Stuck in the rainforest?

Important note: 1 hour after writing this, we were informed that our upcoming plans and adventures for the rest of the trip have been cancelled. We have now been instructed to get the next flight home… If we can…

2 hours ago, I wrote this…
Today is Monday. Actually, I just checked my phone and it is Tuesday. The last time I put pen to paper was Friday evening and so it seems about time that I shared with you, our latest story. As I write this, I am stomach face down on a little beach cove on the edge of a rainforest in Borneo. Every few words I’m plucking ants from my arm hairs and counting the 11 mosquito bites on my legs received by one angry blighter in the space of less than 10 minutes.

We are staying in a treehouse here for 2 nights and we feel like the only humans on earth. It is deserted here. I dread to think how the situation regarding the coronavirus is evolving back at home (and the rest of the world at that matter). We caught a glimpse of the UK news yesterday morning when in the city of Kuching and things were not looking good… ‘The beginnings of lock down…’

In our travelling bubble, the last few days have been jam-packed with adventures and touristy goodness. I don’t want to bore you with a ‘we did this, we did that’ type of account. But feel free to feast your beautiful self isolating eyes on some pics, showing our journey from Heathrow – Kuala Lumpur – Kuching – where my sandy little arse is sat now, on a deserted beach in Borneo.

 *apologies, will have to insert photos when at home. Jungle WiFi not strong enough!!

Of course, there have also been moments when I’m not with a camera… Either because I’m pre-occupied wiping sweat from my upper lip, I’m too busy reading out loud all the signage because mum’s not wearing her reading glasses, or, wait for it, I’m too transfixed on seeing an Orangutan IN THE WILD, in a trance, watching him as my heart dances with excitement. This morning Mum and I went on our own hike into the jungle trails and, when stopping to sip some water, some branch movement caught my eye. We both immediately froze like statues. There he was…using the weight of his glowing orange body to swing from tree to tree. He stopped on a branch high above our heads…looking at us… I wish I had got him on video…

I also wish (going back to Kuala Lumpur now) that I had videoed Mum asking where the Petronas towers were, when we were literally so close…at the very bottom of them. “Erm. They are right here, Miss.” The local man pointed upwards.

I took lots of photos at the Batu Caves and I’m so glad I did because we had an epic time gauping at rainbow coloured temples and climbing a steep set of colourful stairs to reach the temple at the top inside the caves. Monkeys pranced at our feet and we had the joy of seeing a mum and baby who hilariously was using the baby’s tail as a makeshift child leash when he tried to scramble off to do his own thing.

On our way back to the centre, we found ourselves in the ‘Ladies only’ coach on the train. No worries, we thought. We are in fact, Ladies. We do Lady things. (remember when Little Britain was a thing!?) Anyway, there we were, hanging out as Ladies do in the Lady coach, when a group of ten or so men waltz in. Some of the local ladies looked horrified. The men sat down confidently and didn’t see the sign. I hear they are speaking Spanish.

“Shall I milk this whole power thing and tell them to shift? I know it’s not exactly equality, but there is a sign… Values are different here…”

“Do it, kiddo!” encouraged Mum.

Let’s keep in mind I haven’t done Spanish since school so it’s a little rusty.

“Hi. Hola. Hello. Sorry. This is a Ladies only coach.”

They look at me with confusion as if I have just recited Shakespeare in Arabic.

“Aqui” I point to one coach door.
“A aqui” I point to the other coach door.
“Para los Mujeres…. No hombres…” I then point to the pink sign with a cross through a man.
Very roughly translated to ‘Here. To here. For the women… No men…’
They look at each other and laugh and say sorry and I laugh too. They slowly amble out and a lady, wearing a head scarf and a face mask with her young daughter sat on her lap, smiles at me with her eyes.

I have just re read that paragraph and seeing the phrase ‘epic time’ does brew a concoction of emotions. We are so lucky, so blessed to be experiencing such an amazing trip together, however…Things are changing by the hour so what’s to come is unknown and the unknown is unnerving. But as I sit here, listening to the sound of tropical bug virbrairons and the South China Sea waves, I compile a list of positve things to be grateful for.

1. Where we are is magical and we are very lucky to be here.
2. We saw a freakin’ orangutan in the wild this morning.
3. The Nasi Gorneg we had for our lunch was bangin’
4. We have each other.
5. We have managed to avoid getting the shits (hope I haven’t spoken too soon)
6. I only have 11 mosquito bites on my legs. 111 would be worse.

A few seconds too long at London Heathrow Airport

I tried my best not to breathe. Don’t gasp for air. Don’t move. Don’t do it. This too shall pass. This too shall pass, I tell myself.

My eyes bulged as I held my breath, glaring at the innocent strangers surrounding me. Don’t do it, Liv. Keep it together. Don’t do it.

