That night was not super restful for me, but apparently less so for Bryan. I woke up to scratching and squeaking and realized rats were running around and fighting in the wall behind the bed! I had to ask Bryan though because at first, I worried they were in the room though he said no. However, he said there was a lizard inside. It turned out I don’t think that was the case; this was him somewhat delirious thinking so- but I wouldn’t have minded that at all either way! Honestly, I didn’t mind the rats terribly- I mean this is the jungle, that’s bound to happen. If the rats were inside that’d be another story, but as they were not visible I didn’t think too much of it. I did wonder if we should have told the managers since they can do a lot of damage, including to electrical…but I also didn’t want them to think we were upset or complaining either as they are the nicest people and they work hard to make the place a classy place. But I will say, this will definitely be an issue for some visitors either way- and we are probably more understanding than most!
Bryan said he didn’t sleep a wink, but mostly that he was stuffy and didn’t feel good. He is convinced that any time we use AC, he gets stuffed up and gets a sore throat. It’s not that I doubt him, but he hates AC either way, so it’s hard to say if he thinks that because he just hates the idea, or because something undesirable happens to him. I took it with a grain of salt either way- though certainly hope he’d feel better shortly. I thought I’d brought sinus meds, but may have left them in the car. He wouldn’t take them anyway I knew, as he hates taking anything for anything and usually won’t unless “it” is really bad.
Brekky at 6a so we could make another boat cruise for the morning animals. I wondered if like in Africa, the evening viewings would be more plentiful than the morning ones, despite the animal viewing supposedly being better in the morning. Sure enough, I thought we saw more the night before. We did see more proboscis monkeys pretty close up, silver leaf monkeys and two different kinds of hawks, including the Wallace’s hawk eagle, which oddly enough we’d been discussing over brekky as there’s a picture near our table. It has a crest on the top of its head so easy to determine its type when you see them. We also saw another 4th kind of hornbill and a stork.
This ride we took a turn onto a small creek which was a pretty narrow section that seemed like a Disney ride- or rather I guess Disney got it right when doing their riverboat tour because the trees were arching overhead and the boat puttered along just right. We were headed toward a lake where we thought we’d see quite a bit, being more remote…but instead, didn’t see anything. We were told however this is where the female crocs go to lay eggs- and that a fisherman was eaten by a croc when he was messing with his fishing net- of which we saw a few set up. It was about here I started to have to think about peeing and I wondered how I would do it if I really had to go- because honestly while my chances of being eaten by a lion or charged by an elephant in Africa were actually pretty slim, the chances of being eaten by a croc here were pretty darn high- especially, considering someone already had been! I imagined they’d have to just let me sit back over the bow of the boat while they all turned around- though there’s a chance I’d still get bitten that way! The things I imagine when I am imagining how I will need to go to the bathroom in a pinch…
We got back for second brekky around 830 which was fried eggs with French fries and the British style beans with tomato sauce and orange wedges. The fries made us laugh a bit because I think they feel this is the same as hash browns, mashed potatoes or whatever- which technically it is; what’s one potato shape over another? I believe they think this is normal for us, which is slightly amusing because it makes more sense their way, really.
While we were eating, we heard a big splash and looked over to see something swimming in the river; then another splash and another head! We realized they were proboscis monkeys that had jumped in and were swimming across the very WIDE river, at great peril. We could not fathom what made them want to do this, but the guide said later, they are very good swimmers…orangs not though- one even drowned at Sepilok in the past, sadly.
We watched the monkeys swim to the edge and although we couldn’t see them get out, we did see them seemingly reach safety. However not 5 minutes later, we both looked out and at the same time noticed a HUGE croc swimming along and kind of positioning itself in the middle of the river, looking towards where they monkeys had crossed. It treaded water for a while, then swam towards where the monkeys had (likely) gotten out. We still don’t think he got them, but he must have seen them too late and been hoping for more and laid in wait. We were glad he was disappointed on our watch!
It was crazy how big the croc was and made me think how lucky Tony Slater was! Seriously though, whenever I see a muddy river like that I just think crocs. I don’t care if it was NY, I would be convinced there were crocs and you couldn’t pay me to go in. I have been to too many places where such things live and I would never even consider it. We went paddle boarding in Florida and had asked about gators…they said they “hardly ever” see them there- which while somewhat reassuring, did indicate there was a possibility they’d be there?! It instantly made me regret the “fun” idea and especially when it was so hot we felt we had to get wet, we were in and out SO fast…and I just kept peering in the water, sure to see a big set of teeth coming up at me like the cover of Jaws…
It was time for a nap again before our jungle walk. I think the humidity and the not very restful recent nights made it hard for me. Actually, when the walk time came I was still feeling groggy and thought about not going, but then I knew that’d be dumb and I’d regret it.
