Tank versus bat poo

Harvesting the edible birds' nests. Hard dangerous work

Harvesting the edible birds’ nests. Hard, dangerous work.

The promo material was hilarious.

It promised a sickening smell, ten feet of guano (aka poo) deposited by millions of bats, plus beetles, cockroaches, centipedes and scorpions.

Who wouldn’t want to visit Gomantong Cave near Sandakan, Malaysia? With a sales pitch like that, I wanna be first in line.

What’s remarkable about the place, besides being big and smelly and full of bats, is the harvesting of edible bird nests. Mostly for export to China. The harvesting is carried out three times a year and I was lucky to be there during one of the harvesting periods.

Workers in the cave.

Workers in the cave.

I have no desire to eat a bird nest bound together by feathers and bird saliva. It was, however, fascinating to watch the workers climb along the ropes, extended high up, to gather the delicacy. Dangerous work. High paying too, I was told. But in exchange, workers were forced to sign away any right to sue their employer if they became injured on the job.

Smell aside, the walkway was slippery. Covered in the advertised bat poo. My kind and considerate guide, Dozi, produced a hardhat from the back of his van for me. No guano was getting in this gal’s hair.

Those are bats. They were everywhere.

Those are bats. They were everywhere.

Not sure I would have requested this excursion if it hadn’t been offered as part of my jungle package to the Kinabatangan River.

Glad I went though. Especially as there was a wild organutan feasting in the trees near the entrance.

The cave is about 90 minutes by car from Sandakan, which can be accessed via plane or bus from Kota Kinabalu or Tawau.

A wild organ enjoying a meal of leaves.

A wild orang enjoying a meal of leaves.

Here’s a gallery of some of the pics I took inside.

Tourist tantrums: pls stay home

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Being in the jungle on your parents’ tab is SO boring.

So there I am, in the Malaysian jungle. Getting to see orangutans, monkeys, crocs, pygmy elephants and more.

It’s spectacular.

Not everyone agrees apparently.

Case in point, this guy. Big yawn.

“I’ve seen enough of the jungle,” I overheard him moan to his parents, who I imagine were footing the bill for the creep’s trip here. This about two hours after he arrived.

Glad he only had to endure one night of pain and suffering in this horrid setting.

Poor phone reception made this guy pout.

Poor phone reception made this guy pout.

The blonde guy (right)  put his rudeness on display for even more people to witness in the resort’s dining area. His tantrum went something like this, “FUUUUUUUCK, I can’t hear you. Can’t get decent fucking reception here,” he bellowed into his mobile phone while stomping back and forth.

Who brings a mobile phone to the jungle and expects it to work the same way it would in London, Hong Kong or New York?

Tank hates to observe such first world suffering in this, still developing, country where people in the service industry work long days for a pittance, and get only a couple of days off a month to see their family members, who often live elsewhere. Hardworking people who have to endure rude, entitled tourists day after day after day.

So here’s some humanitarian advice: STAY HOME with your mobile phone and good reception, with your telly and crisps. Do NOT pollute your beautiful spirit with boring experiences in faraway lands.

Two more contestants for Tank’s Travels boorish traveller of the year.