Well we are all set up at the Caravan Park in Stanthorpe now and will be starting the Apple thinning again next week. It’s ridiculously hot for this time of year, 30 degrees today, hard to believe. I guess we are in for a scorcher this summer.
Today we visited Girraween National Park , always one of our favourite parks, with a gorgeous rocky river, lots of rock pools, a huge rocky pyramid to climb and plenty of walking trails, you certainly can’t get bored in this beautiful place in nature. We saw lots of lizards, heard plenty of birds but for some reason we never get many bird photos here. A few dragonflies are also starting to appear which makes Anthony very very happy. He can spend hours stalking one just to get that perfect photo of a perfect pose on the perfect prop and of course with a perfect background.🤩🤩
We saw 3 Red-bellied black snakes but boy are the quick, we didn’t get any photos but I got a little snippet of one on my video, he was swimming and ducked under a rocky ledge, I wonder how long they can hold their breath because we sat there for ages waiting for him to resurface. Maybe he found a little tunnel through the rocks and made his escape. They are a beautiful snake to watch, very timid, if they see you they are pretty quick to get away.
Granite : a strong feature in this Park
It was difficult Photographing the birdlife today, they were very uncooperative
This is a Common male Archtail Dragonfly
Fairly slim pickings in the Odonata (dragon/damselflies) department
A nice variety of reptiles were spotted today
Some snippets from Girraween
So this is most likely our last big outing for a while. I guess we do have time off around Xmas but it would be pretty hot at that time and once we get into work mode we don’t seem to do much else. At the Apple orchard where we work, there is a huge lake with all sorts of birdlife visiting, Anthony sometimes goes there on our days off so we will still post some photos and of course our weekly inspirational quotes. Plus there is a very cute river in town where we also see lots of birds and dragonflies so we will still be doing occasional blogs of the amazing critters that we see when out and about. Please enjoy the pics and video.
Well the weather did fine up for us but we have been struggling to find any birds. On the second day we drove about 45 minutes to Kubah National Park first which has actually been extensively logged so no really big trees and hardly a peep to be heard. Because it had been raining we stayed on the road going up to the summit but it still was very green with moss but it gave us a really good view of the forest as we walked up and we did hear a few birds and saw a couple of drongos . On the way back down we walked on one of the tracks instead and it was still tree roots and slippery rocks, it seems to be the same terrain wherever we go. There was no cafe here but we had seen a couple on the way in, one was on top of a rubbish tip…..yes really and the other one didn’t look to bad. We had to share an iced lemon tea as there was nothing else except for Pepsi and we had a choice of 4 meals so we picked some noodle dish with some type of crumbled meat in it but couldn’t actually tell you what it was. But the flies there were just crazy, I don’t know why, maybe from all the rubbish but we just gobbled our noodles and high tailed it out of there.
Click or press image for larger view
Yesterday we went to Bako National Park which involved another 45 minute drive in the opposite direction. We were lucky to get one of the last car parks at the jetty area, very busy place and we had to get a boat from there up the river to the NP. We were expecting it to be busy as it sounds amazing and there is the best chance to see proboscis monkeys there. Well you could hardly move at ticket box, people just en masse. I had to go to the loo and sadly had to leave Anthony to organise boat tickets in that mayhem…..actually he normally turns to jelly in big crowds so I was expecting to come back and he maybe wanted to bail out, but he thought it’s either deal with this or we are back on the highway. I couldn’t believe it but he had it all organised……(typical Borneo) he had to register us at one booth, get tickets at another then go back to the original booth to organise a driver for the boat, I kid you not there were around 20 boats waiting for all the tourists to get their paper work in order. We were suppose to stand in one spot and wait till they matched us up with other people as they wanted full boatloads. But after 2 minutes Anthony went and harassed them a little and we were off, straight down the jetty with some others that they had quickly scrambled together. You can only imagine the chaos there, people were so confused and most had that stunned mullet look on their faces so it was great to get out.
Bako National Park
The trip there was good, very fast little boats with twin 40 hsp outboards on the back . Too bumpy for videos though. When we arrived at the park we had to take our paper work to their office and then we were free.
We saw some silver leaf monkeys straight away and then the Bornean bearded pig so we got quite excited thinking we had finally found a National Park with wildlife, yahoo. So off we went on one of the trails picked for the birdlife…….we walked and walked , heard nothing, in fact it was deathly quiet. Next thing we are climbing up the side of a mountain back on those dreaded slippery tree roots and rocks again. After about 20 minutes of climbing, we were both drenched with sweat and still no sounds from the jungle and still a long way up that bloody mountain, so we bailed out to find an easier trail. There was only one cafe there so we had lunch early before the masses and chilled out a bit. This heat is really getting to us. We walked up another path and some people had seen a proboscis monkey on it high up in the trees. This path followed the cliffs along the beach. It was also climbing but we had something to look for now so we were very keen. It took a while but we heard them first, crashing around in the trees but couldn’t get a look because of the foliage in front and then after manoeuvring off the path and into the jungle a bit we could see the male and then after a while we spotted the female. They are quite a large primate and they are very hard to spot in the trees, it’s only because we heard them that we knew where to look. It’s hard to believe they’ve been squashed into this last place on the coast. They only live near the mangroves so they won’t be able to survive, they are critically endangered already and were still hunted for their meat not so long ago, very very sad.
