Just below the research station is the Sungai Enggeng (Sungai River). As you can see, it's more of a large creek, a great place for the kids to play and swim! That tree hanging out over the river is huge! There's a picture from our last trip in 2009, where Britton and I are about 15' up in the roots, and it really gives you a size perspective. Everything in this photo looks smaller and flattened out because of the ultra-wide lens I'm using. (And if you look closely, you can see the vine hanging down that we like to swing on.)
About mid-morning Saturday we took a hike through the jungle, this time on a much smaller, slipperier and steeper trail.
Check out the size of that leaf! Oh, and before you start making fun of the jungle fashion--socks pulled up high over the pants--remember the voracious leeches that love to suck the blood of white-skinned foreigners! You might think it's a bit silly, until you've spent five minutes on a wet trail in the jungles of Borneo, and then you'd be looking for the thickest, tallest socks you could find! :)
Thank goodness for our friends and guides! They carried Tyler most of the time and helped Hudson and Hannah through the steeper areas. Tanner rode on my shoulders.
We wound up arriving at a HUGE tree that stretched far above the rest of the jungle canopy, with a fragile looking bamboo ladder clinging precariously to it's side and ascending into the very tippy-top, till it was barely visible. These bamboo "spikes" are hammered into the outer bit of bark (only about an inch deep as the wood is very hard), and then lashed together on the outside with a vine to a bamboo pole. That's it. There's no rope or vine tying it all the way around the tree. No safety mechanisms. Nothing else.
Our reaction was instant and simultaneous! WOOOOWWWWW!!! It stretched probably 200' high, and then went even further out to the end of one of those branches at the very top! Why? Because there's honey up there! And honey is very valuable here. They can sell honey in town for the equivalent of about $10-$12 per liter. And so far they've retrieved about 300 liters from this tree! I've flown a lot of honey over the past couple years from several different villages, but I've never seen a tree like this where they've gotten it from. It was pretty shocking to see the effort and lengths that they go to, in order to get that oh-so-sweet, pure, organic, jungle honey. And I can testify to it's unique and wonderful taste, as I've often been given a little honey as a "thank you" after a medevac flight or church flying. I think now I'll appreciate it even more! By the way, one of the other prime places for honeybees to make their hives/honey here, is in the holes and cracks high up in the vertical face of rock cliffs. Oh, and they always retrieve the honey at night, when it's totally dark--an exciting prospect!
Later that day we found some time to do some fishing. Congrats to Joy and Hudson, who caught the only fish! Last time we were here the guides yanked out a bunch of big fish, AND a huge eel! (Check out the posts from 2009 to see pics). But I guess like fishing anywhere else in the world, it's always hit or miss! And this time it was mostly a miss. But we had fun anyway. It probably didn't help that we had five kids jumping and splashing around in the water.
And of course, there was the vine to swing on! Nothing makes memories like swinging on a jungle vine in the heart of Borneo!
The kids loved the vine! But they weren't the only ones, as you'll see in the next post. :)
The water right down below the research station is shallow and clear, perfect for the little kids. They stayed busy for hours playing here.
It was a great day--certainly one that the kids won't soon forget!
Check back soon for the final post on our trip to the Lalut Birai research station.