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When hiking in the jungle, eat breakfast.

Summer Vacation 2008 - Danum Valley Conservation Area Day 2

sunny 32 °C

Word to the wise: if you are hiking in the jungle, eat breakfast before you go. Even if you don't need to eat breakfast at home, REMEMBER you need to eat it in the rainforest. Or you may not come back from the hike. I was kind of worried that my hiking partner (not Court) wasn't going to make it back today. But, that happened on our second hike of the day. He didn't come on the first hike. So, his first hike.

Someone came to knock on our door at 05:45. We had to meet Leo, our guide, at 06:00 for the canopy walk. All I can say is that 05:45 still comes really really early in the rainforest. We got ourselves sorted out and made it down to the lodge only about 10 minutes late. We waited until 06:15 for the other guy in our group, which was when we got word that he wasn't joining us. Court didn't look too impressed with the early start.

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We set off for the canopy walk. It's a 240 m suspension bridge walkway that they've created near the tops of the trees. From the walkway it is a whole lot easier to see birds and other wildlife. You're not standing there craning your neck up for an hour or so.

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Because of the rain last night there was a mist throughout the air, the sun hadn't had a chance to burn it off yet. This mist reduced the visibility dramatically and not many animals were up and moving around. However, Court did manage to spot a big, orange hairy thing moving in the tops of the trees. She picked out another orangutan just waking up and starting to hunt for food. Even luckier, it was a mother orangutan and there was a juvenile with her. Some of the pictures turned out but others didn't. Oh well.

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We also noticed a lot of other little wildlife along the way. We found this gorgeous looking spiderweb and a host of termites trudging food up the tree. There were two columns of soldier termites facing outwards and all the worker termites were moving up and down the tree between them. It was quite impressive.

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Then we reached the end of the canopy walkway and came back for breakfast. We were both tired and hungry! For sheer volume of animals the walk was disappointing, but the quality was great!

After breakfast we had a little time and quickly ran back to our cabin. As we were sitting outside, Court promptly fell asleep sitting upright in her chair. This pretty much determined that she would not be going on the morning hike to the viewpoint. Which was probably a good decision.

We met again at the main lodge at 09:00 to go on our hike. It was planned to be a 3 hour hike with a stop at the jacuzzi pool for a swim. But this did not work out. We were going to hike up to an ancient burial ground and the viewpoint, the highest point in Danum Valley. There's an excellent view over the whole area. It was a pretty difficult trek. To give you an idea the trail is only 1.2 km long, but the change in elevation is about 225 m. Up. Which means it is about a 25% slope.

We set off for our hike. This time it was me, Leo and one other guy. Court was asleep. I was worried about the other guy before we even started; he struggled with the little walk yesterday. Then at the lodge Leo asked if he ate breakfast. The other guy said he hadn't but filled his belly with water and tea. I thought, “Oh crap. This isn't good”. But we set off anyways.

Leo and I kept up a pretty good pace for a while. We stop every so often and I'd ask some questions about any random thing that I could see: insects, plants, animals, anything. I was interested in it, but I also hoped it would give the other guy a breather. Oh, I also forgot: he had only one 500 mL bottle of water with him. I think I had 2.5 L or something ridiculous. I am a Cameron. I sweat a WHOLE lot normally and in the rainforest it's worse.

We saw some more pill millipedes, tractor millipedes mating, some giant forest ants and lots of other neat little insects. We didn't see many other animals though.

We eventually made it to the junction for the burial ground and the viewpoint.

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I wasn't sure if the other guy in our group was going to make it, but he did. He passed on the hike down to the burial ground and sat while we went. This was a burial ground for the Suppa people of Sabah. Instead of burying the body in the ground, they would climb up and place the coffins in a small cave or alcove on the mountain face.

There was a ladder built to climb and see the grave sites. On one site there are still bones that you can easily see, including their teeth. Scientists have carbon dated the bones at over 250 years old. There was also some old pottery to see.

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We climbed back down the ladder and went over to see the ancient coffin. It was made of a very very very hard wood. They would have to soak the wood for months before it became soft enough to carve. Leo said that this coffin would be reserved for someone extremely important probably a tribal chief. You could also see the blowpipe that he was buried with. I assume this was meant to protect him in the afterlife.

