Kinabalu Park – Sabah

Bornean Green Magpie (Eye lashes courtesy of ‘Maybelline’)

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
Mount Kinabalu, Highest Peak in SE Asia (4095m)

 

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.
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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.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Kui Buri National Park

The Beauty of an Asian Elephant

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

 

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt – Image captured behind our Resort
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..
Gaur Bull
The Gaur Bull (Bos gaurus),
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.
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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.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

SamRoiYod National Park

Temple in a Cave – Phraya Nakhon, SamRoiYod NP

 

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
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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.
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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.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

From Mountains to the Sea

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Picturesque Dolphin Bay, SamRoiYod

 

Wow wow wow ….

What else can I say? Check out our new digs!! Palace more like it with Palace gardens, this little mini resort should be on the cover of a glossy travel magazine, absolutely stunning. It’s called Stella Resort just up the road from Dolphin Bay where all the fancy resorts are. Our room is beautiful too and spotless, really when I looked at that pool I just wanted to get my bikini on and lounge around it for the rest of the afternoon, the lady here does meals and even massages, what a beautiful relaxing place and check out the mountains in the distance.

 

How amazing does this scene look? At our new Digs

 

We really wanted to check out the area as we only have 3 nights here….tick tock tick tock, so no time to relax just yet, plus we hadn’t had lunch, looks like we might be combining lunch and dinner. The surrounds here are amazing, that mountain range is awesome and the coast is pretty good too. We found a nice restaurant by the beach , fantastic Thai food, there’s restaurants and bars most of the way along Dolphin Bay.
The fishing village of Bang Pu was so colourful, all those brightly painted boats made for great photos, oh yes and look at the Hoopoes almost at arms reach on the lawn of a resort after we spent quite sometime stalking them at the dam this morning.

 

A couple of snaps from around SamRoiYod
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A quick look a SamRoiYod including Dolphin Bay and Bang Pu
Anyway enjoy the video and pics, we are really excited to do more exploring tomorrow,
Bye, Steph and Anthony.

Farewell Kaeng Krachan

Unexpected Visitor at the Lawns of Kaeng Krachan Dam

Well our morning started really well, we were lying in bed doing our iPad thing and Anthony spotted a Blue winged Pita hopping around in the garden at the Rivercreek Estate. Of course I didn’t believe him at first till I got a look myself, they are such an elusive gorgeous little bird, I quickly got my video recorder going through the window so it’s a bit grainy, Anthony was clicking madly just outside the door but the photos didn’t turn out that good as it was so dark. Such a good feeling to see a bird like that. I suppose we could have done nothing for the rest of the morning but we didn’t have to check out till 12 am and couldn’t check into our next place till 2 pm so decided to zip back out to the dam and see what it was like in the morning light.

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A short Video of the elusive Blue-winged Pitta
Well it’s a fantastic place in the morning, saw heaps of herons and kingfishers, saw the amazing Hoopoe, what a crazy looking bird that walks like a chicken, I never thought we would get to see one. In the distance I could hear miaowing and this gorgeous little cat found me and then wouldn’t leave, I felt so sorry for her, she obviously has some kittens as well so must be having a pretty tough life. There is a restaurant there and she is very very friendly so probably does ok, but anyway if there was a magic geenie ….she would be mine, with her babies of course.
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A video featuring the Hoopoe and Kaeng Krachan Dam
Birds spotted on our last morning at Kaeng Krachan
On the way back we did a quick circuit of our frontage road and took some photos of the Weaver bird nests so high up in the palm tree. We spotted quite a few other birds, this was a fantastic place to stay.
Baya Weavers and their Nests
It’s time to head to our new digs so please enjoy the last pics and videos.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Kaeng Krachan – Rivercreek Estate and Surrounds

Impressive National Park Entrance

We had a nice relaxing day today, had a nice breakfast down here on the landing, walked up and down the road looking for birds but it was already hot at 7.30 am and not much shade on the road also it is a public road with other farms and houses and it seems everyone has a dog or 5. Most are ok with us walking past but others go to town so we try not to disturb them too much. There is a lot of birds we see but then again hard for photos as we don’t want to follow the birds into people’s private gardens and farms though really everyone is so friendly here they probably wouldn’t mind. They really stare at us as they drive past as if we had just dropped down from Mars, I don’t think they get any western tourists walking around with cameras and binoculars. We certainly must be a sight.

 

A couple of Pics waking around Rivercreek

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A short Video of Rivercreek Estate

We took the kayak for a paddle in the little river here but we should have gone early not at midday, honestly we are such Wally’s sometimes, it was nice but ridiculously hot and really uncomfortable with the life jackets on camera , hats etc so we only went for an hour, still got some nice photos.
A couple of pics paddling around Rivercreek
We then went for a drive to the big dam, Kaeng  Kra Chan which is part of the National Park, just beautiful there, finally got there a bit earlier to get some photos and walk around a bit.Theres this huge suspension bridge going over to an island, we just got there and all these macaques were sauntering along coming our way quite funny to see.
A couple of pics from around Lake Kaeng Kra Chan
Some other tourists had small bags of food and started walking on the bridge and these macaques  are so clever …..the people never suspected that they had only one thing on their mind and they reached up and grabbed the food bags so quick I wish I had my video camera going. One lady had the food tucked in her handbag and had turned to have her photo taken by hubby and this macaque  just snuck up and grabbed her bag and wrenched out the food and took off along the bridge. Would have been a great video.😁😁
You can’t walk over, it’s all wired up, I think maybe the macaques  on the other end got too aggressive and were attacking the tourists. I guess this is a classic case of what happens when you feed wildlife.
These macaques are quite amazing, they swim and dive to catch crabs in the lake, and wouldn’t we love to capture that.
We found a great little restaurant that makes amazing fish cakes absolutely yum.
We love Thai food just not too spicy.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.