Backstage in Borneo- Adventures with Bear Grylls

Not wanting to appear a name dropper, I purposely avoided using Bear Grylls` name (Man vs Wild- the Discovery Channel) while recounting the adventures of Borneo. Certainly Bear would show Offspring #2 and me in several shots from “Man vs Wild- Borneo,” as we, along with his camera crew, took an active role in the filming of this installment of the series.What we found out about this super He-man is his knack for making the easy hard.

Mt. Kinabalu

For example, he opened the show executing a treacherous descent via helicopter drop while we took the more leisurely approach.

This was the beginning of our education regarding the true behind the scenes action. Honestly, how “Wild” is it in the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre? Bear was only interested in escape but the rest of us wanted to see the orangutans – whom will probably be extinct in the next 15-20 years. In order to get a view of the “Man of the Forest”- the orangutans, not Bear- the primates were lured in with bananas.

OS#2 and I were mesmerized as the apes and a hand-full of monkeys came in exactly at 11:30 for lunch. We learned these orangutans are fed bananas every day at 11:30. Eventually, they tire of this unvaried diet and forage in the jungle for wild food. This turn in behavior facilitates an eventual return to the wild. Once Bear was informed he couldn`t eat the bananas or the orangutans, he lost interest.

Like so many boys before him, he`d rather sleep outside even when plenty of Eco Friendly lodges would have provided an equally uncomfortable experience. As night rolled in, Bear mimicked the orangutans by building a nest in the forest canopy. I don`t recall if he explained the nightly ritual of the orangutans building new nests in varying locations in order to protect themselves from predation, but, he did light some grass in a home-made tiki torch to protect himself from his greatest fear – mosquitoes.

The next day we all tramped through the rain forest- Bear, OS#2 ,me, the camera crew and all the support staff, in search of something repulsive for Bear to eat. No surprise, he picked one of his usual suspects- a non-venomous snake which he claimed bit him, didn`t taste like chicken, and was boney. Blah, blah, blah….We were on to his pattern of doing everything the hard way.

While Bear fought with the still moving tail on the snake as it roasted on the spit, the crew, OS#2 and I ate what Bear wouldn`t. Fruit.

Cat Eye Fruit. It should be called Dead Cat Eye fruit because it resembles something on a zombie cat.

Snake Skin Fruit. This clumping of snake-skin will elicit the famed “pee in the pants response” when seen in the wild.

Unknown, non-poisonous fruit which looks like a green apple and tastes like a sweet bell pepper:

And, of course, the world`s  jungle go-to favorite:

Bear really is a picky eater.

On the other hand, as a tv viewer, watching Bear vomit something he`d eaten would be true entertainment. If it doesn`t come back up, how bad can it be? If Bear wanted to prove his machismo, eating the Dorian fruit would cement his image. One whiff from that fruit of nasty could stop a charging elephant. So putridly pungent ( I know, I just created that word) are these malodorous yet edible plants, they`re outlawed inside hotels lest the guests run from the hotel screaming. And worse.

How it was tried as a food source in the first place remains one of the world`s great unsolved mysteries. It resembles something from a critically ill person`s bed ban.

My only advice to offer Bear in the future is to mind the signage. You`re never too old or experienced to learn from the natives.

“Bear- love- watch that Dorian tree- don`t get too close. It can hurt you,” I mothered as one of the football sized fruits fell from the tree knocking him out cold and poking 100 holes in his head. I`m sorry the viewing public missed that- a very dramatic moment.

Being in a rain forest, one should expect rain. While he waxed on to the television audience of the discomforts from the rain dragging the camera crew along the ground behind him, OS#2 and I took advantage of the canopy walk above. It was much easier.

Lovers of “Man vs Wild” have learned that Bear usually searches out streams and rivers on which to navigate his way out of his challenging situations. While he paddled along on a raft made of bamboo, we followed behind in a boat for 12. We passed several villages along the way while Bear looked for a lone boater in order to stage a dramatic rescue.

We stopped to go potty when the urge hit while he paddled on madly.

He eventually found someone with which to stage his escape from the jungle.

Bear`s wild climb from the boat while clinging desperately to the yo-yo was also cut from the final footage. We went up the ladder.

Now- the answer to the question posed last time. What`s the difference between a monkey and an ape? Monkeys have tails.

Finally, Bear`s version of surviving in the Bornean jungle. YouTube Video HERE.

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38 Responses to Backstage in Borneo- Adventures with Bear Grylls

  1. Where have I been that I don’t know about this show? Surely, I can’t blame it on Haiti any more.

    But, nothing smells nastier than dorian fruit. One time one of Sara’s staff in Vietnam brought it to the office for lunch, and I insisted there was a natural gas leak we needed to find and fix–that is until we realized the real offender–in olfactory terms, at least.



