Atdahl

Borneo - From the Highlands to the Lowlands, it's a Wet Land

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I didn't want to leave either :(

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Posted (edited)

I'm up to your rainy two nights in Deramakot - but leopard cats, marbled cats - you are so darn fortunate!

 

beautiful black and yellow broadbill - amazing colours. it looked as if God tripped and splashed blue paint on its beak.

Edited by Kitsafari

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@@kittykat23uk, that's why we are going back next year. I am thinking of 5 nights in Deramakot and it STILL might not be enough... :)

 

@@Kitsafari, Leopard cats are pretty much guaranteed at Deramakot. It will get to the point where you might not even stop for them unless they are closer or posing better. That's a nice problem to have isn't it. The Marbled Cat encounter was very lucky. Not just because we saw one close up but because it climbed down the tree for us too. I love that Black and Yellow Broadbill too.

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Unfortunately, the rain followed us to Sepilok as you will see. But, I am very happy with everything we saw and the pictures we came back with despite all the rain.

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-10-sepilok.html

 

 

After Sepilok, we headed to the Kinabatangan River and stopped off at the Gomantong Caves on the way. Here is that report (yes, it rained this day as well):

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-11-gomantong-caves-and-kjc.html

 

Alan

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Uh oh @@Atdahl. I just read your comments on "wet bathrooms" at the end of the Sepilok post. Disgusting!

 

As a result, I have been forced to cross Borneo off my list.

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@@offshorebirder, my understanding is that "wet bathrooms" are pretty common in Asia. We did encounter a few that weren't very wet but if they had just been cleaned they were wet with water (not something else :o ). I certainly wouldn't let that discourage you from going to Borneo. It's a great country. Next time we go we will be prepared for that and take flip flops or something like that.

 

Alan

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@@Atdahl

 

Another great post. You had to be especially proud of those portraits of the Red and Black Broadbill and the M/F pair of Brown-throated Sunbirds. Fantastic.

 

Re: the "wet" bathrooms. That's not deterring me, but I'd have to ruminate on a possible workaround to bare feet on wet tile in a public place. Flip flops, definitely, where possible, or at least a cheap hand towel to scuffle around on (or at least to dry off with)? Thanks for the heads-up on that one, though. (I need to be taking notes!)

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Oh, wow! I just finished the segment on your first day at Kinabatangan. Let's hear it for the elephants. What a great experience. I knew you couldn't count on seeing them there, but the first time in 4 months? That's quite a drought (pun intended). You were very fortunate, indeed.

 

And in Hornbill Heaven, as well. The Rhinosceros Hornbill in flight is one for a mat and frame. Love the Proboscis Monkeys (top of my want list) and that little Pygmy Squirrel, as well. With so many rain intermissions, it still looks like you came home with a healthy crop of memorable photos.

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It is amazing the number of colourful birds you have taken photos of, and I have no recollection of them anymore (but our visit was 17 years ago). If only for the birds, it is worth to return. Looking forward to read about Kinabatanga; already in 2000 it was only a narrow stripe of trees along the river banks :( ... yet with some spectacular sights.

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that beeeater was awesome! and the orange bellied flowerpecker was so pretty. despite the rains, you did have a bit of great sightings.

 

I also wanted to clear up this "wet" bathroom stuff. Sabah is part of Malaysia, which has a predominantly Muslim population. contrary to what may be perceived, the Muslims believe in utmost hygiene and believe that toilet paper is not sufficient to cleanse themselves after doing whatever they need to do. so there is always a bucket of water or a hose to cleanse themselves. They also typically do not use the hand that they use to eat their food.

 

this applies mainly to Muslims. the other races have adopted the western ways. I guess their rituals don't conform to the general idea of cleanliness but I do agree it leaves a pretty wet area that is hard to tiptoe around. I simply accept it as part of learning and being in other countries, and I'd bring my own toilet paper. For those who can't accept such practices, it's best to stay away.