It was fantastic to see them so it really made our day. The trip back was good too, the boats all pick you up from the beach at 3 pm, it was a tiring day.
Click or press image for larger view
Today we went for a quick walk in the forest here, we did see some silver leaf monkeys but still no birds, had lunch instead at the Damai Resort on the beach, a very nice spot and a nice lunch. We relaxed around the pool till it cooled off enough to go for a quick drive to Buntal beach about 15 minutes drive as we heard they had a big walkway along the mangroves there. It was really nice and picturesque, the sun was setting, there were kingfishers and other birds around, a really nice spot. But best not to look around too much and see all the rubbish scattered among the mangroves, it’s just everywhere here. I don’t think they know what a beautiful country they have, it’s been hard to get away from the rubbish.
I did a little research because I was concerned about the lack of wildlife in the parks, I mean we are in the Bornean jungles, we were expecting a lot more mammals and birds, but it’s so quiet. They also have a cat problem, starving cats in the parks, you can only imagine what they are eating. I am convinced most of the prize animals are gone, there are still traditional hunters in the parks, and don’t forget most of the forests are wiped out by palm oil or heavily logged so the only place for wildlife is in the parks but they are not protected there. They also have a huge poaching problem, I won’t gabble on about it because I know the world is pretty much stuffed as far as nature is concerned but will include an interesting article I read from an Australian professor of ecology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Always nice to come across the odd Reptile or two
Squirrels are always fun to watch
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.
Well the last few days have been interesting…..we are battling headaches most days as we can’t find espresso coffee anywhere and their semi percolated watered down glimpse of coffee with UHT milk is literally killing us. All of a sudden Thailand seems like heaven on earth and Borneo is losing flavour real fast.
Mount Kinabalu Park was amazing, we loved it there, after we arrived at our new digs (Hovel Central ) as I called it and when you see the video you will see why, and no the bed was very hard and the shower just warm and we had to wear flip flops to go to the loo after we had showers…… I won’t go on about it because I’m probably exaggerating, being so crabby without my usual caffeine fixes.
Anyway we hightailed it to park as we got there quite early about 1pm, drove around a bit, saw a few birds, visited the restaurant for lunch there , the weather was great and we were really excited about visiting the next day.
Click or press image for larger view
After a horrible sleep at Hovel Central we got back to the park, blue sky just beautiful, all the birds were chirping and so many sounds we couldn’t recognise, but we decided to have breakfast first before we started on one of the many hikes there, and as we were having our omelettes the wind really picked up and then shock horror we saw very low clouds scooting in at speed and within minutes it was just bucketing down. We just sat there stunned , we sat there for quite some time praying for it to clear and really didn’t like our only option of going back to the hovel which by the way didn’t have power and water when we woke up that morning. But we couldn’t stay there and sadly drove back, at least the power and water was back on and it wasn’t raining there at all as it was down and away from the mountain. We sat there for a while and decided to give the park another go as it hadn’t rained and the sky was overcast but looked a bit lighter. We are so glad we did, it didn’t rain after that and we just drove around on the bitumen with our windows down and stopped when we heard birds and Anthony got some fantastic photos, check out the eyelashes on the green magpie….what a beautiful bird and so noisy, you certainly know when they are around. You may also notice the bands on all the birds little legs?????? We have no idea what that is about, and how on earth did they manage to capture and band nearly every bird we saw….. very disturbing🙁🙁
Click or press on Image to view larger
We had lunch again and spent all afternoon driving and looking and spotting, it really turned into a fantastic day.
A short Video of our Kinabalu experience
So now we come to TODAY
It was our last day there and we were pretty much going to do the same thing as yesterday except we woke up to rain…….Decided to go into the park anyway and wait for it to clear and we do like the omelettes at the restaurant . So there we sat…..rain rain and more rain and not much wind so guess it wasn’t going to clear real soon, we had to make an executive decision to forgo our last nights stay at the hovel and
just hit the road as it was going to be about a 4 hour drive across Borneo to the Sandakan / Sepilok area. Anthony tried to book a day earlier into the accomodation we had booked there but it was full, so we decided to just get to a hotel close to there for the night.
Anthony couldn’t believe how quickly I packed, usually he’s waiting for me doing all the bathroom stuff but I was pretty keen to leave Hovel Central as a bad memory and move onto better experiences.
Soon as we got away from the mountain and down in altitude it stopped raining which was nice. The road conditions are dangerous to put it nicely, they have these red signs just everywhere with ‘AWAS’ written on them, I guess it must mean Beware or Danger. Also Borneans must be up there with the most dangerous and risk taking drivers in the world, really hairy driving here. We stopped about halfway at a KFC, because we really felt like chips……Oh my god the smells coming out of the drains in that town were horrendous, all the towns so far have been very dirty, rubbish just everywhere, it’s quite depressing really.
