Where is the Uncle? – Sabah Trip#8

February 10, 2016 at 9:54 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Upon reaching Sandakan, we took a cab (RM40.00) to our accommodation for the night. Tisu Boy read about this Uncle Tan Wildlife Adventure from Lonely Planet, which looked quite reputable and interesting. They offer wildlife tour where we could spot various endemic primates and many other flora and faunas. We would be staying at their campsite during the 3D2N tour, but for tonight, we would be putting up at their Operation Base at Sepilok.

We reached the Operation Base around 6plus in the evening, and already the whole premises was so dark, save for the office and the canteen areas. The accommodation for the night was not included in the tour package, and you could always choose to stay in the town and meet at the Base for their pickup the next afternoon but we thought it was probably easier and more convenient to stay with them here. The rate for an air-conditioned room with attached bathroom was RM110, only slightly cheaper than our accommodation at Mersilau. But the condition of the room was really, really basic.

room
There was only one bed in the entire room. No chair, no table…and no heater for shower!

Luckily, dinner was included, otherwise it would be so troublesome to call a cab to go town to eat and come back. It was already pitch dark outside the Base, which was further in from the main road and surrounded by trees. There was only minimum dim lighting leading the way to where we were staying, which was a separate building from the office. Food was basic “buffet” style with only two or three dishes to choose from…LOL! Seemed like there were only Itchyfingers and another very quiet Caucasian guy staying here…Was expecting the place to have full of visitors since it was mentioned in Lonely Planet?

We were a bit tired so after dinner, we returned to our room to prepare to shower and retire for the night. But soon it started to rain quite heavily and then the power went off!!!! The generator was restarted after a while but it lasted not too long before there was another blackout again! Actually it was quite scary cos we were the only ones staying in this block and the whole place was pitch black and silent except for the calls of insects!

dark
“Alamak! Who switched off the lights! #$%&*”

Luckily we haven’t started to shower! Imagine halfway shampooing your hair and the lights went off! And luckily we didn’t try to save a few dollars and stay in the dormitory without attached bathroom…I would definitely freaked out alone in the dark with foams all over!!!!

Tisu Boy got impatient after waiting so long for the guy to restart the generator and went ahead to shower with his torchlight. Good thing for me that the lights came back after he finished bathing. But it was cold to shower without hot water….so took a real quick one! We also decided to turn off the air-con in case the generator got overloaded again…

The next morning we got up early cos there was free transport to send us to the nearby Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

canteen
Tisu Boy helping himself to the breakfast “buffet”….

brekky
Simple brekky….

wok
Cute idea using the woks as washing basins...

While eating and waiting for the transport, we were more than happy to have the company of the resident kitties….

kitten2
Kitten!

father
“I am your Father….”

kittens3
Mummy feeding kittens!!! How cute! But mummy looked so skinny….I dun suppose they were fed proper cat food?

eating
Sigh…eating leftover rice….

kittens
So cute!

Only now then we could take a proper look at where we stayed…

B&B
Our chalet

rooms
The common corridor to the different kinds of rooms and the shared toilets

There were many fruit trees around….

mangosteen
Unripe mangosteen tree just next to the wash basin area

rambutan
Unripe rambutans near our room….

durians
Plenty of durian trees outside our room! 

ginger
Crepe Ginger

munia
Black-headed Munia

We were wondering why was the tour operator called “Uncle Tan”. Who is this Uncle Tan and where is the Uncle? There was only this younger guy named Leo at the Base, with some ladies at the kitchen. Only after chatting with him that we realised that Uncle Tan was the founder of the tour company but unfortunately he had passed away in 2002. The business is now passed down to his son based in Australia. He returns regularly every few months to oversee the business, but the daily operation is mostly run by his team of experienced and loyal staff.

uncle-tan
There were many photos of the wildlife that were spotted by previous tours led by Uncle Tan’s staff. Hopefully we would be lucky enough to spot some interesting animals or birds…

bus
Shuttle bus service to town

bear
Wonder if we have time to visit this?

rates
We booked for the 3D2N package. This price was for 2014….oops…very late blog post again….Now, it is RM498.20, inclusive of 6% GST and RM10 conservation levy

Seriously, we didn’t really research a lot about what to expect, except that it was recommended by Lonely Planet…But sometimes, it is better not to know too much lest the expectation would be higher and when things don’t turn out as expected, the disappointment would be bigger too…hahah…

But we certainly heard a lot and watched tv shows about this Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre! Really excited to finally be able to visit!  Look out for the next post on our experience! :p

Also see related posts:
>
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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Wild Sabah – Sabah Trip#7

January 9, 2016 at 12:39 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Every night and early morning, just outside our resort room, we could find numerous interesting and pretty moths…

moth2
A pity we do not know much about moth species…

moth3
Some were so small that you could only appreciate their beauties under a magnifying glass or with the help of a macro lens…. 

moth
This one was so well camouflaged!

