Kinabatangan River

Trip Start Jul 05, 2006
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Trip End Sep 18, 2007


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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Wednesday afternoon we got the local bus from Sandakan to Uncle Tan Jungle Camp's op. base in Gum Gum. From there, having been fed and found we were driven to the jetty and reached the camp itself on Kinabatangan River after a one and a half hr boat ride. The camp itself was extremely well looked after, the accommodation was spartan but clean with lino-covered floors and mossie nets were supplied minus holes! The food over the three days we were there was really good too and there was an open house policy regarding the kitchen which was much appreciated by Sinead who is forever a "little peckish"!

It was a fabulously surreal experience to view crocodiles, monitor lizards, probosis monkeys (the males have a permanent erection boys as the pickings are so good its not worth their while working themselves up each time...fact!!), macaque monkeys, bearded hogs, civet cats, more spiders than you could shake a stick at of all shapes and sizes, including a baby tarantula, all kinds of little frogs, many of them poisonous the feckers and an orang utan (well his bum anyway way up in his nest in a very high tree but we saw him waving his arms about from his sitting position!) all in their natural habitat just doing their thing. I was really taken with the birds, the huge hornbills, eagles, storks and egrets but especially the technicolour kingfishers!



On our night safari, yes family Sinead was in the jungle in the dark with a little torch!!, we came across a really big black scorpion. Our guide picked it up to show us and nothing would do Damian but to have a go as well so he had a tail flicking scorpion walking stealthily up and down his arm. Its all very safe once you dont touch their backs and keep your shirt sleeve tightly shut apparently! The rest of us took his word for it! The birds we came across looked like they were stuffed and placed on the branches, they were just perched there sound asleep, not in the least bit bothered by the torch light it seemed, which was good.

Was interesting to have a guide all the time on our walks, we came across a slight tree with plenty of spikes up along its trunk which was pretty cool to look at, not so cool to learn that were you to break off one of the spikes and touch the black sap inside, it is poisonous enough to kill you! Plenty of the plants of all shapes and sizes would give you something akin to a nettle burn were you to touch them and some worse than this. For a finish one could be forgiven for thinking ignorance is bliss!!



Highlight of the camp for me was a fishing trip with one of the guides, Damo and four others at a lake beside the camp for a number of reasons, least of which i caught a fish!! Lan our guide and the camp leader has been in the camp for ten years and has devised a special method of fishing while there which he calls "lazyman fishing"! We headed off with three big water bottles each under our arm, to which were attached a fishing line around the neck of the bottle with a hook at the end of it. We also had two big nets so i was thoroughly confused!

Turned out Lan used the net to catch tiny fish as bait and put them on our hooks for us, then we kicked off the shoes and waded into the lake in our clothes, up to our shoulders in water and up to our knees in squidgy sludgy mud! The water was incredibly hot, a veritable brown muddy bath! Felt like a little five year old whose Mammy was of the "there's plenty water for washing" philosophy! In we went with our bottles tightly closed and dotted them strategically around the lake. Then we waded back out and waited for a fish to bite!

I had a false start, waded all the way in to find that a little fella must have been playing with the bait coz there was nothing doing! Back out again and before long the bottle was going mental, went from just lying there to doing vertical dips in and out of the water. Made sure it was the real thing this time and in again to find a 1kg snake head fish on the end of my line, is the first fish i have ever caught, lazyman or otherwise and it was so exciting! Back out with my hands way over my head to keep it from slipping away on me in the water, proud as punch! Damian and I had to leave early to go on a scheduled river safari but it turns out that after we left another of my bottles struck lucky and one of Damian's as well so all in all a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a fab dinner that evening as well as the fisher people had a table all to ourselves and got to savour our spoils!!

Thoroughly memorable experience!
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