Sold Down The River – Part 2
Bako, Malaysian Borneo – I have always thought of salt water as a cleansing remedy for all that ails you. When my children, niece and nephew were in Ocean City, MD, I always told them to go in the water when they had a health problem.
Poison ivy? Take sand and open up those blisters and allow the salt water to clean them out. Sore throat? Gargle with it while jumping the waves. Sinus problems? Put the water in your mouth and suck out those glands by forming a vacuum with your mouth.
They are now fine men and women in their 20s who often tease me about my remedies. Broken leg? Hobble in and that will cure you. Head missing? The ocean will restore it, even better than the one you had.
I still maintain sea water as a cure. I had a nasty cut on my scalp and knew a dip in the South China Sea would help it heal. We saw pictures of a beautiful beach at Bako National Forest and naturally assumed a swimming weekend. My wife Suriani packed bathing suits and a yellow rubber ducky for son Dzul. Truth be told, I have more fun with the toy than he does.
Unfortunately, the beach turned out to be one huge mud flat, deep, ankle sinking, grey sticky goo. And we weren’t the only ones who thought that way. We met a young French couple dressed in swim suits which left nothing to the imagination and informed them. I thought I had seen small bathing gear before, but a wash cloth had more material than all three of their pieces combined.
As always, we did find ways to amuse ourselves. We traveled down a walkway and were confronted by a dominant male, long-tailed macaque monkey. He sat blocking our passage looking defiant.
Instead of back pedaling, I had a stare down with the simian. I figured I had taught many 13-year-olds in the classroom and there wasn’t much difference between one of them and this fellow. He did give way after about 30 seconds. Dzul enjoyed the episode thoroughly and, in my mind’s eye, I thought he was proud of his father and his battle with the macaque.
Semi-wild bearded boars of all sizes trotted around and were fun to watch. At the canteen, Suriani and Dzul went to get some food and I commented to the woman at the next table how ugly they were as one stared up at us from our elevated position. She then launched into a tirade, in her German accent, about how they were just animals and that they were as smart as humans.
Miffed, when Dzul and my wife returned, I said in a loud voice “that woman thinks that pig is as smart as she is.” She gave me a look that would fry bacon.
But it wasn’t over yet. I awoke the next morning and walked out onto the porch of our duplex cabin. Reading in a chair, she looked at me and immediately went inside, obviously not forgetting about the night before and my comment about the pig being as smart as she was.
Finally, at the dock, her partner came storming red-faced and very angry. I waited and she rushed about 10 meters behind (30 feet to Americans). I guess he made some remark about how pig headed she was.
In another conversation we met a brilliant professor and his eager group of graduate students from the University of Malaysia. I always like meeting people smarter than I am as I learn so much. They would be following and observing a troop of Proboscis monkeys most of the next day. They invited me along but I did not have the proper clothing. I really wanted to go but they said I would have to sit still in the jungle brushing off mosquitoes and leeches while the monkeys slept. Maybe, I thought later, it would be best if I missed that experience.
On our voyage on the “African Queen” (see last week’s column) to find crocodiles was unsuccessful. As we motored forth, we had a very enjoyable time watching mud skippers, birds and other wildlife.
The only anxiety producing moment came when the captain turned off the motor, stating it would be better because the crocs were afraid of man. Behind me I heard water sloshing as he bailed our small boat. I could just imagine us sinking in croc infested waters, but it was just a small scare.
Our trip to Bako was, as in life, what you make of it. We were disappointed with not being able to swim but the other experiences to this wild and natural area, well kept by Park Department, was well worth it.
. . . . .Life is good. . . . .