We started on the walk, which was immediately up a very steep “road” and not 5 steps into it, I was questioning whether I could do it. The older ranger had galoshes on and just trudged ahead seemingly with no probs- our guide was struggling behind me (about 10+ years older) and was more understandable. Bryan of course, wouldn’t let on- but it never ceases to amaze me how unfit I feel when I start out on such journeys; it was kicking my ass!
Next came a set of steep stairs, again up and up and up- awesome. However, as described, it leveled out a bit where we eventually got to a lookout tower. We had seen this from the river so it was cool to get to go up it. There was a great view of the curves of the river (we were on a bend at this resort) and it looked like a jungle should. Bryan also found a HUGE bug, which the guide sounded very nervous about as he said in a sing-song voice, “it’s a hornet, it’s a hornet”, concerned at Bryan’s proximity trying to photograph. Not that we’d bug it but it was pretty freaking big- the stinger the size of a rose thorn, no joke…as well, reading later about Tony’s experience (I believe) with one, I am glad it sat nice and still for Bryan and nothing else!
We started on a more level path and then down a bit. The guide pointed out a leech on a leaf of grass- and then I started to get a little nervous…especially as while this day I wore pants, I had the tiniest socks and could not tuck my pants into them…but I’d be ok right? Bryan for whatever reason checked his ankle and he had one on him! Eeeew. He picked it off and we kept going, me thinking, I will be fine, no leeches, no leeches, like a chant as they used to do on that 70’s game show Press Your Luck, where they spin and say, “no whammies, no whammies”.
We were headed to “the big tree” which turned out to be a HUGE tree- a merbau (which coincidentally was the name of our chalet at the resort). It was as big as a redwood and hollow inside. During WW2 the locals would hide their young women and kids and food in the tree to avoid the Japanese finding them as they were apparently quite cruel, raping and killing the local women as a habit. We were invited to go into the tree, which I initially declined because I was a little creeped out having just found a leech on my ankle which I picked off but didn’t see where it went. This would prove problematic later…
I also felt an itch and reached up to my side and found one attached to my rib?! UGH. I definitely think this one had to have fallen from a tree or something because my pants were pretty tight around the waist and I highly doubt one would have migrated so far up. This one definitely creeped me out but I made Bryan take a pic before he picked it off. I needed proof of this dammit, because I was hoping this was the first and last time I’d ever have a leech on me?!
After that too, I was thinking the tree didn’t seem that creepy in comparison, and Bryan concurred so I went in. There were some bats roosting in there which were squeaking- and there was a giant crack in the tree which allowed light in so it was not pitch black nor webby nor moist which would have made me want to leave. It was pretty dry in there actually, though I wondered how such a large tree with such a big crack could still be standing!? I didn’t totally read the story- probably partially because I was still reeling over the recent leech incident, or maybe because it was a sad thing- though we took a picture of the sign so we could read more about it later…even now I am really itchy just writing about this?!
As we continued, our guide pointed out elephant tracks and dung from about a month ago!? I wish that month ago was now and there were elephants here right – but hopefully we’d see them tonight! We had confirmed at brekky that it would be worth it to spend the extra $100 to try and see elephants- although the “hours and hours” trip worried me big time on the bathroom front!!
Our walk concluded in a small field next to the resort where there were these tiny butterflies all over the place. Really, there were crazy beautiful butterflies everywhere- I have never seen so many, nor such variety, anywhere and they were amazing to watch. We could see at least 15 or so different kinds flitting back and forth across the patio at every meal- now here in the field too.
At this point we were drenched in sweat- we probably smelled pretty bad too- so decided to head back for a shower before lunch. Other than rinsing off after swimming, I hadn’t really taken a good shower in a couple days so this was nice- however, we found another leech attached to the back of my leg behind my knee! This one had gotten a good suck on my blood and left me bleeding for a while as they have an anticoagulant in their mouths, to allow them to suck freely. After I got out of the shower it kept bleeding and I was so careful trying not to get it on the bed- but of course I got it on the bed! They are probably used to that here I suppose. It wasn’t a huge deal, just kind of annoying but eventually it stopped and we went down for lunch- just as a big tour bus of Aussies showed up!
