Saturday, October 16, 2010

View of the Primary Rainforest in Borneo

I will go through a lot to see animals in the wild....but I am not one to want to endure harsh conditions just for a view.  I never want to pass up a chance to see those hard to find animals, and I accept that in order to do so, hiking through leeches, in extreme humidity and heat, in rain, through jungles, up steep slopes, are all required.  When there is an animal at the end, it's all worth it, and I never regret the effort, no matter how many bug bites or thorns I endured, no matter how much sweat it took.  When there is not an animal though - especially on long hikes where there is just not one mammal to be found - although I realize it's a risk you take, I am always disappointed, and the suffering of the hiking and the conditions seems oppressive.  I actually envy - and do not understand - that some people can get to the top of a hike, find no animals, and actually think the view alone is worth it.  That's not how I'm wired I guess.  Yes, there is a nice view - but was it worth what I just went through to see it?  No, my friend, NO, it is not!!!  What's done is done, I usually make the best of it and snap a photo, but photos never begin to capture landscapes in my opinion, so it's nearly pointless except to remind me of the place I was, where I didn't find the animal I was hoping for.

This is a picture taken from a viewpoint I hiked up to in blazing humidity, with an injured foot, hoping to see Bornean Gibbons.  Those elusive, fast moving, loud calling gibbons that I could hear around 4am from the lodge.....I wanted to see them badly enough to undertake the hike even though my foot was killing me.  The humidity and heat, and leech socks and tucked in clothing (trapping more heat, ug!) made sweating a constant, so all my clothing was completely soaked and my backpack was stuck to my back.  I crossed my fingers for Gibbons, scraping the leeches that were crawling up towards me off my walking stick, climbing over roots and slipping on leaves on the forest floor.  And in the end:  I got this photo.  Note the absence of gibbons.  Damn. I look at this and think "This is the place I didn't find gibbons." 

This is a primary growth rainforest in Danum Valley in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo.  It is hot, but it really is beautiful.  The photo doesn't begin to capture the experience.  I would never have make the trek just to see it, but it really was pretty amazing.  Though I didn't see them, I know the gibbons were in that forest somewhere, and so were orangutans and many other species of primates, not to mention the other mammals, the bees and insects, the birds and flowers.  It would be nice to feel an elation or sense of accomplishment or some thrill at finding such a good view, but for some reason, for me personally, those feelings don't come up after a an arduous hike unless there is a mammal, or at least a rare reptile or frog!  If you are one of those people who can actually say (and mean it) "What a great view!" and be happy, enjoy that!  Take some massive hikes and see the world - be glad that it is worth it even if you don't find the gibbons.

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