You’ve got this travelling thing down. A two hour car journey? Only a few weeks ago you and Hubs drove eight hours to experience the pleasure of being thrown about on a boat (read about that here). A forty-five minute flight in cramped conditions? Please, you’ve done thirteen hours (in pleb class) sitting next to a guy with snot dribbling down his nose. A 6K trek through the jungle? OK, so you haven’t quite mastered that but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or so you thought. And the gains? Well you’re off to catch a glimpse of a strong contender for the world’s ugliest monkey competition. You know, if there was such a competition. The Proboscis Monkey. Just look at the nose on this guy!
At least one thing you’ve got sorted is your kit. You’ve poached one of Hubs’s old rucksacks, it’s filled with water, bug spray and a Snickers bar (you figure you’ll burn that off, easy). A little trip to TK Maxx was productive: you’ve got dry-fast sportswear and new boots, they’re made for walking.
You register at Reception on arrival to Bako National Park. “Need a Guide?” we are asked. You think probably, yes but Hubs isn’t having any of it. “Who needs a Guide?” he asks. “We can follow a map no problem.” You smile and agree that even you can probably follow a colour coded nature trail although Hubs seems to have (conveniently) forgotten about the disaster that was your 30th birthday where a “light, pleasant walk in the forest” ended in almost-near-death with heavy rains, tears and a lot of shouting. Oh and those Topshop boots you loved so much; ruined.
It seems sensible to start the trek with the Snickers bar for a bit of energy and off you go! You circle round Reception (a large-ish wooden hut) a few times. No signs, colour coded or otherwise, to show you where to start. Hmm. Ten minutes later you’re sufficiently hot and bothered to put pride to the side and head back towards the lady at Reception to ask where the trails start. Directions given. Off you go (again).
You make a pretty solid effort at keeping spirits high despite being almost halfway through the trek and not having spotted a single living thing other than the odd sweaty tourist panting through the jungle, obviously intent on scaring anything away. Hubs suddenly pauses and looks up at the trees. “What is it? Can you see something?” you eagerly ask, searching the tree tops. Hubs’s response is a lot of annoyed shushing (of the silent type) and flapping his hands at you like a madman. “Oh, actually I think it’s just a tree branch”. He eventually says. So, no monkey.
At least you make it to the clifftops and marvel at the views. Also a good spot for some sandwiches. You could do without the noisy teenagers but there seems to be no escape in life from noisy teenagers.
Having refuelled you venture back. You both agree that you’re going to see some monkeys on the return leg. You’re absolutely sure of it. You briefly consider leaving out a banana as a honey trap of sorts but that seems a tad desperate not to mention dangerous. Several false alarms later (more flapping) you do make it back to camp, in one piece, hungry and tired but still having not seen a single Monkey. There are only two possible conclusions you can draw: either you’ve just been made a victim of a huge con and there are no Monkeys in the forest or, word obviously got round the Monkeys that you were in town and they decided to not show up. For now, you’ll have to live with Hubs’s poor attempt at imitation.