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28 November 2008
Schadenfreude in the jungle
a most unusual "Black Friday," indeed

Sungai Kinabatangan at sunriseWe got up early -- really, REALLY early -- for a morning river cruise. While it was moderately pleasant to be skimming along the river in the misty morning, we didn't really see a whole lot. In exchange for getting up at 5am? Sorry, not thick enough.

this plant could either kill you, or cure cancerAfter brekkie, the day's main event: a 3-hour hike to Oxbow Lake. We donned the abominable boots, slathered on the sunscreen and skeeter cream, and filled up the water bottle. We were mostly in the shade of the forest, but it was still beastly hot and ridiculously humid. Our fearless leader, Jungle Jay, spent a lot of time explaining which plants were poisonous and which were medicinal. We even tasted a few. Yvonne, who turned out to be quite the diva, gave him a hard time at every turn, grumbling about having to taste random plants and complaining about the heat. Mark and I marveled that she would have signed up for two solid days of this... shouldn't she be off in some spa somewhere getting a mud wrap, as opposed to slogging through mud up to her ankles?

Yvonne hits a minor snagWell, as it turned out, she got a bit more mud than she'd bargained for. In one hilarious moment of jungle schadenfreude -- I'm so totally going to hell in a handbasket -- we were crossing a particularly moist meadow. Somehow Jay and the Swedes managed to lithely skirt the huge puddle in the middle, but Yvonne got herself completely stuck. Knee-deep in the muck, she stood mewling and making faces and calling out for *someone* to help rescue her. I was the closest person, but I couldn't resist snapping as many pics as possible. Meanwhile Jay doubled back and pulled her out, but not before she nearly lost a boot to the mire. She was pretty annoyed at me. It was totally worth it.

proboscis monkeyWe made it to Oxbow Lake and back in time for another tastier-than-expected lunch, and then a free afternoon to rinse off the mud and chillax a bit. And then -bam!- another river cruise at 4pm. No rest for the wicked. For the first ten minutes or so, we saw nothing. Despair! Would this be a completely critterless day? But then we were rewarded. First a huge cluster of proboscis monkeys, and then a group of long-tail macaques. Up close and personal! Kickass. It was great fun to watch them do their monkey thang: swinging, chattering, grooming each other. Good stuff. And a nice alternative to a day when our compatriots back home were swarming the malls for Black Friday bargains.

 

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