This meant lunch was most efficiently done as a buffet. There were the usual suspects of rice and stir-fried veggies, but there was a new dish of hard boiled eggs which appeared to have been seared with veggies in a red spicy sauce. This was good, but not necessarily something I’d ask for again- though it was good enough to eat and sustain us. We pretty much quickly grabbed some fruit and made an exit so we could rest before the boat at 315p, because we had to leave earlier to head downriver to hopefully see elephants! We left the cameras on the deck to acclimate to the humidity, because every morning we had the problem that we couldn’t use the binocs or cams for a good 10-15 minutes because of the condensation from the AC to outside air- so this time we’d make sure we were ready for anything, right away.
When we arrived on the dock, we’d learned we were using a different boat this time, which was good because the hard seats of the other had really been doing a number on our bums. Sadly, after the 2nd ride we’d discovered cushions in the cabinet next to the life jackets, and for the life of us couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t offered- but for certain we were going to have something if we were going to spend hours on the boat this time! We grabbed two and sat in front of the captains’ station. It turns out too the boat had been broken in some way previously and they fixed it for us- so hopefully it would get us there and back without incident! The kitchen gave us some cake for the long journey and they asked if we wanted tea of coffee, but I said I couldn’t drink a thing if I were to make it the whole ride, which made them laugh. Also, the manager decided he’d come as well, which was cool- not sure if it was just a fun thing for him or if he’d not seen elephants in a while (as apparently, he was only a few months into this job). We were happy to have the extra company.
Unfortunately, Bryan’s stomach had been a bit wonky, so he was a tad worried about that now. Mine was ok but I worried either way that I’d have to pee at the very least and wouldn’t be able to- so we were both a tad uneasy…but anything was worth seeing pygmy elephants.
As we took off, I asked Bryan how many he thought we’d see- he said 3; I said 5…that is of course if we even saw one! Our guide kept giving us the “no guarantee” disclaimer, which of course we understood, but I am sure other people get kind of rude about at times. At least I know the stuff I repeat when talking to adopters and applicants is the “usual” stuff that frustrates or annoys people about the process- and I say it a few times…so my guess is he’s had a few poor sports to warrant this- but seriously, can you really expect anything but unpredictability with a safari experience?
We took off at a good pace with the wind in our air and hopes of seeing some magnificent creatures. We passed a few trees full of different monkeys. Exciting, but they were not our mission tonight. We hadn’t gotten very far, maybe 40 minutes downriver when Bryan saw a boat stopped ahead and there was one elephant with her head sticking out of the reeds! It was SO exhilarating to know they were here, that we’d be lucky enough to see one, I was tearing up, it was so cool. Although we couldn’t see it well, (this was a mom with) a baby!! The baby was good at hiding behind mom, and the grasses grow tall- almost taller than the adults so the perfect view can be a little hard to get. We did get a few good ones, but soon she ducked back into the trees.
Oddly enough, this spot was basically right across the river from the place we stayed at 2 nights prior, the Sukau Greenview B&B! We clearly hadn’t gone that far (15 mins by car) and it was so cool we’d already had a sighting so early on when we’d thought we’d be riding for hours.
We went on for a little longer and the guide motioned to other guides in passing boats, making flapping motions with his hands acting like elephant ears, but they all noted nothing ahead- pointing instead, back the way we’d come. After a bit longer, we decided to turn back as well. We’d seen an elephant, what more could we ask for?
We slowed as we got just past the spot we’d viewed her, since she was going in that direction- and there was a small boat with two girls in it (Bryan said they didn’t look like they were having too much fun, which if they had a bad guide, really can make all the difference) and they were looking into the trees. Their guide motioned with his hands there were some in the trees. Listening closely, we could hear cracking as they walked and we even heard a trumpet! We waited patiently, but the guide and or his guests got bored and took off. Their noisy boat was surely bothering the elephant anyway, so when the sound died down and we were sure they were gone, I held my breath hoping and praying we’d get a glimpse of her and the baby again.
We were the only boat and the captain turned off the engine to wait. We were all on pins and needles when a few minutes later 3 elephants stepped out into view! It was as though they thought, “finally that noisy boat is gone and we can relax and put on a private show for you”! It was the mom and baby plus another small juvenile male who had budding tusks. Bryan and I were quietly oohing and ahhing and both shooting like crazy. I had the big heavy lens and to hold it still while the boat was rocking a bit- and taking video while zoomed in especially had me working up a sweat!
