Our brush with the jungles of Borneo have ended, with a two night stay in Baku National Park.
Standard far - get to the park HQ and then leap on a boat to take us to the park itself. This time though, a little more danger in the journey as we whizzed through crocodile infested waters. We only caught a glimpse of a small one lying in the sun, but we have since discovered that there are some in there that are 7m long, and they have had several fatalities on the perilous journey to camp - one girl was even shown photos of men half eaten, before she had even got in a boat. Not a huge confidence booster I think you'll agree.
So we checked in and dumped the few things we decided to take with us in our room, most of our luggage left in Kuching. The park has several trails, all of which are easily navigated alone and therefore you do not require a guide to do them. That is not to say it is a good idea to have one just in cause, but we laugh in the face of danger and so laughed in their face when they suggested one accompanies us.
The park is probably most famous for it's special species of monkey - no not the Orangutan this time - but the shy Probiscus. They are funny looking animals, with an enormous red flappy noise, like a bleeding cucumber. They are notoriously hard to find, and we were informed the best time to find them was at low tide. I, at least, was a little confused by this guidance, wondering what on earth the tide had to do with the appearance of the elusive Probiscus, wondering whether maybe they were so hard to spot because they did in fact dwell in the sea! My confusion was short lived though as we set out on a mini trek that afternoon.
A short boardwalk takes you through a wide area of mangroves before you reach the main trails. When the tide is in, these become engulfed in seawater and so inaccessible to any animal. However, the tide goes out, the way is now clear for them to come down and feed on the fruit. Confusion over, we spotted a few and took several photographs of them leaping between the trees, and flapping there funny little noses.
There is nothing more amusing to me than a wiggly nose!
This mini-trek was only about 1km, which Dan was pretty pleased about stil a little sore from the Pinnacles fiasco! Hes relief was not there long, as shortly after we started there were several moments we had to clamber up roots and rocks, and I think for a moment he worried it might be the same thing all over again.
It wasn't though and before long we were at a secluded bay, just the two of us and thousands of tiny crabs on the floor. Wherever you walked you could see them scuttle quickly back to their holes, fearing the vibrations we were making, giving the impression the ground beneath us was clearing a way for us to go; leading us to the sea. We stayed there awhile, trying to get bigger crabs to fight the smaller ones, and incessantly pestering a hermit crab to come in and out of his shell like an absurd crustacean Hokey -Cokey. In fact, if he had managed to shake it all about I may have kept him forever!
That done and once we had returned, bed was the next thing for us. We had been up pretty late the night before, one of the two of us dancing for about seven hours straight and not getting in until the early hours! So being the hardcore pair that we are, that night we were attacked by tiredness by about half eight and were far away in dreamland by nine!
Up early though - our plan today to travel to a waterfall, hang out there for a while and return for lunchtime before hopefully heading out again. We had left the camp a bit before eight, and were well on our way. The walk was pretty easy - dry and not too slippery, the only risk was sinking a bit in the clay floor. But there were no dramas, and we found the waterfall easily. It was flowing quite fast because of the overnight rain, but remained a bizarre orangey colour, presumably from the rocks it flowed over. Unable to resist another chance to swim in a new place, I dove in and froliced for a while, goaded by Dan to dive in, risking my life not knowing the depth of the water - but I survived, and was soon out and ready to move on, just noticing that my toenails had turned an unnatural colour, praying I hadn't contracted some hideous tropical diseas.
If I have, no other symptoms yet - we shall see!
The trail took us another 500m to a nearby beach, and so we thought we should press on to see it, something Dan regretted shortly afterwards I think. The beach was not there - instead just an expanse of water and some rocks breaking the surface ocassionally. Dan was insistent he should make his way to the rocks and used a rope tied up to lower himself to it, assuming it would stop any accidents.
He was wrong.
He took a few tentative steps and was getting along just fine, maybe got a little bit overconfident, slipped, his feet flying out from underneath him, and he came crushing down on his behind with a pretty manly squeal of man, and a shattered ego! He sat subdued for a moment, and once I ascertained he was OK, l laughed a little inside, but on the outised was the perfect concerned friend, choosing to relieve myself in a nearby bush rather than risk myself going to help him back.
He did make it back, and soon we were back at camp. It was only 11 and we felt we should set out again to make the most of the morning - a brief 1.2km climb to a nearby viewpoint. As we set out, we felt a small spattering of rain, but convinced the jungle canopy would save us continued on our expedition. Ten minutes later, we were walking through a tropical downpour, soaked to the skin, rushing down to get to the cover of camp. The speed helped nothing, and we were soaked through, fortunately having a change of clothes with us, albeit the ones we have been sleeping in. Choosing to be stink rather than be drenced, we spent the rest of the day slowly drying and playing cards.
Oh, the life of an Adventurer.
My final brush with the jungle was last night - a night trek to find some nocturnal creatures. Dan decided to stay behind, too tired he said to come out. (I'm sure he is actually a 60 year old man!!!) Armed with my torch and insect repellant we ventured into the darkness.
They say that cities are full of drama, and at night particularly, they come alive. Jungles it would seem do also, but to a much more exciting degree. The noises you hear during the day are much more bizarre and unnerving when you are standing in the complete darkness, the slightest rustle could be coming from right next to you or miles away, and that thing brushing up against your leg could be a small animal or a leaf. It was pretty scary at times. One thing I noticed at night that you miss during the day was the smell - whether it was because we stood still more than we had on the treks, or it is more pungent at night I don't know, but my nostrils were inundated with all sorts of odours - stagnant water, soil, animals - all added to the drama of the environment once the sun has set.
I love the jungle - walking through it on our ow, unguided, we were vulnerable, but not dangerously so. We were completely in susceptible to the elements, and the natural world. And everything in it is exciting. The ants are five times as big as they are at home - there are spiders that will eat your face off - enormous wild boars - and man eating plants. It's like 'Alice in Wonderland', that bit where she goes to the garden when she has been shrunk, and the flowers talk to her. Big caterpillars, bread and butterflies, and rocking-horse flies surrond her at different points.
We entered the rabbit hole and tumbled into Wonderland - the Jungles of Borneo. We were there, we loved at, and I think we are both sad to be leaving that chapter of the trip behind.