gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Up early (4am) for 5am pickup to the airport for 7am flight. Found a huge cicada at the airport. Asked for window seats, managed to get one on the Kuching – KL flight. KL – Perth flight was overbooked. We were told, “We’ve managed to get you three seats.” I should bloody well hope so, seeing as we booked over a month ago.


Cicada Cicada

This poor cicada was dying. But it's most distinguishing feature was its size. A good 15cm long.



Flight from Kuching to KL was easy. Breakfast was crap though. Had to rush through KLIA and catch a train to the other terminal to board on time. No time for water or chocolate or even a sit down.

We were on a flight with a bunch of band kids from Churchlands. They’d been in London and Vienna for Mozart’s birthday. Flight home was in a Boeing 777. MUCH more pleasant than the airbus on the way up. Seemed a bit more roomy, and every seat had it’s own screen with TV, movies, radio stations (including good English ones) and games. Made the trip much more tolerable.

Baggage retrieval was interesting because all the kids were checking their instruments for any damage, it was like orchestra soundcheck, French horns, trombones, trumpets, saxophones, guitars, oboes, flutes etc. No cello was played, but I did see one among the luggage.

Quarrantine was no problem, the women who checked us actually drives in to work with Auntie Laine. Apparently her name was Eleanor Rigby. My bamboo hanger got through the flight intact. Craig, Matty, Lachie and Shell greeted us. First Aussie bird – Australian Raven. Got home and had a milo milk and Red Rooster for dinner. Sorted e-mails, waited for Matt to arrive. Phantom sat on my lap for a bit and thoroughly enjoyed the fire dad lit.

Back home home now. Lil is all over me. Have to get the place sorted again but can do that once Matt’s folks leave. I hate the cold already.

There are no other photos from Day 14.
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Up early (4am) for 5am pickup to the airport for 7am flight. Found a huge cicada at the airport. Asked for window seats, managed to get one on the Kuching – KL flight. KL – Perth flight was overbooked. We were told, “We’ve managed to get you three seats.” I should bloody well hope so, seeing as we booked over a month ago.


Cicada Cicada

This poor cicada was dying. But it's most distinguishing feature was its size. A good 15cm long.



Flight from Kuching to KL was easy. Breakfast was crap though. Had to rush through KLIA and catch a train to the other terminal to board on time. No time for water or chocolate or even a sit down.

We were on a flight with a bunch of band kids from Churchlands. They’d been in London and Vienna for Mozart’s birthday. Flight home was in a Boeing 777. MUCH more pleasant than the airbus on the way up. Seemed a bit more roomy, and every seat had it’s own screen with TV, movies, radio stations (including good English ones) and games. Made the trip much more tolerable.

Baggage retrieval was interesting because all the kids were checking their instruments for any damage, it was like orchestra soundcheck, French horns, trombones, trumpets, saxophones, guitars, oboes, flutes etc. No cello was played, but I did see one among the luggage.

Quarrantine was no problem, the women who checked us actually drives in to work with Auntie Laine. Apparently her name was Eleanor Rigby. My bamboo hanger got through the flight intact. Craig, Matty, Lachie and Shell greeted us. First Aussie bird – Australian Raven. Got home and had a milo milk and Red Rooster for dinner. Sorted e-mails, waited for Matt to arrive. Phantom sat on my lap for a bit and thoroughly enjoyed the fire dad lit.

Back home home now. Lil is all over me. Have to get the place sorted again but can do that once Matt’s folks leave. I hate the cold already.

There are no other photos from Day 14.
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Fairy caves has loads of steps again. Heard lots of birds but did not see them. Caves are a lot dirtier here, probably because people have been in them for hundreds of years.

Wind Cave full of bats and black-nest swiftlets nesting.


Lady Goddess Of Mercy

This stalagmite apparently resembles a Chinese God. So the cave is pretty much a temple. There are offerings and incense all over the place.
Lady Goddess Of Mercy



Had lunch by the river near Wind Caves. Bunch of schoolkids on the riverbank, played a game that involved picking up water with their hands and filling a bottle up the beach a bit. Mum had a good suggestion, one of the girls could remove her scarf, soak it in the water then squeeze it out. Bunch of Chinese teens having a BBQ party, let us try their pork kebabs – pretty yummy. We discovered it was the 18th birthday of one of the partygoers so we gave her one of our Aussie flag towels, she loved it.

After returning to the hotel for a snooze we took a wander down the riverfront shops to spend our remaining ringgit. Bought a shirt and a wall hanging which just fit in my suitcase. Baggage handlers better not be too rough, I’d like it to get to Australia intact.


Chinese Temple Chinese Temple

A dragon on the Chinese temple.



The rest of the photos from Day 13 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001fkc1?page=1
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Fairy caves has loads of steps again. Heard lots of birds but did not see them. Caves are a lot dirtier here, probably because people have been in them for hundreds of years.

Wind Cave full of bats and black-nest swiftlets nesting.


Lady Goddess Of Mercy

This stalagmite apparently resembles a Chinese God. So the cave is pretty much a temple. There are offerings and incense all over the place.
Lady Goddess Of Mercy



Had lunch by the river near Wind Caves. Bunch of schoolkids on the riverbank, played a game that involved picking up water with their hands and filling a bottle up the beach a bit. Mum had a good suggestion, one of the girls could remove her scarf, soak it in the water then squeeze it out. Bunch of Chinese teens having a BBQ party, let us try their pork kebabs – pretty yummy. We discovered it was the 18th birthday of one of the partygoers so we gave her one of our Aussie flag towels, she loved it.

After returning to the hotel for a snooze we took a wander down the riverfront shops to spend our remaining ringgit. Bought a shirt and a wall hanging which just fit in my suitcase. Baggage handlers better not be too rough, I’d like it to get to Australia intact.


