Our last fling before the long haul home.
17.03.2010 - 19.03.2010 34 °C
St Patrick’s Day and not an Irish pub in sight! We’d booked a trip to the rain forest for today so we were up and on the road by 7:20 and headed to the jetty where we caught a water taxi up the river to Temburong. We were back in another minibus from there for a short journey to river point where we embarked a longboat – so called because it is like an elongated canoe with an outboard motor; it is specifically suited to shallow waters. We went up river against the flow but at speed; when we came to rapids he cut the engine and raised the motor. After about two and a half hours of the different modes of transport we finally arrived at our destination – Ulu Ulu – deep in the jungle. Where we stopped was a resource centre for tourists; it was well facilitated since it was so far from the nearest village. There was over a kilometre of covered walkway between the different buildings. After a brief refreshment we were on our way again; this time trekking upwards – 385 metres to be precise towards the base of the scaffolding structure leading to the walkway overlooking the jungle canopy. We were exhausted when we reached the base due both to the steepness of the climb and the slippery roots we had to clamber over. A quick rest, then we climbed up the 45 metre scaffolding on to the walkway; the views that awaited us were fantastic. However it wasn’t a climb for anyone with any fear of heights! We had the same journey back down; this time the slippery slopes and tree roots proved even more hazardous and my feet went from under me a few times. On reaching the resource centre there was a welcome hot meal and drinks waiting for us; before we ate Thomas and I were so hot that we had a refreshing dip in the river. After a leisurely meal we completed the rest of our journey and were thoroughly exhausted and stiff by the time we reached BSB. We were all ready for a massage which we had, followed by an early night. However Thomas was intrigued by the alcohol room on the second floor of the hotel so we went there to check it out – same scene as the previous night with a few different customers!
As we had golf booked for today at the Empire Golf and Country Club we were up early, packed and checked out, ready for Amy, our taxi driver, to take us there at 8:15. We had previously arranged to leave our luggage in the pro shop at the clubhouse. It was a real pleasure to play on the course as it was well maintained, watered and the surrounding scenery of water-lilly ponds, sea views and lush greenery. It was only golf course I have ever seen with floodlighting – including all the fairways. We hired all the golf equipment from the pro shop. The heat was not a major problem early in the morning but as the day progressed we got through quite a lot of water; temperatures reached 35 degrees combined with fairly high humidity. The layout of the second nine was particularly well planned with the backdrop of the sea and jungle foliage. I especially liked the 15th though I had a nasty fright on it: Catherine and Thomas had played good 2nd shots towards the green whilst mine went wayward right into the jungle. I was searching the edge of the thick undergrowth when Thomas let a yell; I stopped dead in my tracks as he quickly explained what he just saw – a snake slithered out of the undergrowth, grabbed a lizard and slithered back in with it in its mouth. Needless to say, I declared my ball lost ....and lost the hole! However I did redeem myself on the 18th (stroke index 1) with a par. The luxurious showers, Jacuzzi, sauna and plunge pools were relished after the round. We felt pampered in the clubhouse as there was many more staff than customers who were eager to see to all our needs. Following a leisurely snack lunch Amy’s husband - Winston (our taxi driver) - was waiting to take us to the airport. Winston had an opinion about everything and shared them with us all the way to the terminal; it was difficult to get a word in edgeways, apart from a sound of agreement or otherwise. Some redistribution of case contents, for weight reasons, and we were ready for our final check-in for our flight home. We were there in plenty of time and the check-in plus security only took minutes, as opposed to other airports, so we lots of time on our hands. We tried, in vain, to get into the VIP lounge; we applied on-line while waiting, and got accepted; however they wouldn’t accept our basic membership; apparently we needed a minimum silver membership before we were eligible for access. Instead we browsed the airport shops and spent the last of our Brunei dollars. We were ready to board when it was announced that the flight would be delayed for 45 minutes because of operational reasons. We finally got on board and managed to get seating by the emergency exit so we had extra leg-room. It was a long flight – 15 hours –plus a 40 minute refuelling stop in Dubai; there was only enough time to disembark, go through security and get back on again. I didn’t see the point of the whole security process again; it would have been more logical to just hold us in a secure room while the plane was refuelling. With the help of a sleeping tablet I slept for a couple of hours and dozed for a further two. The pilot managed to make p most of the lost time and we landed at Heathrow at 6:45, greeted by typical UK weather – grey skies and drizzle!