Bornean Beauty in Bako

Trip Start Jan 18, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2013

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Proboscis Monkey (It's that one with the funny nose) is not only indigenous but only found in Borneo. Due to its diet it is rarely even found in zoo's making seeing it in the wild not only an appealing option but almost your only option. An endangered species you still have to come to the right places even to have a chance of seeing one. Bako National Park is one of those few places. Established in 1957 it is Sarawak's oldest national park. A stones throw from Kuching it is also one of the states most accessible. Despite its small size of under 28 Square Kilometres it has alot within it. Long-tailed macaques, wild boars, Asian pit vipers as well as proboscis monkeys and lots more wildlife can be found here. In fact it is probably the best wildlife spotting park in the country. As if that wasn't enough the scenery here is simply breath-taking. Multiple biomes, jungle streams and waterfalls, secluded beaches, and trekking trails make this place a jungle paradise and easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
Day 130: Sunday 27th May 2012

Getting up early I grabbed some tea and toast from breakfast and jumped on the bus bound for Bako National Park. From there I needed to get a boat to the Park proper. Unfortunately this costs a small fortune to do alone so I had to wait for some other people to show up that were looking not only to go there now but also stay a night and leave the following day. This was because you had to by a return ticket rather than a one way one and go back with the same people you enter with. No idea why they do it this way its just how they operate here. I ended up joining with Alan & Patricia, an American Couple from New York. The 20 minute boat ride cruised up the mouth of the river into the South China Sea. The coast line here is easily as spectacular is not surpassing that of the Perhentian Islands. The rocky sea stacks are simply phenomenal. Huge strutting outcrops that shoot out of the sea, seemingly from nowhere, normally peaked with trees, shrubs and fauna. I've never seen an environment more foreign, more alien to me than this. Truly spectacular.

After getting to know the local wild boars that live around the park headquarters and the mundane tasks of checking in and unpacking the three of us hit the trails. First on the list was a small walk just shy of a kilometre to the nearby beach of Telok Paku. It was a trail littered with smooth huge boulders and jutting roots along a undulating, winding path. We saw some Long-tailed macaques early on, jumping about high among the trees. Craning our necks skywards snapping away wildly with cameras we eventually moved on when we could no longer keep our heads pointed upwards. The beach itself was again magnificent. The sea wasn't the clear blue that I had seen elsewhere around Malaysia but really you would be nit picking to complain about it. Words really don't do this place justice. 
The main part of our trek today was along the Lingtang trail. A much more substantial route of approximately 4-5 hours it takes a nice arch around a sizeable portion of the park. It is about the longest route you can hope to make of the park whilst still making it back to base in the same day. The main draw of this route is that varied biomes that it takes you through. Literally every 500m or so the scenery changes completely, you could be half a country away. From deepest jungle to sandy beach paths, rocky walkways to spartan plateaus this trail really kept your interest peaked. The wildlife this far into the park was strangely less prevalent than it had been at the start but the plants, trees and fauna were more than enough to keep you occupied. Just as we got back to the park we were treated with the perfect way to end out hike. At the end of the trail not 100M for the sea was a small group of Proboscis monkeys fighting in a clearing. As we crept closer to them they hid in some bushes before climbing up into some trees. Fortunately they were then not to obscured and we got our first real look at these bizarre creatures. The younger ones seem to have sharp pointed noses but the older ones definitely have that huge bulging nose that you expect them to have. Slow and largely uninterested by our presence they are obviously accustomed to humans being around. Still it was an amazing experience and I was so pleased I got to see them.
After a few hours recovery back at Park HQ we headed out on the night walk. Going by torchlight we got to see everything from scorpions and spiders to snakes, frogs, stick insects and even fish. Its amazing how much more you see by night here than you do during the day. The guide was amazing we would never have seen half a much without him. We were worried at one point that we had been caught in the rain but it turned out just to be a golden shower courtesy of a nearby proboscis monkey. When the lights went out we got a real sense of exactly what dark meant. Despite what you might think it isn't at all scary being deep in the jungle at night its actually rather peaceful listening to the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife whilst wandering through it silently was really soothing.
Day 131: Monday 28th May 2012 

