Last days in Borneo

Silver Leaf Monkey
Silver Leaf Monkey, quite a common sight in the jungles of Sarawak

 

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A short Video from Sarawak

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.

 

Just for something different, a nice flower

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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.
The only way to Bako NP is by boat
Our Transport to Bako NP

 

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.
A large Male Proboscis Monkey
A large Male Proboscis Monkey Looking very much like a drunken Sailor !!!
Female Proboscis Monkey
Female Proboscis Monkey
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Bornean Bearded Pig
Amazed to see a Bornean Bearded Pig waltzing up the beach
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.
View over to Bako from Buntal Bay
View over to Bako from Buntal Bay

 

Buntal Bay raised walkway over the mangroves
A nice monument at the beginning of a raised walkway of the mangroves.
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.

This is our last night in Borneo, we had some amazing times seeing amazing wildlife, but doubt we will return.
Off to Malaysia tomorrow.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

Some extra last day pics around our Digs

Sepilok to Kinabatangan River

Green Crested Lizard at Sepilok Banana Cafe

 

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A short Video of the amazing Banana Cafe, Sepilok

Well our morning didn’t really go as planned, checkout was at 11 am which didn’t really give us enough time to do the pita walk and then have enough time for showers etc so we just walked the walkways and some paths again at the discovery centre. Actually it was very quiet there, we were even quite early but didn’t see much except for a few skinks and this beautiful Orangutan just having a little rest in a tree, we really didn’t want to disturb him so we were very quiet, took some quick photos and left him in peace.

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A young Orangutan at Rest – Sepilok Rainforest

 

After checking out we stopped for a quick iced tea with lemon at the banana cafe, there was hardly anyone there and Anthony got some great photos of those elusive little flowerpeckers, they are so small and fast and always hiding. They have a bird feeder there and lots of flowering bushes so it’s a hotspot  for those types of birds.

 

 

It was a 2 hour drive to our new digs in Sukau which is right on the river. Anthony booked 4 nights here, but was always a bit unsure about this place and couldn’t find out anything about the river boat trips etc. Well all I can say is it’s just one big rip off tourist place, pay pay pay for rubbish really.This place is like a lodge I guess with timber walkways leading to cabins, which is what we were in first but honestly is was worse than the Hovel Central at Mount Kinabalu. A scrap of toweling for a towel, certainly no bath mat, no kettle or cups or glasses, another one of those wet showers, also the louvre windows wouldn’t close which made the aircon pretty hopeless. We didn’t know what to do, we were so disappointed yet again. Anthony found if we stayed one night we could cancel without having to pay for the other three nights, so hooray for that, we weren’t staying that long, also they had a spare deluxe room so we took that. It was more expensive but comfy bed proper shower, kettle etc so things did take a turn for the better.
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Kinabatangan River Video
Then we decided to take the afternoon boat trip for 2 hours which is what we came here for but Anthony was under the impression that the boat went all the time and would be cheap…….No No No not in this rip off place. We did the trip along with so many other boats just crazy…really not our cup of tea at all. We saw a few birds but we were just going flat stick up and down the river about 3 times, yes just up down up down at high speed and didn’t see a thing for the first hour. Because they had spotters on the shore looking for elephants and had spotted them up there, but by the time we got there they had gone so we went all the way down there and then back again. Some of us saw birds but they weren’t interested in us seeing anything but the elephants, here’s our Safari trip in  Kui Buri all over again.
Asian Elephant on banks of kinabatangan River
Asian Elephant on the banks of Kinabatangan River
Yes we did see the elephants but you can hear all the people in the background of my video, it’s not how we want to see wildlife. We will certainly stay away from any future boat trips.
They have a restaurant on the river here, for drinks there’s either water or coke and we had a very basic buffet dinner. I’ve been having Pina Colada’s the last few nights so have become rather spoilt.
So the problem now is that all the accommodation around Sepilok is booked out and we have nowhere that we want to go to…..We’re not staying here it’s a @$#& hole. We might be able to go back to Labuk where we stayed at that hotel then it’s only about 20 minutes drive to the Rainforest Discovery Centre.
I will keep you posted.
It was extremely hot today must have easy been around 38 degrees, they have a problem with power here so the power just went off and thank god it came back on again, I don’t think we could sleep without aircon. The power keeps surging, all the lights dim and the aircon is on 17 degrees but is only just keeping us cool.
Borneo is a real hit and miss affair, I guess if we ever come back we can sidestep all the pitfalls. We will be in better spirits when we get back to the jungle.
Bye, Steph and Anthony.

Orangutans of Sepilok

 

Bornean Orangutan - Wild and Free
Bornean Orangutan – Wild and Free

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Check out our Orangutan and friends footage here

 

Day 2 in Paradise certainly didn’t disappoint. We finally got to see Orangutans in the wild, it’s been something that was very high on our bucket list and we spotted them 4 times today. A huge highlight in our lives to see these amazing creatures just going about their daily business of swinging through the trees and eating jack fruit. We just hope they can hang on to these last remaining pockets of forest because as you all know…. in the end it’s all about money and when the big knobs want more land for palm oil I guess they will get it.

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Another fantastic day at Sepilok Rainforest and Gardens

We try really hard not to buy anything with Palm oil in it but I tell you what, it’s in everything, and half the time it’s not even listed as palm oil, very very sneaky horrible people.
Anthony had some problems with his camera today, it was over exposing all the photos so we had a few hours sitting in the airconditioned chalet and with the help of Dr  Camera Google managed to fix it, thank God.

