Tag Archives: rivers

Rafting the Maiting River

15 Sep Maiting River swirls around dark rocks in gorge. Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]

Like This!

We spent our last day in the Tana Toraja whitewater rafting. An activity, which in the mind of the child, now forms a kind of holy trinity with zipwiring and zorbing, as sheer, adrenaline-fuelled, screeching fun.

As he put it, “Zipwiring is aerial. Zorbing is, ummm…, terrestrial. And whitewater rafting is the aquatic equivalent.”

Or, “Wooooooo! Wapids ahead!!! Woooo!!! More wapids!!!”

Whitewater rafting is, actually, an almost flawless combination of adrenaline, nature and physical activity. Continue reading

Advertisements

Of Canopies and Caves

9 Aug

Green leaves explode from the lower canopy, above clusters of tree tops. Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Borneo.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]This is the view down over the lower storey of the rainforest canopy, in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, from the longest canopy skywalk in the world. Nigh-on 500m of suspension bridge rattles and sways above the tops of the lowest trees, pinned to the sleek trunks of emergent giants.

It’s a place where I discovered that the nine year old’s theory of repeated exposure curing vertigo holds some force. And the nine year old, in turn, discovered a fear of heights.

Well, not so much heights, exactly. His objection, to be precise, was to the skywalk, and in particular the plastic packing tape which held the creaking boards together. Continue reading

The Vanishing Forest

28 Jul Three platforms laden with forest timber plough their way down the Batang Rejang, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]
Some things, simply, look too big, too plentiful to ever be used up. The herds of bison that clouded the American plains; the trees of Easter Island; the ice sheets of the Arctic; the world’s great rainforests… Continue reading

The City Slicker

26 Jul

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Asun and Mimi sit in a cafe off the waterfront in Belaga, a town of 2500 souls and the major trading hub of great swathes of Sarawak rainforest, a hundred and fifty-odd miles upriver from the coast of Malaysian Borneo.

“Chinese wedding?! No!!!” Asun exclaims. “Chinese wedding, one day, you have one table, cost 350 ringgit.”

Mimi chimes in. “And you need many tables. Big family. I have ten brothers and sisters, so…”

“We had a Kayan wedding,” says Asun. “With a Kayan wedding, all you need to do is buy a pig, and everyone from the longhouse eats. One pig! Three hundred ringgit…” Continue reading

The Man who Mistook his Capital for a Cat

20 Jul

Astana, the fortress-like state residence of the Governor of Sarawak, illuminated at night, reflecting in the Sarawak River. Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]This is Astana, the little place which James Brooke, the first “White Rajah” of Sarawak, built for himself in his capital, Kuching (“Cat”).

A Victorian adventurer somewhat in the mould of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman, James Brooke spent his inheritance on a schooner, The Royalist. He stuffed it with cannons; crewed it with sailors who didn’t think he was insane (or weren’t that fussy); and headed to Borneo to remake the fortune he’d spent on the boat.

Continue reading

Summer in Hanoi

28 May

Trees and reflecting pool in the Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam

Reflecting pool: the Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi turns one thousand years old this year, and the city’s just on the cusp of summer. The point where the heat begins to turn from velvety to steamy, the rainstorms open up, the Red River starts to rise and turn burnt orange with silt, and the fields which still surround this turbo-charged city turn as green as the cottage gardens which flourish on islands in the stream.

Hanoi is a city of lakes. Hoan Kiem, at the heart of the old quarter, where balloons hang over the medieval pagoda, and an embalmed tortoise in a scarlet temple commemorates the sacred turtle — an incongruous fourth partner to the more obviously sacred trio of dragon, unicorn and phoenix that were emblems of old Tongking — which rose to give King Le Thai To his personal Excalibur long ago.

There’s Ho Tay, or West Lake, the gargantuan freshwater expanse around whose borders young couples promenade and pet on scooters, as steadily hooting taxis forge their way through, where drinker sup the cheap draft beer, bia hoi, at kindergarten tables, and the high-rise condos of the Western expats sit sealed behind their grandiose gates. Continue reading

Here Comes the Rain…

28 Apr

View from the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Palawan, Philippines: jagged rock and turquoise water.

Not, actually, a waterfall. Just the rain beginning....

Maybe it’s El Nino. Maybe it’s climate change. Maybe we’ve brought the English summer with us. But it feels like the rains have come early this year. And Z is overjoyed.

We walked to the Puerto Princesa underground river yesterday — supposedly the world’s longest navigable river — under heavy skies and dripping leaves. And as we emerged from the darkness of the cathedral cave into the green of the coastal forest where the river meets the sea, the rain fell in great sheets, ruffling the waters and throwing up spray. It felt, for a moment, as if we were paddling out into a waterfall.

There was a thunderstorm last night. There is a thunderstorm now, with bugs sheltering from the raindrops and flooding the lights, the grass a vivid green, the streams swelling already, gouts of water pouring from the nipa thatch, and a blessed coolness in the air. There will be thunderstorms tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that.

Three days ago, this was the view from our beach hut. Continue reading

Hounds, Bikes and Dunes

2 Mar

Puppy at roadside stall, Mui Ne, VietnamZ and I are sitting at a roadside stall in Mui Ne, Vietnam, watching a very cute, extremely solemn and phenomenally determined toddler hounding an equally cute but definitely sorrowful puppy.

It’s our first outing on a motorbike sans chauffeur since I over-estimated my off-road capabilities on an elderly manual sized for a Thai lady, shredded my elbow, scraped Z’s hand and scared myself shitless. Our spanking new, man-sized twist-‘n’-go Honda has proved a far more accessible ride. Continue reading

Dolphins on the Mekong

22 Feb

Kratie, Cambodia: Sunset over the Mekong

Kratie, Cambodia: Sunset over the Mekong

I was eighteen when I read about the pink freshwater dolphins on the Amazon. I’ve dreamed of seeing them ever since, and Z and I will do this later on this journey.

In the meantime, though, we stopped in Kratie on our way back from Ban Lung, Ratanakiri, to see the Irrawaddy dolphins on the Mekong, and avoid a repetition of our experience on the way up.

The Kratie pod cluster around 15km upriver from the town itself. We took a sampan out to see them from the riverside there, the driver paddling the boat so quietly that the huffs and snorts and squeaks of the dolphins echoed across the water.

The freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin is an endangered species, but this pod was full of life. They surfaced, puffed and played in groups of two or three, one pair arcing so close to the boat that we could see the expressions on their faces. Continue reading