Sunday, 29 April 2012

Tamanza Borneo April 28th 2012


A ride in the countryside today, not until this afternoon though, so time to relax for a few hours. Breakfast is now established as fruit, usually melon and papaya, with peanut pancakes, and a good cup of tea, all with CNN, Aljazeera or BBC news keeping me updated on world affairs. A helicopter is flying around here, has been for a couple of hours actually and sounds quite low but I can't see it from the digs. Folk down in reception think its something to do with a demonstration, sounds interesting, must be a police helicopter then. Time to get dressed, get out and investigate.

There is a demonstration, but starts at about 1.30 and it's a government services gala day. Police, fire, Rescue and various medical services have public information stands and are holding respective demonstrations this afternoon. The helicopter is indeed the police's and is just flying up and down the main street, turning at Signal Hill. An quick look around reveals another facet of Malaysian life. At least here in KK the rescue services are using modern, upto date equipment. A quick climb up the Signal hill trek to get a better look at that helicopter, and a photo of course.

A member of the staff here wants to take me for a little tour round, to see his village and a bit of the countryside. We arranged that yesterday, for 2 pm today. Turns out that's it's his mother doing the driving because they are off to a little country retreat somewhere in the hills about 30 minutes from KK. First we're going to what they call a 'Kampong' or little village. A collection of 4, perhaps 5 structures of various materials, and inhabited entirely by family members. Cousins, uncles, brothers and sisters, mother and all the associated kids, about 7 of them at last count, a few moments ago! It's and interesting insight into the way family units differ between Western and Asian cultures.

So, after meeting some of the family it's off to feed the fish, pets at the country retreat. About 10-15 minutes passing more of those kampongs, houses on stilts and roadside shacks. Blink and it's gone, just a small rustic sign is the only indication anything actually exists here. An overgrown area of land with a shed and evidence perhaps of a long gone vegetable patch. Following a track beyond the shed and onto a bridge.

The bridge crosses a ravine, and at the bottom, a river of blue and white water gushing over boulders. Both sides of the ravine thick with with jungle, but taking a photo with the bridge bouncing around isn't easy. It's a rope bridge of sorts, but reinforced with taught steel wires, in good condition though and quite safe. Up stream and down stream, a very scenic view of a river with white water gushing and blue deep lagoons in areas of calm - an idyllic country setting just a short ride from the city. A few tumble down sheds on stilts in need of some serious renovation once the otherwise of the ravine. Overgrown grounds, a chicken running around, more penned up, and of course the pond with hungry fish. Paths lead off into the jungle, following the river. A short time to explore, maybe a snake since this will be their ideal environment, especially for a Pit Viper or Mangrove viper. It's all quite wild, a natural environment where given time and patience would produce an amazing variety of wildlife. I am told about wild boars, yellow and black snakes and a lizard that was captured and eaten!

A newly renovated lodge is available for overnight accommodation, very basic, but does have running water at least and there is an electricity supply. A few people emerging from the jungle path carrying wicker baskets full of bananas. I am told these are from the hills, and have just been picked, and just picked bananas are the best bananas. Malaysians are not told how long each banana has to be, or what shape it must, unlike their European cousins, all very amusing to them. Needless to say these bananas are not to be found  in a British Tesco's. A snack of Tenamon Coffee and pancake, followed by a local banana beside a gushing river with the sounds of jungle life all around. Despite its rustic surrounds, Tamanza has to be one of the most natural, wild and idyllic places I've seen in Borneo that's so close to town, and only accessible by crossing that rope bridge. No buses, so no tourists, hence no garbage, not even a crisp packet! Not surprising since this places only known about by a few locals.

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