After an eventful day at Poring Hot Spring, we came to the last day of our stay at Mount Kinabalu Park. Decided to take it easy and explore around our resort…

ranger-office
New batch of climbers waiting to register at the office…. 

No more sighting of the languars but we saw this instead…

bornean-whistling-thrush
A male Bornean Whistling Thrush at the car park

bornean-whistling-thrush-juvenile
Saw the juvenile thrush too! He was chirping loudly at his parents for food…

bornean-whistling-thrush-female
The female was nearby too….

Yellow-Breasted-Warbler
A Yellow Breasted Warbler….fast bird to shoot…

Went back to the Park HQ to explore the trails….

Silau-silau-trail
Silau Silau Trail…

caterpillar
Saw this big-headed caterpillar back in Singapore too!

fungi
Mini fungi on a tree trunk. They looked like tiny dwellings for forest fairies…hahah

fern
Beautiful fern

Kinabalu Park is definitely rich in its flora and fauna….

kitty
But maybe you can also find some not-so-wild lives here….

route
Besides being popular among the leisure hikers, there is also the annual race to see who is the fastest to reach the summit!

result
My goodness! Are these people human? So fast!

We had to leave the park after lunch to catch a domestic flight to Sandakan. On our way down, we tried to locate the Rafflesia Conservatory to see if any flowers were in bloom. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it even the help of the GPS and the map on the printed paper we saw at the eatery few days back! So in the end, we didn’t manage to see the Rafflesia, as well as Nepenthes Rajah! What a pity!

mountain2
On our plane, we could see the Mount Kinabalu range….

mountain
Wonder where is the highest point….

plane
Less than an hour’s flight later, Itchyfingers landed at Sandakan, ready for the next leg of our adventure in wild Sabah!

Also see related posts:
> 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

A Close Shave – Sabah Trip#5

December 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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After walking the Canopy Walk, Itchyfingers decided to explore the other trails at Poring Nature Reserves. For those keen to explore, you can trek through the lowland forest to the two waterfalls.

sign
Kipungit Waterfall is the nearer and smaller one and can be reached in about 20 minutes, while the bigger Langganan Waterfall takes more than an hour’s hike to get to

snail2
Spotted this big snail near the sign. Gotta move it to one side in case the slow coach got crashed by trekkers… :p

waterfall
Itchyfingers decided to check out Kipungit Waterfall first. Some people have seen the Rafflesia around the area. We hoped to see some interesting birds too!

leaf-top
Huge leaf 

leaf-bottom
The bottom

trees
Not sure it was from any of these trees….hahah

fig
Big fig tree with lotsa fruits…but no birds!

The way to the waterfall was quite flat and soon we could see the waterfall….Quite a disappointing small one and there were already a lot of people playing with water and taking photos. Too crowded! There was a sign at the opposite bank pointing to the Bat Cave as well as the other bigger waterfall, the Langanan Waterfall. (For those interested to see more photos of the waterfall, you can check out here.)

cross
To get there, we had to first cross over….Tisu Boy just hopped, hopped, hopped over….Easy! 

The water was very shallow and looked easy to cross. I tried stepping on some rock but it was quite slippery leh! Can still get your feet wet if you stepped on the wrong rock or slipped cos most of them were wet. Tisu Boy was shocked to see me still freezing at the same spot….So he came back midway, and tried to guide me on which rocks to step on….But this clumsy person simply has got some hand leg coordination problems….Instead of using the straight-forward easy way, she actually preferred to choose the tougher way!

crossing
“But I think this way is easier leh!”. The “easier way” required her to take a longer way and legs to be stretched out far to reach the big dry rock….she was just pleased that her feet were not wet at all… 😮

The locals sitting around must have had a good laugh….Which planet did she come from?! 😀

To the Langanan Waterfall would be a 90 minutes 3km trek. It was getting hot since it was close to noon, and my thighs were feeling a bit soar and ache from yesterday’s climb. So we decided to just check out the Bat Cave for fun, since it was nearer.

path
The route to the bat cave and waterfall was zig-zag up a hill…

The trail was not so tough actually, considered quite flat and the zig-zag inclined slope was not too steep either. But I was getting a bit tired so walked slowly behind Tisu Boy. Maybe it was the heat that caused exhaustion, plus the exertion on the already aching muscles. Anyway I was looking at the ground most of the time while walking, checking for leeches…The next moment when I raised my head up, suddenly the back of my head hit on some branch above me, and the next thing I knew was that I was tumbling down the edge of the hill!!!!

Everything happened so fast and sudden! I was not sure if I fell straight or rolled down but I remembered seeing a tree from the corner of my eye and immediately grabbed hold of it! By now Tisu Boy had heard my scream and ran back to check.

I think this was roughly what happened…those who can read Chinese or Singlish, you will probably appreciate this comic more…hahah

comic
1. Tisu Girl was looking for gold bars on the forest floor.
2. She was wearing her fisherman hat so she could not see the evil branch hanging low across the path when she suddenly raised her head up. It hit her hard on the back of the head. She saw stars and lost balance, slipped and fell down the hill…
3. Not too sure how she fell…did she fall backwards and somersault or did she just roll down? Cos her vision was blurred like Blairwitch Project…
4. Amazingly, she saw a thin tree and for once, her reflexes were fast enough to grab the skinny trunk tight. Funnily, all this while, she was still holding the bottled mineral water!

