Bako National Park in Sarawak

Trip Start Jun 26, 2013
Trip End Jul 18, 2013

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I arrvied in Kutching on Monday afternoon after an uneventful flight.   I managed to find a laundry service  that charged $3 to clean my bag of nasty undies.   I would have paid three times that much to avoid handwashing.    And the best part is that they delevered the clean clothes, folded and ironed back to the hotel within a few hours!   

That evening the sky went black and a massive thunder storm bared down on the city.   I was told this happens every night.   Good thing..  'cause I love a good storm!  The hotel I am staying has a rooftop patio with a sheltered part.  I sat up there for a couple of hours having beer and watching the storm.     Later in the evening, after the storm had passed,  I set out a local small restaurant and had "clay pot noodles" . Very yummy and dinner only cost me about $2.00.   Liking this place already!

Although I didn't really have time to explore Kuching because of the storm, I immediately noticed that the city has a very different feel than Kuala Lumpur.  It is less busy, and very walkable.   Also, the people here are super friendly.  

 The next morning I awoke early and head out on the public transport bus #1 to Bako National Park.   This park is at the edge of the island of Borneo, located on the edge of South China Sea.   Once the bus arrived, I had to take a boat to the park.     Throughout the river, the fishermen have set up nets attached to wooden pilings.   My boatman drove very fast between the pilings and yelled "GOOOOAAAALLLL!"  while narrowly missing it.     Obviously he was a football fan.   

The boat ride lasted about 15 minutes and I arrived at the park.  My boatman agreed to meet me back at 4:00 so I can make the last bus back to the city.    My goal of the day was to hike some of the trails and check out some wildlife.     I started out on the red train called the "small loop".  Seems straight forward enough, right?  Well, I didn't realize what I was getting into. 

The trail started out nice and flat, with proboscis   monkeys in the trees.   These are called 'dutch monkeys" because their nose resembles those of a dutch man. (or so the legend goes).  The monkeys played in the trees above, while butterflies and dragon flies buzzes about.   All very enjoyable.   Then something changed.  The boardwalk disappeared and the trail started climbing.   And Climbing... and more climbing.  

For 2 hours I was going up and up and up.   Eventually I would reach the top, right?   It was 35 degrees and I was sweating like nothing I had seen before.  Every 15 minutes I would stop and wrong out my T-shirt.   I had no idea this much water could come from sweat!  

I would stop every now and then to rest.   At one point a small lizard ran out in front of me, I shrieked like a girl, and instead of being scared, it just stopped and looked at me.   At this point it occurred to me that I was deep in a jungle and that there were lots of nasty things that could eat me.   I hadn't seen anyone in hours, there was no cell phone service,  so if I was eaten by a snake nobody would know!    

Eventually the climbing stopped and I hit a mountaintop  plateau.   I would have taken pictures but at one point during the climbing, my camera broke.   Boo hoo!

It was somewhere in the long walk in the mountain plateau, somewhat  delirious  from dehydration that I realized that the "small loop" was not so small.  Its been 3 hours now, and I have run out of water.     Luckily the rest of journey was downhill from here (both literally and figuratively).  

As I became more dehydrated, I started to stumble over roots and rocks.   Those who know me, know that I am not the most coordinated person in the first place...Finally I made it back to the park headquarters, bought a litre bottle of water and downed it.  It was so cold, so refreshing.  Water never tasted so good!  I sat in a shaded chair, somewhat happy with that I achieved.   It was a 4 hour hike up a steep mountainside in 35 degree heat.   And I wasn't eaten by anything.   All part of a good day in Borneo.   

After a long day of hiking, I head to a restaurant in the alley near the hotel full of local people.  I sat down and asked for the menu.   She said there wasn't one.   So I took a moment and walked around the tables to see what people were eating.   I saw one woman eating some noodles that looked delicious, so I returned to the waiter/ chef and pointed to the person and said "I will have what she is having".    It was a fantastic dish with noodles, chicken, soy sauce and chile.  And it only cost $1.   Amazing! 

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Gwen on

Rob, while in Kuching you MUST try these 2 dishes:

(1) Kolo Mee (it's a noodle dish, similar to what you had with the chilli) and
(2) Laksa

If you e-mail Maryann, she should be able to tell you where to get the good ones. ;-)

Khai on

Rob - your post gave me a good chuckle. I can totally envision you sweating and tripping over the roots. I'm glad you weren't attacked by the wild life. Keep on posting - these are a highlight of my day!

Anne on

Rob - I'm loving your Blog - almost like being on your trip without the pain.
You should be losing weight with all that sweating!

Daun Famulak on

Rob, for gawd sake people have died doing way less!!
Loving the write ups but take care!!!!

Steve on

Enjoying your blog Rob. When I was in Thailand my friend and I took what we thought was a short moped ride through the country, and like your experience it was waaaay longer and it started getting dark before we hit the main road again. So I appreciated your story! Glad you made it out all right.

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