Monkeys and Meat Eating Plants

Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
Trip End Oct 23, 2009

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

After today I think I have officially hopped a ride on every crappy third world city bus ever built.  Today's hooptie was some Chinese built piece of yellow colored junk.  The exhaust leaking up through the floorboards added such a nice touch...Much much cheaper and so much more aromatic than buying those scented rearview mirror pinecone things.   We met up with our Singapore ladies to head to Bako National Park on a do it yourself mission to save $100 a person, and I can report it's mission accomplished via Borneo buses.  Why take an overpriced tour on their schedule and agenda when pure adventure and awesome local flavors await at $10 a person total?

This city bus runs once an hour on the thirty minute trip to the boat docks serving the Bako National Park.  Of course the tour operators will tell everyone it is all but impossible to reach the park independently, and of course we all know if you ask the right questions, the right doors open such as finding out about this bus. When I was told I couldn't do the trip on my own, I called B.S. on that one and made it my mission to find a way. 

So once at the docks we hired a small boat just like the water taxi to take us over to the park and the guy told us he would be back to pick us up at whatever time we wanted.  I gave my buddy lessons on how to properly enter and exit a small narrow water vessel due to our incidents the other day.  With his center of gravity safely settled within the boat, we set out at 7:30am.  An early start was the smartest choice we could have made all day besides arranging this visit ourselves.  Remember, this country is a tropical steambath and not the most pleasant place to be outdoors during the heat of the day.  And add to that the daily 4pm torrential rains which are incentive enough to be done early on.

The selection of possible trails was actually pretty amazing and we settled on one that would take five hours roundtrip.  I asked the Singapore ladies three times if they really could handle this and one assured me they walk a lot.  I am thinking to myself, yes pussycat, you may walk back home but it's a flat jungle of the urban kind.  I thought to myself, ok, I'll go along with this against my better judgment.  Two of our Singaporean friends crapped out on the slippery climb upwards within the first ten minutes and returned back for an easier flatter walk.  See...when will people ever listen to me.  Yes, it was steep but definitely not impossible.  I'd give it maybe a 4 out of 10 for hardness.   

Picture having an entire jungle to yourself...Nothing but the sounds of insects, birds and animals in the distance. I got a little insight into Singaporean life as well by listening to the comments our remaining friend made.  Hearing birds and insects was just something she wasn't used to and she admitted the sounds were overwhelming and sometimes scary.  Indeed, Singapore is a jungle but one of the urban highrise sort.  Trading her concrete jungle for an authentic one just blew her away.  What kind of deprived joint is Singapore that the sounds of nature are foreign?  Even I can hear birds high above Atlanta in my highrise condo.

Starting out so early mercifully spared us the full on microwave treatment, and I just wondered to myself how many out of shape people would pass out during the day because they had started hours after us at high noon.  I also did the math on my watch...they should have gotten wet sometime on the way back but after enjoying the full tanning bed/sauna combo beforehand.  Parts of the trails were steep and slippery enough as is when it's not raining.  I can't imagine trying to come down a mountain when it's wet, especially when grabbing onto something without looking first can mean a handful of fire ants.

The tip of this peninsula has been home to Bako National Park since 1957 and one of its claims to fame is having every type of vegetation known on Borneo.  The pitcher plant growing at higher altitudes interested looks just as its name implies and flies go inside it for whatever reason their simple minds find the plant interesting.  Once inside they can't escape anything but the plant eating them alive.  How can anyone not like a meat eating plant growing deep in some Malaysian rain forest? 

275 Proboscis monkeys call the park home as well, and we were lucky enough to see several near the beaches.  How they know it's 275 I am not sure since the monkeys stay high in the trees and are actually pretty shy.  But not too shy...stand directly below and they will happily provide some cooling relief from the sun via a piss shower.  Ask the two fat German chicks how a urine bath feels.  Now I hate to bash on a creature Mother Nature so lovingly created but damn that is one butt ugly monkey with that giant beak. 

We also gave a wide berth to some Borneo Bearded Pigs that crossed our path.  They are the largest mammal on Borneo and being wild boars, not the friendliest hosts to jungle put it in perspective they are about as big as a fat German Shepherd but with a temper like one of Michael Vick's pitbulls.

Thousands of ants would appear from time to time in the most random places and I just don't know how they stay in such perfect lines behind each other.  Humans haven't even mastered the ability to queue up like this anywhere I have been.  Actually I take that the UK they observe this art form religiously but I digress...

So you are telling yourself...yeah, yeah...jungles and wild pigs and a monkey is a monkey.  Right?  I can see all this crap in some worn out National Geographic at my dentist's office...etc... etc...  So really...What makes seeing this part of Borneo so unique that it's worth risking carbon monoxide poisoning on a bus, fighting bugs and dropping a gallon of sweat in the process?  I'd have to say it's the landscape and the pure beauty of unspoiled rainforest.  This part of Borneo was covered by ocean 75 million years ago and sediments from the mountains were carried out to the sea over millions of years.  Over time this sediment cemented together to form the sandstone cliffs now exposed after the waters retreated.  Pictures can't even capture what all this looks and sounds like in person.

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