August 08, 2005


Well the homestay wasn't what I expected (it's a B&B), but still had a great time. Was immersed among avid insect-bird-animal watchers and I love nature even more than before. There was so much to see, including some rare animals that are unique only to Borneo. My first glimpse of a truly wild orang-utan was a dark clump in a tree about 100 metres away. At 6am it was just waking up with the sun rise and for a few seconds I saw it swing from it's nest and climb down the trunk. Our guide on the night boat cruise was excellent and would quickly scan the dense forest with his flood light and suddenly stopped when he found animals that took me sometimes a long moment to spot once the light was on it! There were a couple owls who looked back at us with wide, round yellow eyes. A beautiful blue eared kingfisher sleeping on a branch. The flying fox hanging in a tree, walking, and then flew away. The gulping, fat frog that took me the longest to spot as he looked like one of the stones he sat on. The reflection of 2 tiny lights on an aligator in the river, the reason most animals and humans do not swim in the murky water. Groups of dancing fireflies. And an evil giant, black bee that stung me on the neck. It was so painful for the rest of the evening, as though it kept stinging me over and over again. My whole neck was stiff the next day but it's fine now. I realized there's no way I'd survive in the jungle!!

The morning cruise was even more spectacular which included a long monitor lizard, a curled mangrove snake in a tree, a couple swimming otters, and numerous birds. In the sunlight, the kingfisher has a brilliant shiny blue back and bright orange tummy. The monkeys were exciting to watch, within a small area we saw 3 species of probosis, gibbons, long tailed and pig tailed macaques. The male probosis is so unusual with it's long nose. I think it must have been inspiration for the creation of the muppets! I saw 3 out of the 8 species of hornbill birds. The best was the rhinoseros hornbill, which can grow to 1 metre in length and has a red-orange horn on top of it's beak. They are so huge, they rock an entire tree when they land in it. 4 oriental pied hornbills landed in the tree only metres from us and gorged themselves on the papayas. A butterfly later landed on the open fruit to taste some of the leftovers. The cycle of life! Unfortunately my camera is terrible at long distance shots as most of the wildlife I had to view through binoculars. But it was so amazing to spy in and watch nature go about it's daily routine.

The small peice of primary jungle I saw was packed with life. But everyday, acres of land are being burned down and cleared to plant palms for palm oil. The plantations are everywhere and are taking away one of the only places you will find virgin forest. Like everywhere else, animals are decreasing, but as the forest gets smaller, the space left for them to go on this island is limited. P

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