Despite Wesley's best effort to stir us up most people seemed to have slept well, exhaustion has it benefits. Steve had unwittingly been playing host to a leech or two during the night. That is until he rolled onto them it seems judging by the blood splatters across the back of his shirt. Minor issues aside we went for a morning walk through the jungle, along the same trail yesterdays stroll but without the fire ants this time. We saw little of interest, leeches having become the norm by now. Back at camp we packed up and successfully negotiated the slope back onto our boat with all our kit. Since yesterday our boat ride had been cut short we went past our landing spot in search of a few more animals and this turned out to be well worth it. On the muddy bank of the river we spotted a couple of crocodiles which soon registered our interest and slid into the water. Despite waiting around we never saw them re-surface but then this is what they do best I expect. We also saw an orangutan sitting in the trees looking quite satisfied with life, spending some time contemplating the quality of the surrounding fruit and perhaps pondering why people were always to keen to rush up and down the river when there's plenty of good food to hand.
Back at our MESCOT base we had a cooking lesson before we got to eat the fruits of our labour. Splitting up into teams of two we were assigned someone to show us what to do and soon a flurry of activity ensued. That is for everyone except the self-appointed photographer Natasha. Eleanor and I were on chicken curry but with pre-cooked chicken and the ingredients already laid out, except for a little chopping, it was hard to go wrong. Richard, a chef by trade, was assigned the omelette's with Steve and were cooking next to us. After much banter between the two cooking camps I can't give a unbiased opinion on whether the curry was better than the omelette's so let me give a biased one: the curry was perfect, the omelette's were satisfactory. With lunch eaten (note, not a drop of curry remained at the end) we faffed with our bags for a while and I took the opportunity to lay out on the floor to grab a few minutes sleep - despite last night I still felt we were running a slept deficit comparable to America's national debt. Late afternoon we went down to the village volley ball court where the locals were showing that they make good use of the court - they were good. We waited our turn to challenge the winners with the dawning realisation that our chances were slim. Indeed this easy prediction soon became reality with our first game a heavy loss, but being charitable they let us stay on for another game and split our team up and mixed in their players to at least make it a game. Wishing to have the final word in the curry omelet debate of the day I was pleased to see Richard on the opposing side and we set about beating them by a convincing margin (Richard - have I mentioned the ashes yet :-) ). We won one further round but had run out of time to play any more games.
This evening we were being split into pairs and handed over to a village family over-night. Not all were hugely enthused by the prospect with Steve recounting tails of a similar program elsewhere that had not gone so well for him. So it was with a little trepidation that Eleanor and I grabbed our bags and waved goodbye to the rest of the group and followed our guide to our house. However, all worries were unfounded and even Steve came back raving about the experience. We were greeted by Isa, the lady of the house. The construction was typical of the area, on top of stilts a wooden house was elevated about six feet. Inside there was a huge living room with the main bedrooms coming off to the let and the kitchen and spare bedroom out the back. While sparsely furnished the floor space puts my room in England to shame! It turns out that the family has four children with two at a boarding school and since it was the holidays they had gone to climb Mt. Kinabalu two days previously. We compared our experiences and made many jokes about stiff legs, which they were still suffering. We were shown into the living room and served tea and chocolates until the man of the house turned up. Jamali's English was better than Isa's and we chatted until tea. Jamali drives a mini-van for tourists and in fact we would be getting in it the following day to take us to our next destination. He also showed us his visitors book and he had about one homestay every two weeks since 2000, impressive! We got our Intrepid guide book out and tried to practise some of the words out, this ended when we got down as far as 'Minum!' which means 'cheers'. Being strict Muslims who don't drink this didn't seem to be the right way to be heading. After years of being told off by my mother for playing with my food we came to the evening meal and had to eat with our right hand. After a little initial difficulty we managed to eat without embarrassing ourselves but needless to say that the permanent members of the house hold had this technique perfected and must wonder at our inability to feed ourselves. For desert we were offered raw new potatoes. At least that's what it looked like, peeling back the thick skin revealed translucent fleshly pods which ad quick a sour taste but were quite addictive. After food we joined the family in the living room to watch tv, which apparently cost 60 ringgits - a hefty amount for locals. However, their investment was rewarded with the Malaysian equivalent of strictly come dancing which seemed to be the flavour of the day. After chatting until almost ten o'clock we finally caved in and begged direness and retired to our bedroom. The warnings Jamali gave us about mosquitoes turned out to be quite prophetic when, despite a mosquito net apiece we still managed to get bitten during the night.