Back to cheap eats and orang-utan-spotting in Borneo
19.02.2012 - 22.02.2012 30 °C
New Zealand and Sydney were great fun, but we were pleased to be back in Asia, where the beer was cheap, the weather was hot and we could eat street food sat on plastic chairs. Now we were in Borneo, home of the orang-utan, we were also excited about the prospect of spotting some orange monkeys!
Keen to spot some orang-utans, our first visit was to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, just outside Kuching
Our expectations were lowered at the gate and, as the sign predicted, we didn’t see any apes that day
Back in Kuching, we consoled ourselves with a slab of its famous layer cake – ornately patterned, brightly coloured and available in every flavour from fruit to chocolate to cheese! We opted for peppermint and chocolate
We had a wander around Kuching’s old shop houses, popped into a museum to learn about the area’s Chinese settlers, and visited the Chinese temple next door.
Tua Pek Kong temple
The Sarawak State Assembly Building, across the river from the town
Kuching means ‘Cat’ in Malay, so there are lots of cat sculptures around the town. This one was huge and garish though, and plonked in the middle of a roundabout
Kuching was a really relaxed place, and we spent time strolling along the river eating pineapple on sticks
We decided to go on an overnight adventure to Bako National Park, a chunk of jungle not too far from Kuching but only accessible by boat. After a bumpy boat ride in a tin-can we landed on Bako beach, and waded through the shallow water to get to the park headquarters.
Tom’s hat was not best suited for fast boat travel
Arriving at Bako beach
To our excitement we realised a troupe of proboscis monkeys were in the trees at the edge of the beach. We’d hoped to see these large-nosed monkeys while we were in the park, as Borneo is the only place where they live
Female proboscis monkeys are smaller and don’t have comically large noses
There were many trails across the park, and we picked the walk that led to a beach called Pandan Kecil. We walked through mangroves, then jungle, before climbing to the top of the plateau.
At the start of the jungle trail
Climbing through the jungle
Boardwalk through the scrub at the top of the plateau, a totally different environment from the jungle we’d just come from
Above Pandan Kecil
Hoping for a bit of sunbathing, we were a bit disappointed in the beach at Pandan Kecil. The water was brown and rough, and there was lots of rubbish washed up from the dirty South China Sea
Pitcher plants grew all over the park
A tangle of roots carpeted the path
Back at park HQ we chilled out with a beer and guarded our dinner from the mischievous macaques that ran amok around the camp. We strolled along the beach with a family of bearded pigs, watched the proboscis monkeys again, played with hermit crabs and were treated to a dramatic sunset.
After dark we were taken on a guided night walk, where we saw a couple of snakes, some sleeping birds, a flying lemur, phosphorescent fungus and a very large spider
We got up early for a walk in the hope of seeing more wildlife. It was grey and rainy and after a soggy walk around the headland we decided to make a run for the mainland before the tide turned and left us stranded there until the evening. Sheltering under a plastic tarpaulin, we stayed reasonably dry on the boat journey back.
Waiting for the bus back to Kuching we enjoyed a cup of Malaysian tea – very strong and sweet, it’s made with condensed milk and tastes like liquidised rice pudding