Damai Homestay and Santubong NP – Sarawak

Still love a cold one at the end of a day.

 

Hello everyone,.We woke up this morning to thunder and lightning , then of course some heavy rain followed, I checked the weather and it didn’t look real good for the next couple of days which is a real bugger as rain and trekking through jungles doesn’t really go together. We are in our little home stay, it’s really nice what the owners have done here as you can see by the photos. There’s a nice view from our room which you can’t even see on the photos, it’s the only room with a landing area with a couple of banana lounges and some pot plants, also there’s a big overhang so we could sit there on our lounges this morning and watch the rain……riveting stuff. There’s also a little waterfall next to the house and really beautiful gardens and a fish pond. Our room is ok but very tired, when you look at photos on bookings.com I guess they do use their best photos when everything was new many moons ago and we were a little disappointed when we first arrived but have settled in very nicely now.

 

fantastic setting and backdrop
Damai Nanga Homestay – stunning setting

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Also the breakfast here was raved about on the reviews as Anthony kept telling me, so I was really looking forward to this amazing breakfast this morning and had images of all types of tropical fruits, muesli, yogurt and maybe omelettes in my head. Well there was cornflakes, uht milk, diced watermelon and pineapple, toast and jam, marmalade and wait for it………1 hard boiled egg..cold of course 😢 Really not what we expected but maybe we are just really fussy or maybe our expectations in Borneo are just way too high.
Trekking Santubong National Park
Santubong National Park
Well we were getting settled on our double bed for the day as it was still raining and around lunch time the sun actually peeked out, we couldn’t believe it, so we quickly got ready and drove just up the road a few minutes to the Santubong National Park. There’s a huge summit hike, which we would do but not after rain so we decided to do the loop walk which to me always sounds easy and we didn’t want to push our luck with the weather. Well 2 hours later and seeing only 1 bird, we were absolutely drenched, I mean really you could have wrung out Anthony, it was so steamy in that forest, our goggles kept fogging up, and it was really slow going as the whole loop was slippery tree roots and even more slippery rocks with the green moss on them. And guess which Wally decided to wear white shorts?? It was quite picturesque there, in places, and took up some of our afternoon.
We were pretty hungry after that and found a nice beachfront bar and grill just a few minutes further up the road and we also went back there for tea tonight. The weather stayed good all afternoon but the mountain behind has very low cloud again and we just had another shower so we are really praying for a nice day tomorrow.
A Hornbill Monument being built at Damai Village
A Hornbill Monument being built at Damai Village
Oh I have to tell you when we were down by the beach there were a couple of horses tied up together, for riding, there was a sign there if you want to hire these horses and oh my god they were unbelievably skinny, one was really just skin and bones. I got Anthony to take some sneaky photos and have sent them off with an email to the local equivalent to the RSPCA in Kuching, thank god they even have one here. We are hoping they can help, we really hate seeing animals so mistreated and these horses looked so miserable and dejected I really had to do something.
This is one of our pet hates besides rubbish when travelling to different countries, is seeing so many skinny sick domestic animals.
Well we did get a few nice photos for the day so enjoy and keep your fingers crossed for us that tomorrow is a nice day.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Mulu National Park – Sarawak

Mulu National Park
The picturesque Mulu National Park

 

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Some Images of Mulu National Park

 

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Some snippets of our time in Mulu NP.

 

Well Hello Everyone……we have been in isolation for the last 4 days. Mulu is a beautiful spot, not really even a village, only 1 little mini mart type shop with nothing in it. We did buy some chocolates there but couldn’t eat them, I think they had been melted over and over in the tropical heat and were pretty disgusting. Thank god the resort had a little very expensive shop that at least had some picnic and crunchie bars.