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@Alexander33 - Thank you.  Yes, we got REALLY lucky to not only see the elephants but have them in perfect end of day light...with no rain!  I have to agree that despite the rain we did come back with lots of memorable photos.  The Proboscis Monkeys are incredible.  I enjoyed watching them a whole lot more than I thought I would.

@xelas - Thanks as well.  Unfortunately, the river still has only a narrow strip of forested land around it.  You can really see the impact of the palm oil plantations looking at Google maps satellite view.  There is a side benefit of this for us tourists though...the wildlife is concentrated along the shores making it easier to see.  By far, the river presented the best, longest and most photogenic wildlife encounters of our trip.

@Kitsafari - Thanks for adding more about the wet bathrooms.  It is just different and something that western travelers should be aware of.  All the places we went to, including roadside restaurants, had both western and squat toilets.  The tip to carry toilet paper with you is a great one though.  The wet bathrooms were just one more thing that added to the experience for us.

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Here are the next two days of reports from the Kinabatangan River and our first night at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.  Spoiler Alert..we had some incredible primate encounters. :D

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-12-kjc.html

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-13-kjc-and-brl.html

 

Alan

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@Atdahl

It sounds like you really were saved by the rain that last afternoon on the Kinabatangan. Seeing an orangutan at all is special, but to come across one fully in the wild is indeed memorable. One has to wonder, at the rate that things are going, how much longer that will actually be a possibility. 

 

The proboscis monkey shots are great, especially that impressive male there at the end. Their emotions really come through in your photos. However, like you, I'd have to take a pass on the R-rated proboscis monkey plush toy. (What?!?). Have to admit I laughed out loud on that one. Glad you found a less anatomically-precise example later on in the trip. 

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@Alexander - Thank you.  Yes, the R-rated plush toys in the BRL gift shop were pretty funny.  If I still worked in an office, it would have been the perfect thing to display next to my desk...;).  Seeing the wild Orangutan was special.  We got pretty wet watching it but wouldn't trade a second of that experience.  Our guide seemed pretty optimistic about the future for the Bornean rainforest so let's hope he is right and people will be able to see wild Orangutans there for years to come.  The sanctuary at Sepilok is certainly doing their best to ensure the preservation of this magnificent ape. 

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Well, the trip is winding down at this point as BRL was our last destination.  We knew that it was the most luxurious stop so we made a good decision to save it for last.

 

Day 14 was filled with great bird encounters and ended with one of the best mammal encounters of the trip:

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-14-brl.html

 

Day 15 was our last full day at BRL and was a GREAT day for primates:

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-15-brl.html

 

Alan

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More beauties from Borneo rainforest! 

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Great trip report. You really got lucky with those elephants! :)

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@Atdahl Just binge watched your report....I love your writing and it's a good thing I was done eating when I got to the pictures of the probicus monkeys and the "alert" ladies.....I'd had a few snorts and giggles before that, but that one made me burst out laughing!!! Having been to Borneo for a quick jaunt, including BRL, this is bringing back some great memories. Jealous of your elephant sightings...never did see them...just their dung :(  You were much luckier with the primate viewing than I was though I did have a couple of really good sightings of orangutans and the canopy walkway was fully intact (sorry you missed that- it is a very cool experience). Can hardly wait for the finale!!!!  :)

 

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@Atdahl

 

I like the red langurs -- maybe their alien looks just appeal to me. 

 

Borneo Rainforest Lodge appears to be a must-stay for me.  I always read that it and the Danum Valley in general are not to be missed, although in a couple of reports I've read, I almost perceived a level of disappointment -- or maybe just a bit of a let-down -- regarding the wildlife viewing from those who were reporting back.  I'll be interested to hear your thoughts, as you certainly had the highest praise for Deramakot (which was not previously on my radar -- but is now).  I thought I remembered reading somewhere that you have to be with a guide on the trails at BRL, but it appears you were allowed to explore by yourselves -- or was that just because you stuck to the road?

