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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Click or press image to view larger
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.
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.
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.