A little while later it started raining again and got torrential, I don’t know how our little Honda hire car managed to get here unscathed and no busted tyres as you really couldn’t see the road at all for water and we hit so many potholes and craters it certainly was a drive to remember. Anthony really had to concentrate, and also a lot of very slow trucks to overtake it certainly was a challenge.
We have to actually go back that way in a couple of weeks but trying not to think about that just yet.
So we are now relaxing in our nice hotel…nice clean shower, soft bed….we walked into the town just here in downtown Labuk, people were just staring at us, I guess they don’t get tourists here. We asked at a cafe with a big logo of a coffee cup on the front if they have espresso but oh no you can’t get it anywhere here.😢😢😢😢
So we went to the local supermarket, bought instant coffees and uht milk and will just have to suffer. Looks like the rain is easing so please cross your fingers so we can get out and about back to nature tomorrow.
We had a good day, a nice breakfast at the palace and then we decided to just walk up the side road here as we could see that most of it was bushland. Well we found lots of dragonflies and a bit further up we’re heaps of ponds with some bird life so Anthony managed to get some nice photos just in our backyard really. He was quite happy to hang out there for a while but I was already sweating so I decided it was a good time to check out the pool, have a nice swim and relax a bit which was really nice.
Dragonfly pics for the day
We then decided to drive up to the Kui Buri National Park about 1 hours drive, to try and see some elephants. It’s renowned for being the easiest place to spot them and boast a 99% success rate. The drive out there was really nice, good road hardly any traffic and beautiful countryside. Quite a few pineapple plantations and rubber tree plantations too.
They are very strict at the National Park, no walking through only by safari, we had already done some research and knew roughly what to expect.
We headed off just after 2 pm and only one other safari Ute going, it seems there aren’t many people around, maybe it’s just crazy busy on the weekends..
We saw the Gaur very quickly I wasn’t really prepared so didn’t get much of a look at him really. Bizarre looking animal though, I guess half bison and maybe half buffalo.
We saw the elephants very soon thereafter which was fantastic, we did get off the back of the Ute and got quite close about 40 mtrs so Anthony got some really nice photos. What a beautiful animal, so peaceful, they don’t really seem to do much, just eat and swish their tails.
A moving experience up close with Asian Elephants
We stopped at another viewpoint and you could see them in the distance and we must have sat on these logs for about an hour, we were under the impression that the guy on the motorbike who had been spotting the elephants and radioing through to our driver was out spotting other animals for us….but since our guide or the driver couldn’t speak English we didn’t realise this was the end of the safari……everyone had gone home except for us dim wits sitting there absolutely bored shitless fo quite sometime. The safari finishes around 6 pm but because we were so lucky seeing the elephants so quickly we had a lot of time to kill so they were quite happy for us to sit there twiddling our thumbs, funny hey?? Lucky Anthony made some snappy sign language and we went home early. Honestly we love elephants but after a period of time it’s like watching a cat sleeping, you just want to go to sleep too.
You can watch a short Video of the Elephants here
Still it was great to see them but the safari utes only go to about 3 viewpoints so I guess there’s not that much chance of seeing anything else. They’ve got an impressive wildlife list so we were quite a bit disappointed not to see anything else.
Well this was our last day down this neck of the woods, back to the big smoke Bangkok tomorrow shock horror, we will just have to remember to breathe.
Well our day started off quite sedately, a nice breakfast here at the palace which didn’t start till after 8 am so we didn’t even hit the road till around 9 ish. Our excitement for seeing new birds turned sour pretty quickly, we paid to get into the national park and were then told that the one spot we were really keen to visit, a freshwater marshland, was closed. We drove around some of the hundreds of shrimp ponds and did see quite a few normal sort of birds I guess, like the stilts, herons, egrets, plovers, terns etc but Anthony has so many really good photos of these already and the light was too bright against the shallow murky brown water and didn’t come up too good in the photos.
Our first stop which included a rewarded climb at Khao Daeng
You can watch our short Video of Khao Daeng here
So we decided to play Tommy Tourists instead, which must sound quite relaxing but it involved hiking which we love of course but climbing very steep terrain in the tropical heat has knobs on it, I was so glad to do it but thought about the pool back at the palace quite a few times, we were so hot and bothered and absolutely drenched by the end of the day.
Watch our short Video of Phraya Nakhon Cave and surrounds here
The view from Khao Daeng was fantastic, you can see the hundreds of shrimp ponds in the area. Also the temple in the cave was truly a mystical experience, I am so glad we were the only ones there, it was so still and peaceful and such a beautiful spiritual aura about the place, it would have been ruined by noisy tourists.The history is very interesting so you can read a bit further about it Here.
We love seeing all the monkeys on the way, they are quite used to humans but do keep a wary eye on us so we were quite amazed when a mummy macaque carrying her baby brushed so close past Anthony ,maybe they can sense that we mean them no harm.
So we had a fantastic though very tiring day, not sure what we are doing tomorrow yet, probably will start with a sleep in. Enjoy the pics and videos.