Invariably, unless booking a weekend in Rome or a fortnight in Spain, holiday planning starts by a trip to one of the numerous specialist travel agents who, within an hour, have strangled any adventure from your plans and sanitised your trip down into a series of preferred airlines, hotel groups and guided tours. We swore after last year, which included a guided tour of a Hong Kong traffic jam and a day in Jakarta airport – voted the world’s worst (not sure how it rated that highly) we would live by our own mistakes. We wanted jungle, wanted off-the-beaten track, we wanted life like the locals!
The internet is great for hearing about what can go wrong and planning accordingly. We already knew about rabies, mosquitos, spiders and ticks but a new one for us were leeches and their blood-sucking activities. Leech socks are the answer, along with vast swathes of deet, so off we go to the large outdoor chain to stock up on both. It is at this point reality kicks in and I remember Clarkson on his Top Gear trip to Burma discussing the Colonial English at their cruelest and most devious, they built on what we know happens in Nature, there are effectively two types of traveller, the ‘jamboy’ and the person who travels with the jamboy. Clarkson gets grief for many things and its usually well merited, but I supposed on the basis “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”, we’ll let this one go. Perhaps of more relevance though is the way we often seek to perfect what Nature already shows us.
Heart of hearts, we have always known, from our days of tramping through the Australian outback, one of us was a natural jamboy, a veritable smorgasbord for any number of bugs, no matter what, and fortunately that wasn’t me !
It was with this in mind that when we reached the shop, rather than look for insect repellents or afterbite salves, the big bright tents soon became very attractive. Leaving the shop with a 400 quid tent and nothing else, I still felt quite relaxed, after all I had nature’s own deterrent, a similar argument to when faced with a bear, you don’t need to run faster than the bear just faster than the one you are with.
We finally got some deet, the day before we left, more by accident when we were stocking up with wine, that other vital ingredient, if you are going to get bitten, give the bug a hangover!
The carpet bag was ditched – we were supposed to be travelling light !?!, just the bare necessities and there was no real plan, the jungle booked for 6 days, and a loose set of places we’d like to see with a flight back from Singapore three weeks later.
The night before we left, I felt comfortable in our arrangements but for a niggling question – should I take a jar of jam should nature need a helping hand ?