Day 1: Leaving Wales, just catching the plane and getting to Borneo
Bright stars and a thick blanket of frost adorned our welsh valley a couple of days after Christmas last year. Dogs were snoozing on beds with assorted humans, full of leftover dinners. But, as the clock struck half past three, my alarm chimed into life, dogs disembarked beds and the day groggily began. A quick breakfast and bags were shouldered and put into the car. Dogs hugged goodbye, brothers insulted one last time for a month or so, and we set off to Birmingham bus station with a very kind mum driving me! Hugging goodbye I piled my rucksack onto the coach and headed down through snowy England towards Heathrow for our 12:30 flight to Borneo!
A sleeping Oona
Arriving in good time I wandered about trying to suss out the best thing to do to get Indonesian currency (decided to wait until arrival as it was very expensive) before breezing through security to wait for Ted. The minutes turned into hours and still no sign. The snow had meant that the roads were completely packed and, despite only living 35 minutes away, his journey had taken over 3 hours and flight was due to leave in 20 minutes! Rapidly negotiating with the Etihad flight staff they helpfully agreed to fast-track him through security and get to the gate in record time! Ted arrived at the plane with about 10 minutes to go before it was due to leave. Unfortunately, because everything had already been loaded onto the plane, his bag was stuck in England, waiting for a kind friend called Alex to reunite it with its owner about 10 days later.
The journey was as long as expected. We changed planes in Abu Dhabi at about 2am before another 8 hours into Jakarta where we had some time to kill before the final jump to Balikpapan in Borneo!
We changed our money and felt extremely rich as £1 is about 20,000 Indonesian Ringgits so we had lots of notes with big numbers on. Heading outside into the pressing heat we started looking for animals. Tree sparrows were everywhere (not a species I have ever seen in the UK) as well as Asian house geckos climbing up walls and the first insect: a male oriental latrine fly, Chrysomya megacephala with his huge red eyes!
Snowy coach to Heathrow
Jumping on the bus to reach the other terminal, we checked in and had a beer in the departure lounge as the sun began to set across Indonesia. Soon it was time to board and we hopped the last few hundred kilometres into Balikpapan and Borneo!
An Oriental Latrine fly Chrysomya megacephala
Arriving at about 10pm we collected my bag and piled out of the airport. Not really knowing where to go we grabbed a taxi who apparently knew the way to the person’s house we were staying in. However, an hour later we were still winding through the backstreets of Balikpapan until eventually we ended up in the right place. Despite it being about midnight we were welcomed enthusiastically and, after a quick shower, we collapsed into bed waiting for the next day and the approaching Jungle!