The route initially follows the coast and then snakes inland past vast palm oil plantations. The journey is decorated with brightly coloured Malaysian homes, sporadically popping up along the road side, lazy dogs sleep off the intense heat as the sun continues to rise in the sky.
“The village of Long Pasia is found deep in the jungle area of Southern Sabah”
The main access is via the logging road, the single most arduous, bumpy, dusty and incredibly unforgiving the track ever labelled ‘ a road’. This was constructed specifically for the removal of the timber by the logging companies several decades ago.
The road is a talking point as you travel the winding contours through what was thick primary rain forest, simply because from ‘ a ’ point of view it’s a modernisation for the community, reducing the travelling time for the community to just five hours from what originally would have been a week’s trek into Sitipang from the village. However the opposing point of view is the deforestation that necessitated its very construction.
“..Bottom-numbing 6 hour 4X4 journey..”
We are greeted after a seriously ‘bottom numbing’ six hour 4X4 journey by the local guide’s Henry, Nooh and Fauzi, all well respected and established jungle guides and crucial members of this one thousand strong community. Now strongly Christian, the village only two hundred years ago was seated deep in the head hunter tribal myths that ruled the island.
“A fiercely proud community, yet incredibly welcoming and generous people”.
The start of the trek found our intrepid PMs loaded up like the proverbial pack horses, they had to carry all the tangible requirements a team would need, yet they only numbered four. Well no one can say “they don’t lead by example”.
Trekking through the thick and lush, humid rainforest, crossing many small tributaries, ascending and descending gulley’s finally reaching camp one. Leeched, scratched, soaked in sweat and tired muscles were very evident as the team arrived , yet still had the camp to build, bashers and hammocks to string up and the radio to erect (not the easiest of options under a jungle canopy.)
The time ticks away and before too long its 1800 hours “Longs o’clock”, this is not a reference to the area but the time that all visiting jungle inhabitants don long trousers and tops and reapply insect repellent.
A feast of fern shoots, wild ginger flowers, pasta and corned beef are devoured followed by fresh pineapple for dessert, all whilst sat around a smouldering fire.