After a quick breakfast (I had Kaya on Bread as it was the cheapest thing on an otherwise pretty pricey menu) we headed out on our morning trek. we were headed for Telok Pandan Kecil Beach. A few hours round trip it should have us back in plenty of time to catch our boat back. Whilst the trek was enjoyable and beautiful enough in itself the beach was a step above even what we had seen yesterday. True beach jungle paradise. The brown rivers and streams meeting the dark blue of the oceans surrounded by beautiful sea stacks and white sands. I was more than happy to spend a few hours here exploring up the estuary and along the rock lined coastline. In contrast with the blind panic that was to hit me later that evening I was almost completely at peace for the time I spent here. It was just a drag pulling myself away from the place. Anyone coming to Borneo must make going to Bako National Park a priority it far surpassed the convenient day trip from Kuching that I had originally took it for.

Arriving back in Kuching I headed back to the Threehouse to spend the night. I was hoping for a nice relaxing evening filled with surfing the web, watching films and catching up on my blog. Unfortunately although it started out that way it was not to last. After a quick chat with Alex we discovered that our flights to Mulu (The details for which I had sent to her so that she could by) were not flights to Mulu. Despite the fact that I went through the Mulu site to get them the website auto-fill had selected tickets that went to Labuan (A vegas-esk island in the completely wrong direction) instead! Nightmare. After a panic filled few hours (And quite a few apologies) we got our flights re-booked and researched as fully as we could about the possibility of getting our old tickets refunded. It was at this point that Ben, whom Alex had met and began travelling with in Kuala Lumpur became included in our plans as he had decided to join us. I thought he was quite brave considering all the business with the plane tickets being messed up. Being in a bit of a travel admin kind of mood by he end of it I decided to finalise my plans of going to Indonesia following Borneo and booked a flight out of Bali for just after a month after leaving Borneo. In order to get an Indonesian Visa they require you to provide proof of onward travel. Hopefully this would allow me to travel by ferry from Melaka a day or so after arriving back in KL.
In preparation for my 15 hour bus journey the next day followed by an 8+ hour wait through th night in a bus station I decided to pull an all nighter. The hope being that I would be tired enough the next day to sleep during the day on the bus and wouldn't be too tired during the following night. It was more challenging than I remember it being during University but I managed it nonetheless. It wouldn't really work though unfortunately, it was only after the journey that I got the suggestion to use some sleeping pills. Sometimes the most obvious solutions escape us...
Day 132: Tuesday 29th May 2012

A travel day in every sense of the word. Not waking up so much as freshening up after my all nighter I made my way first to the airport in the hope of being able to cancel my original Mulu tickets and getting back some of the money. As concerned as I was about getting my money back if I'm honest I was more worried about if Alex would be able to get her money back as in my eyes it was my fault that she had lost it. Her tickets had also been almost twice as much as mine as she had booked them later. I was informed that due to my tickets being a promotion deal they were not liable to be refunded. That didn't stop them from cancelling them straight away regardless to sell onto someone else of course...

The rest of the day was spent on the worlds coldest bus. As warm as it was outside they decided to blast air-con on full whack so that everyone is shivering uncontrollably for the entire journey. All hopes of sleeping on the trip vanished almost immediately, and I distracted myself form the cold with some reading and listening to music. I arrived in Miri a little after 1am. Figuring the bus companies would open somewhere between 6-8 I settled down on a bench and napped as much as I could before morning. I may have been outside but at least it was warmer now than on the bus and im sure I managed an hour or 2.

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Gran @ Grandad H on

as you said James this place is stunning. keep enjoying yourself love Gran and Grandad H.

MH on

MyGod what an absolutely enchanting place!!!

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