Friday, 26 November 2010

Danum, beautiful beautiful Danum

Hey everyone, I'm met with something of a dilemma today. I've been to two amazing places this week and I want to tell you all about both of them, but do I bore you all stupid and write them as one post, or should I save your weary eyes and separate them into two? I think I'll just start writing and see what happens, either way, it's going to be pretty epic! I tell you what, I put in lots of pictures so you don't get too overwhelmed with text- deal?

On Monday, Jonas and I finally managed to escape the gunfire and cockroaches of Lahad Datu and set off for Danum Valley. Now Danum is a pretty exclusive place to get into. You can either spend an absolute fortune and stay in the swanky 'Borneo Rainforest Lodge', or you can be traveling around with an ecologist and sweet-talk your way into staying at the research facility... I know, pretty shameless, but you meet the best people by going for the less luxurious options and if it means having to put up with a preying mantis in your dorm room and a giant monitor lizard sunning itself on the veranda, then that's a compromise I'm more than willing to make!

I simply don't know how to tell you about Danum Valley without sounding like a blithering moron. So apologies to you all if you think I'm over romanticising, but seriously, where else in the world can you sit on a veranda eating breakfast, whilst watching wild gibbons and red leaf monkeys caper about in the trees right in front of you?! I simply cannot tell you how beautiful this place is. There's very limited access to this area of forest so you hardly ever bump into anyone else, unless you come across an earnest researcher or assistant, all kitted out in their bright green leech-proof socks. The only way that you can get there is by booking well in advance and arranging a van to come and pick you up from Lahad Datu. The drive is two and a half hours of extremely bumpy track, through a security check point and down into the valley.

These little vans are hilarious, as well as being pretty hot and uncomfortable. They are essentially small, rickety minibuses and the public ones will only leave for their destination once they have found enough passengers to completely fill it. This can mean waiting for hours at bus stations waiting for one more body to be squeezed in. The drivers all seem to be pretty lax about getting to their destinations too, quite often taking long detours to pick up their shopping or drop something off at a friend's house. Even this private van from Danum, containing three tiny women and two men, all with small children, as well as Jonas and myself with our giant bags, stopped a couple of times to pick up fried bananas from a roadside shack.

We arrived in complete darkness and so only had time to sign in and drop our bags off at our dorms before heading off to supper with only our torches to guide us and giving us only a very vague idea of our surroundings. That first evening we sat with a very charming Phd student from Kuala Lumpur. The lovely Benny is currently looking at the sizes of the pockets of forest that have been left by the palm oil plantations in Sabah. I didn't quite grasp exactly how it all tallies up, but basically he is planting clusters of saplings in designated areas. These areas are in the plantations themselves as well as in both primary and secondary sections of forest. He is painstakingly measuring each sapling and checking its progress as well as replanting those that get trampled by elephants (he seemed rather put out about the elephants!). The idea is to find out how large each pocket of forest has to be in order to sustain a working ecosystem. He has a friend who is also looking at how far apart they can be in order to allow species to migrate between them, allowing for a richer gene pool. Sorry, all that sounds a bit heavy, but the upshot is that Benny's research is going to be a part of a larger project which will be taken to the Malaysian government, providing real statistics for maintaining the rainforest and hopefully allowing some of the land to be reclaimed from the plantations. It was amazing to speak to someone who isn't simply bemoaning the future of the Bornean rainforest, but is actually doing something positive to improve its prospects.

Benny wasn't the only interesting companion that we met at dinner. We spent the next evening at the same table as Martin (I think that was his name, he never really introduced himself, and then it got to that awkward point when I could no longer ask him what it was), a fellow Brit and wildlife cameraman who now specialises in erecting platforms so that other photographers can take pictures in the canopy. He was in Danum trying to locate a fruiting fig tree for a photographer who was arriving on Thursday wanting to film- imagine having that as your job! I met the illusive photographer, Tim Flach on Friday morning at breakfast, just before I had to leave. Poor Martin was looking a little harassed. His job was not only to set up the platform for the uber arty Mr Flach, but to teach him how to climb. I've never met anyone who looked so out of place in the wilderness as this photographer- a tall, pale, spindly man with a drawling Etonian accent. Apparently all of his previous work has been studio based and then heavily edited with photoshop, I don't think that he has any idea what he's let himself in for. I wish I'd been able to speak to Martin on Friday evening to find out how the climbing lesson had gone and I would have paid good money to have been there to watch his attempts to scale the fig.

