Macaque Attack, we're liking the hiking!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Before I start writing about how wonderful and beautiful Borneo is I feel you all deserve to know the full story about what really happened at Kuala Lumpur airport...

It's true the money exchanger and the ATM's were all closed and we did have to empty our big bags onto the airport floor to search for American Dollars but what Thomas Michael failed to mention is the incident in between; there was no way of getting any money in the arrival building so Tom decided to go across to the departures, after a couple of minutes walking around searching for an ATM and asking random people for help, he was approached by a security guard, someone he thought might be able to help him...

SG: I think Sir, if you want to sleep there is a park over the road
Tom: I'm sorry
SG: I think you want to sleep here (TRAMP!)
Tom: No, I've just been trying to get some money
SG: Oh, so you've been asking people for money? (BEGGAR!!)
Tom: No, no, I've just arrived and I'm looking for an ATM

The guard then slightly sheepishly announced that all the ATM'S were closed and walked off!
We both know that our dress is becoming a lot more 'relaxed' - especially on travel days where the comfiest of the comfy clothes come out - but come on! Tom also insists on wearing that crappy stained top with frayed sleeves where we cut the arms off as well as that horrid bandana, which I swear he only wears now to wind up Craig and Matt!
So after Tom mocked me for 'not looking my best' in Indonesia he's now been branded a homeless beggar tramp!

Anyway, we arrived late into Kuching and straight away met Marij, a slightly eccentric but very funny and extremely friendly Dutch girl. We had planned to get an early night but she invited us to dinner with a couple of friend she'd met that day, so that night we met up with Tony and Emma, an amazing couple from California.

After a late night we all headed off to Bako National Park. In Borneo the national parks are set up to protect an area of land and its wildlife without changing it at all. They provide basic accommodation, food and suggested walks you can do. There are no vehicles either in the whole of the Bako park; you can only arrive by boat. Before boarding the boat we met two Swedish guys, Peter & Johan who can only be described as the crazy Swedes! Peter with long white dreads and a big blonde beard looked like the guy from Wizzard! As our boat pulled into Bako we were surrounded by a beautiful beached area with mangroves, forests and mountains. This was an awesome place and within an hour of our 3-day stay we'd seen a pit viper (one of the most venomous snakes in the world), a huge bearded pig, monitor lizards and loads of Macaque monkeys.

When watching the macaque monkeys our confidence grew and we kept on edging closer and closer to get better photos - we obviously got a little too close to one baby as the mother turned on us with her fangs out hissing. Before we knew it we were being chased into the woods by about 15 monkeys all hissing at us! During the chase I fell off of a bridge in a blind panic which wasn't helped by Tom shouting at me to 'F***ING RUN, RUN, RUN' whilst he was stamping his feet and shouting at them all to get back! Once chased into the woods they wouldn't let us back out onto the track and when to attack us each time we tried. The rest of our group had heard us by now and came running to our rescue with sticks and a park ranger, who eventually scared them off with his lighter and some strong words!! Needless to say from this point on I carried a big stick! Johan donned a fancy looking plastic sword with holster and the monkeys never came anywhere near him!

Bako is a highly protected area with strict rules to ensure the safety of the wildlife and vegetation, one being 'no weapons or poison' to be brought into the park. Johan's sword caused some conflict at first with him being told to either leave the sword behind reception or leave the park, Johan explained to him (straight faced) that he just wanted to fight a crocodile and kill a couple of monkeys. The Park ranger was horrified at this and began getting more and more agitated - with that Johan drew his sword, they all realized it was plastic and fell about laughing!

Our main reason in coming to Bako was to see the Proboscis Monkeys - only native to Borneo, a rare monkey with a strange 'dick' nose! Our first full day we all went out on a hike to hopefully try and spot them. We set out with a long hike in mind and what should have taken 2 hours took our group nearly 4! There was so much to look at we ended up stopping every couple of minutes to admire the huge range of vegetation and wildlife, this and the fact we were all wet through due to sweating from the high humidity and temperature meant we had to cut our hike in half.

Our 3rd day we were woken up by macaques jumping on the roof of our dormitory making so much noise as they played chase with each other and threw sticks.
We were all determined to see the proboscis monkeys and felt like we couldn't leave the park until we had done so. After a long, long wait in the mangroves we finally spotted a few young playing in the trees then we were really lucky and a whole family came down from the forest over to the water, which was right next to us. We got to see them really close up and observe the larger adults for quite a while before they went back up into the trees again - it was amazing.
We left Bako on a real high and ready for more....

The next day Tom and I went to the rehabilitation centre to see the orangutans (the others from the group had already been and said it was great so it had to be done). The centre is set up so the orangutans are still living in the wild but can come and feed at the centre if the forest is low on food (or if they are being lazy!) Once in the centre we began our search, and after a little while we heard a rustling in the trees from quite far away - looking more carefully we could see the monkeys playing. Walking back to the base we were greeted with Ritchie the 140kg dominant male - whoa! This fella was huge and hungry. He was given coconuts which he peeled open like they were satsuma's, bananas we shoved in 3 or 4 at a time! When moving the whole tree shook with his weight, his arms must have been at least 2 metres in length.

We also saw a mother and baby in the forest - the baby took a little disliking to us and decided to throw big sticks at us from the trees, I think he enjoyed watching us run around on the ground trying to dodge them!
Watching the mother look after the baby was lovely - some of the gaps in between the trees were quite large so the mother would stretch out her arms from branch to branch and the baby would climb over them like a bridge. Bless.

Miri was our next stop as a group and the night bus took a gruelling 16 hours, making this our longest bus journey yet -fun fun! We spent the next few days in the town and on the local beach. One day we missed the last bus home from the beach, so we decided to hitch hike back... The locals found this very amusing and most of them would wave and beep as they drove past us, smiling and giving us the thumbs up! It was then we realised that they didn't actually know what we were doing!

We got out a car for a few days and all crammed in and headed for Niah national park (famous for caves and millions of bats). The hike to the caves was fun as we sang Dutch songs led by Marij, and it was complete with the biggest creepy crawlies I've ever seen...
The cheesybobs were at least 5x the size of the ones back home, we saw the strangest creatures including; millipedes, cotton ball spiders, hammerhead worms, large spiders, spikey caterpillars, dragonflies, tree snakes, monkeys and lots of other things we don't know the names of!

That night it rained, big fat rain, from 6 until 10 the next morning, our hike was a total mud bath - the rivers had risen up to the tea bushes and you could see the swirls of brown tea running down the river - Tom was all up for jumping in the giant cup of PG Tips but settled for rubbing some mud on his face instead!

It was our last night so drinks were in order - we headed for Lambir hills (waterfalls) and checked into a chalet (posh!). Drinking games were messy and the dares got more and more demanding...

On the way back to Miri I noticed a small brown lump on my foot and on closer inspection I realised it was a fat leech sucking the life out of my toe! I freaked out and Marij tried to burn it off my toe, before Tony decided we needed to pull over.

After taking several photos on her camera Marij burnt the leech off and we could hit the road again. About 5 minutes down the road I realised I'd lost my shoe we started searching around the car for it, I then looked out the back window and saw it on the boot! Idiot.

After another crappy bus journey (where I found leech number 2 on my other foot!) we got straight on a plane and flew to Krabi, Thailand to await Smelly and Matt's arrival...
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