I went on my first jungle hike this week.
‘Don’t pee in the forest,’ Frankie said sternly as he drove us out to the jungle.
I promised that I wouldn’t, thinking that this was a very sensible rule, given all the snakes and spiders and other nasties that you wouldn’t want to find attached to your nether regions as you squatted in the jungle.
But it turns out that this has nothing to do with health and safety; you mustn’t pee in the forest because the spirits don’t like it. And I can only say that I sympathise with them – anyone peeing in my house would be given a mop, a bucket and a very stern look, with no excuses accepted.
‘Soo Wei’s coming with us – and the good thing is that she’s a trained nurse,’ Frankie went on.
I began to feel rather anxious at this point. How dangerous was this hike going to be, if we needed a trained nurse?
I didn’t have much time to fret about this though, as Soo Wei led the way at a cracking pace, and it was all I could do to keep up with her.
We went past rubber trees, and even found some of the cups they fix onto the trees for the latex to drip into.
They hold regular paper chases in the forest, and the marker papers are still strewn all over the ground.
The others tutted about the litter, but I thought fondly of The Railway Children and the injured hare they rescued, and took a photo.
We took a survivors’ picture on the track –
which doesn’t show how sweaty I was – before heading off to get a cold drink.
The cafe was full of locals
and some were playing carrom, a game I’d never seen before and which I can only describe as a cross between draughts and snooker.
You use a sort of puck to flick your draughtsmen into the pockets on the corners.
and there is apparently a lot of skill involved … or so the chaps in the photo told me.
And just to make me feel at home, there was the owner’s most prized possession – a genuine Manchester United towel from Old Trafford, and a television showing Wimbledon. I could have almost been back in England … apart from the heat, the sweat and the jungle just outside the door.