Up the River without a Paddle


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June 1st 2010
Published: June 1st 2010
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Great ShotGreat ShotGreat Shot

the marvellous Kingfisher, fast asleep luckily
We were off to Sukau, our rainforest adventure and our base for 3 nights would be the Sukau Greenview B&B located on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, which is Sabah’s longest river, measuring in at 560km. The area is Malaysia’s largest forested flood plain and has oxbow lakes, mangrove swamps and grass swamps. Although Kinabatangan was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1999 villages and agricultural development merge with the protected areas, but despite this there was apparently a host of wildlife to see along its banks. Once again the tours we looked into for going up river and jungle trekking seemed really expensive, but by booking the B&B we could please ourselves which river boat tours we took and how many over the three days. The B&B was good enough, with an adequate bedroom and surprisingly good food and the guides knowledgeable and helpful. On arrival, and after a brief orientation, we headed off in a small boat with 4 other intrepid travellers from the USA. We hoped to catch a glimpse of some of the native mammals, such as Probiscus Monkeys, Orang-utans, Hornbills and apparently there are even Pygmy Elephants in the region, but the other inhabitant the Crocodile
watch himwatch himwatch him

better 'monitor' in fact ,,,,,,
we were more than happy to glimpse from a distance.

The first creature we saw was a very large Monitor Lizard casually foraging by the edge of the river - this was a good start. After quite a while and nothing much more to show for our troubles suddenly we came across a family group of Long-Tailed Macaques. How cute were these little chaps, and the babies were very entertaining as they threw themselves all over the branches having a great time as only youngsters can do and using the mothers’ tails as a good alternative if a branch proved just too far away. This was turning out to be really good. Well then it was monkeys, monkeys and more monkeys mainly Macaques which hailed their whereabouts with screeching and much shaking of the trees - show-offs and performers all of them. Then as we headed further down river we spied something of a slightly different colour and build in the trees - Probiscus Monkeys - and a big dominant male with a huge rotund belly sat quietly staring at us, not deigning to lower himself by making such a performance as those cheeky little Macaques. The rest of
grumpy grandadgrumpy grandadgrumpy grandad

remind you of anyone?
his family were swinging and launching themselves through the trees with what looked like impossible leaps, we were in awe at their gymnastic displays. Could we be lucky and see Orang-utans and Pygmy Elephants - well our very knowledgeable guide told us that there was no way we would see Elephants - disappointing - but said nothing about Orang-utans so there was still some hope. A couple of other local inhabitants we managed to catch sight of were a python trying to relax in a tree until we came along and shined a torch on it, and a great many Hornbills. These made a really spectacular noise and looked really lovely from a distance, but unfortunately we didn’t see one close up. River cruise over and feeling very satisfied with our first sightings we tucked into a very nice dinner. Some of the others went out on a night cruise but we decided to do this the following night as we were staying a night longer than most of the others - well maybe we should have gone as we heard the following day that they saw very close a Leopard Cat which was a very unusual sighting. That was
Cheeky MonkeysCheeky MonkeysCheeky Monkeys

well one's cheeky ...
absolutely typical and as our guide gleefully showed us the beautiful animal from his handy book of wild creatures we were quite envious. Teach us to have an early night - hopefully the next day.

The following morning after very little sleep we were up with the larks and off on an early morning cruise before breakfast to try and find the early rising animals. Once again we saw a multitude of Macaques and yes they were just as noisy in the morning as they were in the afternoon. We also saw Probiscus Monkeys and a variety of native birds - but still no Orang-utans. After breakfast back at the lodge we headed out for a morning trek - surely this would be it we thought, trekking through the jungle quietly stalking our prey for the all important photo. Well maybe not, because we sounded like a herd of elephants! Talking of elephants we saw lots of elephant poo, but nothing of the creatures themselves. We trekked for a couple of hours and saw many bugs and insects which our guide managed to see through the foliage. We picked up those that weren’t poisonous and ate ferns which weren’t
Who's the daddyWho's the daddyWho's the daddy

that'll be me
poisonous (well let’s hope not) and managed to get back to the river without once being bitten by those tenacious leeches. Well that is we all made it bite free but our guide found one on his belly, much to the annoyance of one of the group who really wanted one!!! Now for a local he really made a fuss. After taking it off he was quite insistent that the plaster one of the girls gave him to staunch the bleeding was just not big enough - big baby! Obviously he wanted to impress one of the local girls. Although we all found it hilarious as soon as we got back to the rooms we were all checking that none of the little buggers had got onto us.

We didn’t bother with the afternoon boat ride, but instead took a walk down to the village to make use of the internet facilities and see if they had a shop to buy some goodies. On our way back we were startled by much rustling of trees and looked overhead just in time to see a Red Leaf Monkey flying through the air. This trekking lark is really easy we thought.
cute as a buttoncute as a buttoncute as a button

but oh those eyes
After watching it for a bit jumping through the trees, we were astounded and surprised by another who flew over our heads. We were both of the opinion that we must be so good and could easily get jobs at this monkey spotting thing, only to be faced with two smiling locals who had kindly flushed them out for us. We didn’t like to admit to not catching them on camera as we were too busy gawping at them!

