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Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Problem with Leeches, Malaysia - Page 2

Written by Charlotte Halligan
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Charlotte Halligan gets to grips with the blood-sucking fiends in the world's oldest rainforest.

I have learned something new: leeches move like ‘Slinkys.’ And when they sense you approaching they stand to attention and wave backwards and forwards like a finger beckoning you toward them.


There were one or two things that we failed to take into account before setting off.


The previous night we witnessed a tremendous storm. The lightening struck every few seconds and seemed like a light show that was held just for us. The thunder was so loud that it ricocheted inside my head, and the rain came down in an unrelenting blanket of water. We were so relieved when the rain stopped in the morning, that we forgot the detrimental effect that such a downpour might have on the jungle trails.


Despite the rain, the heat under the jungle canopy was oppressively hot: over 30 degrees Celsius with 90% humidity. 14km over two days might not sound like much, but over difficult, steep, and muddy terrain with every pore of your body sweating profusely, the task seemed Herculean.


The added difficulty of an overnight trek is the need to carry provisions. Six liters of drinking water, two sleeping bags, enough food for two people and a gas stove to cook on. As we started the journey, the bag felt light compared to our usual backpack loads. But as the trek continued, the light feathery feeling turned to lead weights, dragging us down making each step feel more and more impossible.[Okay, okay, I confess: I did not bear any of the burden - my boyfriend played the valiant man role well and carried the lot.)

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Pit Viper

The relative meanings of the term 'basic'


When we finally arrived at the Yong hide, after what had felt like an eternity, we were exhausted, smelly, hungry and very grumpy. The state of our night's accommodation did nothing to alleviate our mood.


We had expected it to be basic. We were prepared for basic. Basic would have been a luxury compared to what we found.


It wasn't simply the very large, very dead, spider I found on my 'bed': it wasn't just a toilet bowl filled with human excrement and no running water to wash it away: nor was it the fact that we had to string our food up from the roof to ensure that it wasn't eaten by the rats and cockroaches. Any one of these things alone might (and I stress *might*) have been tolerable. But combined they made for a rather sleepless and uncomfortable night.


It only occurred to me once we had arrived that seeing a wild tiger stalking around your campsite in the middle of the jungle might not be as wonderful an experience as I had anticipated. In this we were at least lucky, but a little disappointed - we saw nothing except some fireflies and monstrous mosquitoes.


(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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