Forest Walk – Sabah Trip #11

May 14, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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After the morning river safari on boat, we had breakfast and then it was free and easy time until the next activity. We decided to just explore around our camp area, and we were rewarded with many surprises!

tisuboy
A very easy walk with all the raised boardwalk at the campsite…You won’t get lost unless you venture out

broadbill
Just close to the dining area, we saw this beautiful Black-and-red Broadbill….Have been a while since I last saw this

white-rumped-shama
A melodious White-crowned Shama hopping around….

raptor2
Couldn’t be sure of the identity of this raptor. He was perching so high and called so loud…

rufous-tailed-tailorbird
Another old friend, the Rufous-tailed Tailorbird….

flycatcher
Not sure if this is the Sunda Blue Flycatcher?

The catch of the day must be this one…

Oriental-Dwarf-Kingfisher
The Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher!!! So tiny and gorgeous!

king
The best thing was, we didn’t have to go far to look for it! It just landed outside our hut! 

kingfisher2
A peep at the bright pinkish/magnet back of this beauty

kingfisher
We were so happy that he landed right in front of us and stayed for almost 10 minutes!!!!!

lizard
Not sure which gliding lizard was this…super long tail that got out of the frame…

skink
Skink…

At around 10.20am, we took the boat and went for our jungle trekking….It was an interesting walk led by informative guide, but unfortunately a lot of the plants have only native names in Malay, so remembering them was quite challenging…hahah…

ant-nest
Were told this was the Fire Ant nest…not too sure about this…could be another kind of ant but the name was lost in translation?

evil
Evil-looking tree with big sharp thorns…These were much thicker than those of the Rattans…Can use this as weapon…wahahah

plant2
Rubbing the leaves of this plant is supposed to save you from mosquitoes’ bites…

leaf
Closer look. We tried it but not too sure if there were any effects….

plant
Fallen flowers that looked so similar to those of Canonball Tree

tractor-millipede
Saw a few of these Tractor Millipede again…

tractor
I nearly stepped onto this one…

centepede
Better leave the centipede alone…

caterpillar
Not sure which caterpillar was this…

cicadas
And lots of cicada moults! But this number was nothing compared to what Itchyfingers saw at New Zealand!

cicada
A closer look

fig
Tisu Girl with our Guide in front of this big fig tree….

Unfortunately it rained that night again, so we couldn’t go for our night walk…Pretty sure we could have spotted some interesting animals or insects….But well, that is nature…Borneo is certainly an amazing place to visit if you are a nature lover! Just be prepared to rough it out a little and you would be rewarded by the beauty of nature!

Also see related posts:
> River Safari – Sabah Trip #10
Visiting the Orphanage – Sabah Trip#9
Where is the Uncle – Sabah Trip#8
Wild Sabah – Sabah Trip#7
The Lost Gardens – Sabah Trip#6
A Close Shave – Sabah Trip#5
Boring Hot Spring – Sabah Trip#4
A Slow Slow Cllimb – Sabah Trip#3
A Different Garden – Sabah Trip#2
So Near Yet So Far – Sabah Trip#1

 

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A Slow Slow Climb – Sabah Trip #3

November 25, 2015 at 12:36 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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A note from Itchyfingers:
This is another long-overdued post. During our stay in Penang this June for the Pisang Relay Run, we learned from the TV about the Sabah Earthquake. 😦  Like most people, we did not expect earthquake to happen and could happen in Malaysia. Though Itchyfingers did not attempt the climb to Mount Kinabalu when we visited the park last June, we could almost feel the helplessness of those climbers who were injured or stranded on the mountain. It was even sadder to know that 18 primary school students from Singapore died on the mountain. Hence Itchyfingers thought it was inappropriate to post our trip during that sad period. Itchyfingers had a minor accident when we were in the park, but it was really nothing compared to what these earthquake victims had gone through. May these young souls rest in peace.

 

One of the reasons for visiting the Kinabalu National Park was to look for the montane pitcher plants. Tisu Boy read that we were supposed to be able to find the largest pitcher plant, the Nepenthes rajah, at Mersilau Resort. That was why he decided that we should stay here and not at the other resorts nearer to the Park HQ.

entrance
Remember we mentioned about this path along the covered walkway to and from our room? It led into the forest and had a DO NOT ENTER sign. After reading the guidebook we realised this was the path to see the Nepenthes rajah! But it seemed like we would need some permit to enter….

