No sooner had we left the city of Tawau, and started the long car journey to Maliau, we were surrounded on both sides of the road by palm tree plantations that stretched as far as the eye could see. At first it looked exotic, but as the views remained unchanged mile after mile we soon realized that this was no tropical paradise, it was cultivation on an immense scale. We were looking at Oil Palm plantations. I knew the palm oil industry was big in Borneo, but I wasn’t prepared for this.
Eventually the plantations subsided and we were left with views of undulating native forest. Our 4x4 vehicle proved its weight it gold, as the road changed from tarmac, to loose gravel, to dirt track. Massive dips and holes in the road, compounded by the sluggish logging vehicles that we regularly passed, made the journey slow going. But with the luxury of air conditioning in the heat of the day, we were in no hurry.
Finally, after five hours, we arrived at the Maliau Basin Studies Centre, our home for the next 12 days. Here we were greeted by Dan, Kerry, Keiron, Holger and Pat, all in good spirits despite four weeks in the field already!
Relieved to find a delicious meal of sweet and sour squid and fresh pineapple for dinner, I happily sunk into my (none too small and pretty comfy) bed, ready to begin exploring tomorrow.