Botanists and adventurers have climbed Mount Kinabalu since mid nineteenth century. It soars 13,455 feet above sea level - the highest peak between New Guinea and the Asian mainland. Orchids grow there. Cool. Cool growing that is.
Ever chasing orchids along the pathways to Asia and the Pacific I found myself in a bus load of tourists screaming along the shores of the South China Sea heading up the mountain - following an angle on group travel for some magazine or other. Sweeps of sacred lotus streamed by and it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel to stop for the shot but (like most pre-determined package deals) ever onward and upward. No lotus stop. Learn to avoid tour groups.
Passing clouds misted the forest and soaked us to the skin while we anticipated lunch - wrong season. Not a solitary flower to be found. I raced around searching alternative landscapes and, suddenly, fainted dead away. No lunch and no orchids. Lack of oxygen and hyperactive. I should have known better.
Coming to after a little R&R I noticed an honesty box beside a few rough hewn wooden spoons. Twenty cents each and lovingly hand made. The local craft shop. Rough, but real. The spoon was well worth the coins I dropped into the box.
A lesson learned Shop close to the source where money does most good. AND a good lotus shot beats a fanciful orchid hunt any day. Just remember to jump ship when when the Sacred Red Lotus starts flashing. MaX
PS Twenty years on, the spoon still makes a great stirrer.