We went back and picked up the other member of our group and started the climb to the viewpoint. This was the hardest part, but the other guy in our group was determined to get there. I wasn't sure if he'd make it. Actually, I thought he'd make it. But, I wasn't sure if he was going to make it back down the mountain.

The view was excellent. We couldn't see any animals or anything. But, the view was still great. Oh, I forgot. The other guy in our group was here in January and did the hike then. Wow!

This is the main lodge and some of the chalets.

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We rested up there for a while longer. Leo asked if we wanted to go on to the fairy falls. It was only 20 minutes further along the trail. Except it was 20 minutes downhill at about a 25 degree slope. Which is fine going there. But it also means it 20 minutes back up the hill at a 25 degree slope. I think the other guy in our group thought briefly about it, but I said No, I didn't want to go.

We started back down the hill. We got back to the junction and about 5 minutes later we stopped and the other guy in our group almost passed out. He managed to steady himself on a tree, but he was in rough shape. Leo quickly sat him down, took off his shoes and asked him if he had more water. He was out. I however, still had about 1.5 L left. I gave Leo some of my water and an empty bottle. He mixed this with a rehydrating pack and made the other guy drink it. Then we waited for another 20 minutes or so.

Eventually we got up and moving again. We went pretty pretty slow. We passed the jacuzzi pool, where you can go swimming if you want. Again the other guy in our group was tempted to go, but I said I didn't want to. I was actually getting quite hungry by this point. And we made it back down to the main lodge. Phewf. I'm glad we didn't have to carry him down the mountain.

We arrived back later than expected and I stopped at our lodge to get Courtney to go eat. This involved more than I thought. First I had to wake her up. She was still asleep. When she got her act together it was lunch time. Another excellent meal.

While I was hiking Court did some exploring and picture taking. Here are some shots of our room. Remember it was built for the Sultan of Brunei.

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She also found some fire ants. Leo said fire ants are very aggressive and it hurts when they bite you. I don't think Court got bit by one though.

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We all met up again at 15:30 to do some more hiking. After the morning excursion the other guy in our group opted out of the afternoon activity. This was probably for the best. We went for a hike on the Danum Trail to the river.

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We didn't see a whole lot of animals. That was fine. It was still a great hike through the rainforest. We did see/were found by many leeches. We got them before really dug in. We found them mostly on our pants and shirts. Most of the were on Court.

We got back with a little time to spare before dinner. After dinner we connected with Leo and the other guy in our group to do a night walk. Basically we walked around the lodge area, in and around the cabins, and, using flashlights, tried to spot stuff. I felt like we were prowlers, sneaking around someone's backyard with a flashlight. It was a lot of fun.

We found a wild boar almost right away. It was just waiting behind the restaurant. I think they feed it leftovers; apparently it's there almost every day.

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We also some same sambar deer, greater mouse deer, and lesser mouse deer. I found this cricket. It was EXTREMELY loud. It was quite amazing.

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Then we went to the pond near the lodge to look for frogs. Court was on fire spotting the frogs. We ended up seeing four different species of frogs:

  • file eared
  • img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/IMG_0051__Large_.jpg thumb=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/thumb_IMG_0051__Large_.jpg
  • cinnamon
  • img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/IMG_6021__Large_.jpg thumb=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/thumb_IMG_6021__Large_.jpg
  • harlequin
  • img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/IMG_6022__Large_.jpg thumb=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/thumb_IMG_6022__Large_.jpg
  • white-lipped
  • img=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/IMG_6026__Large_.jpg thumb=https://photos.travellerspoint.com/59032/thumb_IMG_6026__Large_.jpg
  • and one toad.

The picture of the toad didn't turn out.

Leo, our guide, was really excited about this. It was kind of fun trying to spot the frogs.

Then it was back to our lodge. Court found this airplane moth sitting on the ground by the restaurant.
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I had just enough energy to take my first shower of the day. Then as soon as I laid down I was out cold. We had to rest up for another day of exploring.

Posted by agc_cwm 07:26 Archived in Malaysia

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Comments

I did one of those tree tops walks down here near Melbourne a while ago, and it was pretty cool. A bit freaky when it started raining and blowing real hard, but it's still really beautiful when you're up high like that.

Eric

by dr.pepper

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