Thursday, June 17, 2010

Backpacking Borneo: Bako National Park

Bako National Park can make you feel like you're on the set of 'Lost', with its a la choose-your-own-adventure trails. It is Sarawak's oldest national park, gazetted as a protected area in 1957. It covers an area of 2,727 hectares (with an incredible variety of plant species) at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula.

Bako National Park's limestone and sandstone cliffs.

Bus station in front of Electra House.

To get to Bako from Kuching, take a bus to Bako Bazaar in Kampung Bako (RM2, 45 minutes). Petra Jaya bus No 6 departs from the station near the covered market in Kuching. If some locals offer you a private van and tell you it will take really long before the next bus arrives, better just shrug them off. Buses arrive roughly every 40 minutes.

Paying for the admission fee.

A boat from Bako Bazaar to the park headquarters is RM40 for 10 people. Travel time, 30 minutes. Admission fee to be paid at the headquarters is RM10, single entry.

Flashing a very nervous smile. Si Manong Boatman parang may lakad, ang bilis magpatakbo!

Make sure you come early so you can find other people to share your boat with (also to avoid sailing through choppy waters in the afternoon).

Park rangers' office at Bako National Park.

The park is popular for day trippers, but if you choose to stay for the night, better book ahead (park headquarters number provided by the Visitor Information Center in Kuching).

Our forest lodge.

The accommodations/park lodges (RM40 double room a night) look like they have not been refurbished since they were constructed, so come mentally prepared. The rooms have a moldy smell, and the bed covers don't look like they've been washed. As for the common bathroom/toilets, you may not only share them with your dorm-mates but also with other insects (a humongous grasshopper attacked me while I was doing my 'business').

Uber low tide beach in the afternoon

On our first day, after checking in, we strolled along the beach at sundown. After which we had dinner at the park's lone resto. Meals are very affordable at RM5-8.

Participants register for the night trek.

In the evening, we joined the guided night trek (RM10 fee each person). The supposed one hour fifteen-minute trek lasted two hours. Our guide was desperate to show the eager group some night creatures. We were only able to see loads of insects and some glowing mushrooms. On our way back, we saw a scorpion on a tree near our lodge. We thought, we shouldn't have gone far and wasted RM10.

It was a sleepless night as the bed bug bites I got from Borneo B&B started stinging. It was not only itchy, it was painful. It was the first time I was victimized after years of backpacking. It didn't stop me from hiking the next day though. I thought to myself, I cannot let the bed bugs ruin my (and Shervin's) trip.

Wild boars wandering freely at the park.

My fave creature, the Proboscis Monkey, having brekkie by the beach.

We chose the Lintang Trail, so we could see the Tajor falls. It was the perfect choice for we came across a group of Proboscis Monkeys by the beach. We stayed for about half an hour watching them feed on trees, and Shervin took so many photos for me to keep.

Choose your own adventure.

One of the colorful pitcher plants we found along the trail.

The trek going to the falls lasted two hours and thirty minutes (3.5 KM). We enjoyed a lone time along the stagnant river where the falls flows into.

Tajor Falls' river. A private escape.

Despite my horrible bed bug bites, we pushed on with our hiking plan.

We didn't stay long though, and hiked back in speed. We collected our stuff at the headquarters (we already checked out before trekking), washed up, then headed to the jetty.

I told Shervin, 'When we get back to Kuching, no way are we checking in Borneo B&B again'. And eventhough we stayed at Kuching Hotel that night, the bed bug-bite tragedy was far from over.

[This blog is part of the South East Asia in Six Weeks series which took place May-June 2009. Price of goods, transportation and so forth may already be different.]

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8 comments:

pinoy boy journals said...
January 26, 2010 at 11:23 PM

yup same look when i had bed bug attacks, yes its very itchy and after a while it gets painful. coincidence, but still in malaysia, i haven't experienced any bed bug attack anywhere only in malaysia!

you're going to sandakan and around right? bring with you tea tree oil., they say its the best. mix it with water and spray on the affected area.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
January 27, 2010 at 1:04 AM

Yes we are going to Sandakan soon. I might just bring calamine lotion instead of tea tree oil because it's way cheaper. hehe.

-=K=- said...
July 13, 2010 at 11:00 AM

OMG! Those bed bug bites are nasty! Good thing I chanced upon your blog even before I plan to go to Malaysia. If I ever go there soon, Ill bring tea tree oil. Hope you got your flawless legs back! :)

bertN said...
July 13, 2010 at 8:59 PM

Those are mean bed bug bites! Did they get infected?

JODYxBUFFY said...
July 13, 2010 at 11:14 PM

For many years I avoided bringing a sleeping sheet with me. But after enduring a painful night of bedbugs in New Delhi, I broke down and purchased a silk sleeping sheet from a local vendor. The following night's sleep was vastly more improved.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 14, 2010 at 10:44 AM

It was uber nasty K! Yup, tea tree oil should be on standby. My legs are far from flawless but yeah, thankfully I got rid of the marks. Thanks for dropping by :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 15, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Hey Bert, dunno if it got infected. I never checked. Haha! I just waited for the bites to subside.

Anonymous said...
September 19, 2010 at 9:34 PM

if you are going to visit kuching anytime soon you may stay at the new tune hotel or singgahsana inn, is cheap but at least is cleaner than the B&B. there is lots more to explore in kuching, there is Semenggoh wildlife centre, matang wildlife centre and the beach near the lundu was awesome..

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