About Amanda

Hi there, thanks for looking at my blog page, I am a keen photographer/traveller who is hooked onl wildlife and the exploration of more remote places off the beaten track; in other words where other tourists are not. I have a love of Rainforests and so far have been to the Rainforests of Costa Rica (2008), Guyana in South America (2011) and Madagascar (2011). In complete contrast to this I also went to Patagonia and Antarctica (2010) In 2012 I shall be spending 3 months in the Amazon....... Its adventures such as these that make me feel alive, long may they continue.....

Up and coming trips:

Up and coming trips:

2016 – BURMA: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MY FATHER – I am currently researching the Royal Berkshire Regiment as my father was stationed with them as a soldier back in the 1940’s, he told me many interesting stories which I would like to incorporate into the write up as well as tracking where they went and trekking those areas.

ALSO a possible follow up trip to MADAGASCAR with the team who I met out there formerly, this time instead of the North we will explore the South!

2017 – INDONESIA: THE LIFE OF KOMODO DRAGONS – I have been sketching out ideas for a possible trip to Indonesia to film and observe the behaviour of the Prehistoric looking Komodo Dragons, in 2017 there will also be an Eclipse, I initially thought that this would be a good time to go, however it may attract a large number of tourist, which would defeat the object for me as I prefer quiet times with wildlife and off the beaten track, so will be looking into this further.

EXPLORERS GUIDES (Part 1 How to Travel Safely in Rainforests)

Explorers Guide

Part 1 How to Travel Safely in Rain forests

When embarking on any adventure it is essential to have an awareness of the area you are travelling to and a backup plan in place in case things go wrong, which, more often than not, they can do.

Firstly, where are you going? What type of trip are you taking? What is the weather like there, the terrain, the wildlife to be aware of….. and the list goes on, however it is essential to have some of this knowledge before you embark on such a venture.

Lets look at Rain forests in this piece, the planet is a fascinating place to explore and Rain forests for me personally are the ultimate in looking for insects to photograph, which is one of my passions, however it is very wise to know where you are setting foot, so here are some notes that I hope will help.

Top Tips for visiting Rain forests
This advice is more for hiking through dense forest based on experience; however, I hope it will be valuable as a general guide also.

Monsoon Season – The word monsoon comes from the Arabic language “mausim”, meaning season, always research and find out when the rainy seasons are before you make any firm plans, here is a quick guide to some here:

South American Rain forests – The Amazon has two seasons consisting of the monsoon and the dry, the rainy season runs from December to June and it can rain for short bursts during April and May. The dry season runs from July through to November, there is less rain, although of course showers are still possible, which is why we refer to it as a rain forest.

Central American Rain forests – The Rainy season in Costa Rica runs from May through to November/December while the Dry season runs from December through to April. The hotter sunshiny months are from March to May and the cooler months of the year are from November through to January.

South East Asia – The Rain forests of Southeast Asian have four different seasons consisting of the winter northeast monsoon, the summer southwest monsoon and two inter monsoon seasons. The Northeast monsoon season runs from November to March with steady winds from the North and Northeast that blow from 10 to 30 knots. These winds originate all the way from Siberia creating severe weather such as Typhoons which are the Southern Hemisphere’s version of Hurricanes. The East coasts of the Southeast Asian islands get very heavy rainstorms during this time and the Southwest monsoon season is from late May to September where the winds do not blow as hard and the weather is a little drier. The seasons are continuously hot and humid with very little seasonal variation in temperature, it is really only the wind and the rains which are changeable.

The Headhunters of Borneo; a look at their traditions, religions and struggle for power

A brief look at the Headhunters of Borneo
By Amanda King


“There is only one sort of rule in jungle warfare, do not be smelt before you are heard, do not be heard before you are seen and below all, do not be seen”

Major Tom Harrison

Skull

Skull

I have read and heard stories about Head Hunters and have always had a rather macabre fascination with them, but it was not until I travelled to Borneo this year that I actually got to speak to someone from an old Head Hunting Tribe and consequently this rekindled my interest.

The man I met was called Mebo from the Dusun Tribe and he explained to me a little about the old traditions and how they used to hunt heads for many reasons but mainly, according to him, in order to win respect, show their strength and be deemed suitable for marriage.

The Tribe kept the last skull and to this day regularly sacrifice a chicken in a special ceremony to summon up the spirit, which they believe lives on inside the skull. By offering up the blood of the chicken, Mebo explained that this will keep the spirit happy and the skull ‘healthy’ in preventing it from going white and cracking, much like a fragile egg would.

The Tribe name ‘Dusun’ was made more popular by the British Colonials who latched on to the term from the Brunei Malaysian people, the word was used to describe farmers who had a piece of land with fruit and orchards. The Dusuns were split into many sub-tribes who lived in groups around many scattered areas, with names including the Tagahas and Bundu-liwan Tribes, both of which played a key role in the head hunting practice.

