Thursday, May 14, 2009

Early Morning Cruise On Kinabatangan and Beyond

Morning rolled around way too early - at 5:30 AM the guard came knocking on the door - rise and shine - morning cruise starts at 6 AM - so on came the clothes - a quick sip of coffee - then the guide asks if I have leech socks??? I thought we were going on an early morning river cruise? Yes, with a jungle trekking from Oxbow Lake he informs me! Well, the leech socks I had happily thrown out when I left Danum Valley, sure that jungle trekking was behind me! Oh well, I put on a long pair of socks over my pants, and at least this Lodge provided rubber boots - which turned out to be a VERY good thing, since the mud I found myself in went up quite a bit higher than in Danum Valley thanks to the heavy rains we had received the night before!
We started out on the river as the sun came up - pale through the morning fog - a magical time of day to be on the famed Kinabatangan! A few kingfishers stole away without me being able to capture them other than in my minds eye - two Storm's Storks sat on the top of a dead tree - what a beautiful sight to see the rare birds sitting there so complacently letting us take numerous photos without flying off! We spotted four Oriental Darters decorating another dead tree like graceful sculptures against the morning sky.
We entered a small waterway through the thick jungle vegetation almost covered in the Water Hyacints that do look decorative, but is quite a pest invading waters and closing waterways. Soon we reach Oxbow lake, and see a Rhinoceros Hornbill sitting silhouetted against the pale sky, and two raptures turn their heads looking down at us as if saying: "What the heck are you guys doing here?" A similar thought came to me as we were slugging through the mud trying to keep an eye out for leeches as we literally waded through slippery mud, trying not to loose out rubber boots or slip on the treacherous tree roots! I do know that people pay good money for mud baths and blood letting is a very common practice in many cultures, but nevertheless, not something I had on my agenda for the morning! - You might get the idea that jungle trekking is not my favorite sport, and you would be completely correct! Personally I think it is an overrated activity - it leaves absolutely no time for spotting birds,monkeys, snakes or other critters, you are so busy just staying upright trying to keep your balance without grabbing any poisonous or prickly branches or trees! But all trials come to an end, and after about 45 minutes I was happy to see the jungle giving way for the Oxbow lake and our awaiting skiff! Dripping wet from sweat, but with boots still on, and no bloodsucking critters aboard we all happily climbed aboard and sailed back towards the Lodge!

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