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Saturday, 01 September 2007

The Wild Island of Borneo - Page 7

Written by Sherry Ott
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Borneo…maybe you’ve heard of it - but do you even know where it is? I’m sure that if I gave you a globe you’d all have trouble putting your finger on it. What if I told you that it is the world’s third largest island…and it contains three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. At one time it was a wild place inhabited by headhunters, but it’s now a lush island in the Pacific near New Guinea and the Philippines. My curiosity with Borneo started about seven years ago when I was living in San Francisco. I was up late one night watching television. I came across the show “Eco-Challenge.” It was an adventure race that was shown on cable (before the craze of reality TV).


After such a physical two days, we decided that our last bit of Borneo adventure should include beach time. We went to a secluded beach off the coast of Borneo called Pulau Tiga. This wasn’t just any island, this was the island that they filmed the first ever “Survivor”! I was excited to see it and get a feel for what they experienced - climate and landscape. However, it was also a chance to work on my tan and catch up on reading.


Once again, we were in for a long commute. We took a 2-hour car ride, and then a boat to the island - I found myself daydreaming about the first Survivor cast, wondering if they knew how much they would change television viewing for the next 6 years. When we arrived at the dock, a young boy came to greet the boat. We threw our bags onto the dock. The boy picked up Russ’s backpack and offered to take it - that left me lugging a big suitcase and a backpack. I was more than a little peeved that the boy didn’t even offer to take the suitcase, but that’s fine. I’m a strong, independent woman and I managed to let it slide. He took us to the lodge and gave us our complimentary welcome drink and explained the layout of the island.


The island resort (if you can call it that) was small, no frills, and rather empty. We had the whole beach to ourselves. I asked him where the show ‘Survivor” had been filmed (after all - they used the “Survivor” reference in their marketing material), and he looked at me blankly - he said that he didn’t know. I also asked the woman at the front desk - and she also had no idea. Russ and I looked at each other in confusion thinking the same thing - how can you market yourself as the first “Survivor” Island and then not know anything about it?


We had heard from other tourists that the island contained a mud volcano - a crude spa of sorts. However, there was a catch to it, you had to walk 1 km to get to the volcano in the middle of the island, and there was no running water around the volcano - just a little jungle trail that led back out to the ocean where you could wash off. We decided that we would go check it out; we found it on the map and took off. We had planned on only one of us going in at a time, as the other one would have to carry our personal belongings or else everything would be covered in mud.


When we got to the volcano there was a small structure there, we looked at it and found that it was the makings of a nice set of outdoor showers to wash off at. However, there was no water, just a little facet on the side of the building. It was halfway done, and no one seemed to be in any hurry to complete it.


volcanoWe put all of our stuff on the ground near the volcano and Russ took the plunge. It was about 5 ft. deep - but the thick mud was buoyant so you would float and couldn’t touch the bottom. I was shooting pictures like the paparazzi and then Russ all of a sudden surprised me…without warning he went under…completely under the muddy sludge as if it were a swimming pool. I don’t think he thought this through too well as when he came back up - he had no way to wipe his eyes or get it out of his mouth or ears as his hands were covered in mud! He eventually cleared his eyes and could see again - but he was picking mud out of every crevice for the rest of the day. After playing in the bubbling mud he had to make the long walk back to the ocean. walkWhen you are covered in mud - everything sticks to you, leaves, twigs, ants, flies…it’s not pretty. He blended into the trail camouflaged with leaves. He washed off in the ocean, but continued to find mud in his ears 7 hrs later!


(Page 7 of 8)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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