The Marriott Resort there is absolutely beautiful, the rooms are really nicely set out and furnished, very upper market fittings and the bed was like falling into some soft white fluffy clouds. We loved how it is all built off the ground with so many timber walkways. The pool wasn’t that nice though, just a rectangle with decking and umbrellas etc but it was always full of kiddies, I wish these big resorts could splash out and have a pool for kids and one for adults. We didn’t go in it but felt sorry for some of the adults trying to relax there. Of course everything there is expensive, drinks food even bottled water, which we were sneaky and bought it at the National Park for half price.
Scarlet-rumped Trogon
A Prize find for us – Scarlet-rumped Trogon
slim pickings for Bird pics at Mulu
Every morning we would jump on the shuttle bus and go to the park, only about 10 minutes drive, and when you finish at the park the security there rings the Marriott and they send the bus to pick you up again.
The park is beautiful too and really well set out with quite some kms of timber walkways, very easy to walk around. They had a huge bird tower where you had to get the key to open it which we did everyday. But if you wanted to go to the caves it was all tours, and expensive tours, and very regimented, we really didn’t care for that side of things. We could walk to one cave, the deer cave where more than 3 million bats fly out every evening, just beautiful watching them spiralling into the sky. We even saw an eagle take one out.
Tree Hugger Dragonfly - Tyriobapta torrida
Tree Hugger Dragonfly
Dragon & Damselflies galore at Mulu
We were a bit disappointed though as we really didn’t see a lot of birdlife, the jungle here is full of Tarzan vines we call them so it’s really hard to see through them, but we didn’t hear too many birds either and sat up in the bird tower for quite sometime looking too. We did see heaps of different dragonflies butterflies and some really amazing bugs and gorgeous squirrels so it really wasn’t too bad. The heat got to us though and we had to go back to the resort and sit out the hottest part of the day and then head back in to the park around 3 pm but then it was very quiet.
Butterflies of Mulu
There were a few Butterflies 
We didn’t think the people here were very friendly, we did meet some nice barmaids but generally most of them are very sullen and it seems they really can’t be bothered with us. Apparently the resort is only allowed to hire local people and if one gets upset over something they all do, and it seems they have no competition for their jobs so they don’t try to hard.
Bornean Pit Viper
Saw this Bornean Pit Viper on the way out of the Park on the last day.
Always nice to come across the odd Reptile or two

A Common Squirrel feasting
Squirrels are always fun to watch

Red Millipede (Trachelomegalus modestior)
Red Millipede of Mulu
No shortage of odd looking bugs
4 days there was well and truly enough and today we flew to Kuching. It seems very clean and a good road system getting out to our new digs, a big step down from the Marriott I’m afraid,no luxuries here but it’s clean and very close to the parks here. It was great to pick up a hire car again as we didn’t have one in Mulu. So now we are super busy as we have so many photos, a video and emails etc to catch up on. We didn’t have phone or wifi at the Marriott for 4 days, they say they have wifi but it doesn’t work. It looks quite scenic around here so hope to get into at least one of the parks tomorrow and also get some scenery photos.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

Mount Kinabalu – Revisited

Mt Kinabalu, from our Hotel
The ever changing view of Mount Kinabalu

 

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Our Digs at Kundasang

 

Well we had a great start to the day, got to the park around 8 am and soon as we paid at the gate we wound our windows down and started listening for birds. After only about ten minutes we pulled over as we could hear some birds quite loud, we got out of the car and looked and looked but they were just behind a wall of trees so we couldn’t quite see them. I was looking through my binoculars and all of a sudden I realised I could see some talons on a tree branch and after manoeuvring a bit I could see it was an owl sitting there asleep and the birds were literally flying around his head and he wasn’t one bit bothered. Maybe he had one of them for breakfast and they obviously weren’t happy. We just couldn’t believe it, what a find, if I hadn’t been looking through binoculars we wouldn’t have seen him. Anthony had to put his extender on the camera to get a good photo as it was quite dark in amongst the trees and the owl was quite a distance away. He is a Barred eagle owl, just fantastic to see.

 

Barred Eagle-Owl

 

We then had breakfast at the restaurant in the park but when we came out all we could hear was noise. They are doing a lot of maintenance rebuilding some chalets, I know it’s necessary but when you are looking for birds the last thing you want to hear is a band saw going. Then we thought we would have a quick tour around the botanical gardens as we have seen a few birds there. But guess what…..they were using those very loud petrol blowers,  Grrrrrrr 😡😡😡 just our luck.
We went on a little hike along one of the tracks and eventually got away from the noise but I was thinking ……since I’ve been taking videos I have realised how noisy we are as humans. As you’ve probably noticed we don’t have many photos or videos with people in them or peoples noises, but it takes a lot of effort, pretty much if there are people around I don’t bother taking videos and for photos we always get up early or get somewhere early if we want photos of things besides wildlife.
I do wonder though what sort of HUM planet earth must be emitting and I’m sure if there’s alien life out there they must hear us loud and clear.
Little Pied Flycatcher
A gorgeous Little Pied Flycatcher
A few more birds of Kinabalu
Yellow breasted Warbler
A very pretty Yellow-breasted Warbler
Bornean Jezebel - Delias eumolpe eumolpe
A great find – the uncommon Bornean Jezabel
Anthony developed a really bad headache so after lunch we came back to the hotel. This Perkasa hotel was built in 1981 and sadly looks like it…..but it’s on a perk spot up on a hill and we only noticed today that they have a fantastic landing with a great view of the mountain here. This Kinabalu mountain is just amazing, every time you look at it the clouds have either totally covered it or there’s some type of picturesque cloud hovering around it, it really is a very majestic brooding mountain.
We are hoping to get some nice morning photos from the landing before we check out and  head back to Kota Kinabalu for our flight around lunch time to Mulu, which is another place in Borneo but in the Sarawak region.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

