Day Off

It poured rain overnight- the deluge was heavier than anything we had experienced on the trip so far. Thunder was booming for a good part of the night and at one point just before dawn something fell onto the roof with a huge bang. Although we had never seen it, a rat had apparently chewed through Becky’s bag and had eaten some of our bread overnight. We had played with a squirrel the previous day after hearing him scamper over the top of our corrugated tin roof, by watching him make his way into the hide near the ceiling, walk across beams and/or the tops of our bunks, and finally crawl onto the window sill which overlooked the clearing far below. We would then move and the squirrel would leap out of the window onto the tree tops, only to begin back on the tin roof again five or ten minutes later. He was obviously drawn to our food, but we weren’t sure he had it in him to chew through one of our bags while we slept. We decided that we would hang up the food bag that night to prevent additional unauthorized access.

By daylight, we reevaluated our plan to hike to at least one of the northern caves and decided that it probably wasn’t worth an entire day’s hike on water logged trails. We estimated that, following the rains, the water may have risen to chest deep or more in parts heading in that direction. After all, we told ourselves, we had already been to one of the cave systems in the park- how different could this be? We instead settled on taking the day off and resting at the hide. Now, I am not usually a big advocate of days off. I would much rather fit in one more activity or see yet another site than spend the time sitting around. I have come a long way, however, and was able to make peace with the fact that one day off out of 20 would not be a total loss. I borrowed Becky’s copy of Catching Fire and hunkered down in my bunk to read it.

Throughout the day, we lost the rest of the guests who were staying in Kumbang but eventually gained some others. An American man who was in his mid-50s showed up by early afternoon. He was supposed to have been hiking in Borneo with an expedition but had been turned away at the airport there since his previous expedition had allegedly failed to obtain the proper governmental permits. He told us that the whole thing originated from a dispute between two opposing governmental agencies which each thought that they should have jurisdiction over the expedition. Instead, he had ended up in Kuala Lumpur and then eventually had made his way to Taman Negara. In addition to the American, we gained a man from Martinique along with his French wife, as well as a Finnish couple. I actually never met the latter pair since they sat and talked to the students below the hide until after dark while I stayed in my bunk and finished my book. I couldn’t ever remember having read an entire book in one day before.

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