Monday, August 13, 2007

Hello big nose!

Hi it's Jenni! We just got back from Bako National park, which is in the North West corner of Malaysian Borneo. It was just brilliant, a lot better than we'd hoped it would be. We got up at 6am both mornings we stayed there (very early for us), and managed to be the first ones on the trails, which meant we got to see lots of wildlife, and that's what it's all about there. We saw the usual macaque monkeys, they're the ones you see all over the place in Malaysia going through the bins and stuff, but in Bako they were actually in the trees where they belong, eating fruit and leaves and other yummy things, and the little monkeylings were busy playing around in the trees, almost falling off every other second. Very cute! Also, a lot of the little ones didn't seem like they should be allowed to jump from tree to tree yet, as they seemed to misjudge their weight and break off the smallest branches regularly.

At the park head quarters there was this odd family of bearded wild pigs (looked like wild boars, with huge long furry faces). The adults were huge, and their 3 babies were heffas as well. They were just walking around quite happily near all the people, eating the roots they dug through the lawns and taking some naps. Very odd when we first saw them.

And then to the more rare animals... There is a large population of the very rare proboscis monkeys, which are these very funny looking orange/ginger coloured big-nosed things (with their noses drooping down over their mouths) with huge pot bellies and skinny arms and legs. The locals originally called them "Dutch men", but political correctness changed that somewhere along the line! On one of our walks we suddenly heard this small crashing in the trees above us. We've learnt to know that this means that there's a monkey nearby, so we stayed absolutely still, and soon had a whole group of them was all around us jumping and crashing about and eating the fruit and leaves. It was a really special sight, as we had been really quiet and still, so they hadn't really taken notice of us, and they stuck around for quite a while, about 1/2 an hour.

It was great to be able to have a proper good look at them and see the adults jumping from one tree to the next, because they can jump such long distances despite looking so ungainly in flight, although we did see a lot of them accidentally break a branch or two... They're pretty hefty animals! The alpha males have these absolutely massive noses which they hoot through. He gave us a couple of half interested little hoots as well when he saw us peering at him. All very exciting for us. There was a mom and little baby monkey near us as well, and of course the baby was amazingly cute.

We tried to get a few photos, but it was more fun just enjoying watching them. We'll pick a few to put on flickr though, so you might want to check the photo link on the right hand side in a bit.

We also saw some silver leaf monkeys in the trees, which were really cool as well. They look more like the conventional monkey, with a lot more slim and streamlined figure. Also there were the usual snakes (Dan got heart palpitations because there was a pit viper there - very deadly), massive monitor lizards and some huge butterflies.

Apart from all the cool animals, the walks themselves were really incredible. They went through all sorts of different types forest, e.g. mangrove and proper tropical rainforest jungle, as well as sandy areas in the middle of them with pitcher plants, which are carnivorous, and eat little insects. The only thing was that it was just insanely hot. The walks went up and down rainforest-covered mountains, and the trails were covered in tree roots and huge rocks, and some bits were so steep that you had to use ropes to get up them. But it was all worth it, and we were so proud of ourselves that we'd got up so early and were so disciplined and got to see so much! A few times I thought I'd go insane from the heat and the 100% humidity added to how hard the tracks were, but with the help of all the sweets and peanuts Dan kept feeding me I managed to pull through in the end.

We're off to Sumatra in Indonesia on Wednesday, and have heard that Internet isn't as reliable as we've got used to, so you might not hear from us for a bit. Also, in the town we're flying to the locals believe the loud noises ward off evil spirits, so they decided to build their airport next to the centre of the city... I think we're in for a bit of a culture shock!

We're planning to go to another orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sumatra, so you'll get even more enthusiastic monkey tales when we log on next!

Thank you for the new comments you've been making, keep up the good work!

Lots of love,
Jenni & Dan


Nick & Ce said...

I like the sound of the huge monitor lizards. Can you bring one back with you ... might keep the neighbours cat out of our garden!

Anonymous said...

hi guys I finally have internet at home woo hooo, exciting!!! so i made it my priority to look through all your photos of borneo, wow it looks and sounds amazing. Dawn is always worth the effort if your looking for animals, i remember managing to get a beach to my self at dawn in mexico and saw the sun rise with all these little crabs scurrying to the sea it was beautiful and all mine!
I must not bore your regular readers with too much about us but thank you so much for your pressies they were wonderful. glyn has had a good giggle withthe crocky frog and i am very impressed with your new found skills in bateek?!
(for everyone else : they made me a brilliant saroon its yellow and dark blue and has a crazy looking monkey flying a kite on and is signed by dan and jen to me, very special and i expect unique, i have always liked home made pressies) its brill i think i might draw some envious looks with that monkey on, as i stroll the beach in portugal, yes glyn and i have a holiday booked, we are very excited, we are heading to the west coast of portugal near lisbon, armed with a tent and a kite we are hoping for some sun and fine sea food and i am sure their will be plenty of wind for kite flying.
lots of love to you both missing you like crazy
xxxxxx sorrel