The bit when I rode elephants
Well just one. But I was real professional like. Once I finally clambered up on to her. You see, elephants are very big, so it’s tricky.
I learned how to make her go forwards and backwards and pick me up with her trunk and reach for bananas from my paw and turn around and eat her medicine and take a bath. It was good.
The bit when I threw up in a jungle
Knowing that we’d walked six hours up a mountain as our songthaew (big red truck-taxi) couldn’t safely navigate the dirt track any further, I shouldn’t have been so surprised that evacuating when rendered useless, proved so difficult…
Trekking day one of two was lots of fun; we shuffled across tree trunks that bridged white rapids (think Jonny and Baby without the impressive centre of gravity), ate spicy rice from banana leaf parcels, made sun hats from the packaging and as the sun was disappearing, made it to the family home of Mr Sei (our jungle expat guide), which consisted of a tiny wooden hut perched next to a giant waterfall. Bad living space, awesome shower room.
As we’re about ready to collapse, Mr Sei pulls out a catapult, hops behind a tree like Pink Panther on the prowl and motions at us to hush. Not used to such guerilla tactics, I trample on a branch, which snaps noisily. A winged squirrel shoots out from its hidey-hole and takes to the sky. A millisecond behind, Mr Sei fires a pebble at the flying target. It thumps to the floor. ‘Ahaa, the fat daddy. Dinner!’
Accompanying mother and babies turn out to be camped in a hollow tree. We block the opening with twigs, light a fire and smoke them out until they drop to the floor unconscious – a whole sorry rodent massacre.
Either it’s the taste of carnivorous guilt or squirrel curry is very bitter.
‘Unlucky today, no spiders for making soup,’ mourns Mr Sei.
I enquire as to how that might taste. ‘Like grasshopper soup but more delicious.’
Whether it’s the squirrel, the altitude or just a feeble resistance to sporting endeavors, in the early morning my stomach launches an assault on the Sei family garden. Various cures are saught: some kind of ginger and salt syrup, mint tea, raw chilli. When these don’t work, Mr Sei reverts to the old fail safe; knocking the evil spirit out of my back with a big wooden hammer. A friend emerges from the cabin cradling a baby squirrel she saved from the pot – shaking, yelping, no doubt missing its mum. Our whines are pathetically similar…
An hour’s ride down a mountain on the back of a Playmobile moped and I’m deposited into a dirt truck. Another hour and I’m back in the land of Nurofen and Dioralyte. Fourty-eight hours of jungle adventure was coming to a stunningly unceremonious end. Still, the first 24 had been pretty special. Clearly a natural born trekker. Bring on Mount Kinabalu…