Sunday, 5 February 2017

In Praise of the Jungle

Do you remember those small books published in the UK fifty or so years ago, part of a series titled In Praise of... and then something like Music, or Gardens, or Shakespeare? I was reminded of that as I pondered what to write about Borneo. Yes, In Praise of the Jungle. What do I find most striking about this phenomenon? First, the immense silence, then the endless green, then the incessant undersound of unseen creatures: birds, crickets, frogs chirping and insects buzzing, rustling of snakes and small creatures in the dense undergrowth. And often hidden streaming water from the many rivulets or waterfalls. But stand still, and you are overwhelmed by a ground bass of deep silence. Curious. Enormously restful.
We went for long walks (usually accompanied by a most knowledgeable guide) climbing into the caves (at Mulu) or along the slippery wooden board walks created for the urban explorers who wanted to rediscover a world their ancestors might have known.
In Temburong we canoed down the curving river, rushing over shallows where the white waves stood like tiny hillocks, and zooming around bends sometimes under the low hanging branches of the huge trees that throng the banks.
Now to try some pix:
This is what we're going back to tomorrow: that's my back garden in snowy Amsterdam! Well, not sure about the snow right now but certainly cold-ish. Such a contrast to here where the heat makes me need a shower every day (though I don't indulge).
I have put a selection of fine pix taken in Borneo on my FB page, but have decided for the time being to eschew all written comments on FB, awaiting a better global climate! Meanwhile here I shall blog about the beauties of the world (!) and try to record little stories about the things I see and think about from day to day.
Well, it's going to be a big leap tomorrow, from a place here where the warm air caresses the bare skin, to a country where one requires scarf and gloves and woollen-lined boots. But I'm looking forward to seeing friends and neighbours and all that the Netherlands has to offer of a cultural nature (music, films, museums ...).
Tomorrow the flight in the late afternoon, in three stages: BSB to KL, then after a four-hour wait, KL to Dubai, then Dubai to Amsterdam.
No more jungle except in the memory...
And the photo at the beginning of this blog shows me steering Stroemhella through the Straits of Messina, which is one of my finest memories!

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