Sunday, June 21, 2009

Malaysia: Take One: Bako National Park

So, in my last blog I mentioned we were in Singapore, bound for Malaysia. For the majority of people in Wisconsin/the world (ie non ALTs living in Japan with lots of 'free time' and opportunities to travel), this means very little. I didn't know a thing about either country before coming here. So, here is a map for some perspective. Malaysia's the country shaded in green.

As you can see, there are two bits to Malaysia: peninsular (south of Thailand, north of Singapore) and island-ular/East (north of Indonesia with the country Brunei stuck in the middle of it). The Eastern bit is refereed to as "Borneo" and then broken down into the two states of Sabah and Sarawak.We flew from Johor Baharu on the peninsula to Kuching in Sarawak.
Despite giving ourselves MORE than enough time in the morning to get a bus in Singapore to the airport in Johor Bahru, one minor complication after another caused us to be in a cab going 100-some odd km fast, sprinting through the airport Amazing Race style with our huge bags, and throwing money at the (now closed) airline attendant to beg/plead/persuade us to get on. In the end, we did... soooo lucky!
Borneo, baby!!!

After arriving in Kuching, we took a much less efficient cab ride up to Bako National Park and then a boat ride from "Uncle Sam" and his son.

As we were getting off the boat, a few lounging locals pointed out this guy! A proboscis monkey! These things are totally insane. Check this out for a better picture: So lucky to see not only one, but two of these dudes chilling and jumping around. They looked like furry Adrien Brody's to me.
Jump, jump!

These monkeys, everyone 'gets' to see. They're usually stealing something from you. Because of them, we couldn't keep our tent out during the day. Not that taking down and putting up our tent every day isn't awesome or anything.

Hittin' one of the 16 superbly well maintained trails.

Ending the day at the nearest beach and having an impromptu Malaysian Top Model photo shoot. Clearly we were very inspired by mediocre reality TV shows this day.

Sunset through the mangroves.

Totally felt like I was on Lost here after spotting a wild boar. Yes, a wild boar!

We awoke to the sound of a mess (a clan, a gagle???) of monkeys parading down the fence around the campsite.

Packed up as quick as possible and headed out for a full day of hiking the awesomely diverse trails.

This is a pitcher plant. It's carnivorous and eats small children... or more commonly, insects. That deep cavity you see is filled with a liquid to trap prey. The little buggers fly or crawl around because it looks oh so perty, and once inside they can't get out because the sides are slippery. Then they drown in liquid and eventually dissolve via bacteria or enzymes. Ah, the beautiful circle of life.

My obsession for mushrooms intensified in Malaysia: the mushrooms from Super Mario Brothers actually exist!

Beach number two, all to ourselves.
Along the way we saw no tourists and one park ranger, Kaili. He was awesome. This is about the time I started becoming so thoroughly impressed by Malaysians ability to speak English. And it wasn't just the tourism employed Malaysians. The vast majority of Malaysians we interacted with understood everything we said and could speak almost as well. As teachers of English in Japan, we demanded Kellie explain to us how this was possible. I got my video camera ready, all set to show my students back in Japan his infinite words of wisdom. His response: "it's easy." Thanks, Kaili.

He also pointed out an eagle's nest to us and lent us his binocs so we could see the amazing white eagle in all it's glory.

Beach number three: secluded.
Or so we thought! I wasn't too upset to have to share it with sexy Lucas from Switzerland, though.

Most incredible sunset I may have ever seen in my life... which is saying a lot, people. A LOT.
And the kids have come out to play!
I insisted to Julie that we camp at some point and time during this trip... nothing says "vacation" better than ice cold showers in the pitch black, setting up and taking down a tent every day because of monkeys tearing it to bits, and storing all your belongs in a musty bathroom during the days
... we were the only ones with this brilliant plan.
More hiking and more fun friends.

Following up a rousing swim in the luke warm water with a rousing bout of karaoke on the beach!
Time to head back to Kuching. Bye bye Bako!

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