02 November 2008 | Kumai, Kalimantan, Indonesia
This is a klotok, a traditional river boat, which we chartered to take us 20 miles further up the river to see the orang-utans. For those of you old enough, if was very reminiscent of 'African Queen' with a diesel engine!
It had 2 levels - the lower, enclosed, level for the crew (skipper, mate, cook and guide) and the top, open level where four of us (we were with Ian and Viv from Paramour) rode, ate and slept. Every afternoon the heavens opened and we got a truly torrential jungle downpour (even Manchester rain bears no comparison to this!); at this point tarpaulins were dropped around the sides so that we proceeded in stately splendour in a pale blue cocoon. The 'western style toilet' (which was flushed by pouring a bucket of river water down it!) at the back of the boat had a door but no roof so we could wave at Peter and Ian (both 6' plus) when they took a pee!
It took us four hours to get to the head of the river -with the banks slowly closing in until the pandan palms and jungle trees that line the banks were brushing the boat on both sides.
Once we turned off the main tributary into the side channels, the water, which had been muddy with all the sediment from the logging and mining upstream (more of this later), turned a wonderful clear, clean tea colour.
At night we tied up on our own on the river bank, with strict instructions not to go swimming as there were crocs in the water (though unfortunately we didn't see any)! We had an amazingly varied and tasty supper (considering it was cooked in a tiny, hot cramped space below deck) accompanied by a cold Bintang (Indonesian beer) from the coolbox. By 8.30 (it goes dark at 6!) we were lying on lumpy mattresses draped with mozzie nets made from 1950's pattern lace curtains! We were assailed by the sounds of the jungle - calling frogs, chain-saw crickets (yes, that is EXACTLY what they sound like!), the sudden loud splash of a crocodile grabbing a midnight snack, and a rowdy dawn chorus of birds, supplemented with the most fearful territorial fight between two troupes of macaque monkeys.
What do you mean, how did we sleep?