Bako National Park

Cute Kuching
Kuching, Malaysia

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Another early morning, another early 7am bus. This time, heading an hour out of Kuching to Bako National Park. When I was in Borneo 14 months ago, I met quite a lot of people who raved about the Park, so was expecting good things!

The entrance fee was just 10RM (£2), but the park is a 15 minute speedboat ride up the river! So I grouped together with 3 other girls from the bus and we shared the cost of the 50RM boat. As the tide was out, we couldn’t land at the jetty and instead pulled up onto Telok Assam beach. It was beautiful – shiny sand, large rocky/palm tree covered cliffs falling off into the water and macaques running around the sand. Near to the park HQ a family of bearded pigs were hanging out – they are strange looking things!

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Bako is the oldest National Park in Sarawak and covers an area of 27 sq km. The park is all about jungle trekking. There are a variety of different trails to choose from, of varying lengths and destinations – some to beaches, others to view points and one in a large circle. The park had huge biodiversity, which seven different ecosystems – beach vegetation, cliff vegetation, kerangas (heath forest), mangrove forest (in Malay – Bako, hence the name), mixed dipterocarp forest, grasslands and peat swamp forest. Bako is also home to around 150 endangered proboscis monkeys, which are endemic to Borneo – and the main reason I came to the park!

The Lintang trail is a 5.25km circular trail, passing through all the different ecosystems. After around half an hour, we heard the trees rustling and could see lots of moving branches. After getting a bit closer, we could see a whole family of proboscis monkeys! They were jumping around and sitting on the branches. There were a couple of baby ones too. I didn’t realise they were directly above our heads, until we heard a small thud. I looked down and my camera lens was covered in proboscis poo 😦 great. Luckily there were lots of leaves around (being a jungle and all) and I had tissues and dettol with me.

For someone who doesn’t particularly like monkeys, I’ve now spent 2 consecutive days watching different types of monkey!

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Trekking in the jungle was hard work, about 90% of the time climbing up and down steep inclines – pulling yourself up over tree roots and over large rocks. The humidity was so high, standing still for too long became rather unbearable! I had finished off my 2 litre bottle of water within the first hour and sweat was pouring off me – even from places I never knew you could sweat from! I don’t think I’ve ever been so hot! After a while you forget to look around at the beautiful scenery!

After a rest back at the park cafe – and some much needed water! Back off on a shorter 1km trail called ‘Pako’ to a small beach. The walk was fairly similar, over undulating roots and rocks and just as hot! The beach was a bit disappointing – a lot of rubbish has been swept in by the tides. Apart from that, it was still contained within the pretty cliffs with larger rocks scattered along the water line.

Coastal erosion has created the rocky landscape with the sandy inlets, rocky outcrops and a sea stack. The sea stack can only be reached and seen properly by boat, so we hired a boat man who was conveniently moored just off the beach to take us around for a look! He then dropped us back off at the HQ where we rested and had some lunch.

At 3pm we headed back with our morning boat man to Bako town. We arrived in time for the 3.30pm bus, which didn’t come. Nor did the 4pm bus. Finally the 4.30pm bus pulled up, much to our exhausted relief! After nearly falling asleep on the bus and collapsing back into my room about 6pm, I was too tired to move the rest of the evening! My plans of going to re-live the sunset by the river had to be scrapped!

Other things I saw:
– silvered leaf monkey
– red clawed mangrove crabs (funny bright orange things with just one HUGE claw, larger than its body part!)
– a shiny brown lizard
– a weird crab in a bright green/yellow shell

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Given Kuching’s obsession with cats, it seems fitting that they have a cat museum! I love cats, so couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and have a look! The museum is a 30 minute drive out of Kuching, so back into town to wait ages for a bus. The school children came to sit with me, of course. They were all daring each other to talk to me, one of them was finally brave enough, much to the amusement of the others. So I spent the next half hour practising my Malay with the children practising their English!

The cat museum is situated on top of a large hill with good views across the city. The (free to enter) museum is filled with every cat thing you could ever think of – wood cats, plastic cats, soft toys, cats made of shells, cat keyrings, photos of cats, drawings of cats, adverts with cats in, taxidermy cats, cat food, even a cat grave and a cat burgler! It basically looks like someone’s collection of every cat item they could find!

Back in the city, I just had another wander around, visited another beautiful Chinese temple, bought some new jewellery and some Sarawak kek lapis – layered cake. The cake is made up of many colourful layers, with each layer being about 1mm thick and come in a variety of weird flavours and colours – cheese, tamarind, durian and some more normal flavours – coffee, strawberry, chocolate, lemon. They have samples so you can taste the cakes, all pretty good! I came away with a cheese and chocolate mixed one!

At 5.30pm, I headed back to the airport for a 1 hour flight to Miri – it saves a 12 hour bus ride! And costs about the same. Being only a 20 minute drive away, when I was told to take a 5.30pm taxi for a 7.30pm flight, I assumed all would be ok. No one told me about the traffic!!! In non-moving, standstill traffic for over an hour! I was panicking the whole way there about making my flight (especially as I have another flight in the morning) – luckily made it ok!

I stayed right outside the airport, involving a ‘5 minute walk’, not quite when you have far too much luggage!

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