Shooting the Boh: A Woman’s Voyage Down the Wildest River in Borneo – Tracy Johnston (1995)

An enjoyable and fairly light romp as we tag along with author Tracy Johnston as she joins a small group of people on a trip to explore the Boh river in Borneo. Here, we have the typical mix of characters who alternately clash and get along with each other, and some really strong descriptions of being stuck in the rain forest during inclement weather, diminishing food supplies and an awful lot of unknowns. (This portion of the river had not been officially mapped before so was, essentially, unknown, map-wise. The native tribal people may have traveled through it previously, but with nothing official to support that. The trip was sponsored by an adventure travel business to see if the trip was viable.)

One thing right after another seemed to go wrong right from the start. Johnston’s well-prepared luggage was lost right when she landed, so she was forced to buy or beg supplies locally. She was in her 40’s, and was the oldest woman in the group of which she was acutely aware and had a tough time with. This was not helped by the fact that she recently hurt her back which meant that she couldn’t do as much physically as she would have liked. (This would have been frustrating for me as well.)

Additionally, the environment was very humid (of course), no breeze to evaporate your body sweat, and on and off rain storms with inadequate gear (due to the lost luggage). So it was challenging. Still, the book was well written as I could really sympathize with her plight. (I am truly awful with heat + hunger + tired or any combination of the three. She had all three at the same time. I would have been in tears.)

Despite these challenges (and the interpersonal challenges of her group mates), the author ended up appreciating this hot and humid river adventure. There is no way that I would sign up to do that (see note above re: heat/hunger/tired), but I enjoyed reading this and experiencing vicariously.

Pretty good read…

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