Martin also confirmed a story that Sudi had told me on the Kinabatangan. There is a plant in the rainforest, called the Strangler Fig. A bird or mammal deposits the seed of the fig into the canopy of another tree. The seed germinates right up in the branches and very slowly, it's roots creep down the host tree to the ground, becoming thicker and stronger all the time. Eventually the host tree dies, unable to get enough light and nutrients and crumbles to dust, leaving the hollow lattice column of the fig which provides shelter and sustenance for a huge range of mammals, birds and insects. Sudi told us that the Orang Sungai believe that these hollow trees also house forest spirits. People do their best not to cut these trees down, since they are absolutely no use as timber. If they do have to fell them, to make way for a road or plantation, they first have to kill a chicken and create a ring of blood around the base. I was dubious about this story, never quite knowing if these guys are making things up to fool the gullible tourists, but Martin told me that he once asked a local village if he could climb a strangler fig and they insisted on killing a chicken first and spraying the trunk with blood.

There is a fruiting fig tree at Danum Valley, which stands at the far end of a wooden-slatted suspension bridge. This bridge, spanning the river, acts as a gateway between the calm scattering of buildings that make up the research facility and the wild, untamed rainforest beyond, with the fig tree forming an archway into the forest beyond. Crossing the bridge, you are very aware that you are entering another world, one filled with clouded leopard, tarzirs, elephants and countless others, with their tiny, vampyric guardians to keep out unwary trespassers. One evening, at dusk, I walked across the bridge and sat on the walkway just beneath where the fig tree overhangs the bridge, watching the silhouettes of flying foxes and other, smaller bats whirl about catching insects. The afternoon's thunderstorm had moved to the north, with intermittend strobes of lightning still filling the sky with light. Night falls extremely quickly here, but though the sun was down, I could see the silhouettes of the owls flying about by the light of the full moon and when the lightning wasn't flashing, the fireflies showed off shamelessly. As I sat there beneath the branches, figs fell around me, hitting the planks with dull thumps that were just audible amid the sound of the cicadas, crickets and all the other weird, melodic noises of the jungle at night.

See, I told you you'd think I was over romanticising, but honestly, I fell in love with Danum Valley. I may not have seen as many animals as at the Kinabatangan (which was amazing too!), but here I was left to my own devices and able to spend all the time I wanted just walking around the forest, watching and listening . We did a couple of treks with the guides, where I fell foul of the leeches (one got on my belly, I have no idea how it got there, but I managed to catch it before it drew blood. They are rank), and these were well worth the money we spent, but it was good to be allowed to do my own thing too. On our last night, Jonas and I hooked up with a brilliant Australian couple, Breeze and Daniel (hi guys if you're reading this!) and went for a night drive. This meant hopping into the flat bed of an open backed landrover, with the spotters sitting on the driver's cab manning the floodlights. We saw a couple of palm civets, which I've wanted to see since I got here. They look a bit like pointy faced polecats. We also saw a sleeping eagle on a branch just above us and a beautiful, tiny brown wood owl who pierced us with his steely glare. Sadly no elephants though, despite all the evidence that they had been about. I need to steel Jonas' pics as my pesky camera can't cope with the zooming requirements, but will be uploading them as soon as I can.

So yes, Danum Valley more than lived up to expectations and I was very reluctant to leave. I think I'll leave reports of the next leg of my journey until next time, I'm writing this in an internet cafe in Kota Kinabalu and my time is nearly up. Hopefully I should get some time over the next couple of days to catch up, so stay tuned for the next thrilling installment. It features snorkling, snappers and sunburn!