Chinese Temple Chinese Temple

A dragon on the Chinese temple.



The rest of the photos from Day 13 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001fkc1?page=1
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Slept in and took our time to get going today. Eventually headed out about 10:30 and wandered down to China street, which wasn’t awfully impressive. Bought a few T-shirts for people before making our way to Reservoir Park for a laze around. Watching sparrows and starlings and squirrels and bulbuls in a tree I got a new bird – Yellow-vented Flowerpecker. While I was wandering mum and dad decided we should jump on the shuttle bus to the Cultural Village and Damai Beach resort. Turned out we were too late for the Village so we opted to just go to Damai. Had a quick lunch at KFC. My burger was tiny, but it was served with wedges with a yummy sauce on them. You can still get Mirinda in Malaysia.

On the way out of the plaza I was accosted by a bunch of young people wearing silly hats. They handed me a rose and requested a picture with me (wearing my roo leather hat). If I had the presence of mind I would have gotten my own photo of them and me.


A rose

The rose some kids at the shopping centre gave me.
A rose



Jumped on the shuttle and headed over to Damai. Damai Resort is also owned by Holiday Inn and sits on the beach at the base of Mount Santubong. I put the rose in an empty vase in the public toilets and put some water in it. We took a swim in the ocean but became concerned about the bitey things in the water so retreated to the pool. Watched the sparrows hopping around. Adult sparrows are endearing enough but the baby one was particularly cute. Had ice cream, lazed about then headed back home. Chatted to a woman from Kalbarri on the bus.


View from the resort View from the resort

Mt Santubong overlooks Damai Beach resort.



Mum and I went across to the nearby shops and I got the vest I was eyeing off. Great thing is the one I chose was in a bag labelled at half the price of the others. :) I was going to buy the other shirt I’d been looking at but that shop was closed for some unknown reason.

Decided to have dinner here at the hotel. Dad had the steak, mum had lamb and I had salmon. Got a bone stuck in my throat, so now my throat is sore, but the fish was delicious. Had banana split for dessert. Here they slug you 10% service fee and 5% government tax on top of the posted prices.

Bedtime now, there is some shindig going on downstairs for Sarawak Forestry and the soundproofing here isn’t that good, so I can hear it. Bit annoying but not too bad, at least it’s actual music and not doof-doof.

It’s our last day tomorrow! I’m looking forward to getting home but not looking forward to the cold weather and the long plane flight.

More photos from Day 12 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001dsdr
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Slept in and took our time to get going today. Eventually headed out about 10:30 and wandered down to China street, which wasn’t awfully impressive. Bought a few T-shirts for people before making our way to Reservoir Park for a laze around. Watching sparrows and starlings and squirrels and bulbuls in a tree I got a new bird – Yellow-vented Flowerpecker. While I was wandering mum and dad decided we should jump on the shuttle bus to the Cultural Village and Damai Beach resort. Turned out we were too late for the Village so we opted to just go to Damai. Had a quick lunch at KFC. My burger was tiny, but it was served with wedges with a yummy sauce on them. You can still get Mirinda in Malaysia.

On the way out of the plaza I was accosted by a bunch of young people wearing silly hats. They handed me a rose and requested a picture with me (wearing my roo leather hat). If I had the presence of mind I would have gotten my own photo of them and me.


A rose

The rose some kids at the shopping centre gave me.
A rose



Jumped on the shuttle and headed over to Damai. Damai Resort is also owned by Holiday Inn and sits on the beach at the base of Mount Santubong. I put the rose in an empty vase in the public toilets and put some water in it. We took a swim in the ocean but became concerned about the bitey things in the water so retreated to the pool. Watched the sparrows hopping around. Adult sparrows are endearing enough but the baby one was particularly cute. Had ice cream, lazed about then headed back home. Chatted to a woman from Kalbarri on the bus.


View from the resort View from the resort

Mt Santubong overlooks Damai Beach resort.



Mum and I went across to the nearby shops and I got the vest I was eyeing off. Great thing is the one I chose was in a bag labelled at half the price of the others. :) I was going to buy the other shirt I’d been looking at but that shop was closed for some unknown reason.

Decided to have dinner here at the hotel. Dad had the steak, mum had lamb and I had salmon. Got a bone stuck in my throat, so now my throat is sore, but the fish was delicious. Had banana split for dessert. Here they slug you 10% service fee and 5% government tax on top of the posted prices.

Bedtime now, there is some shindig going on downstairs for Sarawak Forestry and the soundproofing here isn’t that good, so I can hear it. Bit annoying but not too bad, at least it’s actual music and not doof-doof.

It’s our last day tomorrow! I’m looking forward to getting home but not looking forward to the cold weather and the long plane flight.

More photos from Day 12 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001dsdr
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Slept surprisingly well considering. Got up at sunrise and wandered around looking for birds – found none.

Bit later spotted a minivet – still to decide if it was scarlet, firey or otherwise. Coucal calling.

After breakfast got a blowpipe demo and a go at it. Dad’s aim is good. My first two shots were too low but once I realised that and aimed slightly higher I got the target. Then a latex tapping demo.


Blowpipe practice

My first two shots were too low. So on the third I aimed a little higher.
Blowpipe practice



Wander thru the jungle after that – very pleasant, but couldn’t find any birds but heard woodpeckers. Then back on the boats.

Blue/black, robin sized bird crossed the river in front of us. No idea what it was.

As we landed a flock of long-tailed parakeets flew over.

Lunch at Serian waterfall, loads of cats around, one with mange or something, poor fella. We wonder why the Chinese like to chop up the chicken, bones, gristle and all and serve it up. I’d prefer a large piece so I can easily pull off the meat and the bones aren’t shattered through it.


Serian waterfall Serian waterfall

The main waterfall and it's ornate bridge.



Dozed a lot on the bus.

