|Borneo at Baku National Park as the sun sets.|
Accommodation: Bako National Park on the island of Borneo, is in Sarawak, a state in East Malaysia. There were three types of accommodation available, had I been on my usual carefree, a dorm (RM15.90 per bed) would have sufficed. Alas, I took the slightly more expensive 'Lodge' option for RM53. As of July 2012: Adult single-entry to the park: RM20 Child/Senior single-entry: RM7. All of this can be arranged at the tourist office in Kuching.
Places to see: Well, it's the Borneo rain forest and jungle so rather self-explanatory. Not being the most athletic of people, I chose one of the lesser labour intensive treks. There are various options thankfully, depending on your level of fitness. I took the 45 minute Bukit Gondol trail which leads you to the highest point of the park. And not ending my hiking journey just there, I also took the 2 1/2 hour Tajor trek to see some beautiful waterfalls.
Nothing beats a night trek, or just a swim in the beach under the twilight moon though. Food and drink is pretty expensive there, so bring some supplies. And for god's sake, take adequate footwear and water for the hikes!
Getting to and from Bako National Park: From Kuching, take a taxi or Petra Jaya Bus No. 6 (RM1.50) to Kampung Bako (Bako Village). The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Boats can be chartered (RM40 each way) at the National Parks Boat Ticketing Counter next to the jetty for the 30-minute boat ride to the Park HQ whilst registering your arrival at the Park Arrival Booth. The last bus back to Kuching leaves Kampung Bako at 5pm.
Transport: Apart from the boats to and from the park, unfortunately the only transport is your own two feet and well-built calve muscles.
Well, my memory is getting a little rusty these days, but it all started in a Petra bus heading towards the National Park headquarters. On the hour, every hour, and thankfully we were in time for the morning bus. After a casual 45 minutes, we arrived at the said destination, paid for our boat, twiddled our thumbs and hopped onto a motorised boat.
And it wasn't just lush, green hilltops and canopies looming above, it was golden shores, rain forest trees and a wild 'bearded boar' enticing us to the island of tropical breezes. This porky scared the living daylights out of me in the night however.
As per usual, being a 'carefree' backpacker meant I had carelessly forgot to bring adequate footwear. So what should have been a relatively difficult hike, became a precarious one.
Past the handy man-made bridges came a network of tree roots and vines, webbed all across the side of a hill. Climbing in flip flops results in a lot of blisters, blood spots and bruised egos. So the prospect of five hours of this was a seriously worrying thought. After the first hurdle came straight but muddy plains and eventually more vines, so many a pause was taken during this trip.
At the end of long tunnel came a beautiful waterfall, which was perfect after drinking and sweating profusely, so drowning my puffy, red self in the blue waters was heaven. It was the walk back in the sunset that captured Borneo in all its glory. The sun beamed over the island, as if it was proud of its creation.
After a quick wash, nap and snack, a walk on the beach seemed like the apt thing to do. Miniature crabs moved sideways along the sand, leaving behind tiny holes. Some time passed, and everything on the horizon disappeared, leaving only a moonlight shimmer across the water. I was ready for a midnight splash, but definitely no more hikes. Especially since that creepy pig made another appearance that night, with his low grunts and beady eyes.
The next morning, I climbed to the highest point of the park. The vista was pretty spectacular, and thankfully there was a light spray making the walk a little more easier to manage.