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In an environment entirely conducive to relaxation it was only after a chill out morning that we stole ourselves to reach out in another exploratory foray, this time electing to take in the lie of the land around the scattered surrounds of Bario. A first point of note was the discovery of a new longhouse under construction and it was interesting to see how it was being slapped together piecemeal according to as and when the families could afford to fit their particular section out. The basic foundation and exterior framework was pocked with periodic boxes individually completed, a very unusual strategy not exactly in line with the underlying ethos of communal living. Climbing a small hill we then came across the "Bario Motivational Centre" much to Roberto's delight, merely a kiddies park of assault course style challenges. A couple of waterholes here added to the mix with a large population of frisky frogs, and evetrywhere we wandered any locals encountered were uniformally inquisitive and friendly.

Descent down through the local school which lined both sides of the track was in the process of being blessed with Bario's first paved road, and you had to wonder just how rural it could get to learn of the presence of boarders here in tiny Bario. Our main priority lay now in tracing the couple of Ks out to a local development gone wrong, whereby the fantastically disastrous Hydro Dam project intended to harness a local rivulette for power generation had been officially declared a flop after only one day of operation. Costing 14.2 million Ringgit, over 2 million Pounds, I had to suspect that it had had more to do with greasing sticky palms in Kuching than in helping the locals do their dishes.

It was in this direction that we chanced upon an amazingly fluent English speaking woman tending a paddy field, looking for all the world like stereotypical peasantry, it reminded us of the fact that some international survey had declared the Bario region as considered to be one of the most intelligent communities in the world. Hidden in the rural interior of Borneo of all places. I actually stopped short of an assured soaking in discovering the dam itself but Roberto confirmed that I wasnt missing much, it was nice just to sit by the evidently much too humble river in any case. Finalisation of a loop back to our den of rest allowed more bird spotting across the paddy fields, and it was at this point that we met up with a newly arrived Italo-Spanish couple. Under pressure of time they ended up plumping for Reddi's super pricey compromised Bario Loop trek, and we later learned that he had not only predictably proved to be a lacklustre guide, but he even shortchanged them by a day. The Italian guy was so firey as to appear manic however and so we didnt quite know which to feel sorrow for, frankly neither. Conversely it was around this time that we met Alex and Melanie, a Swiss German couple who proved to be good company and on a par in the crazy stakes. Unbeknown to us at this point we were destined to share many adventures together.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Malaysia

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