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Published: August 25th 2013
This morning we finally got on our way to Bako National Park (pronounced Back-oh). Elysia's eye wasn't really feeling any better, but sitting in the hotel room wouldn't help it so we decided to go to the park anyways.
Our guide picked us up at the hotel at 8:30 and took us to the boat dock at the edge of Bako. Although the park is connected to the mainland of Borneo, it is only accessible by boat. So, we took a small runabout type boat for a 15-minute ride through the South China Sea to the dock at Bako.
At the park, we were greeted by wildlife immediately. The first thing we saw were Silver Langurs, a type of monkey, playing and eating in the trees near the beach. One of them had a very little baby. The adults are silver and the babies are orange.
Right next to the tree that the monkeys were in was the second bit of wildlife we saw. It's a good thing our guide pointed it out, because there is no way we would have seen it before stepping on it. And then we would only have noticed it because
it would have bitten us... it was a viper! But it seemed kind of dozy. One of the other guides that happened to be there at the time picked it up with a long stick and moved it out of the traffic area.
After the viper was dealt with, a couple of wild boars strolled by. They seemed pretty chill - I guess they are used to people around this part of the park.
A little further into the park we met the second type of monkey that lives there: long tail macaques. There was a pretty big pack of them travelling past all the guest houses. Included in the bunch were a few babies and they seemed to be having a pretty good time wrestling with each other. We snapped a good video of it. They seemed to be just hanging out all over the place. Maybe they're like raccoons to us (except much smarter!).
Last, but certainly not least, we came across a bunch of Proboscis Monkeys. These are the largest monkeys in the world, are famous for their long noses, and can only be found on Borneo. Elysia thinks that they look
like the Wicked Witch of the West's guards from The Wizard of Oz. We were lucky to get a glimpse of them today, because they are often rather elusive. At first we could only see them high up in the trees, but later we came across a bunch of others that were lower down. We actually ended up seeing quite a bunch of them!
We then spent quite a bit of time searching out the flying lemur. While we were looking, it came time for Elysia to take her eye drops. We found a bit of space with no monkeys in sight and decided to try to get the drops out of our backpack. Turns out the monkeys (specifically the macaques) are quick! As soon as we opened the pack up, two were running towards us. Mike barely had time to get the drops out of the bag before the monkeys got to us. They thought the rummaging of the bag meant they were going to get food. As soon as the pack was zipped up again and back on Mike's back though, the monkeys stopped and everything was normal again. We decided to put the drops in a
little further away from the monkeys. These monkeys were the long tailed macaques and our guide introduced them to us as 'naughty monkeys'; now we know why! The proboscis and langur monkeys are vegetarians, but these rascals will eat anything and everything!
Our next activity at the park was to take a one hour hike to a high viewpoint looking over the park and the South China Sea. Along the way we saw lots of different types of trees and plants (many with vicious spikes!) as well as lizards, and quite a few different types of bugs and insects. We saw a huge tree that is known as a Durian Ghost tree. It gets its name because it grows Durian fruit without any seeds or edible flesh inside the big fruit (almost as if a ghost ate the fruit already). In Mike's opinion, this is the best type of Durian - one without any of the nasty inner bits that people around these parts love to eat!
The view point was pretty amazing, and the hike up was tricky because it was really steep and you had to be very careful about what you grabbed onto. It's not
like hiking in Canada where you can presumptively grab onto a tree without getting a two inch long spike through your hand! It was particularly difficult for Elysia, whose eye was acting up. She had to do the steep hike with not only blurry vision in the left eye, but also it felt like it was so tired and kept closing on her (you know that feeling that you have when you're really sleepy, she was getting that in one eye probably because of eye damage). In any case, she managed just fine and we still had a great time and saw some beautiful sights on the hike.
From the top, we could see that rain was headed our way, and we were lucky to beat it back to the main part of the park. Actually, the timing was perfect, because we went into the lodge and had lunch while the rain pounded down. Unfortunately we couldn't eat outside because those naughty monkeys were lurking about and we were afraid they would steal our food! When we finished eating, the rain finished raining, so all was good in the world. We went out onto the beach to explore a
little bit and wait for our boat driver to come pick us up. By now, the tide had fallen so we could see all the beach life, and walk out further from the main part of the land and observe some of the rock faces that lined the ocean. There were tonnes of tiny little crabs that made very distinctive (and large) marks in the sand. There were also blue crabs (something we had never seen). We even saw these little fish that looked like bullheads but that could hop across the sand like frogs. Perhaps they were like a type of tadpole.
Near the sandstone bluffs we saw a bunch of pitcher plants. These are carnivorous plants that feed on insects that fall into their bell shaped 'pitchers'. The insects get stuck and are digested.
Because the tide had fallen, our boat wasn't able to dock at the dock (actually, the dock was really just a set of concrete steps, but they were about 200 feet from the ocean when we had to leave). So, we had to take our shoes and socks off and walk out to the boat. There are crocodiles and stingrays in the
water, but we were lucky not to come across them. Elysia was worried about the stingrays (shuffle your feet or you'll do the stingray hop!) - and she had right to be because the South China Sea is very cloudy (the water is brown), so you could not see what you were stepping on!
Back in Kuching, we went to a unique little restaurant called 'The Junk' for dinner. The food was great, but the atmosphere was the main attraction. It was really eclectic, with lots of 'junk' on the walls. Okay, not junk at all, but a rather random assortment of different things. There were small china bowls, clocks, chinese lanterns, beer adverts and random little tools. Definitely a place to check out when you are in Kuching!
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