Jungle trekking again

Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
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Trip End Sep 22, 2003


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Friday, March 7, 2003

6th March - Managed to find the right bus from the many at the station and headed out to Bako National Park. The bus fare was only 2.50RM each for the 45 minute journey but when we got to the jetty we were the only ones who wanted a boat so had to decide to wait or not. The boat holds 7 people (allegedly) and costs 40RM so we had to pay it for the two of us in case no-one else turned up on the later buses. This boat was smaller than our previous ones, more like a little fishing boat and we chugged along and out to the South China Sea passing hundreds of boats fishing for prawns way out. We passed lovely dense forest scenery and then suddenly stopped and the boatmen told us to get out here as the tide was too low. He pointed towards some forest so we took off our shoes and socks and waded onto the beach and through the trees to the office area. Unfortunately we had to book the same boat back which meant making a decision without knowing how long we really wanted to stay and without being able to find anyone else to share the boat cost with us. This is something no-one told us before we went!

As we couldn't check in, we decided to embark on our fist walk which took us down to the cliffs and beach which was about an hour each way. We'd been told it was okay to wear sandals but quickly regretted listening to this advice as we stumbled over terrain similar to Taman Negara. After about 45mins we heard some crashing in the trees and Pip spotted our first proboscis monkey! The males of this species have long floppy noses and pot-bellies and the females have flat noses and we were really lucky to see about 3 or 4. These rare and timid monkeys are only found in Borneo and many people fail to spot them even here. Down on the beach we were rewarded with views of beautiful jungle and cliffs surrounding a secluded beach with just a few naughty macaque monkeys for company. Then we sweated our back to our room which was spacious and had fans, shower (cold water), fridge and kettle. Unfortunately the water was a good shade of brown though! The pace with which we have been travelling caught up with us and we slept all afternoon. Pip went out for a stroll but didn't get very far as there was a little monkey outside the room rummaging through the bins and we soon spotted about 20 of the little thieves and a mother grooming her baby. Dinner tasted better than it looked and we were entertained by bats flying through to catch insects and the arrival of two bearded pigs who snuffled about in the ground around the canteen and then snuffled off again. Also saw our first flashing firefly!

7th March - Tried to start our walk early to beat some of the heat but we still dripped with sweat until we were dry inside and soaked on the out. Our 1.5 hour each way walk to Padan Kecil took us through dense forest and then open rock landscape and we spotted the famous pitcher plants that trap insects in their jug like petals and they dissolve in the soupy liquid. We eventually reached the cliffs and climbed down to the secluded sandy beach. Although there was no-one else there, we were certainly not alone - many little crabs scurried across the sand, a white bellied sea eagle swooped over the cliffs and we heard monkeys in the trees and saw huge trails left by the monitor lizards. On the way back we bumped into a group trekking with a guide and they told us about the snake at the start of the track. Sure enough we found the little green pit viper on the leaves close to where we had placed our hands a few hours earlier!

8th March - On our way to the jetty we caught sight of a family of silver leaf monkeys which was really lucky as they are as timid as the proboscis. We were convinced by the boatman to get the boat early but this meant waiting ages for the bus at the other end and we were approached by a taxi at the jetty - is this a set up? Anyway, we sat down for a long wait at the bus stop but a minibus pulled up and offered to take us instead. This is the local form of transport and it worked out a bit dearer but it got us back nice and early to continue our activities back in Kuching.
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