Lying on the northwestern coast of the island of Borneo, the interior of Brunei is mostly tropical rainforest. So, let's talk about how to stay safe in the rainforest and in the tropics.
While it's tempting to wear as little as possible in the tropical heat there are a few key reasons not to. First, most locals would find this offensive and secondly you risk sunburn. So, appropriate cotton clothing is a must, as is a broad spectrum sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. As well as a hat, some kind of cloth to cover the back of your neck is a good idea, particularly in rainforest areas.
When hiking in rainforest areas it is advisable to wear long pants, socks and appropriate footwear. Any light cotton clothing that is breathable and can transfer sweat to the outside is ideal. The tropics and polyester clothing are not a good combination! You will also find a poncho or some kind of rain protection a must; tropical downpours tend to be extremely sudden and extremely heavy.
In terms of footwear, water sports shoes that dry quickly and have an integrated water evacuation system are a good idea. To avoid slipping on rocks they are also available with a rough profile.
Like hiking and walking all over the world, never leave marked trails and let someone know where you are going, when you expect to return and when you have returned. Carry enough food and water for the expected trip plus extra. Also, allow for extra time in the tropical heat, take it easy and conserve your energy.
Tropical rainforests attract visitors and poisonous creatures in equal numbers and often the combination is not so great! To avoid nasty bites and stings wear long trousers when hiking and proper footwear. Also, wherever Macaques live (think rainforests!) visitors must store water bottles and any leftover food in their packs, Macaques are not shy and will steal any left over food and water.
The National Parks offices in East Malaysia and Borneo can provide detailed information of what to expect, www.sarawakforestry.com | www.forestsabah.gov.my. If you are going to do any treks in the bush, do not set out without checking the current conditions with the local ranger first. Bring a compass and a map and listen to any instructions or warnings rangers give you. They are looking out for your safety.
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