Friday, November 02, 2012

Into the Jungles of Borneo

Borneo was unlike any place we had visited in Southeast Asia.  Borneo’s natural wildlife and indigenous cultures are quite unique.   For our trip, we based operations out of Kuching, the capital of the province of Sarawak.*

The exotic wildlife

Borneo’s wilderness is exotic and fascinating.  The island’s from mainland Asia has allowed wildlife to evolve in unique closed environments.  Consequently many animals found in Borneo are found nowhere else in the world.  A great example is the Proboscis Monkey.  The Proboscis Monkey has to be one of the uglier members of the primate family.  They have a strange fat body, bizarre coloring and a weird nose which makes them seem almost alien like.  They live in small groups high up in the trees where they feast on fruits and leaves.  We encountered a number of these creatures up close while staying at Bako National Park.

Bako National Park is a protected reserve on a peninsula in Sarawak.  We stayed there for two days and one night in order to see lots of exciting wildlife.  The lodging at Bako is quite humble and gets ripped on at Trip Advisor “Far and away, this is the absolute worst accommodations we have had anywhere. We have been to 64 countries, traveled backpacker style. We are not all that fussy, but these accommodations were disgusting.” and "Before I'm misunderstood I spent a week living in a jungle before coming here and am not unused to insects, cheeky monkeys or "roughing it" but honestly you're better to tent it than to stay here.", but the nature elements more than compensated.

The Park is home to 7 different ecosystems, 3 primate species, lizards, reptiles and 150 different species of birds.   We hiked for 7-9 miles each day through jungles, mountains, and grasslands to deserted beaches.  Along the way we spotted numerous monkeys, bearded boars, carnivorous plants, and much more.  The smells and strange sounds of the jungle were intoxicating. At one point one of the macque monkeys made a kamikaze style run at Megan to grab her ice cream.  You gotta watch out when you are in Borneo!

At night the rangers lead tour guides back into the jungles to see the wildlife in their nocturnal state.  We came across a Wagler's Pit Viper, the 3rd most poisonous snake in Borneo.  We saw frogs whose croaks could be heard for miles away.  We saw a beautifully colored Kingfisher bird sleeping the night away.  We also ran into bats, tarantulas, spiders and florescent mushrooms.   The tour provided tons of night time thrills.  As a bonus we had two amateur photographers competing for the honor of being “that guy”.

They both took about 10 pictures and 7 minutes for every animal we saw, no matter how insubstantial the creature.  Megan’s patience was worn to the point where she referred to one of them as Mr. DSLR.  A note to Mr. DSLR if you ever read this blog: ‘We get it dude, you have a nice camera.  In the future can you please take just one picture and stop blinding the animals with your obnoxious flash?’

Continue reading (Incl. Pics and Video) at: Into the Jungles of Borneo