We confirmed at the ranger station that it was called the Nepenthes Trail and was indeed the path to see Nepenthes rajah. Unfortunately, it had to be temporarily closed due to a recent landslide! :O

There are two main starting points for the climb to the Summit: the Timpohon Gate (located 5.5 km from Kinabalu Park Headquarters, at an altitude of 1,866 metres and the Mesilau Nature Resort, which was where we were. It was supposed to be the more challenging one cos the starting point is slightly higher in elevation, then crosses a ridge, adding about two kilometres to the ascent and making the total elevation gain slightly higher. The two trails meet about two kilometres before Laban Rata, where climbers usually stay for the night.

kinabalu_trail_map
Trail map from the official website

Since we weren’t prepared and didn’t book any guide to climb the mountain, we were told that we could still walk up the trail as far to the Layang-layang Hut. But a return trip may take us about 5hours! The gate would also be closed at 4pm. It was already close to 10am. Not really possible for us to finish the whole trail and return before gate closes without rushing, or unless we do not take any photos. We decided that we would just walk a portion of it for the experience.

pass
RM10 per person for this loop trail

heart
Some other people with itchy fingers arranged these flowers in a heart shape outside the ranger office. We had lots of these flowers outside our room!

caterpillar
A hairy caterpillar was spotted when we began our ascent slightly after 10am

terrain
Looked like a pretty easy walk from here!

terrain2
But slowly, the steps got higher….still manageable!

Knowing that we would not be able to finish the whole loop before the gate closed, we took our own sweet time taking photos…

orchid
Lots of small montane orchids

orchid3
So pretty!

orchid2
So small were some of these orchids that one could easily have missed them unless you slowed down and look around

The whole trail was 5.5km, and at every 500m there was supposed to have a marker. But since we were at our snail speed taking photos….

0.5km
It took Itchyfingers 40minutes to reach the first 5oo metres! Incredible! :p

The trail was mostly quiet, as all the climbers had already left early in the morning after their breakfast. Hence we were not in anyone’s way climbing up so slowly. There were only another Indian couple who came up later than us. They didn’t carry any big bags with them and were not taking photos, so very soon they passed us.

cricket
Quiet except for the sound of cicadas….

terrain3
More and more steps…Bag getting so heavy…hahha

wing
Looks like wings! 😀

fog
As we went higher, we could see mist coming in. Could feel a bit more chilly too…Wonder if we missed the next 500 meter marker?

1km
Closed to two hours after we started our climb, we finally reached 1km! Record breaking slow! Haha!

We heard some sound and thought we had caught up with the Indian couple. Soon, we reached a pavilion and saw a Caucasian couple resting there instead.

It was really foggy now especially when we looked across the valley.

fog2
Time for a selfie! 😀

leaves
Nice colours!

flowers
These flowers were quite common up here!

We were lamenting that until now there were no pitcher plants to be found…Then…

danger
We spotted a pitcher! But these looked like the Slender Pitcher we have back home…

pitcher4
Then we spotted more pitcher plants! They were so tiny, about 4cm tall only! :O

pitcher2
A closer look…We spent a fair bit of time admiring and taking photos…

terrain4
Getting tired and hungry…It was already quarter to one in the afternoon…

terrain5
Aiyo, so rocky….The Indian couple were nowhere to be seen…Don’t think they could finish the loop too cos they were panting really hard even without heavy bags…

pitcher
More pitcher plants! 😀

begonia
Begonia leaves

We spent so much time shooting the pitchers and other plants. Finally we reached the next distance marker!

1.5km
1.20pm! Finally reached 1.5km!!

It was around this time that we finally saw the Indian Couple again. They said they walked to the 2km marker – it was supposed to be down all the way there. But that also meant that we would have to climb up all the way on our return trip. They told us they saw something, but we couldn’t catch that properly. :p

down
We took a look at the terrain ahead….

Looking at the time, we decided that we could not afford the time to the 2km marker. For most people, going downhill is easier than going uphill. But for this clumsy Itchyfingers, I always have a problem going down cos of a phobia of slipping down…That went  back years ago when I went trekking in Nepal and slipped and fell on the first day of the trek! Hahah….embarrassing! So, although going uphill is more tiring, I think I still prefer that… :p Anyway, with my kinda speed for going downhill, I don’t think we could reach 2km fast enough for us to turn around and make it back to the gate at 4pm. We were really getting hungry. So we decided to head back to the pavilion for a rest and snack.