Got home and out the front of the hotel was a dark, mynah sized bird with a yellow head and bill. The only thing that matches it in the guides is something it can’t have been (Golden-headed Mynah), great.

Chilled out for a bit, had a shower. Found Life of Birds on TV and watched that then headed out to James Brooke Bistro for dinner. Lucky they didn’t have a service charge because there wasn’t any service. Half the staff couldn’t speak any English – in fact we weren’t sure if they could speak at all going by their wild gesturing and lack of words in any language. We ordered relatively quickly then waited ages for our drinks and garlic bread. The bread was nice but the garlic was pretty much non-existent. The actual meals were pretty decent. Then it took about an hour to finally get the bill. We were all buggered and just wanting to go to bed, they didn’t seem to want our money. Eventually we did get home and to bed.

A heap more photos from day 11 can be seen here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001b5g8?page=1
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Slept surprisingly well considering. Got up at sunrise and wandered around looking for birds – found none.

Bit later spotted a minivet – still to decide if it was scarlet, firey or otherwise. Coucal calling.

After breakfast got a blowpipe demo and a go at it. Dad’s aim is good. My first two shots were too low but once I realised that and aimed slightly higher I got the target. Then a latex tapping demo.


Blowpipe practice

My first two shots were too low. So on the third I aimed a little higher.
Blowpipe practice



Wander thru the jungle after that – very pleasant, but couldn’t find any birds but heard woodpeckers. Then back on the boats.

Blue/black, robin sized bird crossed the river in front of us. No idea what it was.

As we landed a flock of long-tailed parakeets flew over.

Lunch at Serian waterfall, loads of cats around, one with mange or something, poor fella. We wonder why the Chinese like to chop up the chicken, bones, gristle and all and serve it up. I’d prefer a large piece so I can easily pull off the meat and the bones aren’t shattered through it.


Serian waterfall Serian waterfall

The main waterfall and it's ornate bridge.



Dozed a lot on the bus.

Got home and out the front of the hotel was a dark, mynah sized bird with a yellow head and bill. The only thing that matches it in the guides is something it can’t have been (Golden-headed Mynah), great.

Chilled out for a bit, had a shower. Found Life of Birds on TV and watched that then headed out to James Brooke Bistro for dinner. Lucky they didn’t have a service charge because there wasn’t any service. Half the staff couldn’t speak any English – in fact we weren’t sure if they could speak at all going by their wild gesturing and lack of words in any language. We ordered relatively quickly then waited ages for our drinks and garlic bread. The bread was nice but the garlic was pretty much non-existent. The actual meals were pretty decent. Then it took about an hour to finally get the bill. We were all buggered and just wanting to go to bed, they didn’t seem to want our money. Eventually we did get home and to bed.

A heap more photos from day 11 can be seen here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001b5g8?page=1
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Note - some of this post is written in retrospect from notes written on the day. Some of it was written on the day.

Got up and got ready for the long drive deep into Sarawak to the Lebanak River. Lucky we were in a rather comfortable coach which had barely any people in it, so there was loads of space to stretch out. Passed by a field covered in cattle egrets..

Our first stop was at the market in a country town. We only had 45 minutes which flew by. The main attraction was the fruit and veg available – a bunch of funky rainforest produce. I need a few months to stay there and learn how to prepare it all!

Second stop – Chinese for lunch. Smoking was allowed in the restaurant – blech. We got slugged another 50+RM to buy an obligatory gift for the Iban people. The tour guide makes sure one visitor brings say candies and another brings exercise books and pencils and another brings toothpaste and toothbrushes. Note there are about 20 kids to buy for. Wonder how much they get from all the tourists, and pity if you’re on a tight budget and weren’t expecting to have to pay another 50 – it would be nice if they let you know about this ‘tradition’ before you went on the tour.

We finally arrived at the ‘jetty’. They all called it a jetty but there was no jetty, just a river. Lucky it was low tide and we didn’t have to get our feet wet getting on the longboats. The boat ride was lovely. A river through deep rainforest. Shade and breeze. The boat was also surprisingly comfortable until about the last 10 minutes.


The boat ride The boat ride

There was a cool breeze along the river and stunning rainforest scenery.



The Iban Longhouse, smells of chook poo. Basic accommodation, but not too bad. Mattress was saggy. No water pressure in showers. River cold and slippery but nice. Sat in it at dusk and watched tiny bats flitting around in the treetops.

Fighting cocks just outside the guest house – apparently cock fighting is illegal but they still do it because it’s ‘tradition’. Lots of dogs and cats around the longhouse.

Natives smoking in the longhouse – made it almost unbearable to breathe. We were told they live out here for the fresh rainforest air away from cars and factories and such. Yay, then they just fill their lungs and those of any visitors with tobacco smoke.


Skulls of the enemy

The Iban people were headhunters until recently. The skulls of an enemy are a symbol of prowess for a warrior. This skull is actually that of a Japanese invader. The Japanese invaded Borneo and tortured the natives during the war, so the natives fought back and took heads. Fair enough I say.
Skulls of the enemy



Dancing was… like people at a school dance. Hardly dancing. I did like the music though. Got to wear argus feather hats and ‘dance’ along.

Rice wine – okay. Rice Whiskey – nasty shit.

Bamboo game, like jumping rope with the risk of getting your ankles whacked with bamboo. Pretty easy once you have the rhythm.

Got up twice during the night – torch died the first time. Lucky it was a full moon. It did cause the roosters to crow all night but I got used to that pretty quick.

Lots more photos of Day 10 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00017bas?page=1
gemfyre: (Rhinoceros Hornbill)
Note - some of this post is written in retrospect from notes written on the day. Some of it was written on the day.

Got up and got ready for the long drive deep into Sarawak to the Lebanak River. Lucky we were in a rather comfortable coach which had barely any people in it, so there was loads of space to stretch out. Passed by a field covered in cattle egrets..

