Borneo Jungle Gap Year

I awake in the Flying Camp. What is the Fly camp I hear you ask? Well, dear read, the Fly Camp is hessin sack suspended two branches above the ground; keeping one safe from the wet soggy ground below and all that lurks there- our only protection from Borneo’s vicious rains and howling winds.

Batsiri, masterchef, prepared a delicious hearty breakfast of rice, noodles and eggs. After we had our fill of limitless rice, we put on our soggy socks and marches on towards our project work – a garage 4m deep by 5m wide – large enough for a singular vehicle. But let us not forget about the pantry, dear reader, for the pantry was a formidable opponent; a task worthy of only the brightest and most daring as it was guarded by swarms of bees attracted to human sweat. David was pushed to the point of madness and wielding his mighty saw he attempted to slay the bees. After several hours of valiantly fighting, the horde overtook him and he was forced to resign from his pantry building obligations.

Meanwhile at the garage, our hard work was being hindered by a ginger friend, Hanung. He was curious of our work and attracted to our ginger companions. Throughout the week, he became bolder; breaking this somewhat loveable rouge tools and crushing tin water bottles that were left defenceless and unattended.

13100953_10154778123543976_1428053755520311368_nAs the week drew to an end, Barney, one of our fearless leaders, bravely retreated back to Balikpapan to escort a volunteer safely to the airport. Meanwhile, back at camp, an abandoned Elliot was bombarded by stupidity. He was verbally attacked with questions of foot rot and other jungle nasties.

After the project work was almost finished, we went on a three day trek deep into the heart of the jungle. The first day lulled us into a false sense of security being mostly flat and easy. Camp was set up and firewood collected and we all sat down for our first meal. Pea juice was drunk and canned corned beef was enjoyed. Around the fire, we all sat while murderous game of mafia broke out and then the whole trekking jungle village when to sleep.

When the clock struck 6am, Ross woke everyone with his lovely rendition of “oh, what a beautiful morning”. The camp awoke with groans and the day began! Now, let me tell you, dear reader, there is no better way to start a morning that with soggy socks and swampy boots. Breakfast was had and camp was cleaned and packed. Day 2 of trekking began. We started the first hour or so walking up river, carefully avoiding the water for everyone’s poor feet had been infected with foot rot (Lisa magically managing to completely avoid the rot). Trek took a turn – vertical and treacherous. Multiple times I saw my life flash before my eyes as my foot slipped; only to be saved by the superhero named Ross. It was quite an adrenaline rush. Many steep mountains and slippery slopes and many long hours later, we finally found camp. As soon as we arrived, it began to rain, nay, pour down so we quickly scurried for dry firewood. Once a fire was started, groups took turns – some went to wash while other cared for the fire.

That night, a thunder crash followed by a shriek woke us all up. Amy still in her hammock but flat backed on the ground. She had tied one side of her hammock to a very obviously dead tree. After a quick and successful head count, our relieved leader, Elliot, discovered no one was injured. Amy found a new tree to tie her hammock to and we all fell comfortably asleep, knowing we had all checked out trees were alive.

P1000840Day 3, the jungle struck back! Due to the gaping hole in Giles’ pants, a leech lodges itself on his upper inner thigh; Giles not wanting to touch his new little friend definitely had his panties in a bunch. Fearless Ross pulled the enormous creature off of poor Giles. After 3 long days of Ross and Elliot putting their asses on the line for the good of the team, their asses festered. The foot rot had spread and manifestered on their ass (#junglelivin’). Walking was painful and now so was sitting. Luckily it was only 4 more hours back to south camp. Once we arrived, everyone dashed to clean themselves and their clothing and eagerly awaited Barney’s arrival.

When Barney arrived that very night, he explained his own adventures from tasting fine treats and meant again to his troubled bowel movements. And with him he brought Christmas, bringing everyone sweet treats, cigarettes and soup.

After two lazy days of resting out rotten feet, everyone was ready to pack up and move onto the next phase of our adventure. We used the days to sleep, read and swim. All was well. Our last morning in camp was spent waking up at 5am and taking pictures. We crossed the river and waited for our transport. There were 8 vehicles that arrived with five incredibly important passengers were off loaded. These were 5 orang-utans that were to be released later that day. As scheduled, the Dyak tribe proceeded to dance for the lucky primates.

About the Author

Lauren Nethercot