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Published: June 13th 2013
Yet another deserted beach!
We were all looking forward to visiting Sarawak and we were certainly not disappointed. In only just under two weeks we recorded a number of 'firsts' including sightings of (semi-wild) orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, the huge Rafflesia and a host of other creatures from stick insects to millipedes with fluorescent tails! We trekked through some fantastic rainforest and coastal scrub forest, and explored an enormous cave system, all within the relatively small south-west corner of Sarawak. How we would have loved to have spent a few months exploring the rest of the State !
Our first impressions of Kuching city were that, for a capital city, it was pleasantly compact and unhurried, lacking the usual crowds, traffic and skyscrapers and shopping malls. The city meets quite abruptly with forest at its fringes and in fact at least of three of the State's national parks are within only half an hour's drive of the city centre. We saw few signs or urban encroachment or deforestation on any major scale, despite that Malaysia apparently has the highest deforestation rate in the world.
We spent our first week as guests of the Kebun Homestay, a working farm with fruit plantations and a noisy
Bako National Park
The end of a long but rewarding trek
variety of livestock and poultry. We had the luxury of an entire homestead to ourselves, with evening meals delivered to our veranda and fresh bread every morning. We even the loan of a car to explore.
In Gunung Gading National Park we hoped to see the Rafflesia in bloom. The flower of this parasitic plant is notoriously difficult to see given that it only lasts for 5-7 days, whilst the plant itself has no visible leaves, stems or roots. The bloom that we saw was already 7 days old and 'past its best', but nevertheless impressive at nearly a metre in diameter; a day later and we would have been disappointed as the next monitored bud in Gunung Gading was not due to open for a few more weeks.
The following day we took a boat to Bako National Park, the State's oldest but most popular park due to its variety of habitats including rainforest, coastal scrub, mangroves and (stunning) beaches. Rob's rucksack was mauled by a bearded pig as soon as we stepped ashore - serves him right for carrying sweets! From the beach we had great views of a troop of Proboscis Monkeys, a comic sight
This lizard could run faster than Eve!
as they lounged on the branches with their bulging bellies and huge pendulous noses. We chose a one way 3 km trek from the park headquarters to a far beach to be collected by our boat; the walk was tough and hot with little shade but we were rewarded with fantastic scenery and some amazing pitcher plants of all shapes and sizes.
For our final few days we moved to the Santubong Peninsula where we stayed in a treehouse 30 metres up from the ground, looking out over the South China Sea and backed by more protected rainforest. A double bonus of being lulled to sleep by the waves on one side and forest sounds on the other! We filled our time here exploring the beaches and trekking around the foothills of Mount Santubong, seeing river dolphins, more monkeys, several (unknown) species of lizard and some handsome stick insects.
Next stop Sandakan and on to Kinabatangan river in Sabah....
Eve's Blog : The Rafflesia, by Eve
The Rafflesia is the largest flowering plant in the world. It is also the heaviest flower in the world. It blooms for 3-5 days a
year and it is very rare. The diameter of a flower is more than one metre. When the flower blooms it smells like rotting meat to attract insects.
We walked a long way through the forest to see this flower and we had to climb with ropes in some places, it was lots of fun. On the way back we found a jungle pool and dipped our feet, it was freezing cold! Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is a protected forest where wild orang-utans are rescued if they are injured or badly treated or orphaned, and looked after then released back into the forest. It was amazing to see the orang-utans climbing free in the trees. We saw the huge daddy orang-utan as well as 12 other orang-utans who were members of his family. We also saw the orang-utans peel bananas before eating them with their huge fingers. The Fairy Caves, near Kuching, Sarawak
When we arrived at the Fairy Caves we had to climb up lots of steps to the cave opening. There were 138 steps up 30 metres but also there were about 600 steps inside the cave. The cave was
as big as a football pitch and very high. When you looked inside it was enormous!
The cave was smelly and noisy, we could hear lots of bats on the ceiling but could not see any. When we looked up it seemed that drops of water would come crashing down on us but they missed us. The drops fell on top of high rocks and making stalagmites and stalactites. There were also lots of ferns and mosses growing on the rocks. It was cold, wet and damp to walk inside. I didn't see any fairies but could imagine lots of fairies living in the tiny holes in the rocks and under the ferns.
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