After Tisu Boy heard me shouting, he said he looked back and saw me gone…It happened too sudden that he could not recall whether he witnessed me fell or not….This was what he saw after he threw everything down and ran over….

fall
Being a right-hander, I thought I would be holding the bottle on my left hand, cos I always needed my dominant hand for extra support while trekking. So I was surprised when he insisted I was grabbing the life-saving tree with my left…I dun think it would be strong enough really…

Tisu Boy shouted to ask if I was okay. My head hurt and there was a sharp pain on the left shin too…It could have knocked onto some rocks when I did my somersault stunt…The first thing came to my mind was that I didn’t get travel insurance!!!! Luckily, besides my life-saving tree, my legs were able to find some footing on the slope, otherwise it would be scary to be hanging in the air! I looked down and could see those people at the foot of the waterfall…They were looking up at me and wondering what happened to this clown…I think they might be wondering if I was fooling around cos no one shouted at us to check if I was ok and if we needed help…

Then Tisu Boy started to slowly climb down to me. I think he was scared stiff too, cos he kept asking if I was ok, if there was anywhere bleeding or fracture… I think I slipped down about 5 meters – I was hanging between the third and second tier of the zig-zap path. If I did not grab on to the tree, I might plunge all the way down about 30meters to the bottom where it was full of rocks. I could have either suffer a serious fracture and break my arms or legs, or worse, die from the fall if I hit my head on the big rocks below….By now I had calm down a bit, knowing that I was safe, and I felt my injury was not that serious. We had the option of either descend down to the second tier of the path or climb up back to the third. Tisu Boy assessed the situation and thought going down would be easier. But my left shin hurt badly when I tried to bend it, and being so clumsy, I wasn’t confident of going downward. Gotta throw down my bottle and tried to climb upwards slowly…all this while, nobody came up to help us….

After much struggle, finally we made it back to the third tier….

Now that we were back on flat ground, I could even laugh at myself for being clumsy…

spectator
I even waved at the ‘spectators’ below to let them know I was ok…as if they cared?

Being Itchyfingers, I had to record what happened….hahah….so despite still feeling pain all over, I asked Tisu Boy to start taking photos….

traumatised
…of a still traumatized Tisu Girl! Bruises on arms, dirt all over!

back
Checked the head….no bleeding….

that-trunk
So we were at the 500meter mark from where we started climbing. Then I started to describe what happened…Tisu Boy was supposed to take photo of that evil branch, which I pointed but obviously he didn’t aim properly….

that-tree
I pointed to my saviour tree below and again Tisu Boy wasn’t in the mood and so didn’t aim properly!!! Arrrgh!!!

Wanted to turn back but Tisu Boy said better check the shin first…

tennis-ball
So I removed the leech sock and rolled up my pants to check on my left shin….Oh my goodness! Looked like it had grown a tennis ball!!! I have never seen such a big swollen shin!!!! And there was an abrasion on it too! 

I wanted to take a photo but looking at the tennis ball bulge, Tisu Boy wasn’t so amused and said better go down immediately to get some medical help. So with the tripod leg as aid, we started walking down slowly. On the way down, we bumped into some people walking up. Not sure if they were the same people down there who didn’t bother to lend a helping hand… 😦 Oh, we did pick up my discarded bottle….Leave no litter!

beetle
Saw this crashed beetle on the way to the park office….Still in the mood to take photo! Wow…it could be me that looked like that if not for my saviour tree…!

When we finally reached the office, we were really surprised to see the swell had miraculously subsided to a little bum! Should have taken a photo of it!

wound
Leg back to normal size, except for the abrasions and cuts…I have always complain that my legs are thick, a bit disproportionate to my upper slimmer body. But come to think about it, if it were any thinner, the damage might have been worse….!

Food is one of the best ways to calm down the nerves. But at Poring Hot Spring, we could only find this restaurant….

lunch
Food wasn’t too impressive…but definitely not so cheap

lunch2
Luckily I had this shirt tied on my waist to change into….

Back to the resort, was really shocked to see a lot of big bruises all over, including the lower back, the arm, hip, leg and feet….

bruise
Huge patch on the hip, extending lower down (the lighter area). If I were to rub it, I think it would be even bigger….

bruise2
Took more than a month for all the bruises to disappear without any rubbing. The abrasion took maybe two months to heal and the swollen part took even longer to subside…11 days later after we came back from Sabah, I went for the Jurong Lake Run with my bruises and swollen leg. Had never felt so blissful to be able to run!

Until this day I still bear the scar of the fall on my leg…But just have to count myself very lucky! Maybe I should go back again and look at my saviour tree!

Also see related posts:
> 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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