The evening came around and we were off on our night cruise confident in our pursuit of the Leopard Cat. The night cruise was brilliant and I can’t emphasise enough how good and knowledgeable our guides were, but more than that they had the most incredible eyesight. Some of the tiny creatures they spotted from almost the other side of the river was absolutely astounding - leading us to joke with them that the animals they found were actually stuffed. On this trip we saw lots of baby crocodiles poking their tiny heads up through the water - it was just like looking at something out of Jurassic Park. We also saw Swallows in their nests, bats and many other
don't laughdon't laughdon't laugh

one comment about my nose and i'll dump on your head
birds who luckily for us were sleeping so we could get really close and take photos. They didn’t even seem to be disturbed by the bright lights of the spotlight and lots of crazy humans clicking away with their cameras. Part way through the evening our spotlight hit on the bright eyes of a cat silently stalking its prey - oh yes Leopard Cat here we come. On closer inspection our guide made a sound of disgust as he recognised the local moggy, masquerading as something much more interesting, out for a nights stroll. So close, yet so far. Not in the least bit disappointed as we had seen so much we headed back for a well-earned night’s sleep. One thing about these boat tours is that we never felt short-changed at all. All of the tours ran over their time and even if we didn’t sight the creatures we wanted to, we both felt that our guides had done their best. They were all extremely knowledgeable although our favourite guide, Pappy (pronounced Pie) was definitely the best as he seemed to be gifted with luck as well as knowledge, needless to say he was very popular with the tourists
ProbiscusProbiscusProbiscus

watching me watching you
and we all wanted to be in his boat.

The following day we headed out for yet another morning cruise before breakfast. We had another guide this time and were very impressed with how knowledgeable he was. Although we missed the Gibbons, which Pappy found, we did find a couple of large groups of Probiscus Monkeys, some beautiful birds and he could explain everything we needed to know about the flora and fauna. The jungle trek started off really exciting as we proceeded to track very noisy Hornbills, unfortunately only to get a tantalising view of them as they flew ahead of us, just keeping us out of range. We did manage to see lots of bugs and insects again including rather large millipedes and a spider from the tarantula family. It was dead, by hey it was still scary and who wants to see a live one anyway. Crawling under the canopy gave a very tenacious leech the opportunity to attach itself to my shirt. It was rather larger than expected and after asking for it to be removed in a very cool and controlled manner (okay I panicked and demanded that someone get it off me before
still watchingstill watchingstill watching

me watching you
I freaked out!) we all made a mental note once again to check ourselves when we got back to the rooms for any more stowaways. Unfortunately the walk had to be cut a little short as the rain came in, but it was so blisteringly hot I don’t think anyone minded that much.

Another lovely dinner sat by the river saw a Gibbon flying through the trees just feet from where we sat. The late afternoon boat trip would be our last and we were still hoping that our guide would be able to lead us to that all too illusive Orang-utan. Well cutting straight to the bad news, we didn’t see hide nor hair of an Orang-utan and we both felt a little disappointed, but we did spot lots of Macaques and had some great close ups of Probiscus Monkeys. Lots of photo opportunities and the monkeys kindly stayed still long enough for us to snap away. Before breakfast on the morning of our departure we headed off into the forest just behind our accommodation, following the call of a gibbon - you see how expert we have become we even recognise its call. Chris managed to get
corking bellycorking bellycorking belly

amazing he can move really
stabbed by some poisonous prickly vine thing that our guide on the morning walk had warned us about, however we couldn’t remember what he said the cure was, so Chris stuck some mud on it just in case that would do. There didn’t seem to be any adverse side effects, so it looked like in man versus jungle, man won. I managed to get bitten on my big toe by an ant which I have to say really flippin hurt for about an hour - for something really small it really packed a punch. We tracked the gibbon for a while following its call and stood for what seemed like ages trying to spot it in the tree that we suspected it was hiding in and then, patience paid off, because it jumped out of the tree and flew across to another. We kept it in our sights and it slowly jumped from branch to branch and then sat for a while looking straight down on us. It was absolutely brilliant and well worth braving the poisonous plants and biting ants. Black gibbons in Laos, Brown ones in Borneo, can’t be bad.

The accommodation arranged for a car to
Leaving the partyLeaving the partyLeaving the party

This bum belongs to a beautiful gibbon (honest)
take us to the junction where we were reliably told we could pick up a bus back to Kota Kinabalu as they came passed us every hour. The car was slightly late so we managed to miss the first bus and so spent almost another hour sat in a lay-by in the blistering heat. Lots of cars tooted at us as they went passed - it could be my natural charm, but obviously not charming enough as none stopped - they just wanted to wave. Not very helpful really. Then to our joy a bus turned up and also tooted and waved and carried on going - nice. Eventually a mini-van stopped and for a small fee took us down to an intersection where we might stand more chance of getting a bus. Well we eventually got on one for the journey back to KK, but I think the less said about the journey the better, suffice it to say that the driving was reminiscent of our bad drivers in Vietnam but with the added downside of the bus careering around a mountain in thick mist and driving monsoon rain - very scary and we were really very glad to
Rhino HornbillRhino HornbillRhino Hornbill

can you guess why?
get back to the town in one piece.



Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


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Monkey BusinessMonkey Business
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and mind yours
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Peeking
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quite serene really
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the guide told us what type but we forgot
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we found out this was poisonous after picking
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one of many beauties
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lots of these as well
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5th June 2010

surprise it me
i just realised i can write to you.thank u for helping me to switch on a computor by myself.got so much to ask u .from lisa what was the name of the building back inamerica?where do u put all your gifts?i cant wait to see the handbag.i feel like i been everywhere with u .not sure about tigers but loved the beach hut holiday in oz or was it new zealand? i feel i should update u here but not so much info how about weather lovely,weymouth coming to a standstill roundabouts being replaced by traffic lights,spellbound wins britain got talent.think that it cu

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