Hiking with Mr. Potato
Hiking in the wee hours of the morning-it was already heating up.
The Columbian guy. I searched everywhere but couldn't find a clear picture of his face!
We finally arrived!
I went on a job assignment in Bintulu, Sarawak (that's in the Borneo Island). It requires me dressing up in yellow coveralls and a hard hat, and I will have to hike across a chain of hills and mountains that were hardly visited by people for about 8 kilometres. I should've probably had a premonition of what this was going to be like.
It was a two-hour drive from the city, and we moved out as early as 5 am. I saw the sun rise ahead of the road. That we would have to walk to reach the place for seismic acquisition, not seeing anymore civilisation until the end of the day.
Our guide was a Columbian guy. He was about 40 years old, and he spoke neither English or Malay. On the other hand, English and Malay were the only languages that I speak. "How long have you been in Malaysia?" I asked in an effort to break the language barrier. "Malaysia? Very nice," he said. His smile was so enthusiastic I didn't have the heart to ask again. So I just gave him a thumbs up.
Before we started hiking, I asked him, "How long is this hike?"
"Uno kilometre!!" Or at least that's what I heard, until I realised that it was about 8 kilometers going back and forth.
Hiking is fun. But you know what else is fun? Hiking with a Columbian dude who had the stamina of a 20 year-old, with two guards holding a shotgun because apparently pirates are around this side of the world and they like to rob companies like us for metal and expensive equipments. And then there are the labourers, natives from the Borneo island who would walk past you with 20kg-heavy equipments on their backs and they're smoking homemade tobacco while you're holding on to your hurting sides because your one-litre drinking water is too much to carry. I began to think that if the world comes to an apocalypse and I was forced to run into the jungles and survive, I would probably die in less than twelve hours.
The crazy hot sun made me feel like I would never make it home. The dehydration made me hallucinate that the sweaty drilling staff looked like Tarzan. And the hunger made me realise that the Columbian dude looked exactly like Mr. Potato, his head stapled to the cylinder of crispy potato chips.
I love my job.