Born(eo) to be Wild
Trip Start Jul 10, 2006
48Trip End May 31, 2007
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We (unknowingly) arrived in Kuching, Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) on none other than Malaysia's National Day - and this lot take this day VERY seriously. Kuching had been selected as the major city for the celebrations! We weaved our way through a display of Malaysia 's military might (tanks, armoured transporter vehicles, rocket launchers, etc.), "fully-loaded" with backpacks and a massive souvenir parcel in the shape of a rifle... Not THAT popular.
Bako National Park is Sarawak's oldest National Park, and it's only a short rattling bus and speedboat ride to the Park HQ. It is also the home of the Proboscis Monkey (approx. 1,000 in Borneo), known locally as "The Dutchman".
We were told by a tree-hugging couple (who were clearly the people that David Attenborough would call if he ever had a tough final naturalist-related question on Who Wants to be a Millionare) that sightings of Proboscis monkeys were EXTREMELY rare, and that we needed to be up WELL BEFORE sunrise, and AT LEAST 5km from the main camp if we were to have a REMOTE chance of spotting a monkey's backside (never mind its pink nose) from 500m through dense forest, using military-issue binoculars. OBVIOUSLY we must be fantastic game trackers because lo and behold a large Proboscus Monkey was sitting in a tree above our room 5 minutes after we arrived!
Upon opening the door to our room, we saw a smoldering mosquito coil, surrounded by what appeared at first glance to be dead mosquitoes. But they weren't dead... they were just chillin'! Snorting Deet, shooting themselves up with Tabbard and doing Gin & Tonic down-downs... we knew that we were in for a battle. Each night, swathed in Deet, we ran the gauntlet from the front door to the sanctuary of our GSK-sponsored mosquito nets. (Tourists 1 - Mosquitos 0 ... thanks, guys :-) )
Over the next two days, we went on a number of long walks through varying vegetation (including fantastic carnivorous pitcher plants), and found a beautiful deserted beach where we spotted a troop of sea otters clambering across the sand!
All in all, a good first encounter with Bornean wildlife.