  2. The question for you, can you eat the cat eye fruit and how doe it taste?


  3. Bob says:

    Wow looks like an amazing adventure.
    I have seen the durian fruit on chef and travel oriented shows and have even seen it here for sale in some of Winnipeg’s Oriental markets. I to date haven’t had the balls to go near one let alone eat some. Did you try a taste or was the smell enough to keep you away?


  4. jacquelincangro says:

    I’m with Bob – Does the durian fruit taste as bad as it smells and looks? I also wonder how did people ever realize that it was edible in the first place? Do locals eat it often?
    I don’t know if I could try that cat’s eye fruit.
    The orangutans have the right idea by sticking to bananas.


    • amblerangel says:

      The locals eat it up! I guess it`s like chitlins- you don`t realize it`s bad until someone from out of town comes over. The Dorian was too much for me. It tastes good but the smell and consistency were just too much. The Cat Eye was really good.


  5. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words) says:

    What a fascinating perspective. Question, do they always have the disclaimer on the video about staging some things to show escapes, or is that a reaction to your post? Hmmm. I remember smelling the Dorian fruit on a visit to Thailand. I would never try it.

    Loved this post.


    • amblerangel says:

      I think they always have a disclaimer- otherwise they might be in the wild for months looking for high energy excitement to record. Of course, Bear probably felt the need to add that after he was exposed in this blog…. I think the Dorian might be a “national fruit” of Thailand….


  6. bercton says:

    Exciting photos and Great post!


  7. Nice post! Sounds like you and OS#2 had a really great adventure.

    Yes, what is it about Bear Grylls that he can’t eat like a normal human being? I watched one of his adventures in Africa, and he ate raw zebra meat left over from a lion kill. Why raw? Aren’t those adventurer-types supposed to be able to light a fire without matches?


    • amblerangel says:

      The WORST was when he squeezed elephant poo for water. That I could watch over and over. I agree- never knew why he ate the raw meat- especially already dead. Wouldn`t you kill off some of the bacteria by cooking it?


      • All I keep thinking when I watch his programs is. His poor wife! First, she’s got herself a husband intent on killing himself – on camera. And then he does the most disgusting things. Just imagine having to go on vacation with him?!

        It’s certainly not a good idea to eat raw meat that’s been lying out in the sun for a day or two. I can’t remember why he didn’t cook it. Think he said it (the fire and the smell of cooking) would attract predators. Maybe that’s true, but predators also don’t like being close to fire.


  8. Tori Nelson says:

    I particularly like how The Bear always insists on disrobing, peeing, and putting wee-soaked clothes back on for “temperature control”. I always figured they were filming in some really well-decorated sound stage and the pee was overkill 🙂


  9. Pingback: The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Family Lost in Corn Maze Calls 911 « Author Piper Bayard

  10. Olga SE says:

    The small monkeys look so cute (or are they apes?). I’d have no idea of what there is in most pictures if you hadn’t provided descriptions!


  11. Fio says:

    Hi Emily,
    Can I ask, why did you go to Borneo? It is not in most people’s tourist destinations. And I’ve never seen that show, but why were you there with the crew? By chance? Please excuse my curiosity!


  12. J H says:

    Wow. Sounds like quite the adventure.


  13. tokyobling says:

    Wonderful images. Very envious. If I ever tire of Japan I now know where to spend the rest of my days on this crowded Earth of ours. I can relate to the offspring. My Japanese friends make fun of me when I stop to look at every animal I manage to spot in the wild of Japan, even tiny lizards can captivate me for hours.


  14. What a wonderful adventure – lucky you!

    I never knew the difference between monkeys and apes, but now I do! I never actually noticed the difference LOL 🙂


  15. xandimusic says:

    Great adventure, nice pics, very good!


  16. Dana says:

    One drab winter day, we watched a whole marathon of Man vs. Wild. I’ve had my fill for life now… I have to echo an earlier comment: HIS POOR WIFE!! 🙂


  17. How’s Borneo for fossils and prehistoric stuff? I suppose there would be early human artifacts and untouched areas to research and dig. Something I always wanted to do.


  18. Lloyd says:

    The caves are the best place for finding ancient human artifacts. There are lots of huge caves in Borneo. The floors of the caves are usually covered by bat and swift poo, dead birds and bats and lots of crawly things. You will not get competition searching from me.
    Out under the jungle things are really damp and humid and rot. Most materials used by the native peoples are natural plant and animal materials and any evidence of habitation is likely to be gone fairly quickly.
    Pottery survives. There is evidence of hundreds of years trade with China, and of Chinese techniques being introduced to Borneo.


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