Much love to you all and thanks for the messages, keep em coming! xxx

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A whole host of beasties

Hey there everyone, me again! I'm back from Sukau on the banks of the Kinabatangan, where I spent the last four days, and boy was I sad to leave. It was the most relaxed place I've been since coming to Borneo, getting up at 5am to go out on the boat and watch all the animals waking up, off again at 4pm to see them getting ready to go to bed, then out with the flash lights at 8.30 to spotlight for crocodiles and owls. The Kinabatangan is unbelievably rich in wildlife, mainly because of the vast tracts of palm oil plantations that run from K.K to Sandakan and beyond, trapping the animals in an ever diminishing area bordering the river. It does mean though that in the space of four days, I have seen the following animals:
  • Fish eagles
  • Storm Cranes
  • Kingfishers (there are 11 types of Kingfisher in Borneo, the one that appears most often in our boat rides has been the primary coloured Stork-billed Kingfisher- it looks as though it's been coloured in by a child with access to a very limited palette. It has a bright yellow face and body, blue wings and a vibrant red beak.)
  • Long tailed makaks (lots!)
  • Pig tailed makaks (evil)
  • Green Viper
  • Yellow and black snake- I can't for the life of me remember it's name, but it lives in trees and can kill a monkey!
  • Hornbills- lots and lots, Oriental pied, white crowned and rhinoceros to name but a few.
  • One very large saltwater crocodile, I'm guessing at around 7 foot- it was almost as long as our boat!
  • Lots of baby crocodiles
  • Water monitor lizard
  • Wild boar
  • Bornean gibbon (just hanging out in the trees next to our hostel!)
  • Lots and lots of proboscis monkeys.
  • Water buffalo,
  • Buffy Fish owl
  • Paradise viper
  • Black naped monarch
  • Fly catcher
  • Red breasted malkoha
  • Pygmy squirrel
  • Black squirrel
  • Long tailed parakeet
  • Ashey taylor bird
  • A beautiful slow loris- the first they've seen all year. He came out onto a branch on our last night and sat eating fruit for a full 10 minutes in full view of our boat.
  • 6 wild orangutan (incredible, there are no words!), three mothers with their babies.

Unfortunately my camera is pretty rubbish and doesn't quite have the zooming capacity to quite capture the majesty of the creatures that I have seen- if you want a slightly burred image of a distant slow loris though, I'm your gal!

The other benefit of staying at the Greenview lodge in Sakau was that we met some very interesting people, and Jonas and I didn't have to resort to killing each other- it can get quite stressful only speaking to one person for days on end and I'm pretty sure he feels the same. On our second day at the lodge, the driver Annie (a remarkable woman herself- a divorced muslim who managed to escape her violent husband by providing her mosque with evidence of 3 separate beating incidents. She now has a girlfriend, which is completely illegal in Borneo and she and her 5 children are all very happy with their new life.) brought 4 Australians with her. There were a pair of sisters, just back from a trip to Bolivia and a brilliant couple, Megan and Conrad who are both doctors of biology and so the perfect people to have with you when looking for beasts. They've given me a map of where to see tarzirs at Danum Valley, our next destination. I am going to miss them, they were fantastic company and Conrad can take full credit for the incredible slow loris sighting.

We left Sakau yesterday and reluctantly came to Lahad Datu. The less I say about this town the better- my mum will be reading this after all and I don't want to alarm her. We have to stay here because the people from Danum Valley will be picking us up from the local airport tomorrow, but it is definitely the worst place I've stayed in so far and I can't wait to be back in the jungle. I'm finding the muslim culture here in east Sabah very difficult, not because the people are unpleasant, far from it, but because as a woman I'm not consulted about anything. Even at the lodge everyone assumed that Jonas was my husband or boyfriend and so any decisions or questions were put to him, without any interest in my opinion. Generally I like to think of myself as being pretty independent and this lack of control is proving quite hard for me to deal with. Still, I just grit my teeth, sit back and let them get on with it.

Right, enough of this, I shall leave you all with a precautionary tale that our guide Jodi told us on one of our treks. Enjoy!

The very rude Italian

One of the guests at the Greenview lodge, on the banks of the Kinabatangan river, was causing trouble. He refused to speak to the other guests, preferring to sit by himself in a far corner and when it came to dinner time he barged the rest of the patrons out of his way in order to get to the buffet first.

By the time for the early morning trek came around, Jodi, the other guides and all of the guests were thoroughly sick of this rude Italian.

Now the pathway through the forest is extremely muddy and so the lodge provide wellington boots for all of the guests to wear before setting out. The rude Italian flatly refused the offer of these garments, choosing instead to stick to his wholly unsuitable (and very expensive) shoes.

The boat ride over to the start of the trail was a fairly long and uncomfortable one, with the rude Italian sitting at the very front, trying to get the best view. As they alighted on shore, Jodi tried to give them all a quick briefing on leeches, which are rife in that area of the forest. The rude Italian, instead of listening to Jodi's words of warning, strode off into the trees alone, his beautiful suit hanging loosely and his ankles bereft of protection

Five minutes later, the group heard a shout from behind a tree. A few seconds later, out of the undergrowth came the rude Italian, crying like a 3 year old and waving madly at his crotch. In the full view of the half dozen bemused trekkers, the Italian took off his trousers and crisp boxer shorts to reveal (in Jodi's exact words- you can imagine the hand movements) 'on his little leech, there were stuck two new leeches, with two more tucked in underneath'. The unwitting spectators just stared as the rude Italian leapt about, trying to get Jodi to remove his tormentors. Jodi of course, flatly refused.