Our first stop was at the market in a country town. We only had 45 minutes which flew by. The main attraction was the fruit and veg available – a bunch of funky rainforest produce. I need a few months to stay there and learn how to prepare it all!

Second stop – Chinese for lunch. Smoking was allowed in the restaurant – blech. We got slugged another 50+RM to buy an obligatory gift for the Iban people. The tour guide makes sure one visitor brings say candies and another brings exercise books and pencils and another brings toothpaste and toothbrushes. Note there are about 20 kids to buy for. Wonder how much they get from all the tourists, and pity if you’re on a tight budget and weren’t expecting to have to pay another 50 – it would be nice if they let you know about this ‘tradition’ before you went on the tour.

We finally arrived at the ‘jetty’. They all called it a jetty but there was no jetty, just a river. Lucky it was low tide and we didn’t have to get our feet wet getting on the longboats. The boat ride was lovely. A river through deep rainforest. Shade and breeze. The boat was also surprisingly comfortable until about the last 10 minutes.


The boat ride The boat ride

There was a cool breeze along the river and stunning rainforest scenery.



The Iban Longhouse, smells of chook poo. Basic accommodation, but not too bad. Mattress was saggy. No water pressure in showers. River cold and slippery but nice. Sat in it at dusk and watched tiny bats flitting around in the treetops.

Fighting cocks just outside the guest house – apparently cock fighting is illegal but they still do it because it’s ‘tradition’. Lots of dogs and cats around the longhouse.

Natives smoking in the longhouse – made it almost unbearable to breathe. We were told they live out here for the fresh rainforest air away from cars and factories and such. Yay, then they just fill their lungs and those of any visitors with tobacco smoke.


Skulls of the enemy

The Iban people were headhunters until recently. The skulls of an enemy are a symbol of prowess for a warrior. This skull is actually that of a Japanese invader. The Japanese invaded Borneo and tortured the natives during the war, so the natives fought back and took heads. Fair enough I say.
Skulls of the enemy



Dancing was… like people at a school dance. Hardly dancing. I did like the music though. Got to wear argus feather hats and ‘dance’ along.

Rice wine – okay. Rice Whiskey – nasty shit.

Bamboo game, like jumping rope with the risk of getting your ankles whacked with bamboo. Pretty easy once you have the rhythm.

Got up twice during the night – torch died the first time. Lucky it was a full moon. It did cause the roosters to crow all night but I got used to that pretty quick.

Lots more photos of Day 10 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00017bas?page=1
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Note - this entry was written in retrospect, from notes written on the day.

Nothing planned until the evening so we all got a sleep in. After breakfast we headed out to do some shopping but dad had vague stomach cramps and went back to the hotel, leaving mum and I free to shop without dad whinging all the way.

We bought a few shirts and I got a few kitchen utensils. My nose led me to some mangoes for sale and a local who seemed to only have 3 teeth let gave me his recommendation (this was a lot of gesturing, sniffing the mangoes, making a funny face or a thumbs up and making weird sounds that I’m not sure was Iban or no language at all). I bought two mangoes which cost about 1Rm (seems every fruit item costs that much). We bought a few HUGE pork buns and took them back to the hotel for lunch.

We then packed our fruit stash, a plate and a knife into a bag along with some reading material and headed to the pool. The pool in Kuching was actually warmish, rather than freezing like the KL pool. Swam a bit, ate some fruit (the first mango was a bit overripe and acidic but the second was lovely), laid on the banana lounges and read and snoozed. It was all very tough and exhausting. :)


Lazy day Lazy day

Me lazing beside the pool at the hotel.



Our evening activity was the Santubong Wildlife Cruise. Now, I thought this would be a cruise on a large boat. Nope, they were smallish parties on small boats boarded from a rickety jetty. I was a bit disappointed that we got the boat with the most enclosed area – therefore blocking the view, but I still ended up being able to sit right up the front where the view was unobstructed. We headed down to the mouth of the Sarawak River towards the mouth of another nearby river. I found myself watching a log intently, just in case, and it turned out to be an Irrawaddy dolphin. Only the French couple on the front of the boat with me saw it. We then moved towards the coastline and got some bad looks at proboscis monkeys before the rain started to spit. It was nice while it was just vaguely drizzling, but soon enough it started to rain tropical style and I was thankful we had a largely covered boat. Some other boats out that evening had pretty much no cover.


Mount Santubong

The climb to the top involves various rope ladders over vertical limestone faces.
Mount Santubong



These boats are meant to have spotlights so they can spot crocodiles – one of the main reasons I wanted to do the cruise. Well, the spotlights on our boat weren’t working for some reason (perhaps because maintenance is a foreign concept in Malaysia), so we had to make do with a very weak Dolphin torch. I did see eyeshine of a croc, but the thing our guide swore was a baby croc? I think it was just a log. We were also lucky that the rain had eased up a bit by then and some fireflies came out to give us a show.

Eventually it started to rain again (an awesome electrical storm that lit up the sky) and we headed back to base. It seemed to take ages to get back, it seemed that the boat was meant to have a headlight, but of course they weren’t working so the boatman was looking carefully for where he was meant to go. Dad also noted that the engine was overheating, hence why sometimes stopped and the boatman checked the engine. We made it back alive and not too wet.

It was about 10pm by this time and we still had to have dinner. We were taken to a restaurant near the mangroves and eventually served dinner, which wasn’t bad. After chatting with our fellow tourists for a bit we all decided to let the tour guide know it was damn late and we all wanted to get back (about 11:30pm, and we had a big day planned tomorrow).

The bus trip back was VERY uncomfortable due to the driver not seeming to know how to turn the air-conditioning down or off. It was FREEZING in there. I was glad to get back to the hotel and in to bed.