Back at the pavilion, the fog had cleared up a bit…

waterfall
Could see some waterfall! :p

ouch
Tisu Boy was busy taking photos of the waterfall while I was already sitting comfortably in the pavilion munching my muesli bar…So engrossed that he didn’t notice the roof of the pavilion and just jumped down, knocking his head against it quite hard! 😀 Hahahah!!! Now who was the clumsy one?? 😀 Good to be shorter sometimes…hahaha 

It was already half past two when we took our snack. So we had about 1.5hr to return to the gate…But Tisu Boy was still taking photos of plants that he missed along the way. 😮

mushrooms
Mushrooms…

down2
And this clumsy Tisu person was having weak knees negotiating the big rocks down….Gotta use the tripod leg as a walking stick…By now, Tisu Boy was also feeling the burden of his camera and bag and had to use the makeshift walking stick too…

The sky was getting a bit dark, seemed like going to rain anytime, so we had to hurry! By the time we finally reached the bottom at the gate, it was already 3.40pm! The caterpillar was still on the same piece of leave! :p Made it in time! But I think we also made it as the slowest people to climb this trail and still unable to finish it within 5 hours! Hahahah!!!!

Also see related posts:
> A Different Garden – Sabah Trip #2
> So Near Yet So Far – Sabah Trio #1

A Peek Into the Past – Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

April 28, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Last week, Itchyfingers were among some of those who were invited to a special preview of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum prior to its official opening today, 28 April, in appreciation of our little contribution. The museum has come a long way – possibly dating back to when Singapore was founded. It was last known as the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research (RMBR), which only had a small gallery nestled in one of the obscure Science Block at the University, and was greatly in need of an overhaul and expansion. So it was indeed a good news to finally have a brand new building to house a proper viewing gallery, as well as facilities for its scientists and researchers.

Once you entered the new building at the National University of Singapore, visitors were welcomed by a huge wall mural made from photo collage of the specimens on exhibit…

mural
Part of the mural. Very nice, colourful and vibrant – injecting some life into the otherwise ‘dead’ exhibits…

The highlights of the museum are three much talked-about diplodocid sauropod skeletons, nicknamed “Prince”, “Apollonia” and “Twinky”. Each of them is about 80% complete, making them a rarity in dinosaur discoveries. They were the first thing you would see once you entered the gallery behind a glass wall. But you would have to maneuver your way through the plants section before you could come close to them.

rafflesia
A model of the Rafflesia flower, something Itchyfingers are dying to see in the wild…The unisexual flower may reach over a meter in diameter and weigh over 10kg! 

titan-arum
Another smelly flower that we want to see too! This is a model of the Titan Arum, the “largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, reaching over 3meters in height. The inflorescence blooms at night, releasing an odour of rotting meat that attracts carrion-eating beetles and flies to pollinate it”. Few years back, our Botanical Garden had one, but it kinda withered prematurely, hence we didn’t have the chance to experience the rotting smell…

plants
Some well-preserved Herbarium sheets

black-poplar-mushroom
Some interesting fungi on display. These are Black Poplar Mushroom

From the ground floor main gallery, we could see the dinosaur skeletons, which are considered a rarity for sauropod dinosaurs fossils as two of them come with skulls. These three skeletons were found between 2007 and 2010 in a quarry in a small town of Ten Sleep in the United States and are believed to be part of a herd or even a family. According to reports, the “American sellers had asked for $8 million but the Museum would not say what the final deal was”.

dinos
These dinosaurs, acquired through donated funds, are to be the main attraction of the main gallery – to showcase the diversity and history of life on Earth

dinos2
The museum believes that, “as one of the largest animals ever to live on the planet, they are an excellent showpiece to demonstrate extinction events and how life has evolved.”

Not a great fan of dinosaurs, I wasn’t really excited to see the trios though… :p Despite having a new building, somehow, the space available for displaying the trio still feels very small and cramp. I was expecting to be able to really stand further to look at the sheer size of them. To make up for the lack of space, visitors can still view them from the second floor though. There is a light show at regular intervals but personally I thought it was a bit meaningless and doesn’t add any value to the exhibit. :p

dodo
Model of the Dodo – sadly hunted to extinction

display
What attracted Tisu Boy’s attention? I love this display!

turtle-anatomy
Oh my goodness!!! A cut up Reeve’s Turtle!

frog
This Bornean Frogs looks like it’s dancing….Are those eggs on the tummy?