We were still marveling at this stroke of luck when suddenly more appeared and in total we saw SEVEN!? We hardly knew where to look or what to shoot and I was crying because it was so freaking lucky and magical- especially to be the only ones to see it all!
Then of course, suddenly the battery on the camera died?! I had made sure we had a spare and I was trying to change it fast. I also got out my iPhone and took some vids with- as it promptly announced after just 2 vids that it was full!? ARGH. I had spent a long time downloading and deleting videos from the last week specifically so this wouldn’t happen- but naturally, it had to at one of the most important moments. This is something that really annoys me about iPhones and their cloud system too- and how hard it really is to download and delete stuff off the phone itself…I am always trying to empty it and it’s always full at the worst time, no matter what I try- however, at least this time it was working at all, unlike in Africa where it died and I had nothing.
We stayed there for about 15 minutes when another boat began to approach. Just before they got close the elephants said goodbye and ducked back into the trees- and did not come out again that we know of. We were all just so in awe and could not believe our luck. We shrugged our shoulders to the people that showed up and headed back upriver for the resort…we’d even make dinner! What a lucky day!
The guide had brought some biscuits to sustain us had it been a long ride, but instead, they were celebratory biscuits. These are cracker like cookies with flavored, sweetened fruit cream in the middle. Bryan and I had gotten some previously that were lemon flavored, thinking they were like the lemon cookies we’d had in Africa which were really good. They were good too, though not cookies as we’d expected. The ones we’d been given now had passion fruit cream and were locally made- good but not great, however, we appreciated the gesture and ate them happily. We also celebrated that we could drink some water, knowing we’d have only 45 minutes until we could go to the bathroom- which is always a reason to celebrate for me!
When we got back the Aussie tourists had congregated for dinner and one poor old guy looked like he’d been shot! His plants were all covered in bloody spots because he’d been on the hike and apparently was covered in leeches! I am frankly not sure if this was the same hike at all, considering how hard the first part was for me- and if so, my goodness he puts me to shame…but terrible that this guy was just bleeding all over the place…but it really is surprising how long you will bleed for from their anticoagulants! He kept joking he’d survived a war.
Dinner was good a stewed dish, cabbage and tomato soup and potatoes- all delicious. We even had bread pudding for dessert which was nice…however for whatever reason tonight, the mosquitoes and bugs seemed to be insane and I was getting badly bitten, so did not want to linger much at all. I was practically running back to the room because I couldn’t stand it- though it had not been like this at all previously. Maybe a whole batch of eggs just hatched or something?
With an 8am departure, we were going to get repacked and maybe even sort through some pictures before bed anyway- so again, called it an early night. We had not been back to the room for long however when our guide called us saying the wild boards had come to the front yard and he thought we’d want to come see.
We had no idea there was such a thing, so we put on our shoes and ran down to the lodge as fast as we could to see a whole group of them congregated around the parking area eating food the resort had tossed out to them. They were about the size of large dogs although heavier and there was a definite pack/ pecking order going on. They smelled from afar and they are very ugly- especially as they have a hairy mustache and beard, being a hybrid of the domestic and wild pigs that had been their descendants. When the Chinese had come to Borneo as early as 500 AD and had brought livestock- and as it took months to harvest the bird’s nests (for bird’s nest soup) they had to bring food and such with them. The pigs eventually got loose and over time turned wild. Then over the years bred with the local domestic ones and become this weird bearded beast.
It was really cool to see, especially that the resort doesn’t mind them and feeds them. As they are pork, they are not eaten and otherwise protected…although this of course, prompted a joke from someone noting they were safe from everyone there, except the Chinese. They proceeded to say that the Chinese people “will eat everything with 4 legs except the table; anything that flies, except the airplane”…while it is funny, it was still a bit uncomfortable for us and so we kind of just chuckled and went back to marveling at the pigs. I was really being eaten alive at this point though which was detracting from my experience so I had to excuse myself and get back inside.
It was then however that I realized if tomorrow was only the 28th- and we didn’t fly out till the 29th, we actually appeared to have an extra day planned into the trip that Bryan didn’t realize! He looked at his itinerary and realized he’d dated our tour here the 25th through 28th, but it was 24-27. Somehow we had extra time!? Which is indeed far better than not having enough!
This was really great news because we had thought we’d be making a 6-7 hour trip back to KK, starting midday since we had morning plans still on this portion of the tour…knowing we had an extra day was so great- and meant we’d be able to stop to see the rafflesia flower too! How exciting- usually vacation days just slip through your hands- but instead, we’ve been gifted one!