Trip to the longhouse tomorrow. Eep!

More photos from day 9 can be seen here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00016676
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Note - this entry was written in retrospect, from notes written on the day.

Nothing planned until the evening so we all got a sleep in. After breakfast we headed out to do some shopping but dad had vague stomach cramps and went back to the hotel, leaving mum and I free to shop without dad whinging all the way.

We bought a few shirts and I got a few kitchen utensils. My nose led me to some mangoes for sale and a local who seemed to only have 3 teeth let gave me his recommendation (this was a lot of gesturing, sniffing the mangoes, making a funny face or a thumbs up and making weird sounds that I’m not sure was Iban or no language at all). I bought two mangoes which cost about 1Rm (seems every fruit item costs that much). We bought a few HUGE pork buns and took them back to the hotel for lunch.

We then packed our fruit stash, a plate and a knife into a bag along with some reading material and headed to the pool. The pool in Kuching was actually warmish, rather than freezing like the KL pool. Swam a bit, ate some fruit (the first mango was a bit overripe and acidic but the second was lovely), laid on the banana lounges and read and snoozed. It was all very tough and exhausting. :)


Lazy day Lazy day

Me lazing beside the pool at the hotel.



Our evening activity was the Santubong Wildlife Cruise. Now, I thought this would be a cruise on a large boat. Nope, they were smallish parties on small boats boarded from a rickety jetty. I was a bit disappointed that we got the boat with the most enclosed area – therefore blocking the view, but I still ended up being able to sit right up the front where the view was unobstructed. We headed down to the mouth of the Sarawak River towards the mouth of another nearby river. I found myself watching a log intently, just in case, and it turned out to be an Irrawaddy dolphin. Only the French couple on the front of the boat with me saw it. We then moved towards the coastline and got some bad looks at proboscis monkeys before the rain started to spit. It was nice while it was just vaguely drizzling, but soon enough it started to rain tropical style and I was thankful we had a largely covered boat. Some other boats out that evening had pretty much no cover.


Mount Santubong

The climb to the top involves various rope ladders over vertical limestone faces.
Mount Santubong



These boats are meant to have spotlights so they can spot crocodiles – one of the main reasons I wanted to do the cruise. Well, the spotlights on our boat weren’t working for some reason (perhaps because maintenance is a foreign concept in Malaysia), so we had to make do with a very weak Dolphin torch. I did see eyeshine of a croc, but the thing our guide swore was a baby croc? I think it was just a log. We were also lucky that the rain had eased up a bit by then and some fireflies came out to give us a show.

Eventually it started to rain again (an awesome electrical storm that lit up the sky) and we headed back to base. It seemed to take ages to get back, it seemed that the boat was meant to have a headlight, but of course they weren’t working so the boatman was looking carefully for where he was meant to go. Dad also noted that the engine was overheating, hence why sometimes stopped and the boatman checked the engine. We made it back alive and not too wet.

It was about 10pm by this time and we still had to have dinner. We were taken to a restaurant near the mangroves and eventually served dinner, which wasn’t bad. After chatting with our fellow tourists for a bit we all decided to let the tour guide know it was damn late and we all wanted to get back (about 11:30pm, and we had a big day planned tomorrow).

The bus trip back was VERY uncomfortable due to the driver not seeming to know how to turn the air-conditioning down or off. It was FREEZING in there. I was glad to get back to the hotel and in to bed.

Trip to the longhouse tomorrow. Eep!

More photos from day 9 can be seen here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00016676
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
First things first. Everyone raved about Bako, go to Bako if you want to see birds. VERY disappointing. Only two certain newies today and only one of them was seen inside the park. I could hear them all calling, but could not see them.

However, the rest of the day made up for the dearth of new birds.

On the way to the national park I spotted 13 Collared Kingfishers sitting along the telephone wires.

Toilet at docks was on an angle, had to be careful with aiming. No toilet paper – not worth 20sen to get in.

Took a small fishing boat to Bako. Saw a few UnIDed Terns. Shores and mangroves are sandy, not muddy.

Did the shortest walk in the park. First animal was the waggling pit viper (or at least that's what it sounded like the guide called it, I now know it's Wagler's Pit Viper.) – very small and bright green. Then walking/clambering through rainforest and spotting quite a few proboscis monkeys. Wandered back through mangroves and saw collared kingfisher and good looks at Common Iora.


Proboscis Monkey

I think this one may be the male. We saw about 6 monkeys in all, including one very large male.
Proboscis Monkey



After lunch we were offered the chance to take a boat to an island off the mainland for the afternoon. 40RM each. Promises of birds and pitcher plants and little walking had us sold. On the way to the boat spotted a squirrel and wild Malay pig. The ride over was lovely, beautiful formations on the coast and a few raptors, one a sea-eagle.

Landed on the island (only us and two other Aussies touring over here and the boatman and guide). Little bay and secluded beach. Took a walk over the island to the other side and saw large pitcher plants. Only bird was an unidentified swift. I am not liking the “sound of the rainforest”. There are cicadas squealing like the hot pipes when you turn them on. Heard various calls but could I spot them? Hell no.


Pulau Lakei beach Pulau Lakei beach

Our private beach for the afternoon. This place had me humming "Bali Hai".



Seeing as it was stinking hot and high humidity we all got in the water, despite the fact that we had no cossies (no-one told us to bring them). Was absolutely lovely in the water with fish and crabs and a garfish which cruised up into the bay and onto the beach briefly before probably thinking, “Ah crap, I didn’t mean to hit the sand.” And squirming it’s way back into the water.

Eventually we had to head back to civilisation. Dad gave his Aussie flag to the boatman who flew it proudly from the back of his boat.

It rained when we got back and were booking our tours. Lucky we didn’t have to walk.