Poring Hot Springs – Sabah

Poring Hot Springs
The individual Hot Spring Baths

 

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Accommodation at Poring

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Poring Hot Springs 

Well we had a nice morning in Poring Hot Springs, we walked back through the butterfly sanctuary and saw a few more different butterflies. We did walk up to the tropical gardens but apparently there’s not much flowering so we gave it a miss but did see this enormous Orb weaver spider had just caught himself a bug so we took some photos and a video of him, it’s always fantastic to see such a big spider at work. We really love seeing all types of critters in the wild, although once I did walk into a big web like that and had eye to eye contact with one of those big golden orb spiders, oh my god I was screaming like a girl, since then I always make sure I’m never walking through the bush first. Absolutely Terrifying.

 

Giant Orb-Weaver Feasting
Juvenile White-crowned Sharma
Juvenile White-crowned Sharma

 

Some Butterflies of Poring

 

Pink Skimmer - Orthetrum pruinosum
Pink Skimmer dragonfly

 

More Odonata of Poring 
walkway to the Hot Springs and Restaurant
Walkway to Hot Springs and Restaurant
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We did the big 45 minute drive to Kundasang, we are staying at the Perkasa Hotel which is ok, big room great bathroom and shower, ticks all the boxes though it has this old worldly smell, I guess it is a really old hotel with old carpet. We had lunch back at the Mount Kinabalu Park restaurant and managed to get a couple of hours of driving around listening out for birds. We did get great photos of 6 new birds in that time which was just fantastic to see. Sadly some of them have little bands on their legs, research so we are told. Some birds have 3 bands……must be 3 types of research?…You have to wonder if it helps the birds in any way, not much use having all this data if it doesn’t help them. Apparently they rig up big nets across the ridges somehow to catch them, I wonder how many times they have to go through that sort of stress.
Well anyway we love seeing them and they all look healthy, and we love seeing new birds.
We will put our new photos of them on tomorrow’s blog as we will have the whole day in the park so hopefully get more photos.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Langanan Waterfall Trek

Langanan Falls, Poring

 

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Langanan Waterfall Trek

 

Wow what a day, started the day fresh as daisies, got up nice and early, had a quick breakfast at the restaurant here and were away by 8 am to climb this mountain where there’s a beautiful waterfall. We had to walk through the hot baths to get to the waterfall track and the staff were cleaning everything, getting it all ready for another busy day. It was really peaceful there this morning, nobody there.

Well the track pretty much went straight up for 3 hours, very gnarly roots and lots of slippery rocks so quite slow going. We weren’t in a hurry anyway as we wanted to spot some critters on the way. It’s 3.400 mtrs to the falls so quite a way. We went past some bat caves which was fantastic listening to the little bats squeaking to each other and it looks like they have some great caves to hang out in there. Anthony had been trying to get good photos of the White capped Sharma which is a very elusive secretive bird, we have seen quite a few but they are always hiding in the dark shadows of the trees so imagine our surprise when there was one on the path, busily munching away on some ants and was quite happy for us to get close and get some great photos.
White-capped Sharma
And then along comes a Great Argus……we thought these big turkey like birds were extinct as they have been hunted for so long because of their beautiful long tail feathers. Wow what a big beautiful bird and so great to see one.
The butterflies along this track were amazing too, we saw so many different ones and as you all know….they are very difficult to photograph. They never seem to sit for long and then they also never sit where you want them too but Anthony got some great photos of some today. We saw quite a few small birds and heard a few but they were quite elusive.
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It’s always so rewarding to climb up to a waterfall and this one didn’t disappoint, Langanan falls is spectacular, we haven’t seen a big waterfall like this for quite sometime. It was nice and cool up there so we hung around for a bit, there were a few dragonflies and butterflies up there too so that kept Anthony busy. Then we realised it would be at least 2 hours to climb back down….and we were starving, of course we didn’t take anything to eat with us, only water, we certainly aren’t the smartest hikers around. And it was a really slow plod coming back down, quite treacherous under foot so had to be careful. We quickly raced over the road to a little restaurant we had been to yesterday to gobble down some late lunch, it was 2 pm and we had started climbing at 8 am. I’m sure we will wake up a bit sore tomorrow, it was quite jarring on the knees and ankles.
We just relaxed the rest of the afternoon, in the morning we want to quickly visit the tropical gardens here and then head down to Mount Kinabalu for another 2 nights. We are staying in a hotel instead of a farm stay, won’t make that mistake again.
Bye Steph and Anthony.