nesting-birds
Unidentified nestling birds…

mud-lobster
Ahhhh…finally see a real Mud Lobster….albeit a dead one…Well…it was once alive! :O

basket-star
Beautiful Basket Star….This specimen has a “100” icon next to the name. Does that mean it is 100 or more years old? Can’t find the legend to the icon…

venus's-flower-basket
Beautiful Venus’s Flower Basket

I like the way they displayed these specimens in nice glass jars and arranged neatly on the shelf. But the names of the specimen were put too far at the extreme left, so whenever you need to find out the name, you have to walk all the way to the left. Why don’t they just label it below? It’s easier to change single labels if they want to change the exhibits, rather than to change the whole panel right? I also don’t really like the tv screen in the middle. Don’t think it is interactive cos no one seems to be touching it…

bobtail-squid
The squids and octopuses specimens were a letdown after looking at the beautiful set ups earlier. This Bobtail Squid could have been made more attractive if only they could spread out the tentacles and make it look as it was floating in the jar, like the frog above…

shells
So nice. Rare-spined Murex (26), Branched Murex (27) and Venus Comb Murex (28)

heart-cockle
Heart Cockles. I have seen photos of them that are brighter in colour…

whip-spider
Whip Spider

horseshoe-crabs
Horsehoe Crabs are actually related to spiders and scorpions, that’s why they are put together

butterflies
Moths and butterflies

lantern-bug
Lantern Bug! Tisu Boy love them!

lantern-bug2
Gorgeous!

green-flying-stick-necroscia-inflata
I prefer the stick insect – so pretty like wearing a dress!

sticks
From left: Cantor’s Stick Insects – bigger female and smaller male (8) and their eggs (9). Right: Malayan Jungle Nymph (10) – fatter green female and male with wings opened; and their bigger eggs

dead-leaf-mantis
Dead Leaf Mantis! So evil-looking yet so intriguing! 😀

cicada
Many kinds of cicadas too!

crustaceans
For prawn lovers…The huge one is the Tiger Prawn, widely reared for food

red-frog-crab
Red Frog Crab. Funny looking. The live one is really red in colour!

urchin
Check out the many sea urchin skeletons….look like a pin cushion….

grouper
How can I missed this Orange-spotted Grouper! Such a big fish! But luckily I saw it at an earlier exhibition some time ago

turtles
Turtles! 

impressed-tortoise
This small one is called Impressed Tortoise! Impressive or not? 😀

black-marsh-turtle
Black Marsh Turtle

reptile
An overview of the reptilian section

reptiles1
Reptiles….The snakes in jars look like those medicinal snake wine from some Asian countries…hahaha

croc
Croc hatchling…

lizard-embryo
Lizard embryo…wonder which species….

fossil
Cast of Archaeopteryx “Berlin Specimen”. Discovered around 1875, it was the second one found and first with a complete head

birds
The birds specimen were quite a disappointment as most of them were in the “satay stick” form and not preserved in standing or flying position

orang
A sad-looking Orangutan…

orangs
A family of Orangutans with a skeleton reflection on the glass

skeleton
Skeletons of a human and a Bornean Orangutan

sun-bear
Some of the mammal specimens like the Sun Bear family was quite nicely presented, showing the way they live

wild-boars
And showed the colour and pattern variation between the young and adult, like this Wild Boar family

tapir
And this Malayan Tapir family

malayan-tapir
Skull of the tapir

koala
The marsupial that Australia loaned to the Singapore Zoo – Koala

dolphin
The Humpbacked Dolphin skull looked so funny

The Heritage Gallery is located at the upper floor with five exhibit zones that pay homage to the museum heritage. The gallery presents an account of the museum’s development and traces the relationship between Singapore’s development and natural history.

toger
Close up of a tiger skin

leatherback
Leatherback Turtle

The Heritage Gallery’s layout is intentionally styled like an old-school museum with specimens on display in dark wooden cabinets.

bear
Don’t be scared by some of them….wahahah

You can check out the cabinets and drawers for more exhibits and information

bird-of-paradise
Nice display of the Bird-of-Paradise and the Babirusa with illustrations

cream-squirrel
Tisu Boy’s contribution – a printed copy of his painting of this Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel sits in one of the cabinets

Itchyfingers spent less than 2 hours in the museum, a rather short time for our liking cos our free and easy tour started about 3.50 pm. Our tummies were beginning to make noise so we had to cut short our visit. Was a little disappointed that they didn’t put up more specimens for exhibit. Hopefully there will either be rotating exhibits or new ones will be added later, or even better still, new gallery space will be created in the 7-storey building. There are many more interesting specimens not featured here and if you are really interested in plants, animals and natural history, a visit to the new the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is definitely highly recommended! Check their website for ticketing details, as you can’t just pop by any time you wish and get tickets on the spot! A little inconvenient, but let’s see if they will adjust this later on.

whale
Nice way of presenting the founding benefactors

Also see related posts:
> The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research
> Hunters & Collectors – The Origins of the SouthEast Asian Collection

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