Doolittle Fallacy

Suffice to say I didn't die.

I accelerated downwards for perhaps five feet before my heels hit ledge. Jarred forward by the impact my flailing hand clutched handful of thorns which finally brought me to a halt.

A shaky, undignified, but thankful stop.

Legs straight and rigid, both arms locked behind me from the shoulder, torso leaning forward at 45 looking straight down. I must've looked like nothing so much as a very out of place and inept ski jumper.

Tentatively I stepped back from the brink. Now feeling 100% keen to be down I carefully descended the blessedly flattening lower portion and hit the bottom.

Thank fuck, I thought eloquently.

I was shaken. Failing to follow the path to its conclusion called into question some of the qualities with which I had begun to identity: Adventurousness, stoicism, stubbornness. The confidence in my willingness to carry on regardless was suddenly in doubt. If I can't even reach a sodding waterfall... At least I could say with certainty that I didn't have a death wish. Having set out on this trip depressed that I suppose was no minor thing.

Retracing my steps looking around for turn off's missed, my certainty that this hadn't been the way evaporated. The path underfoot was undeniably there if over grown and tough going.

The phrase 'kids and oldies may find it tough' swirled. May???? Maybe I had just wimped out.

I got back the rainforest level and trudged back eyes cast down.

A beautiful Blue Necked Keelback appeared right in front of me. Delicate coils of luminous orange. The Keelback was calm, no flattening of its neck to threaten a strike with its small venomous mouth. Instead it paused and then gracefully waved its way to a sunny leaf strewn spot to bask.

I watched enraptured as he relaxed and, just like that, I felt much better.

Pulling myself away from this welcome totem I walked back. Before crossing the initial bridge leading back to the camp area I spun a languid 360 to glance back ruefully at the nature trail that had undone me.

A stick lay there. I looked up and down the stream I was standing in. A small stick lay half submerged to my right. There was no stick to my left.

Surely not.

Had I been dead wrong from the outset by failing to follow basic rambling rules in my unobservant haste?

The stream became a more traditional path some twenty meters along. Dragon flies cavorted and cicadas chirped along the flat and well tended path.

 In my defense the start of my trail was by far the more defined and the first arrow clearly points straight on.

Elated I all but skipped along the path filled with renewed confidence in myself and the world. As I did the air filled with butterflies.

Is there a word like prophetic fallacy but for animals rather than weather? Doolittle fallacy? Prophetic  Erwin? Whatever, I was feeling great and the butterflies were on message.

Geometric forms and unfurling ferns

I could barely have been more cliche as I stopped to smell the flowers. Almost got a nostril full of ants for that lack of originality.

The scuffling and scuttling of half glimpsed animals accompanied every other step.
Some even deigned to pose like this haughty green agamid and these two Many Lined Sun Skinks

I gave the seriously big spiders casting their webs across the river a respectfully wide berth
Fording the waste deep, swift flowing ,cool water felt sensational on my abused legs

By the fifth crossing I was feeling pretty expert until the monkeys came and showed me up

Iridescent ferns and more massive ants and an intriguing glimpse of something I couldn't identify hiding in a dead leaf. I thought at first it was a cicada but it looks a bit leggy.

Mushrooms, fungi and a more friendly looking spider.
Diving in and claiming my cleansing reward 

After a long swim and shower in the clean clear plunge pool I made my way back to set up camp.

And count the material cost of my fool hardiness. Much to my annoyance during the almost fall I had ripped my shorts. Inevitably the gash was just below the section I had carefully patched previously. My needle and thread misplaced I settled for lots of black duct tape to make the repair.

As night fell the swallows and bats fought for aerial supremacy above me.

I woke early for a dawn dip in the river before waiting around for the custodian to come and open the gates for Friday business. Half and hour after the advertised time he still hadn't appeared so I set about unloading the bike and re-climbing the overblown barbwire topped monstrosity. Task completed I set off and met him coming the other way in his 4x4. He raised both eyebrows and I gave a smug wave as I cycled off with fond and fearful memories both of Chilling Waterfall.

The climb began in earnest immediately. Looping switchbacks curving up through the forested mountainside

Imperceptibly the vegetation changed with broad leafs and even conifers beginning to intrude on the rainforest as the elevation increased.

Poor planning had left me low on water and food. The former was solved at periodic waterfalls. The later was more of a challenge and meant an hour or so of bonk induced fatigue before a friendly trucker idling on a lay-by invited me to share his food and milk. Pitifully grateful I made my goodbyes and continued on skywards into the unforgiving gradient.

It took me longer than it should have to cover the 30 kilometers, but whose keeping time? I arrived at Fraiser's hill station with the morning gone, the proud owner of 600 shiny meters of altitude.

I immediately appreciated why the English men and women of the colonial era had run to these hills. Breezes, no humidity and streaking clouds. This was a climate I could work with. Add the mock Tudor houses to the British architectural flourishes and it was difficult not to feel at home.

A corner of a foreign hill that is forever an English country garden.

Less provocatively lush than the lowlands but cool and quiet and blooming
Dewy webs and hanging ferns as I wandered the hill tracks 
This gorgeous stick insect greeted me as I set about finding a camping spot.
More wandering the next day. Damp with mist rather than humidity the fungi thrives here as hanging vines descend from the canopy far overhead.
I watched as dozens of Malay cyclists made their way to the clock tower high fiving at the summit. 

That night I went looking for some eight legged friends.
 The banked earth of the roadside made a perfect hangout for these big and quick huntsmen spiders.

But pacing the foggy midnight streets I was after bigger game

Huddled in their hidey holes the Malaysian giant trapdoor spider lurked.

A wonderfully atmospheric finale to a very pleasant stay at the Hill station.


  1. Well, I'm relieved you didn't die! Scary stuff! :) What a fantastic adventure! I'm extremely jealous of all those glorious critters you saw. Massive ants, snakes and impressive spiders. Try to stay alive, hey! Really enjoyed the recount. Jane

  2. Thank God you survived Tom. I'm so enjoying experiencing Malaysia through your writing while I'm on the sofa! You must read Anthony Burgess's trilogy.