Into the Jungle: Borneo, Malaysia 1992

An excerpt from the new book I’m writing.

Leaving the city, we entered into an intense green world. Getting out of the car my glasses fogged. After cleaning them I peered and peered but couldn’t see a break in the dense jungle.

“Where are we walking?” I asked.

Yi Ling pulled out a short machete with a lethal looking blade. She pointed the tip, “right there.  We must be the first ones here today.  Overnight the growth tends to camouflage the entrance to the path.”

With that she began to hack at the foliage. It didn’t take much for a bright marker to appear.  We were indeed at the trailhead. The dense growth was so thick and so green that it is impossible to get lost.  You couldn’t stray off the trail even if you wanted to. 

As instructed, I wore a long sleeve cotton shirt and long pants to protect me from sun and insects. Within ten minutes, there wasn’t a dry patch on my body. My clothes looked as though they’d just come out of the washing machine and clung to my sticky body.

We didn’t speak.  Yi-Ling led, I trailed behind. Despite the discomfort I marveled at the impenetrable tunnel of green, the massive fronds, variety of plants, rich and earthy scent of growth and decay.  We could hear the clack and buzz of insects and occasional movement of animals.  Yi-Ling said they were proboscis monkeys, but we didn’t see one clearly.

I’ve been in rain forests in Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico, but none of them compared to the lush, damp, overpowering presence of this jungle.  I could easily imagine Tarzan, Jane and Cheetah here, though we were on the wrong continent.