Bako attacks, Tough trails, Monkey tales.

Trip Start Dec 12, 2012
Trip End Jan 03, 2013

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Bako NP

Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Off to Bako NP. Another easy bus ride and we are at the jetty. For the first time this week the weather looks threatening.

J-she is concerned about sea sickness on the boat trip out but it turns out not to be so bad. She even manages a smile. Our boatman is a wisened old guy who seems to know what he's doing riding across the swell. He’s certainly no Jeremy, thank God.

We arrive at Bako and inform our boatman we’ll meet at 11am tomorrow. We’ll have to wade in from the shore as the tide will be out from the jetty at that time. J-she is concerned about crocs. There are numerous signs at the jetty warning of the crocs and listing the croc attacks. 50% of all coc attacks since 2005 have occurred in this very river basin. Our boatman laughs, "no crocs, no crocs". Hmmm, maybe he can’t read those signs?

J-she is concerned about the macaques attacking her on the way in. To be honest so am I.

J-she is concerned about the so called 'tame’ bearded pigs attacking us, to be honest so am I.

But there are no wild orangutans here, we’ll be ok.

Mike and Mary had told us they wandered about in the heat of the day here and spotted very little wildlife and no proboscis monkeys. Proboscis only exist in Borneo, so they are a little special. We hope to see some.

Literally 30 seconds off the jetty and up in the tree is a proboscis monkey. Cool, we can go home now.

One minute along the path and we come across some bearded pigs and piglets. Cool, we really can go home now.

Two minutes along the path and we come across a huge gang of macaques, some of them are at the upper storey windows to one of the lodges trying to prise the windows open. Uhoh, can we go home now? The lodge is incorrectly named “Proboscis Lodge” Maybe the macaques are trying to evict the proboscis?

There are bearded pigs everywhere around the grounds, they do seem pretty tame, but I’m taking no chances.

We register at the park HQ and head off to Tajor waterfall, it is all well marked and signposted and it doesn’t seem to far. It starts to rain a little. Lucky we brought our wet weather gear.

As soon as we’re off the boardwalk the track rises steeply into the forest up over boulders and tree roots. It’s raining and we consider donning our wet weather gear. Within 3 minutes in the humid jungle canopy we are soaked with sweat and putting on wet gear will be useless.

Within 15 minutes we are almost at the top of the rise and we come across two young guys in flip flops and swimming shorts, no water and no supplies, not even wet weather gear. They look very hot and swety, are holding a soggy map which is falling apart in his hands. “Hey, you know where the beach is?” “No, we’re lost too.” I semi-joke.

They’ve given up and head back down to the HQ.

We rise over to the escarpment and it stops raining, the sun comes out, which in other circumstances would be a blessing, but now with no tree cover it is stinking hot and we are rapidly losing body fluid in our sweat drenched clothing. The track is a little better but a river runs down the middle and it is very tough going.

The dry escarpment looks very much like Australian flora and we could well be in a NSW NP. As we move across there is literally a wall of tree change as we reach lower ground and back into the jungle. It is hot and humid again. More tree roots and clambering. We pass through these open and forested sections a few times and finally reach Tajor waterfall after 2 hours of hard going. We haven’t seen any wildlife since we started.

As we sit to catch our breath at the convenient seating a young American appears suddenly, shirtless from the forest. He had veered off the track at a spot I saw just earlier and down to what sounds like a waterfall. Despite the very clear signage pointing to Tajor this appears to be a common mistake, there is quite a path worn down that way.

With no way to get back up he’s had to continue downwards. He’s got cuts on his arms from clambering down the river bank to the beach and back around, Bornean adventurer style.

We had seen a few tourists back in Kuching strapped and bandaged from Bako trips (as we’d overheard), we’re not surprised. It seems a Bako injury is de riguer for hip young backpackers. An obligatory Bornean adventurer experience.

We explore the creek and falls together and have a cooling dip. He treks off alone in earnest haste.

J-she and I try to attract some monkeys with a peanut snacks. Nothing.

We head back along the track and our cooling swim has been nullified within 3 minutes by the oppressive humidity.

Reaching the turnoff to Kecil beach we decide we’ve got time to go down for a look. It’s a tough trail but with long sections of boardwalk across bog marsh. These allow a little rest for the legs from the rough trail sections.

As we reach the ocean, we can see it but the trail seems to drop neverendingly into the cliff side, we clamber wearily down the stairs. Are we there yet? We go down more stairs and over boulders? Are we there yet?

Finally we reach the beach and plunge in for a cooling swim, only it’s not cooling. It’s the South China Sea and it’s lukewarm. However the fresh waterfall coming out of the rocks on the side of the beach is loverly and rinses off the salt.

On the way back up we think we have outdone ourselves, our legs hurt and we are very weary.

Suddenly, I remember the registration counter closes at 17:30 and we haven’t checked into our room. Uhoh. We have to motor on, it’s 16:15 already.

Making our final mad dash back to HQ, J-she twists her precious little knee, not so bad but just enough to ensure she has the ‘mark of Bako’ – an injury. We get back off the tough track sweat soaked and tired, the useless burden of our wet weather gear weighing me down. Lucky we brought that wet weather gear.

Back on the boardwalk we see a family of Proboscis crossing the creek. The big adult clambers off the rock towards us, we move along quickly. Attacked by a proboscis.

Back at camp we relax our feet at the café and a big family of Proboscis come and feed in the tree right out the front, it’s almost as if they are putting on a show for the tourists.

Everyone is standing under the tree taking photos and footage. I wander out with my camera and get some shots. As I turn to get a young fellow crossing the limbs he looks at me angrily and grunts menacingly. Attacked again.

We have a surprisingly good, and cheap, dinner. After dinner we sit on the beach watching the sunset, we have our own nature experience, seeing a buff fish owl, swallows zooming past and a mysterious shine down on the waters edge against J-she’s headlamp. I go to inspect. “Nooo! It’s a croc, you’ll get eaten” J-she cries. I cautiously make my way across the beach, ready to turn and run. It does most definitely have the shine of crocs eyes. I get closer, J-she is fearfully endorsing my return to safety. I get closer. Ever closer. Ready to back off I get up close and the crocs ‘eye’ is nothing more than a rusty can. Croc-can. At least it didn’t attack me.

Head out on the night walk with Wilfred, a Sarawak Ranger. We spot flying lemurs with babies, green tree vipers, kingfishers, frogs (and poisonous ones), scorpions, stick insects, fireflies, glow-in-the-dark fungi and spiders. None of them attack me, thankfully. We are amazed at Wilfred’s spotting ability, somehow he rapidly scans the forest with his torch and sees all sorts of stuff we would have walked straight past in the dark.

Back to the mildew infested room, it’s not great accommodation but so far the experience has been entirely worth it. And not one injurious animal attack.
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