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The Bastards in Borneo

The craving for an exotic holiday, of walking through primeval equatorial forests, of catching nesting swallows in Guano infested caves, of crocodile infested rivers, or simply for the tremendous bond called friendship – after several emails laced with national geographic and lonely planet links – we decided on BORNEO.

The Bastards in Borneo-1

Bisected by the Equator, it is third biggest Island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea. Of which only a third lies in Malaysia, Rest in Indonesia. The Kingdom of Brunei gets one percent and of course Oil, loads of Oil. A landmass of extensive forest shelters thousands of endemic species of flora and fauna. Home to some of best diving spots in the world, to the great ape-our beloved-Orangutan, to the largest flower, to several endangered species, perhaps, to some undiscovered ones as well.

We booked a flight to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah province in Malaysian Borneo. With printed sheets of Lonely Planet guidebook, we arrived and booked a Proton sedan for the duration of our stay. Thus began our Great Bornean Road Trip. Four Friends, a road cast in darkness, rain pelting the windshield, thundering clouds in the sky. That was the good part. An empty fuel tank, no filling station in vicinity, a choppy mobile connection covered the rest.  A spectacular parking in the pit lane by yours truly led to another minor hiccup, viz., a tyre burst and a silver sedan stuck in a pit. It took a grueling hour of weightlifting, some mutual antagonism, and loads of local help to bail us out. We sat in the car with mud laced slippers and drenched clothes. The antagonism drowned only after a makeshift dinner of sweet corn, bread and potato wafers. Such was day 1, welcome to Borneo.

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The Monkey Pee
9 pm, River Kinabatangan, Sandakan

"Those red eyes in the distance", pointed our guide out, “are those of a crocodile. That’s how we spot them." The river Kinabatangan, one of the many muddy rivers, which criss-cross the Bornean province of Sabah. In the night it was one large strip of black water; a moonless night added to the hue. Every now and then a silhouette of a crocodile emerged to breathe, it red eyes gleaming in the dark. With a bright light, our able guide, pointed us out many. Along with several species of monkeys, Buffy faced owls, a civet, and a raccoon.
Just when we were about to turn for land.
DB: "Hey! Look, Monkeys! Promiscuous Monkeys"
Guide:  "Yes! Yes! It is the Proboscis Monkey, In fact, it is the whole family"
Me: "Spectacular! Let's get a closer look"
With the engine off, the guide steered the boat till we were under the tree by the bank. Excited at the sighting of a species of monkey found only in Borneo, we all looked up in amazement. Our bright torchlight pointing out their odd shaped noses.
Moments later.
All(thinking): Damn! It’s raining, well, at the tropics rain can't be far away. It can and does rain just about any time. But wait...(breaking off)
Guide: Oh My God! Back off! Stay away. It is the monkeys peeing on us.
All: Holy ** shit! You bastards!
And soon, one after the other jets of monkey pee fell on us from all sides. Most of it in the river, fortunately they weren't ace marksmen. But the Bastards made a few count.
Disgusted, we wanted to take a dip in the river, the crocs notwithstanding. We did learn a lesson that day, by heart. "Never piss off a sleeping monkey. Ever."

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