Camping in the tropical rainforest is an experience I both love and loathe. I’ve just arrived in a beautiful encampment deep in the primary forest of Mount Kinabalu. The station lies on the banks of a fast-flowing stream that is lined by big, mossy boulders. On one side lie the barracks, simple bamboo constructions with blue tarp tied over them—one for men (as indicated by a sign that reads “MEN CAMP”) and one for camp staff. Women sleep in little dome tents. On the other side of the river is a wooden building with a metal roof and improvised porch where staff prepare meals three times a day. There is even a small prayer tent of the same bamboo and tarp construction as the barracks (Malaysia is an Islamic nation).
Looking up from the barracks, the view is spectacular. Steep forested slopes disappear into the cloud deck high above. The camp is surrounded by a wall of trees, each almost an ecosystem in itself, with hundreds of orchids, palms, ferns, lichens, and climbers growing on it. Up high in the canopy they catch more light and escape grazing from animals like deer that can’t climb.