"But how do I get them off?!" Wailed the rude Italian.

Jodi shrugged, " You could try mosquito spray" he suggested.

"Eugh no!" cried the rude Italian, haughtily "I can't stand the smell of that foul stuff. I wont allow it near my skin".

So Jodie just laughed and told the offensive man that he would have to wait for the leeches to finish feeding and that they would just drop off by themselves.

It took around a quarter of an hour, during which time the rude Italian attempted to hide his modesty behind a tree, whilst the mosquitos happily feasted away on his conscientiously unprotected bottom. The rest of the group meanwhile were having a fantastic time, watching the unfortunate fate of their unpleasant companion.

Now you may not know; the rude Italian certainly didn't, for he had failed to listen to a single word of Jodi's excellent briefing, but leeches secreat an anti-coagulant before they start to drain their victim's blood. So although his leeches had dropped, sated to the forest floor, the wounds that they had left upon his genitals now began to bleed profusely. He simply stood there, aghast. Jodi asked him to put his clothes back on so that they could continue their walk, but the man refused. The clothes that he had worn were far too expensive, he said, to be ruined by splattering (or soaking) them in blood.

So the rude Italian, still naked from the waist down (bar his beautiful shoes of course) sat back in the boat, still bleeding quite freely, for the full hour that it took to get back to the jetty. The other guests sat behind trying desperately not to laugh themselves silly at the stupid man's expense.

Good night everyone, much love to you all xxx

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The next thrilling installment- in which our hero finally encounters pongo pygmaeus and falls helplessly in love

Anyone want to buy a puppy? Or maybe a persian kitten? Only midly baked in the 40 degree heat of the full Malaysian sun. What's that? No, he's only sleeping, he's very happy really. We're not going to give them any water though, because then they'll only wee everywhere. How about a tortoise- we've got a bucket full, or a rabbit? No?

Such was the scene in which I found myself on Sunday morning in Kota Kinabalu. Anna had sadly left us for Kuching and Tristan had already planned ahead and gone on to KK straight from Mulu. Jonas had planned on going to the Kelabit Highlands, but couldn't get a ticket, so decided to join me for an evening flight to KK. Have you ever flown in a small, propeller plane through a tropical thunderstorm? It's quite, um... interesting- particularly when you have a rather annoying German humming the theme to Indiana Jones to himself in the seat next to you!

Kota Kinabalu is market crazy- in fact apparently it holds the largest Malaysian market in the world, and I can well believe that. In addition to the Sunday market that runs throughout the centre of town, there's a daily sprawl of stalls stretching down all along the sea wall. At around 2 o'clock when the boats come back with their haul, the stalls explode with everyone trying to get their own catch out first. I saw whole tuna being expertly butchered, a single fish taking up an entire stand with the head stood up, holding the tail in it's mouth. We ate red snapper, squid and weird looking seaweed straight from the sea, cooked with chilli oil on a flaming bbq and served with rice and mango. We ate with our fingers and boy did we enjoy it! Even Jonas' bottomless stomach was finally satisfied. One thing though, it was served on plates that had been sealed inside plastic bags, so that they can be reused without the bother of washing them! This is how things work here, plastic bags come with everything, even when you say you don't need one, fruit is handed over in individual ones (sometimes in two- and a polystyrene net case for pears!).

At least in KK there are level crossings so you can walk safely across the road- there were none at all in Miri, because in the towns, the people simply don't walk anywhere. They stare at me with my bright red face, sweating away in the sun as they sit in their air conditioned cars going from their air conditioned houses to their air conditioned malls. When the women do have to go outside, most of them sheild themselves from the sun with an umbrella. Mrs Lee was telling me that she has a friend who carries an umbrella even when she puts her washing out to dry. In KK we can see why. Here our hostel (the usual- geckos climbing the bathroom walls, cats in varying stages of arousal or pregnancy, dorm rooms with 3 sets of bunk beds, jammed so closely together in the boxlike room that only one person can stand up at a time...) has a television in the common room. This is the first TV I've seen for over a week and all of the ads are for skin whitening creams, featuring the palest humans I've ever seen, and trust me, I myself am practically see-through! The presenters too have a complexion of which any vampire would be proud- a stark and ridiculous contrast to their mahogannied, western counterparts.

