The Sockeyed Blog

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I just got back from three wonderful days at Bako National Park on the coast about 1.5 hours from Kuching by bus and boat. It’s a wonderful jungly (be-jungled?) environment with lovely natural sandstone formations like those on the Gulf Islands. It’s only accessible by boat, and they provide affordable dorm accommodations and meals, so you only really have to show up with a small pack and an interest in seeing the place.

I went on a number of wonderful treks. The most epic was yesterday: I started at 8am and hiked up from the beach area out of the mangroves through thick, damp jungle. The sweat instantly pours off your body as you climb. Soon, it opened up and was on sandier and clay ground, with vistas in all directions. I stayed in the open, then would drop into thicker jungle, walking on roots past large, incredibly tall trees, and spikey palms. There was great life at the micro-scale: tens of thousands of ants marching very purposefully along branches, onto palm fronds, across roots – going somewhere on their ant super-highways. There were large caterpillars, and amphora-shaped little plants full of water. After some time, I came to a series of large sandstone pools of cool, tannic water with waterfalls between them. I slipped in for a glorious solo soak in the morning light.

From there I dropped down to a beach, all lined with sandstone sculptures, and sat for some time looking out on a small bay. I enjoyed watching the mudskippers as well, little creatures that have front legs, tails and bulgy eyes. They skim over the top of the water, swim and walk on land. No doubt out ancient ancestors looked like this.

I climbed steeply up from the beach and back to the pools for more cooling-off, then continued on a long circuit where I didn’t see a soul. I climbed over a small mountain, splashed through swampy areas, and got very, very thirsty as I didn’t bring enough water. Lesson learned – when you’re pouring with sweat constantly, it’s a good idea to bring some refreshment. I didn’t see a soul for this whole portion of the hike to the back of Bako’s beyond. The trails are very well-marked, and there are signs at every junction, so I didn’t worry about getting lost. My feet got kind of wrecked by the end of it, however. I was wearing teva-like sandals, and my feet got wet, and sand got in, and you can imagine the sandpaper-like effect. I now have tender areas of missing skin all over my feet.

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the hike. It’s an environment unlike any I’ve ever seen.

Back at the lodge I went on a 1.5 night hike led by a ranger. We saw a wild pig, a pit viper, beautiful little tree frogs, a sleeping red kingfisher, catfish in the streams, and a gorgeous little owl. Turning out our lights, the blackness was complete – except for amazing luminescent mushrooms. The sound of the insects and the frogs was almost dizzying. On the beach we saw fiddler crabs and hermit crabs, and in the mangroves, the most amazing display of fireflies in a tree.

One of the highlights, something I saw on the first and last day, were the proboscis monkeys: wonderful, elegant and regal with white pants and tails, and delightful big red noses on the males, who were about 1/2 the size of person. They honk. I loved the honking. And they leap from tree to tree high in the canopy like it really isn’t a problem.


Written by sockeyed

November 15, 2006 at 11:09

Posted in Photography, Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

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