|Bako National Park - Borneo|
Bako National Park is located on the south east side of Borneo Island, Malaysia. It is the oldest national park in that area. The nearest airport is Kuching, Malaysia. It takes about 45 minutes taxi ride to reach the Kuching River. A 20 minute boat ride from the river into South China sea passes by the Bako fishing villages,curiously shaped rock formations to the Teluk Assam beach - the entry to the national park.
Proboscis monkeys are native to Borneo and are endemic to these jungles. Their long nose makes them unique among monkeys. In fact, they played a little part in Tintin comics - Flight 714. Out here one can wait at the watchtower near mangroves and wait for them to come from jungles to forage on the sand during low tide. The other is to go into the jungle. The easiest way to spot them is to listen to a grunting sound. The male seems to make this sound - perhaps to keep tab on its troupe - one can get lost in the dense canopies.
Flying Lemur is another species endemic to these jungles. Nocturnal in nature, they are found foraging in the trees. For two nights I seemed to have missed them, unable to spot them. On the last night, I searched every tree and finally found one. I ran to my lodge, set my full rig with flash only to find it had moved away. After searching for a while, I gave up and went back to my room. Just to try again I went back, leaving my camera behind and there it was. I came back with the rig and couldn't find it. A bit wiser I stuck around. It was past midnight when I found it again, but I needed a third hand to hold the flashlight so I can focus. No use. So I dismantled everything, held a flashlight with my fingers and managed to pull off handheld shots with my trusted 70-200 lens. Flash was attached to the camera hence the red-eye.
Bako NP has an interesting landscape. Towards the east are dense tropical jungles. There are mangroves and beaches on one side. Cliffs and arid short bushes on the other. Numerous trails are well marked and loop back to the visitor park. Most seem well explored. I went to Telok Assam and found myself at swamp forest. During low tide one can see sand bags marking a trail to go into the swamp. A misstep would mean stuck in wet sand. One can experience the eerie swamp jungle.
The rocks famously known as the stacks expose the minerals and iron deposits in fantastic patterns. A walk along the cliff wall in the beach is like walking through an art museum.
Bako attracts both day and overnight visitors. The cafeteria is a great place to meet fellow travelers and get to know them. I also met a couple of interns who were pursuing a degree on tourism. It was a fun evening hanging around with them as the tide set in.