Refreshed and scrubbed up for dinner at the hotel and wandered to the Top Spot seafood hall just down the road. Got HUGE prawns, a lobster, a manna crab and veggies. Was delish, pity the fiddleheads we ordered never arrived, I wanted to try them.

Now back at the hotel and about to go to bed. Slow day tomorrow.

A bunch more photos from day 8 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001359h
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
First things first. Everyone raved about Bako, go to Bako if you want to see birds. VERY disappointing. Only two certain newies today and only one of them was seen inside the park. I could hear them all calling, but could not see them.

However, the rest of the day made up for the dearth of new birds.

On the way to the national park I spotted 13 Collared Kingfishers sitting along the telephone wires.

Toilet at docks was on an angle, had to be careful with aiming. No toilet paper – not worth 20sen to get in.

Took a small fishing boat to Bako. Saw a few UnIDed Terns. Shores and mangroves are sandy, not muddy.

Did the shortest walk in the park. First animal was the waggling pit viper (or at least that's what it sounded like the guide called it, I now know it's Wagler's Pit Viper.) – very small and bright green. Then walking/clambering through rainforest and spotting quite a few proboscis monkeys. Wandered back through mangroves and saw collared kingfisher and good looks at Common Iora.


Proboscis Monkey

I think this one may be the male. We saw about 6 monkeys in all, including one very large male.
Proboscis Monkey



After lunch we were offered the chance to take a boat to an island off the mainland for the afternoon. 40RM each. Promises of birds and pitcher plants and little walking had us sold. On the way to the boat spotted a squirrel and wild Malay pig. The ride over was lovely, beautiful formations on the coast and a few raptors, one a sea-eagle.

Landed on the island (only us and two other Aussies touring over here and the boatman and guide). Little bay and secluded beach. Took a walk over the island to the other side and saw large pitcher plants. Only bird was an unidentified swift. I am not liking the “sound of the rainforest”. There are cicadas squealing like the hot pipes when you turn them on. Heard various calls but could I spot them? Hell no.


Pulau Lakei beach Pulau Lakei beach

Our private beach for the afternoon. This place had me humming "Bali Hai".



Seeing as it was stinking hot and high humidity we all got in the water, despite the fact that we had no cossies (no-one told us to bring them). Was absolutely lovely in the water with fish and crabs and a garfish which cruised up into the bay and onto the beach briefly before probably thinking, “Ah crap, I didn’t mean to hit the sand.” And squirming it’s way back into the water.

Eventually we had to head back to civilisation. Dad gave his Aussie flag to the boatman who flew it proudly from the back of his boat.

It rained when we got back and were booking our tours. Lucky we didn’t have to walk.

Refreshed and scrubbed up for dinner at the hotel and wandered to the Top Spot seafood hall just down the road. Got HUGE prawns, a lobster, a manna crab and veggies. Was delish, pity the fiddleheads we ordered never arrived, I wanted to try them.

Now back at the hotel and about to go to bed. Slow day tomorrow.

A bunch more photos from day 8 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0001359h
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Breakfast here is much better. They have sushi (including unagi!) as well as a lot of other choices.

After breakfast we headed off to Semengoh Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre and had quite a bit of luck. Two adult females and their 3 young at the first feeding area, then another young one and the alpha male (named Richie) at the jungle feeding site. All babies are semi-wild and tickable.


Mother and baby Mother and baby

The adults of this colony were confiscated from the pet trade. Now they are successfully breeding and can fend for themselves in the wild, but they are helped out by the people at the centre when they need it.



Birding was very frustrating but I bumped into someone also into birding. Got a great look at a sunbird. Then headed back for a break.

Ended up having lunch at a little Chinese place on the side of the road. Wasn’t too bad, I had sweet & sour pork ribs and rice. All up for 3 of us, including drinks was 16.20RM – around $7Au.

Afternoon was the city tour. Museum was interesting, many stuffed birds and animals as well as info on the native people and longhouses. Then had a look around the cat museum, a collection of every bit of cat paraphernalia you could imagine. I hope my kitties are doing okay back in Perth. Cruised around a lot of the rest of town and bought some fruit at a riverside stall. One stall was selling BBQ kebabs and stuff, including a kebab of chicken Parson’s Noses. Also stopped off at the local fresh/wet market. Mum bought some bananas (1RM for a large bunch) and I tried (and bought) some longsats, which look like chat potatoes on the outside and have white flesh inside that isn’t too bad. I got a bunch for 1RM so it wasn’t really a loss.

Back to the hotel again for a bit then out again for dinner and checking out the small river ferries. Usually it’s a 50sen fee to get across the river, but for 10RM we were taken half an hour up the river and back. It was nice, breeze was lovely.

Dinner was on the balcony of a nearby restaurant. Huge serving of tomato kway teow, not half bad.

Bako tomorrow – should be awesome.

A bunch of day 7 photos can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00011d3k
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Breakfast here is much better. They have sushi (including unagi!) as well as a lot of other choices.

After breakfast we headed off to Semengoh Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre and had quite a bit of luck. Two adult females and their 3 young at the first feeding area, then another young one and the alpha male (named Richie) at the jungle feeding site. All babies are semi-wild and tickable.


Mother and baby Mother and baby

The adults of this colony were confiscated from the pet trade. Now they are successfully breeding and can fend for themselves in the wild, but they are helped out by the people at the centre when they need it.



Birding was very frustrating but I bumped into someone also into birding. Got a great look at a sunbird. Then headed back for a break.

Ended up having lunch at a little Chinese place on the side of the road. Wasn’t too bad, I had sweet & sour pork ribs and rice. All up for 3 of us, including drinks was 16.20RM – around $7Au.

