Saturday, 24 January 2015

Sometimes we all need a plan B - Jo Carroll

Sometimes we need a plan B.

I'm travelling in Malaysia at the moment. The weather, though hot, has been thundery at times. But I am undeterred. I take the bus from place to place, potter down back streets and find stories.

I came with a sort-of plan. The Internet has brought great changes to travelling, and only the young and endlessly optimistic arrive anywhere with nowhere to stay these days. Which means I have a rough itinerary and some hotels booked.

And then I had the email to say the resort (an optimistic term for collection of huts on a river bank) in the rainforest is flooded. They have given me my money back.

I haven't realised how much I was looking forward to the rainforest until I knew I couldn't
go. There must be a way, another place to stay ... I googled but found nothing. It took a while for common sense to set in. I've been there before - my hut (I know I have to share it, but you know what I mean) is about thirty feet above the river in the dry season. I wanted to sit in the doorway and watch the boats potter up and down the river. Look for hornbills - I saw one last time I was there. But if my hut is underwater, half the rainforest is under water. There might, of course, be one little hut, isolated on higher ground - who would be willing fetch me in his boat? And the floating restaurants - they must be half way to KL if the river is in flood. I can't expect a local family to feed me.

Besides, local people obviously have more important things to do than look after one recalcitrant traveller. The nomadic Orang Asti have probably gone deep into the forest - they understand the trees and the animals and will be fine if they can stay dry enough. The Malays - what of them? The hoteliers? The restauranteurs? Their livelihoods as drowned. I don't expect they have much in the way of insurance.

And so I've given myself a talking-to. Because sometimes we all need a plan B. Whether we're writing or travelling or wondering what to have for supper, rigidity helps no one. Just as the world is full of words and we can combine them in countless creative combinations, there are thousands of other places for me to discover.

So I think I'll have a beer and thumb through my guidebook. Find a plan B.

And know that my dilemma is insignificant besides those who make a living looking after travellers to the rainforest.

6 comments:

Chris Longmuir said...

How adventurous you are, I'm full of admiration.

Lydia Bennet said...

Hope you find a fun plan B adventure! Is this flooding abnormal, possibly a sign of global warming, or is it normal, in which case the people there might have evolved ways of surviving it, I hope they will. I'm sure travellers like yourself make a big difference to their income.

Pauline Chandler said...

How wonderful to be out there exploring! Good luck with Plan B!

JO said...

Thank you all. Lydia - it's a heavier than usual monsoon - much of eastern Malaysia has suffered. And there's still more rain around than usual for January. But the monsoon has always been a bit fickle, so hard to say if this is climate change or just one of those blips.

And I think I'm heading into the hills, if I can work out how to get there.

JO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacqueline Pye said...

Oh crumbs. Hope they cope OK and that you found somewhere to lay your never-weary head.