Being Intrepid – some successes and a failure

A perfect night to head off into the jungle to see fireflies –

“In a minute, you will see like Christmas tree,” our guide said.  And she wasn’t wrong – all the mangrove trees lining the river were filled with tiny twinkling lights.

I tried to photograph them, but just got a completely black picture.

Then, a man sitting cross-legged at the front of the boat began waving a lamp, making complicated patterns in the air which mimic the queen, apparently.  And all the fireflies left their trees and flew across the water like a cloud of tiny stars, towards our boat.

If you manage to catch a firefly, you can hold it in your hand and make a wish before letting it go.  Obviously I can’t reveal my wish, but do come and visit me at my villa on Lake Como once I’ve won the lottery.

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in SE Asia, but it was romantically shrouded in mist the day I went trekking there –

In the National Park surrounding the mountain I saw the world’s smallest orchid –

I was rather surprised when I saw it, as it’s only the flower that’s small and not the leaves – I was expecting a sort of dolls’ house orchid.

Then at the other end of the scale we saw the world’s largest flower – the rafflesia.  But I was rather underwhelmed by it –

– it didn’t look much like a flower at all.  I thought it looked a lot better in the advertising material, where it had made a bit more of an effort to scrub up for the photos –

But being an exotic bloom called Keith is enough to make anyone stop caring, I suppose.

I had two fruit-related successes on my trip.

Firstly, I saw red pomelo in the market and wanted to buy one to try it.  But how could I peel it if I bought it, as the skin is as thick as rhinoceros hide?

This is the sort of knife the professionals use to tackle the job –

And my hotel had no restaurant, so I couldn’t even borrow a knife.

Well, I have to report that it is perfectly possible to peel a pomelo using a pair of nail scissors –

– and it was delicious, definitely worth the struggle.

I also ate my first proper durian, fresh from the pod, not just a tiny shrink-wrapped piece sold to tourists who want to show how fearless they are, in central KL.

I bought it at the Sunday market, and the stallholder assured me it was a small one, perfect for one person

She removed all the seeds and put them onto a tray –

– and I carried them around as if I was holding a time bomb, very aware of the terrible smell emanating from the bag.  Finally, I found a secluded bench –

– where I sat and ate it – having asked for an extra plastic bag so I wouldn’t have to touch the fruit – the smell can linger for days, so I’m told.

The verdict?

… I do like durian, but a whole one – even a small one – is a bit too much.

The waters of the South China Sea are beautifully clear and full of tropical fish, so perfect for an intrepid snorkelling expedition.

I went out on a trip to a remote bay –

With beautiful clear water –

– and I’m happy to be able to reassure you that Nemo is alive and well and living with hundreds of his relatives in the coral reefs off the coast of Borneo.

Not my photo – bizarrely, I found this pic on the wall of the ladies’ loo at KL airport.

My failure to be intrepid involved yet another attempt to complete a circuit along a treetop walkway without sweats and palpitations and an urge to whimper pathetically all the way round.

Here I am, clinging on in terror as I’m about to launch off onto a swaying plank forty metres in the air, with only a bit of netting on each side as a barrier between me and instant death –

The blurb says you can “enjoy the spectacular wildness of Borneo’s ancient rainforest”, but I can truthfully say that I didn’t enjoy a single second of it.

I’m determined to carry on being intrepid and expanding my comfort zone, but from now on I’ll concentrate on expanding it horizontally rather than vertically.

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