Intimidation is a good way to describe what I was feeling when I agreed to join my friend on a 3-day jungle experience in Borneo. I knew we would be with trusted tour guides, but I truly didn’t know what to expect. I heard the accommodations were minimal, but I wanted a clearer definition of what “minimal” meant. Was there a shower? Hot water? Sleeping bags? Flushing toilets? I would soon find out.
I expected the experience to take me out of my comfort zone, and I have to admit I was worried. But deep down, I really wanted to experience sleeping in the jungle and having an authentic jungle safari. They were right about the accommodations being minimal: a hut with no door, a mattress on the floor with a mosquito net, electricity run on a generator between 6pm-12am, no hot water, obviously no WiFi, bucket toilets, bucket showers.
There were buckets to put toiletries and medicines in, anything rats might want to munch on while you’re sleeping. Our hut was luckily elevated with a walkway that was built above the jungle floor. That was relieving. I wasn’t too comfortable with the idea of a tiger walking right into my bed.
Sleeping in the jungle was easier than I anticipated. My friend and I had all the clothes we needed in our backpacks, and there was something about the simplicity of sleeping in nature that was refreshing. The campsite along the river had hammocks set up between the trees where we could rest between treks.
I began to realize that I wasn’t bothered by the fact that we weren’t staying in a 5-star resort. The plethora of animals we encountered was well worth it. I felt like a regular Jane of the Jungle.
We amassed a list of about 150 animals, plants, and insects we had encountered on the day treks, night treks, and the nighttime boat excursions down the river. We saw everything from orangutans to rare tropical birds, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles, frogs, owls, and massive iguanas.
To actually see orangutans in the wild up in the trees was a phenomenal experience. Animals that are so rare to see on earth and highly protected. I felt blessed to experience them in nature.
I also learned about and gained a lot of respect for Malaysia’s decisions to protect its jungles and tropical rainforests. They had laws to protect and preserve almost every animal we had encountered, down to the centipede, believe it or not. Our tour guide didn’t even touch the centipede we encountered in order to uphold the integrity of his job.
This might sound rigid, but with all the devastation done to the planet and its creatures, I was relieved to learn that a country was taking important measures to protect their most valuable tourist attraction, the jungle and its inhabitants.