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@xelas - Thanks!

 

@kittykat23uk - Yes, the elephants were a super lucky encounter.  The river certainly came through for us although I think I still want to go back for more looks at primates AND of course night cruises to look for Tarsier and Flat-headed Cat.  Your Tarsier sighting there pretty much sealed a return visit for us.  We want to maximize our opportunities to find one.

 

@lmonmm - Thanks very much.  I am glad someone else gets my humor.  It tends to spew forth more "humor" depending on my "beverage" of choice while I write.  It sounds like you need to go back to Borneo to find those elephants and get some better primate encounters.  While I do agree we were lucky at certain times, we were also very unlucky with the weather.  So, next time I hope for better weather and the same wildlife good luck :D.

 

@Alexander33 - Yes, BRL is a must stay in my book for anyone going to Sabah.  I give lots of info in my TripAdvisor review and the Subject pretty much sums up my feelings:

 

"Jungle Luxury that is Almost Perfect"

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g6439972-d480639-r483514701-Borneo_Rainforest_Lodge-Danum_Valley_Conservation_Area_Sabah.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

 

You are right on the money about having to hike with a guide.  Our guide let us walk the road, the Canopy Walkway (accessed from the road), and the Nature Loop boardwalk close to the lodge by ourselves.  So, I think the rules are that you have to have a guide to hike the trails but not these other areas.  Everyone is assigned a guide when they arrive.  Since we hired a private guide for the 4 of us (which was quite reasonably priced) I don't know how many people they group together but I don't remember ever seeing more than 6 people with a guide so that might be the max.  There are numerous benefits to having a private guide as you can imagine.

 

As my TripAdvisor review states, the other thing that bothered me was the fact that they wouldn't allow flash photography.  This is problem in the dark rain forest as you can imagine so I had to crank my ISO up more than I would like.  Our guide did have a bright spotlight for the night shots but I was unable to use fill flash during the day.  Night a deal breaker, just a disappointment.

 

For our return trip that I we are hoping to take next year, we will go back to BRL for sure.  We will probably do it last again to save the most luxury for the end of the trip.

 

We will be looking for a couple folks to join us...hint...hint..SafariTalk users!  :D

 

Alan

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23 minutes ago, Atdahl said:

For our return trip that I we are hoping to take next year, we will go back to BRL for sure.  We will probably do it last again to save the most luxury for the end of the trip.

 

We will be looking for a couple folks to join us...hint...hint..SafariTalk users!  :D

 

Alan

 

@Atdahl Have you started a trip planning thread for this one? @kittykat23uk is cleverly using her signature to link to a trip she is planning, might be an idea.

 

Matt

 

 

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Not yet @Game Warden.  But, I will do that once I have more details to share.  @kittykat23uk signature link idea is a great one!

 

Alan

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The time has come to end this report.  We did have a morning at BRL before transferring out and flying back to KK.  This post also includes a summary count of everything we saw plus some video highlights. 

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-last-days-brl-kk-and-home.html

 

Alan

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Awesome report as always Alan - thanks so much for sharing. Especially loved all the incredibly colourful birds, and your encounters with Marbled Cat, Elepants and a "properly wild" Orang-Utan were just awesome. Really enjoyed the Proboscis and Red Langurs - I do like their "alien" appearance. Great job photo-wise under clearly very difficult conditions. 

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What a great report!  I will miss the installments. 

 

The lead-off from your final day's journey really resonated: "We got up early yet again, although 'early' really had lost its meaning on this trip since 'early' really meant 'normal' now."

 

So true. I've never been able to replicate that particular "normal" once I return home, although I always vow to do so because of how much healthier it is for me.  But within  2 days of my return from a trip, I'm back to my old urban bad habits. 

 

You talked about rain a lot, but the video really brings it to life. In spite of the inclement weather, you really saw some amazing things. The elephants in particular were an unforgettable highlight. 

 

Thanks again for for yet another fine report. 

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