Uh oh. Game over. I gasped.

There I was, only 1 hour in to the Malaysian Airline 787 flight to Kuala Lumpur, spluterring like a fool.

A chunk of cantaloupe melon which I was merrily eating from my airplane food tray had gone down the wrong way and the coughing and spluterring was uncontrollable. Fellow travellers curled away into their seats in sheer disgust. What a selfish girl, exposing us all to the coronavirus on a 12 hour flight. Shame on you, girl. Shame on you.

“Wrong! Way! Huhhhh – choking! Mel-on… Wrong… Hole.” I did my best to articulate.

I said before going on this trip, that I wasn’t put off by the hysteria that the media has created surrounding the virus… But in all honesty, it is a little unverving. Especially seeming to be the only two humans travelling and not wearing a face mask.

The 4 and a half hour coach journey to Heathrow, for example. Some woman, a couple of rows back (and another rare non-face-masker), was coughing up her lungs every couple of minutes. Not a smokers cough, not a mucusy cough, but a harsh, stubborn, dry cough – just like the NHS guidelines states.

‘We’re doomed.’ Being in the same claggy air as Mrs Splutter Guts for such a time, we were bound to catch something. And oh, what’s that? Yup. My throat is sore.

In a 20 minute stop at a service station, my proactive self purchased a pack of Halls Extra Strong (menthol action). Extra strong – ya not wrong. If you want your eyes to stream and your nose hairs to feel like they are being ripped out, give ’em a go.

Due to the virus, the airport was much quieter than usual. What was the usual though, was beeping as I went through security (gets me every time). This time, however was certainly the most thorough search I have had to date… Now I’m not sure there is a pretty way to describe it… Nope, there’s not. So here goes –

The swift all body rub by the stern gum-chewing female security offiicer had a very memorable moment – that moment being a very firm pressing on my pubic bone. Was it an accident? Did her hand slip? The question is, why was she there a couple of seconds too long? Perhaps, like in any job, she had a moment of daydreaming, wondering what she was going to make for her dinner that night and what might be on the telly. And then she thought, oops. I’ve been touching this lady’s private parts for too long. My bad.

I let out an involuntary giggle and my cheeks flushed a deep shade of red with the embarrassment that the crowds of people surrounding us knew exactly where she had just rubbed… I immediately told Mum and I’m glad she found my trauma amusing.

 

Another Year, Another Mother-Daughter Adventure

‘Health is your wealth’ they say.
‘Look after yourself, love’ they tell me.
‘Take it easy, Liv’ they softly whisper as they leave the room. By ‘they’ I mean family / friends / colleagues / volunteers that I work alongside / my favourite lady at the till at Tescos / or Graham – the man who I have deep life chats with every Wednesday morning at 8am in the leisure centre sauna.

‘This is serious’ she said.
‘This is critical’ she told me.
‘You are not going travelling. Going to India right now is nothing but total self destruction. What would your family say if you don’t make it home? I don’t call patients up at 9.30pm at night unless it’s really serious.’
That was my Gastroenterologist Consultant in December informing me that I was too weak and too poorly to travel. Heartbroken is an understatement. I had quit my job (which I love) for this trip, so the stakes were pretty high.

Days have been slower than slow, but, now March, hip-hip-hooray, huge improvements have been made. I still have a long way to go but each day I have been getting stronger and my bloods and biochemistry are now ‘stable.’ So my solo trip to India has been postponed, but the annual Mother-daughter adventure is fast approaching. Lo and behold – Borneo.

By being very strict with the savings pot and loosely having a ‘no online shopping / only get the necessities’ way of life, our next big trip is upon us. I will soon be able to live out one of my many life-long dreams – to see an Orangutan in the wild. Oh what a fascinating, breath-taking adventure it will be. As with most of our trips – there will be joy, beauty, a large dilemma, a possible panic attack and many unwelcome mosquito bites.

I anticipate cheeky brown-eyed monkeys, crocodiles lurking, dolphins in turquoise waters…
We’ll be slurping traditional laska (a spicy coconut soup) from the bustling food markets…
Marveling at shades of green in the rainforest that we have never cast our eyes on before…
Learning from the locals…
Having warm, relaxed bones from the hot sun and sticky freckly skin.
Hearing sounds of – what’s that? It’s Mum getting cross with me that I lied about March’s average temperature and humidity levels so she would agree to come with me.
I’ll be having a hand sanitizer pelted towards me several times a day from said cross-over-heated lady.
Forget having a massage at the hotel spa… I’ll be rubbing Mum’s back at the airport to try and calm her down about her coronavirus anxieties…
…Potentially getting quarantined. Swapping my chopsticks for a face mask…
… even if we escape the coronavirus hysteria, let’s be honest, at least one of us will get the shits.
I can’t wait.