and stumbled upon “Malaysian Idol” (it wasn't Idol, but it was close enough, so that's what I call it) auditions.

We went back to the lobby of the hotel to report back we made it safely out of the jungle then back up to our room. It didn't take too long for us to fall asleep. We have half a day or so in KK then its on to KL and back to Osaka. Our vacation is almost finished.

Posted by agc_cwm 07:45 Archived in Malaysia Tagged animal

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