All in all, I think I've had enough of cities for now, the filth and the noise (yes, Lady GaGa does get everywhere) not to mention the smell, is starting to get to me, so Jonas and I decide to take a bus and head off to Sandakan.

Now Sandakan itself is pretty non-descript, lots and lots of people; although tomorrow is the Malaysian new year, so the crowds may be due to that rather than the town's general popularity. The streets are filled with stall-like shops selling intriguing knock-offs. 'BlueBerry' anyone?! The reason that I wanted to come here though, is that it is a bus journey away from the Sepilock Orangutan sanctuary.

Why do people come to Borneo? It has some of the best diving in the world, one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, home to proboscis monkeys, Elephant and Rhino. And of course to the orangutan. I've dreamed of seeing these amazing creatures ever since I was a teeny tiny girl and they are the reason I am here in Malaysia. Jonas kept telling me that I was being stupid and that I might as well go and see them in a zoo as go to the feeding platform at Sepilok- but that's where he's wrong. These animals are all orphans, mainly from the palm plantations but occasionally their mothers have been killed for bushmeat and the babies kept as pets. They have been rescued and are brought to the sanctuary to begin their rehabilitation. This process takes around 8-10 years, with the older ones returning to the feeding platform as and when they please. The rehabilitation centre itself is not open to visitor, since any diseases that humans are carrying can be passed onto the vulnerable babies. But you can see them at the feeding platform, twice a day, vieing with the pesky makaks for the choice bananas. Seeing them so close, as relaxed as can be, you almost forget how bad things are looking for their species. I really really hope to see them in the wild, maybe on the Kinumatangan, or south in Bako.

The feeding frenzy over and the over-confident Makaks that lined the walkway successfully negotiated, I was waiting for Jonas in a large, secluded bandstand-like hut. In walks a young orangutan. Just like that, out of the blue. I was sitting on a step at the entrance and he came and sat next to me, before brushing past my shoulder and walking lazily up to the trees at the side.

I literally couldn't move. I have been fascinated by these animals for years, but having now looked one in it's soulful, intelligent eyes, I know that I am smitten, and always will be.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Hello London, this is Miri, come in London...

This is pretty impressive, is it not? - I'm about 7000 miles from home and can still annoy you all with my witterings. Though to be honest, I'm finding it a little difficult to decide what to tell you, there's just so much that I've seen and done already (plus there is a giant German ecologist talking on his phone in the background and it's very distracting- pipe down Jonas I'm trying to concentrate!)

It's been a whole week since I arrived in Sarawak, and I still haven't quite worked out how I ended up here. Borneo is a place that I have always wanted to visit and if the past week is any indication, I don't think I'm going to be disappointed. The original plan had been to go out with a group and do some voluntary conservation-style work for six weeks, before heading out on my own. Devastatingly though, about four days before I was due to leave that all fell through, and so I was left with the choice of either not going at all and losing all the money that I had put into the trip, or getting on the flight and finding my own way around. Of course I chose the latter and so set off with my backpack, a copy of the Lonely Planet (thank you Julia!!) and no small amount of trepidation.

I finally got to Miri after an epic twentyfourish hours of traveling (the bus journey from Miri airport took almost 5 hours in itself, what with having to wait for the drivers to turn up etc. Still, I managed to kill some time chatting to the incredulous locals, who simply couldn't believe that I had come here on my own. One lady told me that she lives in Kuching with her husband and six children, but her employer made her relocate to Miri earlier this year and so now she works here and only goes home to her family once a fortnight, traveling for ten hours by bus to get there.)

I had planned on staying at the hostel I'd booked in Miri for a couple of days, in order to acclimatise myself to this new world and work out what to do next. Of course this didn't happen. There was another girl staying in the dorm with me and she'd been looking for someone to go to Mulu with her. In my exhausted and overheated state I agreed to accompany her and before I knew it, she and Mrs Lee (the owner of the hostel) had booked me on a flight at 8.30 the next morning and Anna and I were heading off to buy provisions from the local supermarket.

I am so lucky to have bumped into Anna so early on in my trip. She is a communications officer in the Australian army and so knows quite a lot about living out of a rucksack in the wilderness. She can also speak Malay, which is pretty useful since, although almost everyone here speaks English fluently, in some of the more remote places communication can be a bit hit and miss. I feel like such a rookie by comparison, but Anna was incredibly patient with my incompetent bumbling and gave me the perfect introduction to life in Malaysia. Well, I say perfect, more like throwing myself straight in at the deep end with no idea how to swim.