 

Well we only have tomorrow morning left here so we will again go to the discovery centre, there’s a Pita walk, it’s a track goes for about 2 hours, we are hoping to see at least one Pita there. Surely it’s not much to ask for, hopefully the Pig tailed Macaques aren’t there as we had to quickly do a u turn today as the big male took a dislike to us and came rushing down a tree and cut us off on the path, we retreated and found another path to get back on, he is well known for being quite aggressive. We met another couple there who also had a run in with them where the macaques surrounded them and some were growling at them, they ran for it, scared the living daylights out of them as you can imagine.
Anyway enjoy the pics and video.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok

Happy to be in Paradise, Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre

 

Well you are probably thinking after that blog yesterday that we have packed our bags and are hightailing it out of Borneo and heading home but this morning we woke up fresh as daisies, the skies had cleared, the instant coffees are keeping our headaches at bay and we knew today we were going back to nature.

We only had around a 20 minute drive to our new digs, a chalet in the rainforest…,,yes you did hear that right, hasn’t it got a beautiful ring to it. It’s called the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort. We knew we couldn’t check in till 2 pm but we rocked up around 10 am and left our luggage at the reception and they said they would take it to our chalet when it was ready…..we had passed a cafe sign just up the road so we headed there first for some brunch, great omelette and toast.
There was this huge decking with all the tables and chairs and it overlooked a man made lake with a little island in the middle and the most picturesque setting, so many flowering plants and of course birds everywhere. We had left our stuff in the car so Anthony went and got his camera and quickly got some photos of the little green lizard and the Hornbill sitting quietly in a tree. What a beautiful spot, it really lifted our spirits.
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We then drove to the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre  only 2 kms down the road.
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Well wow what can I say the nature gods are smiling upon us and dropped us right in the middle of paradise. We spent the rest of the day here, it’s very tropical after all that rain I guess, but we didn’t care, just so many birds and other critters here.

 


 


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check out today’s video at the Rainforest Discovery Centre 
We came back to our chalet, all good, the restaurant is fantastic so will try to get some photos around here and the banana cafe with the lake. We have a lake here too but didn’t have time to explore today, we will be pretty keen get back it the discover centre in the morning., we might cancel some other things we had planned so we can come back here, absolutely fantastic.Enjoy the pics and video, we are here for two nights.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Hornbills and Friends – Khao Yai

Male Great Hornbill
The Majestic Great Hornbill in full flight

 

Well if you’ve been wondering what we have been up to the last few days, we have been very busy stalking hornbills in Khao Yai. If you have ever been there you would know that they are not that easy to see let alone get good photos off even though they are such an enormous bird they can still be very hard to spot as they are normally near the tops of the trees where the best fruit is and the trees are very very tall.

Anthony managed to capture them just beautifully with some fantastic in flight shots from the lookout, I wasn’t so lucky with the video but did manage to get a few snippets here and there but would have liked more of their honking sounds, they truly are something to see and the sound of their enormous wing beats is straight out of Jurassic Park.
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 View Hornbill Video here
We have also been walking and driving around the park like crazy, getting very badly leeched a few times, we are still wondering why we haven’t invested in some leech socks…..we really are slow learners. We didn’t see any bird storms this trip, in fact it was very quiet even driving around slowly we really didn’t stop much at all but did still managed to get some great photos and video so would definitely pay Khao Yai another visit in the future.
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View ‘other critters’ Video here
Some birds of Khao Yai
I have to apologise for mistaking the scorpion in the video for some type of fresh water crab???? Honestly when I saw those big nippers I just thought of a crab and wasn’t really looking at his ginormous scorpion tail…..good thing I didn’t try to help him on his way to fresh water🙄🙄🙄🙄
Some mammals of Khao Yai
We couldn’t believe we also saw the gibbons, you hear them a lot but so hard to spot and usually they sound real close but are quite far away. Anthony also got some nice photos considering the distance they were away. So we had a great time here though very tiring at times. The next few days we will be transitioning to Borneo so you might not hear much but we are desperate to see orangutans in the wild so please keep your fingers crossed.
All the best Steph and Anthony.

Khao Yai National Park

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Wow, what a day, we got up early and got out to the Khao Yai National Park  nice and early around 7am. It was such a great feeling revisiting this park as we had spent 4 days here last year.

 

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We already had a heads up as to the best places to see birds and where some of the fruiting trees are, though we are a month early this year and those particular trees aren’t fruiting just yet. But it didn’t matter as the best way to see birds is to just drive around slowly with your windows down and if you hear anything different or lots of bird chatter you just pull over a bit and put your hazard lights on and people here are very obliging and they go around you. Everyone does it here and it’s a great way to see birds as it’s more open on the roads than trying to spot them in the dense rainforest.

 


 


 


 


You get these bird storms here where all of a sudden a whole bunch of birds will just arrive and there would be maybe 6 or 8 different species of birds all hanging out together. It’s crazy and hard for Anthony to know where to point the camera because I’m so excited too and telling him what I am seeing through my binoculars so it gets a bit confusing. Of course males are the best colours so we try to focus on them( sorry girls). But this didn’t happen today but we probably weren’t in the right spot.

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The Sights and sounds of Khao Yai

It’s a fantastic park with so much variety, there’s waterfalls, rivers,  lakes, open grasslands too. Their wildlife list is incredible. Anyway the photos and video speak for themselves, we are really tired now and want to get up there just a little bit earlier as the sun was already pesky at 7 am, Enjoy.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

 

A visitor just outside our Digs tonight


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.