Afternoon was the city tour. Museum was interesting, many stuffed birds and animals as well as info on the native people and longhouses. Then had a look around the cat museum, a collection of every bit of cat paraphernalia you could imagine. I hope my kitties are doing okay back in Perth. Cruised around a lot of the rest of town and bought some fruit at a riverside stall. One stall was selling BBQ kebabs and stuff, including a kebab of chicken Parson’s Noses. Also stopped off at the local fresh/wet market. Mum bought some bananas (1RM for a large bunch) and I tried (and bought) some longsats, which look like chat potatoes on the outside and have white flesh inside that isn’t too bad. I got a bunch for 1RM so it wasn’t really a loss.

Back to the hotel again for a bit then out again for dinner and checking out the small river ferries. Usually it’s a 50sen fee to get across the river, but for 10RM we were taken half an hour up the river and back. It was nice, breeze was lovely.

Dinner was on the balcony of a nearby restaurant. Huge serving of tomato kway teow, not half bad.

Bako tomorrow – should be awesome.

A bunch of day 7 photos can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00011d3k
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Got up and packed and headed down for our last breakfast in KL. Picked up at 10am for the long drive to KLIA.

Malaysia Air can’t seem to manage to seat us together properly. Mum and I were on one side and dad on the other. The person next to me who had the window seat slept!

Short flight, seems all we did was ate lunch then it was landing time. Borneo looked beautiful, so many rivers through forest.


Our plane

The plane we flew on from KL to Kuching. The flight takes less than 2 hours.
Our plane



Kuching is much less bustling than KL, but there are also less people that speak English well it seems. Hotel is nice. They left us fruit, I get to try mangosteen!

Took a stroll along the (filthy, smelly) river and booked tomorrow's tour. Fast food dinner at a place called Sugar Bun, like HJs with a squillion choices. Nothing exciting.

Early night, City tour and Orang-utans tomorrow. Must remember to SMS Matt.

Mozzie bites itching bad.

There was only one photo from day 6 and it's in this post.
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Got up and packed and headed down for our last breakfast in KL. Picked up at 10am for the long drive to KLIA.

Malaysia Air can’t seem to manage to seat us together properly. Mum and I were on one side and dad on the other. The person next to me who had the window seat slept!

Short flight, seems all we did was ate lunch then it was landing time. Borneo looked beautiful, so many rivers through forest.


Our plane

The plane we flew on from KL to Kuching. The flight takes less than 2 hours.
Our plane



Kuching is much less bustling than KL, but there are also less people that speak English well it seems. Hotel is nice. They left us fruit, I get to try mangosteen!

Took a stroll along the (filthy, smelly) river and booked tomorrow's tour. Fast food dinner at a place called Sugar Bun, like HJs with a squillion choices. Nothing exciting.

Early night, City tour and Orang-utans tomorrow. Must remember to SMS Matt.

Mozzie bites itching bad.

There was only one photo from day 6 and it's in this post.
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Note - this entry was written in retrospect, from a bunch of notes I wrote on the day.

Day 5 – Happy Bird Day To You

First activity for the day was a visit to KL Bird Park. On the way Saiboo executed a very fancy manoeuvre where he cut through the carpark underneath the postal building, thus ending us up on the other side of the city without having to battle peak hour traffic. It’s useful to have your own teksiman. :)

The bird park is the largest free flight aviary in the world. Pretty much it’s a lots of mesh slung over a chunk of forest so the birds have plenty of room to fly and go about their business. The meshed parts are in sections and there are smaller aviaries within housing birds that won’t play nice in the main area. Just as we were finishing the first section it began to sprinkle. Mum and Dad, knowing what was coming (the same had happened while they were at a bird park in Singapore) retreated to a shelter while I went the other way to the toilet. Of course while I was indisposed the rain started to bucket down. Lovely tropical rain. I watched two frogs go hopping along the path in the downpour as I stuffed anything non-waterproof in my bag and prepared to make a run for it. Lucky the rain let up slightly so I bolted, but carefully as to not slip on the path. Turns out there was a rather deep puddle at the top of a set of stairs, but I jumped the worst of it and made it back to Mum & Dad and by then the rain was letting up.


Great Hornbill Great Hornbill

One of the species in an aviary of it's own. Alas, I didn't see wild hornbills on this trip. Impressive birds.



We went through the parrot and exotic bird aviaries and the open air waterfall area quickly because we were running out of time. There was an area where they had a variety of birds that you could get your photo taken with. You can choose two birds so I chose the falcon and mum chose a hornbill (I think it may be a wrinkled hornbill) for me to hold as well. The guy handed me the falcon and I was like, “Don’t I have to wear a glove or something!?” It was kinda alarming being a handed a raptor like that. Turns out the claws are filed down so it didn’t shred my arm. I bought a souvenir mug and we got a quick lunch at the restaurant there before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the afternoon’s activities.

Kuala Selangor is at the coast about 1.5 hours from KL. Saiboo initially got lost in the town because new housing developments had gone up since his last visit but eventually we got to Fort Selangor on Bukit Melawati (Bukit means hill, Kuala means estuary), where we had our first encounter with Silver Leaf Monkeys (Silver Langurs). These are a lot gentler than the aggressive macaques, of which there were a few also. The newborn langurs are a bright orange colour and turn dark as they age. Saiboo showed us around the old fort and dad tried (and liked) ginger water (which was kinda like a ginger tea). Then it took a few laps around the one way circuit of Bukit Melawati before finding the turn off for Kuala Selangor Nature Park.


Silver Leaf Monkeys

Mother and newborn. Yes, I guarantee these are both the same species.
Silver Leaf Monkeys



I was in my element here. The staff at the visitors centre knew what they were talking about. Instead of just seeing all birds as “Burungs”, they could tell me what species to look out for and where. It was a bit like the BBO. The park consists of secondary rainforest, a few artificial briny pools, mangrove swamp and mudflats. As we entered the rainforest the mosquitoes descended, the worst mozzies of the entire trip, when I swatted them away I was bleeding. They didn’t like the repellent we quickly slathered ourselves with though.

