Monday, February 01, 2016

Solo Female Backpacker - The Kinabatangan River and Jungle

Brace yourself, I'm very excited. Almost as excited as I was when I Skyped Tom to tell him I was going offline for a few days because I was going to the JUNGLE! I said Lara Croft, he said Eliza Thornberry, we settled on a Dora the Explorer/The Magic Schoolbus crossover. I think I lost out there.

After an 8 hour bus from KK to Sandakan and a night there to refresh, I was picked up in Sandakan by a minivan and whisked away to the Kinbatangan river within 3 hours, stopping to pick up other people along the way and bumping our way along the last few "roads" to the crossing point.

We got into a boat and hopped over to the other side of the river, climbed a plank and plunged straight into the jungle at the Nature Resort Kinbatangan!

The resort is absolutely glorious. A row of wood cabins lined the path to the reception centre, secluded from each other by free growing jungle and the occasional monitor lizard. The first thing that struck me was the pure quiet of it all - no phones tapping, no Whatsapp buzzes, nothing.

The second thing was how noisy it all was, but gloriously so! Dragonflies buzzing, birds calling, cicadas making smoke with their back legs - so much noise which I never normally hear, and it was lush. After checking in and an ice cold glass of rose cordial I skipped off to my dorm with 3 of my bus pals, delighted to find comfy beds and a bug screen across the window - I like nature, but not enough to cuddle up to a bazillion mozzies every night.

First things first, a cup of tea and banana fritters. Banana fritters appear to be the equivalent of custard creams in the UK which is just divine and definitely counts on the 5 a day scale. Definitely.

After this I got my first river cruise, scheduled just before sunset we'd see all the animals padding down for the evening and just chilling out in the cooler air. The guides are awesome and have eagle eyes - one even spotted a monitor lizard on the jungle floor from 20 meters away and at full speed on the boat! I saw harems of proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaques and their babies playing in the trees (I could honestly watch those guys forever!) and grumpy silver langurs having at it like a Friday night outside Yates.

Kingfishers, eagles, storks, hornbills, swallows, and so many more birds swooped overhead as the sunset kicked in and, just as we turned to head back, a cheeky croc poked his little eyes and snout above water to get a good look. At this point I'll apologise for the image quality here: taking photos on a phone at full zoom on a rocking boat is not easy! Hopefully when I get to a PC and can upload my photos from my proper camera all will be a lot nicer!