Where did you get that nose?

Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
Trip End Sep 17, 2009

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back to Kuching (free lift from our host, great!) only to jump straight back on a local bus to visit the jungle at the Bako National Park. Leaving the bus at the river jetty we looked for other folks to share the cost of a boat. Taking note of the crocodile warning we soon joined a Dutch family on a 20 minutes scenic motor boat trip down the river estuary.

We’d managed to book accommodation for two nights when we had first reached Kuching, this is peak season and rooms were at a premium because this is the only place you can stay inside of the park. We’d been told the accommodation was basic which proved very true (there’s been very little maintenance since the park operation was privatised 5 years ago) and due to the recent lack of rain there was practically no water at all (so no showers for 2-3 days!). The food was also the worst we’ve had in Malaysia. Hopefully this will improve in the coming years as they install new water pipes and new accommodation.

You might think from this that we’d wished we’d not gone to Bako but far from it …. the main attraction is the wildlife and jungle treks and these 100% lived up to their  promise.

On the first afternoon we walked over to a small beach where a group of Macaque monkeys came down to the sea (to hunt crabs we think, of which there were loads). These are quite scary as they are known to be curious and can get aggressive; they are also quite common here and you didn’t have to go far to see lots of them.

On the way back we spotted the highlight of our visit, a group of Proboscis Monkeys (locally known as Dutchmen due to their big noses!) and we sat for ages above a mangrove swamp watching them feeding from the trees – a truly memorable experience. We also bumped into a family of Bearded Pigs in the swamp, Dad, Mom and the three little piglets.

The second day we walked around the 5.8km Lintang trail; most wildlife was hiding from the heat of the day we think but in any case this trail is known for it’s varied terrain and habitat and we at least managed to find several kinds of pitcher plant. 5.8km doesn’t sound so far but to give it some perspective here is an extract from Redmond O’Hanlon’s ‘Into the Heart of Borneo’* :

‘On the tarmac, crossing to the airport sheds, the heat of the equator hit me for the first time. It squeezed around you like the rank coils of an unseen snake pressing the good air out of your lungs, covering you with a slimy sweat. Fifteen yards of this was enough, a mile would be impossible …..’.

but you acclimatise and you can take your time; we took about 4 hours.

In the evening we took a night trek with the park guides (too many people really but we enjoyed it anyway), less flying insects than we expected (probably because it is so dry at the moment) and no night mammals but we very much enjoyed seeing snakes, a huge spider, a black scorpion and a bunch of other stick insects and crawlies.

On our last day we had a lazy start and then went to the jetty hoping to find others leaving but were a bit out of luck. We kicked our heels for a couple of entertaining hours watching the boatmen trying to free a boat stuck in the mud when, just as we were about to give up and take a boat by ourselves, who should show up but the Dutch family we’d arrived with. They had decided to cut their stay short by a night due to the shortcomings of the accommodation.

On the boat we were all dreaming of that first shower back in Kuching.

* very recommended reading!
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Where I stayed
Bako Park Chalet

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