Sunday 2 November

I awake with the dawn again, so might as well get up. Anyway, that repetitive whistling, seven or eight notes repeated over and over again, is getting quite annoying. (Apparently it’s the song of the broadbill.) I wander a little way down one of the logging tracks. Mist hangs over distant hills seen fleetingly through gaps in the trees.

(magnify) Inside Buda Camp

After breakfast Chris goes to check the water level. Sadly, it is too high for our planned activity of tubing – there is a danger of becoming ensnared in the clutches of the rattan that overhangs the banks, or of being swept on past the stopping point.

So we sit in the shade of the jungle shelter and play cheat. The strong sun makes inroads into drying our clothes, strewn out on every available place, but my woollen socks and boots seem to be a lost cause.

After a lazy morning, we eat lunch and then two pickup trucks and a land cruiser arrive to take us on the next stage of our journey along logging trails. Coming to the top of a rise, we get a splendid view of the walk that we did yesterday (looking longer than we expected) and the small hill with Camp Five behind it. Over in a distant valley, a rainstorm is raging, but we are sweating it out in bright sunshine.

Pickup ride Riding down logging trails
Valley view View back towards Camp Five

A short distance later the road comes to an abrupt end by the river. There are the remains of a loggers’ bridge, and just below, two longboats wait to take us the final distance to the Mentawai Park Chalet. It takes a while to get everything loaded up, and the midday heat is almost unbearable. But once we are moving in the boats it is better. The river is brown and swollen, but it is only ten minutes to the chalet.

Helen shelters from the sun Helen shelters from the sun Mentawai Park Chalet Relaxing on the chalet veranda

As we round a bend in the river, our first view is of a beautiful park with well-kept wooden chalets dotted around. There are eight bunk beds to a room, and it seems like the height of luxury.

As usual, the first priority is to get down to the river for a swim. The afternoon rain is just starting as we come out, and since there is a queue for the showers, I decide to take my shower on the lawn outside. The rain increases in intensity and soon half of the lawn is under two inches of water.

The rain stops as evening falls. The six o’clock cicada is ten minutes early tonight by my watch. After dinner comes the inevitable (and I wonder just how we put it off for so long) – bad jokes and lateral-thinking problems. Chris tells us the elephants/giraffes in a freezer joke that I first heard from the Berbers in Morocco (only there it was elephants and camels).