Okay, I have to admit up front that I’m a fan of the American reality TV show Survivor. I haven’t watched all 29 seasons, but I have watched quite a few. So, when I discovered that you could actually stay on the island (off the coast of Borneo) from the first ever season of Survivor (where Richard Hatch, the naked gay guy won), we had to go. I just hoped that I didn’t have to vote my own daughter off.
2 days. I6 contestants. 1 survivor. I don’t know what happened to the other 11 contestants, though? They had either been voted off or eaten by giant monitor lizards. Including us, there were only five guests staying at Survivor Resort – and there was only three of us on the 30 minute boat ride from a tiny fishing port a two hour drive west from Kota Kinabalu.
One of the five contestants – I mean guests
Jasmine and our not very Survivor-like shelter
Although the island is referred to as Survivor Island its name is actually Pulau Tiga, and until Survivor came along the island was uninhabited – well, besides gangs of giant monitor lizards and cheeky troops of macaque monkeys. Sadly there were no Survivor inspired challenges or even a tribal council (the original ‘tribal council’ set was destroyed in a storm and the debris was cleared after it turned into a home for venomous snakes). And there was no sign of Jeff Probst. But that didn’t stop me and Jasmine competing in our very own immunity and reward challenges:
The Mud Challenge
It wasn’t that much of a challenge walking through the jungle to get to the mud baths (besides the heat and few mosquitos), but getting back certainly was. The island was actually formed through the eruption of several mud volcanoes (the last explosion happened in 1941) and in the middle of the island is a burping mud pit where the therapeutic mud is apparently good for your skin. Jasmine was not only the first to jump into the mud pit, she dived under and came up with only the whites of her eyes showing. After floating about for a bit we had a fun trek back to the resort while totally covered in wet mud and slipping all over the track. And although we washed off in the sea and had a long hot shower we both had mud stuck in our ears for days.
Jasmine stepping into the mud
Jasmine covered in mud
The Lizard Challenge
Jasmine declined to take part in this challenge. She saw one giant monitor lizard (with its giant mouth and giant tongue) and decided to sit out. I’d heard that the lizards hung around at the back of the resort kitchen, so I went for a look and found three beefy fellows right next to the back door. As I was taking some photos a staff member came out from the kitchen and said that he would feed them and ‘some more lizards will come.’ More lizards? A whole army of them came swarming out of the jungle when he started throwing out some meat from the kitchen door. At one point I was completely surrounded and the lizards were getting very antsy about getting their share of food. In fact, they were getting so franticly feral that they started to snap at each other. As it slowly turned into a blood bath, I took it as a good opportunity to get the hell out of there.
First there was two…
…then the bloodbath!
The Food Challenge
No, we didn’t have to eat any bug larvae or rats gizzards, but our challenge was to try and finish all our lunch. Even though there was only five of us at the resort, there was still a huge buffet for lunch, including fried chicken, curry prawns, pork ribs, an assortment of mixed vegetables, rice, chips and an array of desserts to top it of. We both topped up our plates twice, but Jasmine won when she went back for more fried chicken.
The Tidal Challenge
After lunch we went for a wander along the beach, but after walking for twenty minutes we came to a narrow and fast moving tidal river and couldn’t get to the other side. I came back later in the day when the tide was out and waded across the now shallow river and continued for another hour along the beach until I reached a rocky headland. That didn’t stop this intrepid survivor and I clambered over rocks for twenty minutes until I realised that the sun was dropping very quickly and I could be stuck getting back in the dark. I turned back, but almost didn’t make it. I had to walk through an absolute mine field of giant hermit crabs and the tide had started coming back in so I had to ford a fast flowing river. ‘I l almost died,’ I told Jasmine. ‘That’s good, did you get any good photos,’ Jasmine responded.
The sun begins to drop
One of the giant hermit crabs
The Monkey Challenge
Winner: The Monkey
On our last day Jasmine and I went for a hike into the jungle. We took a ‘side track’, but soon gave up when are legs were getting torn apart by prickly plants of some variety. It was what happened on our way back, though, that scared the hell out of Jasmine. We spotted a troop of macaque monkeys and I reached for my bag to get my camera when suddenly they were all around us. They thought I was probably reaching for food. Poor Jasmine freaked out and it made it even worse when I started laughing. ‘They are going to attack us!” Jasmine whispered in fear. ‘They’ll attack you first, too,’ I said. ‘Because you’re smaller.’ You have to play dirty if you want to win Survivor.
Into the jungle we go…
The beach was packed with noisy locals!
We could have happily stayed for another day or two, but sadly the tribe had spoken and it was time for us to go.