Monkey mayhem

Trip Start Sep 24, 2010
Trip End Oct 15, 2010

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We've said it before on this trip... but we'll say it again... wow.

Bako National Park was heralded as one of the best spots to see wildlife up close and it did not disappoint.

We headed off from Kuching in a cab for the 30 minute drive north up to Bako and then hopped into a boat for the next 15 minutes boat ride over to the national park. You can only get there by boat. Nice.

We arrived around 11:00 am and walked over to the headquarter office. Our cabin wasn't ready yet so we put our bags in the storage area and got out what we needed for our first exploration.

Before we go into our first hike let me tell you about the greeting I got from a local monkey. The park ranger pointed out that their were proboscis monkeys in the tree right near the office so we walked over to have a look. We saw a young monkey pretty close by and crept up to take some pictures. We then noticed a bigger male in the same tree and were loving our luck at our first monkey sighting. The male hung out for a minute or two but then must have got annoyed at us (possibly feeling protective of the younger monkey) and he bared his teeth and started coming closer (still up in the tree though). We backed up a bit and then the little bugger sat on a branch and pointed his crotch at me and started to pee... at me. If I hadn't been backing up this whole time he might have peed on me. I present exhibit A in the photos of said proboscis monkey PEEING AT ME! Welcome to Bako indeed.

For our first hike we chose to tackle the 2.6 km trek out to a secluded beach called Kecil. We walked out through the mangrove forest and then up into the rainforest. This path was no joke. We were almost immediately climbing up at about a 40 degree angle pulling ourselves up by tree roots and loving it. It had rained that morning so the trail was pretty muddy in parts but equally wet in others. It was almost like walking though a tiny stream for about a third of the hike. Rachel's waterproof North Face shoes held up well and my Keen sandals were splashing around with no problem.

We hike up and over the land mass of the peninsula crossing over a good variety of terrain. We started off in deep forest with amazing views all around us that almost looked like a movie set. There were amazing huge trees reaching up to block out the sun, massive boulders with water running down them, intertwined roots everywhere and the occasional man-made wooden steps to help you over some of the tougher parts. The forest opened up as we reached the top and we found ourselves walking on long stretches of wooden walkways. This led to a sand trail and my shoes came off to hike in the soft sand with the water rushing around my toes. We were then hiking over what looked like volcanic red rock before finally re-entering the rainforest and hiking down the steep final 100 meters to the beach.

The beach was pretty amazing. There were about 8 people there when we arrived and we quickly put our stuff down and headed for the water. It was like a warm bath and perfect for lying back for a float. We stayed in the water for about an hour and a half and chatted at one point to a guy from New Jersey who was there with his Chinese wife. They lived in China which is now having their national holiday so lots of Chinese are on vacation.

The group that was with us had hired a boat to take them back but we decided we would hike back and all of a suddent we were alone... our own private beach. It was pretty special.
We wandered round the beach a little more and discovered a secluded bay where we lay down to just feel the waves on our toes and listen to the forest.

At around 2:00 we started to pack up and head back. The hike back was fun but hot as the sun was in full form and we were sweating pretty hard by the time we checked in to our room. We were also pretty hungry so we quickly showered and headed over to the canteen.

We sat down for lunch (buffet style noodles, chicken, rice) and started chatting about the hike. We were late eating so it was just us and the staff at the canteen. All of a sudden a grey faced monkey appeared at the end of our table and started running towards my plate of food. Ahhhh! It happened so fast that all I manged to do was stand up and vaguely wave my fork at it. It saw that it was caught in the act as Rachel and I stood up but instead of turning to run it kept right at my plate and lunged at the food smacking both of his hands together causing the food to explode all over the table. He then turned and ran. It didn't look like he got much food, if any, it seemed like he was almost saying "You caught me but if I can't have any... neither can you mofo!". He literally clapped his hands together in my noodles and they flew up in the air like a toddler having a tantrum during dinner. Crazy monkey. Rachel was doubled over laughing and I remained slightly stunned as my dinner was now all over the table. All I could muster was a good "Darn you monkey!" "I'm so hungry".

These monkeys are not shy.

We headed off to our cabin for a rest and some book reading. We were pretty wiped from our day's hiking and as we were both finished with our books we traded and lay down for some good reading. Rachel went out on a night hike and I stayed in for a nap. Rachel spotted some cool stuff that night - a green tree snake, a stick insect, a glowing mushroom and a mouse deer.

We had another great hike this morning out to a different beach. This trail was supposed to be the best for spotting monkeys and sure enough as we headed out we saw a family of proboscis monkeys bounding across the sand. Really great to watch them move.

Today's hike was relatively short at just under a kilometer but still pretty tough going. We reached to beach and after a little while we again had it all to ourselves. We stayed about an hour and then headed back. I picked up a nice long stick for our journey back though monkey territory to disuade any of the little critters from getting too close. Funny how quickly they turned from beautiful creatures to watch with fascination to cheeky little punks that may need a stick waving to keep them from grabbing our packs.

Overall Bako was just stunningly beautiful and a joy to visit. I real natural treasure. We saw tons of monkeys, wild bearded boar all over the place, fiddler crabs, colourful birds, and much more.

We have started calling this our mega-moon as our short trip in Canada right after we got married is refered to as the mini-moon and Bako was definitely full of great mega-moon moments.

We headed back from Bako on the public bus which was very nice and only a buck. We our now back in Kuching in a very nice little boutique hotel called The Batik. We went out for a great dinner at a place called Top Spot. It is an open air seating area surrounded by stalls with fresh fish and veggies on display. You walk over and choose your fresh fish and they prepare it how you want. I had a great lobster grilled up with a little garlic and Rachel had a Black something or other with a prawn sauce. We also got fried rice, jungle ferns, and freshly squeezed fruit juices... yum.

We fly over to Kota Kinabalu tomorrow and I turn 33. We'll see what adventure awaits for my birthday.

Ian and Rachel

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