Kelabit highlands - doing the jungle, or more precisely, the jungle doing me

Bario Travel Blog

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Peeling the leeches out of my shoes. And looking generally miserable with my mud caked pants.
Completely hungover from the night before with the Irish lads I set off with a new travel buddy (Anddres from Chili) to do a trek in the Kelabit Highlands near the border with Indonesian Borneo. All flights to the region were fully booked due to the school holidays so we decided to go with a 4x4 on a supply run from a village in that area. We had no plan, hardly any preparation and were completely clueless how to go about it.
It took 1 day over logging roads to get to the village of Pa Mada. After seeing the enormous stretches of slashed jungle it actualy hurts to see the logging trucks trailing clouds of dust and transporting huge treetrunks to the coast.  Already a few tracks that are mentioned in the 2007 LP don't exist anymore due to the logging and probably in a few years there won't be anymore jungle trekking in this area as everything will have been raised to the ground and substituted by oil palms, causing massive soil erosion in the process (one of the reasons why the rivers are brown here).
Pee break on the way to the Kelabit highlands
With the aftrenoon rain the logging road changed into a huge mudslide and even with the 4x4 we were skidding over the road like a drunk sailor. Can't believe we made it up some of those hills.
For some reason we decided to cross over to Indonesia and move north from there. It wasn't really an established trail so we basically went from village to village and getting a new guide every time. We didn't know what we were in for. The first day was easy enough with a 2 hours walk to Pa Dalih, although the amount of leeches jumping us should have warned us. The next day we crossed the border using a hunting trail. It was a gruelling 13 hr walk through primary rainforest (I stopped counting the leeches in my shoes and in my pants after the first hour), crossing streams on slippery logs, and often more than not sliding through the mud and crawling up embankments through the mud.
The ubiquitous logging road
After the first hour you don't care anymore if you're shoes are caked and after 2 hours you don't care anymore if you slide into a stream, you're wet anyway from your own sweat and the rain. We showed up with our fancy waterproof goretex hiking shoes witch were soaked anyway within minutes. Our guides wore knee high wellington boots and soccer shoes with shallow studs. Much more practical under these conditions. They might have warned us about the traditional leech repellant though: rub tobacco leaf on your socks and we wouldn't have had a care in the world. Instead we were pealing off leeches at every stop, with Anddres holding the record for weirdest place: he found one in his belly button :D.
We arrived at 8pm after dark in Long Layu, completely exhausted.
PInnacles
I understand a lot better how you start getting delusions when you're dehydrated and exhausted in the middle of the wilderness. I actually didn't know I could this.
After a days rest we walked 8 hrs to Long Budud and managed to get a motorcycle ride the next day to the border. From there we walked to Ba Kelalan where the sweet sight of the runway greeted us... it had been enough for a first walk in the jungle.
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Peeling the leeches out of my shoe…
Peeling the leeches out of my sho…
Pee break on the way to the Kelabi…
Pee break on the way to the Kelab…
The ubiquitous logging road
The ubiquitous logging road
PInnacles
PInnacles
Crossing one of those slippery 1-l…
Crossing one of those slippery 1-…
Our guide the first day
Our guide the first day
1s stop: Pa Dalih
1s stop: Pa Dalih
The usual meal: rice with coconut …
The usual meal: rice with coconut…
More leech hunting.
More leech hunting.
Thank god a break :P
Thank god a break :P
Palm heart. The dad of our guide h…
Palm heart. The dad of our guide …
Pa Dalih: lunch time for the women…
Pa Dalih: lunch time for the wome…
Pa Dalih: porch of the long house
Pa Dalih: porch of the long house
Pa Dalih: the pet monkey. He climb…
Pa Dalih: the pet monkey. He clim…
Pa Dalih: watching Indonesian soaps
Pa Dalih: watching Indonesian soaps
Long Layu: buffalo on the grass ru…
Long Layu: buffalo on the grass r…
Long Layu: crashed plane #1
Long Layu: crashed plane #1
Long Layu: crashed plane #2
Long Layu: crashed plane #2
Walking around Long Layu
Walking around Long Layu
As usual in this region everybody …
As usual in this region everybody…
Long Layu: Sribulan and her kid
Long Layu: Sribulan and her kid
Long Layu: Playing with an old sho…
Long Layu: Playing with an old sh…
Long Layu
Long Layu
Big ass butterfly :)
Big ass butterfly :)
Long Budud: Anddres taking a pictu…
Long Budud: Anddres taking a pict…
Long Budud: the junior soccer team
Long Budud: the junior soccer team
Long Budud: Masriti and her new un…
Long Budud: Masriti and her new u…
Long Budud: Joni fixing the bike
Long Budud: Joni fixing the bike
Long Budud: fixing the bike again
Long Budud: fixing the bike again
Long Budud: Joni and the usual mud…
Long Budud: Joni and the usual mu…
Indonesian border: crossing back i…
Indonesian border: crossing back …
Ba Kelalan: runway in the jungle. …
Ba Kelalan: runway in the jungle.…
I had them covered in about 6 colo…
I had them covered in about 6 col…
Around Ba Kelalan
Around Ba Kelalan
The world from an Asian perspective
The world from an Asian perspective
Ba Kelalan: fixing the car
Ba Kelalan: fixing the car
Ba Kelalan: Twin Otter approaching…
Ba Kelalan: Twin Otter approachin…
Ba Kelalan: loading up the plane
Ba Kelalan: loading up the plane
Ba Kelalan: rice paddis
Ba Kelalan: rice paddis
Dirt roads through the jungle
Dirt roads through the jungle
The usual local shower.
The usual local shower.
Bario
photo by: gert-n-bert