I’ve just spent two weeks in Borneo, Malaysia and I’ve never sweated so much in my life. It was that kind of sweat that made your shirt stick to your back, impaired your brain function and made you wonder how you’d ever sleep at night. It was humid, sticky and sapping.
Welcome to the Jungle…
My plan in Borneo was to base my entire day around water, using it as the end reward for doing things or getting places. Even if it simply meant getting to a set time in the day when I could justify going back to the hotel for a shower, so be it, that was the incentive. But usually there were plenty of other options. In the capital Kuching I would head down to the river to take in the cool, watery views and occasional breeze after seeing a few museums or sweating it out in the markets. In Bako National Park I trekked through thick, sultry jungle past monkeys, pitcher plants and snakes to waterfalls or beaches to cool off. And my longest journey was up the mighty Batang Rejang river to the head hunting tribes near Kapit where I spent two days in a longhouse above a river. The locals took several baths a day and I never hesitated to join them.
Of course having water to sip all
day was an absolute necessity but the Borneo locals were also big on salty drinks. We couldn’t work out if they were trying to replace their salt loss through sweat or it was just a taste they had developed.
Anyway with summer approaching in the southern hemisphere I figured now was a good time to talk about ways of keeping cool on the road. One of my favourite tactics is to wear a neck scarf or bandana and keep it wet as much as possible. It’s also handy to mop up sweat as well. Long, loose fitting cotton or linen garments that reflect the heat and offer sun protection are also handy. I never travel without a hat either and during the hottest part of the day try to have some downtime in a cool spot. If you have any advice about keeping cool in hot climates feel free to share your tips, or tell me about the hottest place you’ve ever visited or the hottest experience you’ve had.
Cool Malaysian Spots
Of course don’t let my talk of heat put you off, VIP Backpackers has a number of travel options for Malaysia and if you’re into cooler, more watery holidays then consider visiting the coastal peninsula of Penang, head to Khota Bharu to get to the coral reefs of the Perhentian Islands or head to Sandakan in Sabah for turtle viewing.
Cool Australian Spots
But as many of you are probably heading to Australia this summer, you’ll want some good watery destinations to consider there also. The perennial travel favourite heading up the East Coast is a good one as you are never too far from water at any given time, or if you’re exploring the Great Ocean Road you can always slip down to the beach for a surf, some fishing or to swim with seals. The Western Australian coast is also amazing around Monkey Mire for its dolphins or fine sands at Broome. Once you’re in Queensland of course you can indulge in a whale watching cruise from Hervey Bay, head to islands such as Fraser Island for rivers, lakes and beaches or take in some reef action.
But don’t forget there are also some outback and rural areas with a great selection of water activities too that could be perfect this summer. National Parks such as Lawn Hill near Mt Isa in Queensland has a beautiful river you can swim in and kayak, Katherine Gorge in the NT is another great spot for a touch of canoeing and swimming and Litchfield National Park near Darwin is like a water wonderland with waterfalls and rock pools.
Just remember whatever you do, the sun in Australia is pretty strong and you should avoid exposure 11am-2pm. If you haven’t heard the catchy slogan “Slip, Slop, Slap” yet, it’s time to educate you. It’s all about wearing a shirt, sunscreen and hat whenever you can. There may be sweat but at least you’ll be protected.
Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at firstname.lastname@example.org