Rain, Guard Bats & Bugs in the Dinner
It’s 945pm 20 January and we’re in the bedroom at Barefoot Lodge in Sakau, 2 hours south of Sandakan, Malaysia, Borneo.
Today we willingly left the comforts of the Shangri La resort in Kota Kinabalu (KK) to venture on a 2 day/night jungle safari by the rivers of the east coast of Borneo.
We took Air Asia from sunny KK at 1pm, landing in heavy rain at Sandakan airport. We were met by the lodge staff at the airport, who first brought us to a cheap local diner (£1 for the meal – they were paying as it’s included in the deal) and then on the way to Sukau on a 2 hour journey in heavy heavy rain.
The view on the way consisted of primarily palm oil plantations, with palm oil being Malaysia’s largest export industry. They extract the oil from spikey fruits in the palm trees in large factories and the oil is then used for cooking oil, soap, cosmetics and soon bio fuel! It’s also worth noting that the emergence of palm oil plantations is the main reason why the rain forest is disappearing and the orangutan have become an endangered species. Why do I know all this stuff you ask? Jessie our driver is a very nice guy and told us everything we needed to know.
On arriving at the lodge just before dark it was still raining, and the contrast from Shangri La’s deluxe rooms became clear. The rooms at the Barefoot Lodge are small with white painted boards for walls, two single beds and a bathroom with electric shower. A slightly musty smell and of course no aircon and a plug to charge the camera battery.
Dinner was at 7pm – we had time for a quick nap first. A combination of the rainy season and the economy meant that we were the only guests staying there, i.e. we were alone for dinner, except the 5 house kittens of course! Although we’ve taken malaria tablets we were still a bit apprehensive seeing 100’s of moskitos buzzing around the wall lights. The food was served and we sat down, very wary of our surroundings.
And we were right to be. A second after sitting down something flew across the room just above our heads -a bat! Slightly scary at first, but we were calmed by Jessie who told us it was their guard bat, Batman. While the bat was hovering above we started eating. A selection of vegetables, chicken, tuna, pumpkin, melon and rice. Just as I was about to dig in suddenly a bug fell into my food! We removed it with an unused knife, which we decided to dirty just in case they thought the knife was clean and decided to reuse it without cleaning it 😛
Tomorrow morning we’re going on a morning cruise at 630am followed by a jungle trek. We have to borrow special leech socks which are massive, kind of look like large christmas stockings only without the decorations. Then we’ll have breakfast followed by more activities. With this being a, not high, but special risk malaria area we’ll be wearing plenty of insect repellent with Deet and rain coats and in general long sleeves. Wish us good luck!