We decided that we were going to see and do as much as possible once we got to the island of Borneo. Kuching is the main city in Sarawak on the southeastern part of the island. Part of the Malaysian side, there are many outdoor activities to do. We decided to hike in Bako National Park which is one of the smallest national parks on the island, but has lots of wildlife and interesting species of plants. From your hotel or guesthouse in Kuching, you can take a bus from the main station for 3.50 MYR to the park ferry terminal. It is best to arrive early in the morning so you can share the cost of the boat with others. The park entrance fee is 20 MYR per person, and the boat fee was also 20 MYR each way.
The boatmen drive the speedboats fast to the park, so hold onto your hats! I would highly suggest wearing mosquito repellent, or if you don’t like chemicals like me – then wear light pants and long sleeve shirt. Actually I always wear pants and long sleeves when I go out in humid climate and I never get mosquito bites anymore. Also wear your sunblock and a hat for the sun is very direct and people burn after only 1 or 2 hours. After arriving at the park you go to the main office where you must sign up for whichever trail you pick and must sign out when you are finished as well. On the bridge to the mainland we saw the rare proboscis monkey high up in the tree eating. Then on the way to the main office we spotted the bearded boar or pig which I gave the name “hipster pig” due to its large unruly beard. Score!! Already saw two rare animals and we hadn’t even started hiking yet.
We decided to hike Paku trail which was only .8 km and took only 1.5 hours each direction. This trail was good for sighting the Proboscis monkeys high up in the trees eating fruit and at the end of the trail you end up at the beach. Little did we know that this trail was pretty intense, sometimes you are not even sure if you are still on the trail. You feel like you are in the middle of the rainforest with vines hanging everywhere, sweat pouring down your face, the hum of strange insects and the wild calls of the monkeys in the trees. It was rad!! Did I say rad? Oh well. Some of the stairs are super wobbly and tree roots are more prevalent than dirt on your path. There were some parts of the trail where you have to climb a bit over the slippery rocks. We loved it, I never had hiked anywhere like this before. Made me feel like I was in one of the Indiana Jones movies.
We saw some more of the big nosed monkeys in the trees, there was supposed to be snakes and spiders (safety first!) but we didn’t unfortunately see any. Just when you feel like you’ve gotten lost there is the opening to the beach. Boatmen are there waiting if you want to take a boat to another trail or the mainland. But we decided not to be wussies that day so we drank a crapload of water, watched as people took seashells from the beach (ding dongs – your not supposed to), looked at sandcrabs then headed back. Almost back at the start of the trail a passerby asked if it got any harder, I told him yes! And to imagine, there are trails that are 8 hours long each way!!
We stopped at the only cafe in the park to eat papaya and drink soda and water. I’m not a huge soda drinker, but I needed some sugar after the first trail. The food looked ok and was overpriced but at least they had something there. After resting for a bit we headed out on our second trail that was shorter, only 45 minutes each way. It was a beautiful trail, but we were pooped from the first one. Also I cannot emphasize how hot and humid it is there.
We took the boat back around 2 pm and because the water was low had to walk on the beach thru the water to the boat. It wasn’t bad at all, and the water felt good on your feet. By the way, you can go swimming in the park but have to get special permission as there are jellyfish and stingrays at some of the beaches. But overall, this was probably one of our more favorite excursions that we did in Malaysia. Highly recommend it.
Geez, I’m either a big nerd or just out on the road too long. I think a little of both.