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.

Cassowary Spotting, Park Run and Farewell Australia

08/04

Before Australia, I’d never heard of a cassowary. They’re a very rare bird, almost extinct, and the few left will be found in the Daintree rainforest. They’re quite something – jet black, 6ft tall with bright blue heads. It would be quite cool to see one, right? But according to the bus driver, “we’ve got about the same chance of winning the lottery as we do seeing a cassowary.”

Me and the girls had been keeping our eyes out the whole time we were at Cape Tribulation, but no luck. Then, on 8th April, 2016, the bus driver was blabbing on about something or other, and then mid sentence he stops, swerves the bus and shouts: “OH MY GOD IT’S A CASSOWARY!!!!”

We all leap to the left side of the bus, noses pressed up against the glass. There he is. He’s huge. I tried to take a photo but the picture quality is rubbish. Grace (Vet and true animal/nature lover) sheds a few tears. The bus driver says, “wow, this is a pretty special moment for you all.”

***

09/04

Back safe and sound in Cairns. Head to toe with mosquito bites but I survived the rainforest!

I got up at 6am to go for a run before it got hideously hot. About 4K in I came across the Cairns Park Run start line. Why not! I thought to myself. You’ll never believe it but I ended up coming first female and third overall! What a lovely start to the day. When one little boy finished he burst into tears. “It’s so hot!” He wailed. Bless him. I did a very slow jog back to the hostel and couldn’t wait to tell my Dad.

***

The rest of the day has been very stressful – trying to change flights, book accommodation but feeling like I’m getting nowhere with it! Annoyingly, when I want to change a flight, I may not hear back from them for up to 48 hours… To make my anxiety a tad worse, Santander Online banking is down. This is not ideal. I need to sort out my money before heading to Bali tomorrow.

10/04

The stress carried on into the morning of the 10th but by lunch time, I think I had sorted as much as I can. The thing about travelling is those at home merely see beautiful photographs – mountains, breath taking beaches, palm trees… They don’t see the organisation and stress behind it. They don’t see the mosquito bites, greasy hair and pot noodles. However, the stinkyness and simpler things are all part of it. You’ve got to embrace the shitty times too. It’s all part of the experience.

I’m excited for Bali. I’m scared for Bali. I’m not too sure what to expect from Bali. But I know I’m uber excited to have a bit of a yoga retreat when I reach Ubud!

I can’t believe Australia has come to an end. It has been better than I thought it would be. Although I preferred New Zealand as a country, Australia has given me life-long, heart-stopping moments that I will treasure forever. I was worried that the East Coast was just going to be a load of 18year old lads getting smashed every night. Politely dodging that particular species, I’ve made tonnes of friends, I’ve worked on a stud farm, seen the sites of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, seen kangaroos, fed wallabies, embraced the paradise that is Fraser Island and Magnetic island, seen Nemo in the Great Barrier Reef and stayed overnight in the oldest rainforest in the world. Thank you, Australia.

Where the Reef meets the Rainforest

05/04

The full on travelling today has been exhausting. My body hurts, my head hurts and my eyes can’t stay awake. Arrived in Cairns about 8pm and lugged my life possessions with me. I’m staying at Gilligans (a party hostel where EVERYONE stays). I’m expecting to see lots of familiar faces here, bumping into many friends I’ve met up the East Coast. Most goodbyes have ended with, “see you at Gilligans!”

The room was loud and messy. My bed hadn’t been made. I was too tired to care. In a flash anti social Liv was knocked out, fast asleep. (Literally crashed with people pre-drinking around me, music on full blast). I didn’t even wake up to any of the drunken antics. It’s amazing how much of a light sleeper I was back at home. Two and a half months of travelling, you realise if you’re that tired, you can sleep anywhere. And I needed my sleep, as tomorrow was an early start and a big day…

06/04

Great Barrier Reef day!!! Woke up at 6am and headed down to the marina after a speedy brekki.

My day was spent with a truly amazing girl – Katie from Washington DC. It definitely felt like we had been good friends for longer than a day trip! Many laughs and selfies wearing our stinger suits with the hoods up, rocking the tadpole look.

What a day trip it was. Even though an irrational fear of open, unknown water and sharks has developed these past few years, I was surprisingly confident.

The Great Barrier Reef is such an iconic place – one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and it did not disappoint. Ok, I didn’t see any turtles. But the marine life I saw was phenomenal. I’m in fairly shallow waters, in the middle of the ocean. Rainbow fish the size of me, fluorescent coral and, oh hey there Nemo! Hey jellyfish!

Content Liv and Katie cruised on the top deck on the way back to Cairns. Good lord it was windy. So windy, Katie got blown over. It was hilarious because she made out from the fall that she was just super excited to lay down and sunbathe.

I got back to Gilligans about 5pm, dying to have a shower (so salty and dreadlocked hair). Entered my room. Lights were off. Two people were having sex. Fabulous. I left them to it and went for a run (still salty and in my bikini which was not ideal but c’est la vie).

Tonight at Gilligans it’s a girls wrestling night with jelly. Sounds hilarious.

07/04

Another 6am wake up. It’s time to venture Cape Tribulation in the Daintree (oldest rainforest on the planet). The bus driver was high on weed. He was nuts and made a few mistakes picking people up which was annoying. However, he may be the happiest, most passionate person about nature that I have ever met.

Before arriving at Cape Trib, we stopped off at Mossman Gorge. Here we had a tribal smoke ceremony, to welcome us and protect us in the sacred lands. We painted ourselves with natural, tribal paints and learnt about leaves with natural healing qualities.

Stripped off to have a dip in the creek and it was so refreshing! Mossman Gorge has the second purest water in the world and it is ok for swimming because it is clear, cold and flowing. Water must be all of these things otherwise there will probably be crocodiles. Speaking of crocs, we saw some baby ones on the boat cruise!

I can’t believe I’m in such a spectacular rainforest. There is SO much wildlife and nature. Dangerous nature at that! People die here. So many snakes, so many spiders, crocodiles, bull sharks…

I am staying here over night (how cool!?) It is wild and unique. Nowhere else on earth do two World Heritage sites meet together with such breathtaking beauty. You’ve got the Great Barrier Reef, separated from the 110 million year old Daintree rainforest by a stretch of pristine sandy beach. It is isolated and quiet. It feels ancient and surreal. It is both beautiful and scary.

08/04

I woke up at 5.30am with my new friend Grace to do yoga, watching the sunrise. Our feet are on sand. Two metres behind us is the world’s oldest rainforest and right in front of us is the sun coming up over the Great Barrier Reef. It’s raining so the clouds are dramatic. The rain is warm. Is this real life? I keep asking myself.

Yes, it is.