Whilst waiting at the airport for our flight to Mulu, Anna and I met two guys going the same way. Belgium-born Tristan and the large German, Jonas. Together the four of us made our way from dorm to campsite to longhouse, traveling by plane, boat and very dodgy van from Mulu to Limbang, meeting all sorts of interesting people along the way.

Of all the things that I've seen so far, the bats at Deer Cave in Mulu National Park was probably the most spectacular. David Attenborough mentions this daily exodus of 3 million winged beasts in his Planet Earth series and I cannot tell you how incredible it was to witness in real life. The main cavern itself is unbelievably huge. The picture above doesn't really show the scale very well, but I'm using this one because (as well as being pretty pleased with it) it clearly shows the dark patches on the roof that look a bit like moss, but which are actually thousands upon thousands of bats.

I far prefer wandering through the jungle to spending time in the city, at the moment at least. Although after five days of continuous walking and sweating we were all getting pretty ripe and the luxury of a warm shower and a washing machine cannot be dismissed. It's strange here, they add sugar to pretty much everything. Apparently diabetes is becoming a serious problem, not altogether unsurprising when they add condensed milk to tea and then add extra sugar. Bleugh! I think I've finally worked out how to order black tea without sugar, but it's been a lot of trial and error. There's also an odd, slightly unpleasant smell that seems to permeate everything, at first I thought it was my hiking trousers (they were pretty grim by the end) but now that they're clean, the smell is still there, so I think it must be the city rather than me!

There is another shadow that falls upon everything here and of which you are constantly aware- the palm oil plantations. As we flew to Mulu I got my first sighting of this devastating industry. In the middle of stunning forest there were swathes of perfectly straight grid lines cut harshly into the land, rows and rows and rows, extending off as far as the eye could see. Whilst we were staying at 'Camp 5'; a campsite set beside a river, between two mountains in the Mulu National Park, we spoke to the Ranger Ishmael about the plantations. Ishmael is Penan, a peaceful, nomadic tribe who've lived in the forest for thousands of years, and he told us that the government of Sarawak have been forcibly buying up land and relocating people in order to make way for the palm oil. Ishmael went to court to try and stop his people's land being taken, but he is unable to read or write. The English he has, he learned from guiding tourists and he simply doesn't know what the law is or how it works. He said that his lawyer told them not to say anything, so they obeyed and lost the case.
He believes that the forest doesn't just belong to his people, or even to Malaysia, but to the whole world and he knows that he is powerless to save it. The look of despair in his usually cheerful face was beyond upsetting as he asked us for guidance. Ishmael needs someone to tell him what to do because at the moment, the prediction is that in less than twenty years all of the rain forest in Sarawak will have gone forever.

I don't want to end this first post on such a sombre note, but this is one of the major reasons that I decided to come here, to find out about the plantations and how the local people feel about it. It seems that those living in the cities never leave them, I spoke to a lady today who has never been to Brunei or to Mulu, but lived in Miri all her life. She once went to Kota Kinabalu, but that's as far as she's been. The contrast between those living in the forest and the city dwellers couldn't be more stark.

Anywho, it's getting late and I have rambled for far too long. Tomorrow evening Jonas and I head off to Kota Kinabalu (or KK as it's known- see I'm getting the hang of this traveling lingo!) in Sabah, where hopefully I should be able to see some exciting beasts!

Will write again when I can, over and out xxx

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Once more into the mix dear friends, once more

How is it November already? October seems to have flashed by in a blur, along with the mixtape deadline. In the last fortnight I've left my job, moved house and said an awful lot of goodbyes. This hasn't left me with much time for mixtape making so poor Piers has had to wait an age for this beaut.

As you can probably tell from this month's theme (and also from my going on and on and on about it) I'm disappearing off for a little while. My flight leaves for Miri on Friday and so for the next couple of months I'm going to be bumming around Borneo and trying to avoid being eaten by snakes.

This blog may start to look a bit different over the next couple of weeks, I'm planning on keeping it up to date with my adventures and I'll be taking my sketchbook of course, so I'll be boring you all silly with sob stories about leeches and mosquitos. I'm going to be all on my own, so please feel free to leave motivational/abusive comments on here, I'll pick them up and reply when I can. I've never done anything like this before so am freaking out quite a lot just now. See you in Malaysia! xxx