We had a few hours here and it was later in the day, which made it ideal for birding, unlike everywhere else on the trip. I got about 24 new species here, including 2 woodpeckers! It was great to see mudskippers and fiddler crabs again and I also saw a Smooth Otter and Water Monitor, as well as another family of Silver Leaf Monkeys. I could have adventured around there for a few more hours but unfortunately we had time constraints.

Saiboo took us to a little café for a drink where I tried Chrysanthemum tea and found it to be way too sweet. He then took us to a roadside seafood restaurant. Now THIS was proper Malaysian fare. He had to translate for us and dad ended up with nasi goreng because he doesn’t like seafood. Mum and I shared a bowl of seafood noodle soup stuff (which we didn’t get anywhere near finishing) and a fish we had chosen earlier. It was grilled and served in slightly spicy, sweet sauce and was delicious.

Dinner also became rushed towards the end because we had to get to Kampung Kuantan for the firefly tour. We made it in time and got into our boat. It was getting towards a full moon, which apparently isn’t ideal for viewing fireflies, but it was still beautiful, like someone had strung Christmas lights through the trees.

By the time our last day in KL ended we were buggered. Lucky we had all of the next morning to pack before our flight to Kuching.

More pictures from day 5 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0000wfbg
gemfyre: (doe a deer)
Note - this entry was written in retrospect, from a bunch of notes I wrote on the day.

Day 5 – Happy Bird Day To You

First activity for the day was a visit to KL Bird Park. On the way Saiboo executed a very fancy manoeuvre where he cut through the carpark underneath the postal building, thus ending us up on the other side of the city without having to battle peak hour traffic. It’s useful to have your own teksiman. :)

The bird park is the largest free flight aviary in the world. Pretty much it’s a lots of mesh slung over a chunk of forest so the birds have plenty of room to fly and go about their business. The meshed parts are in sections and there are smaller aviaries within housing birds that won’t play nice in the main area. Just as we were finishing the first section it began to sprinkle. Mum and Dad, knowing what was coming (the same had happened while they were at a bird park in Singapore) retreated to a shelter while I went the other way to the toilet. Of course while I was indisposed the rain started to bucket down. Lovely tropical rain. I watched two frogs go hopping along the path in the downpour as I stuffed anything non-waterproof in my bag and prepared to make a run for it. Lucky the rain let up slightly so I bolted, but carefully as to not slip on the path. Turns out there was a rather deep puddle at the top of a set of stairs, but I jumped the worst of it and made it back to Mum & Dad and by then the rain was letting up.


Great Hornbill Great Hornbill

One of the species in an aviary of it's own. Alas, I didn't see wild hornbills on this trip. Impressive birds.



We went through the parrot and exotic bird aviaries and the open air waterfall area quickly because we were running out of time. There was an area where they had a variety of birds that you could get your photo taken with. You can choose two birds so I chose the falcon and mum chose a hornbill (I think it may be a wrinkled hornbill) for me to hold as well. The guy handed me the falcon and I was like, “Don’t I have to wear a glove or something!?” It was kinda alarming being a handed a raptor like that. Turns out the claws are filed down so it didn’t shred my arm. I bought a souvenir mug and we got a quick lunch at the restaurant there before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the afternoon’s activities.

Kuala Selangor is at the coast about 1.5 hours from KL. Saiboo initially got lost in the town because new housing developments had gone up since his last visit but eventually we got to Fort Selangor on Bukit Melawati (Bukit means hill, Kuala means estuary), where we had our first encounter with Silver Leaf Monkeys (Silver Langurs). These are a lot gentler than the aggressive macaques, of which there were a few also. The newborn langurs are a bright orange colour and turn dark as they age. Saiboo showed us around the old fort and dad tried (and liked) ginger water (which was kinda like a ginger tea). Then it took a few laps around the one way circuit of Bukit Melawati before finding the turn off for Kuala Selangor Nature Park.


Silver Leaf Monkeys

Mother and newborn. Yes, I guarantee these are both the same species.
Silver Leaf Monkeys



I was in my element here. The staff at the visitors centre knew what they were talking about. Instead of just seeing all birds as “Burungs”, they could tell me what species to look out for and where. It was a bit like the BBO. The park consists of secondary rainforest, a few artificial briny pools, mangrove swamp and mudflats. As we entered the rainforest the mosquitoes descended, the worst mozzies of the entire trip, when I swatted them away I was bleeding. They didn’t like the repellent we quickly slathered ourselves with though.

We had a few hours here and it was later in the day, which made it ideal for birding, unlike everywhere else on the trip. I got about 24 new species here, including 2 woodpeckers! It was great to see mudskippers and fiddler crabs again and I also saw a Smooth Otter and Water Monitor, as well as another family of Silver Leaf Monkeys. I could have adventured around there for a few more hours but unfortunately we had time constraints.

Saiboo took us to a little café for a drink where I tried Chrysanthemum tea and found it to be way too sweet. He then took us to a roadside seafood restaurant. Now THIS was proper Malaysian fare. He had to translate for us and dad ended up with nasi goreng because he doesn’t like seafood. Mum and I shared a bowl of seafood noodle soup stuff (which we didn’t get anywhere near finishing) and a fish we had chosen earlier. It was grilled and served in slightly spicy, sweet sauce and was delicious.

Dinner also became rushed towards the end because we had to get to Kampung Kuantan for the firefly tour. We made it in time and got into our boat. It was getting towards a full moon, which apparently isn’t ideal for viewing fireflies, but it was still beautiful, like someone had strung Christmas lights through the trees.

By the time our last day in KL ended we were buggered. Lucky we had all of the next morning to pack before our flight to Kuching.

More pictures from day 5 can be found here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/0000wfbg

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