The Dusun people are sometimes also referred to as Ma’anyan or Dayak, in fact they have so many different names and sub-tribes that it can become quite confusing, for the most part of this piece I shall refer to them as Dayak.

The Tribes are said to follow Animism, which is a belief that spirits exist in certain animals and plants and even in objects such as rocks, in weather for example thunder and lightning and also geographical places, such as a mountain. In other words there is no distinction between the physical and the spiritual world.

It is an interesting outlook and one that I have come across before, while travelling in the Masai Mara in Kenya, there was a huge thunder storm and the Masai Tribe told me that they believed the Gods were angry with them, so they sacrificed some cattle to try and appease the Gods.

The Masai beliefs are very strong, as are the Dusuns, it is surely one of the things that helps to bond these Tribes together, in having a unity of beliefs and ancient traditions.

Borneo: An Island, a Head Hunting Tribesman, Wildlife and Pirates!

Borneo: An Island, a Head Hunting Tribesman, Wildlife and Pirates!

After a long journey of 20 hours of a bus, coach, two aeroplanes (Malaysia airlines), a taxi and a boat, I finally reached my destination, an island just off the coast of Borneo.

Following the recent news stories of one Malaysian Airlines plane disappearing altogether and another being shot down by the Russians, it amused my dark sense of humour that they gave us a newspaper on the plane with the headlines saying ‘Terrorists threaten Plane’ and on a most turbulent flight having the man who was sat next to me praying the whole time.

MA is a great airline; I will fly with them again.

After the long haul flights it was a relief to climb into a speed boat and enjoy the 30 minute ride across the dark sea where flying fish gleamed silver under the bright moon, the fresh sea air felt refreshing and it was exciting to see the black shape of the island looming in the distance.

I was the only passenger in the boat and reaching the island I was greeted by two Malaysian members of staff who took me up the very steep hill to my dwelling, which was a beautiful treehouse high up amongst the forest.

I could hear the waves gently lapping onto the beach below and the breeze in the trees that surrounded me and with that I drifted off to a peaceful and blissful sleep.
This trip was to explore the area and search for wildlife to photograph and it lived very much up to my expectations, the island was alive with green vegetation, bejewelled with bright hibiscus flowers, butterflies, huge bees and dragonflies flying from plant to plant and tropical birds calling from the canopy.

Only accessible by boat, the island itself on Malohom Bay, Gaya Island (named after the Hibiscus flowers) is the largest of five on the Abdul Rahman Marine area off the coast of Borneo’s Kota Kinabalu with a steep hillside ancient forest and mangroves.

I woke up on my first day there feeling a little odd, in that if I stood still it felt as though the floor was moving; it must be my body catching up with the flights mixed in with general tiredness.
During the early hours I soon learnt that I would get visits from a group of Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) monkeys knocking on the roof of the treehouse

Long-tailed macaques sleep in trees with each group sleeping in its own tree all huddling together when they sleep to maintain body temperature. They sleep toward the edge of the branches near the top or crown of the tree and preferentially choose branches that overhang a river in case any predators approach. In order to escape they drop down into the water and swim away from any threat, these monkeys are very strong swimmers, so it is an effective escape.

Bulgaria 2014

Bulgaria 2014

Friday 6th June
I woke up excited about going to Bulgaria to see my friends Dee, Mika and Sky in a little village called Dobromirka and then the plan is to go on to Vitosha National Park and explore the mountains and forests.
Last time I was in Bulgaria 2012 I went to see the spectacular Devatashka cave, which I am tempted to see again this time but as time will be tight I shall look at other places of beauty. Devatashka cave was used during the war and has a stream and plenty of plant life growing inside it, this is one of the most beautiful caves that I have ever seen.

 Devatashka Cave

 
The flight was delayed by 4 hours, I flew with Whiz Air going out and sat in a seat with about 2 inches of leg room and the seat in front virtually touching my nose when it went back, I tried to sleep and pretend I was not really on that flight, but it did not work, so instead I put on some music via the ipod and remained cramped, it was not a long flight though, just 3.5 hours so to be fair it went quite quickly.
I had tried to get a message to the driver picking me up, a man called Stevche however, he did not receive it and had been at the airport in Bulgaria waiting for 4 hours.
He was not happy when I arrived.

On arrival I spotted Stevche holding a sign with my name on and went to shake his hand, he looked angry and unapproachable, he would not shake my hand, however he did help me with my rucksacks.
The car journey seemed to go on forever, 3 hours in the dark, nothing to look at and if I tried to make conversation Stevche would grunt at me grumpily, he appeared not to speak any English so I tried several attempts of offering him water and sweets, but he was having none of it.

We stopped off at a little stall where you could smoke, buy food and drink. There was an elderly lady serving at this roadside stall lit by huge bulbs which had attracted a deluge of large white moths.
A local lorry driver in his late 50’s sat at one of the tables outside, he was the only other customer apart from us, Stevche had a coffee, but I was ok with my water and joined the man at the table, although we had the usual communication problems, the man was cheerful and a relief to sit with after Stevche’s moody silence on that journey.