Mud and leeches

Trip Start Jun 26, 2008
Trip End Jun 2009

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Where I stayed
Nature Lodge Kinabatanga

Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Jungle trip is about 2 hours from Sepilok and the scenery was brilliant and sad at the same time. One can see parts of once virgin rain forest however most of the landscape is now Palm trees which are farmed for Palm Oil.  Consequently most of the habitat for wildlife has been taken away, hence the need for sanctuaries like Sepilok.
Our lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan River was modest but nice. It has a similar feel to the set up of the Amazon and the scenery is similar. We did morning and afternoon river trips to see the animals and were very lucky to see two Oran Utans in a large tree - a young male and a female. This is rare as they are solitary animals and only come together during breeding; it is even rarer to see this in the wild. We also got to see many Proboscis and long tailed Macaque monkeys and apparently a troop of silver leaf monkeys (we had left our binos in our room as we thought rain was on its way and had a lovely dry trip but no close up shots of these monkeys).   A chance spotting of a 3 meter croc was also great. The bird life is prolific with beautiful Rhino billed Hornbills, fish eagles, egrets, Braminy kites, and kingfishers.
We did a night walk through the forest which we shall name the Great Mud Trek, as most of the hour walk in the immense humidity was spent with torch to the ground looking where you were stepping. We were dressed in "leech gear" essentially wellies, long trousers tucked into your normal socks and then a pair of leech socks over and tied tightly below the knee.... The only reward for our efforts was one sleeping gecko and one sleeping kingfisher. Luckily the nearly full moon made the upper forest canopy beautiful.
For those who have never had the "pleasure" of leeches you should be made aware that they are from some other planet - you can't kill them and they will always get you!
Some anecdotal evidence of this:
         Leeches are water proof - Having found one on my sock I tried to wash it down the basin in fast running water and it stuck to the basin like glue
         Leeches cannot be squashed to death - I then opted for the wrap it in toilet paper and squash it thoroughly and throw in the bin.2 hours later I found it happily waving at me from the bathroom floor looking for a host to suck....!
         Leeches are toilet flush proof- So I then picked it up and flushed it down the toilet wrapped in more toilet paper with some more aggressive squashing applied - sure enough I found the same fellow on the toilet basin 20 minutes later.... I thought I was going mad but other guests had similar stories.....
So in conclusion take them outside and put near your neighbors' hut so they can suck them and then not need blood again for 2 years thus leave you in peace!
We took a 3 hour trek the next day which was a tough but pleasant 3 hours of plodding through some of the meanest mud, avoiding leeches and watching out for all things that could get you.... Our highlight was finding a hatchling python on the path that played dead until I picked up a twig and tried to move it, to which the little devil launched itself at me.... It was only 15cm long but clearly has loads of attitude!
We enjoyed our time there and met some nice people who we exchanged experiences with as many of them have either done the mountain trip or diving so it was good to hear what was good.
The people of the lodge were all excellent and Papa Bear made sure we well looked after.
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