February 5 – Up at 6:00 AM to be ready for breakfast at 7:00 and then depart by boat to local jetty to get a jeep for over-land journey. Boat ride was just 10 minutes down river. Got in a 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser full of mud — good indication of what was to come. The road started out like a dirt road back home (dry and dusty), but not for long. Lots of mud and very narrow. Had to go to 4WD a few times not bad; reminded me of racing off road back in California. Our driver was in a hurry (I liked it — faster is better on rough roads). Spent about 1.5 hours driving to a cave. Arrived at the cave and had to pay 30 Ringgits for the use of my camera (about 8 bucks US). No choice, I had to take pics. That’s why I’m here. The cave was huge, with an opening at least 200 feet high. About 1-2 million bats live in the cave, and lots of birds. The birds’ nests are harvested 3 times a year and are edible — worth big money. They harvest the nest from the ceiling (200-400 ft off the ground) and have been doing so since about the 1600s — that they know of. The cave was also home to centipedes, cockroaches, crabs, and smells quite nice inside. The roof has an opening and made for some good pics. On the way out to the cave we saw many monkeys and I needed to change lenses a couple times. Anyway the cave was well worth going to. On the way back to the Land Cruiser a monkey blocked our way for about 10 minutes. He just sat on the trail and watched us. They can be very aggressive so we waited and I took some more pics. Back in the car and down the road to a paved road (made Dad happy as it’s a lot easier to sleep on paved roads). Two more hours and we got to Lahad Datu for lunch, changed cars, and left our tour guide from the last 3.5 days. His name was Saat and a real good guide (took good care of Dad and made sure all was good). New car was a newer Toyota Land Cruiser. We left town on a nice highway for a 2.5 hour drive to Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The nice hwy only lasted for 10 minutes and then back on bumpy dirt with lots of mud — only this time we had logging truck to look out for. Saw a pygmy elephant on the way. After what seemed like forever we arrived at our lodge. Nice place in the middle of nowhere. Got our room and took it easy until dinner. After dinner we went out on a night drive with a spot light looking for wildlife with a group of about 7 others in a large truck like my dump truck with seats in the back. I thought I was at work for awhile. Saw nothing, came back and called it a night. More trekking tomorrow.
February 6 – Bad night. Made the mistake of drinking water from the pitcher in the room. Won’t do that again. After breakfast we did a 3.5 km hike along a river looking for birds. The leaches weren’t too bad — only had a few get on our boots. Took pics of mostly plants. Got back about 11:00 AM from hike and went back to the room for a nap. It started raining and after lunch it continued. We chose not to hike in the afternoon — good thing, it flat out poured. Mostly laid round the room until dinner. After dinner they had a night walk but it was still pouring. We went to bed early instead.
February 7 – Up at 6:00 AM and to breakfast at 7:00, then met Palin (our guide) at 7:30. You need a guide to go anywhere on the trails here so you don’t get lost or come across any bad plants or animals. Took a road hike to the canopy walkway. It’s suspended about 30 meters off the ground. Gave a great view from above. Still not much wildlife to see — just a few birds. Then we went up the Hornbill Trail — steep and muddy. We heard lots of birds but only saw a few — mostly small ones. At one point we were getting rained on by branches and fruit from above, a long-tailed monkey was about 100 meters above us throwing stuff at us. Nice to see some wildlife. We did about 3.5 km in all and returned to the lodge about 10:30 and went for a short nap. The next walk was set for 3:00 and Dad decided not to go out for this one so I went without him. I had the guide to myself and told him I wanted to go to the waterfalls. This is the trail that we were going to do before the big rain. Well the trail was almost 5 km all up or down — nothing flat. A lot of ropes and ladders. Turned out to be 3 waterfalls in all — all very nice. At one point the trail was blocked by a huge tree that had fallen during the night and we had to go down a cliff and under it while hanging about 75 ft above the river. Great fun. I had at least 39 leaches on me during this hike as it was thick jungle and very wet. The trail came to a look out of the whole area and was well worth the steep hike. I took lots of pics and video to prove it. Dad was bummed out that he didn’t go. Back to the lodge for a much needed shower. Had cocktails with Dad on the veranda and went to dinner and then met with our guide to say goodbye. We then visited the gift shop to leave some cash for the local people and off to bed. We travel tomorrow to the beach resort for much needed rest after all the jungle trekking. Looking forward to lying on the beach and sipping on beer.
February 8 – Slept in till 7:30 (first time in a while). We checked out at 9:30 and had to take jeeps out because of the mud. The first leg in four wheel drive was about 1.5 hours and we then met a mini bus to transfer to for the next leg. We went to Lahad Datu for lunch and drop off other people. After lunch we changed some money and went in search of more scotch and rum for our next stop. None to be found. From there we took the mini bus to Semporna jetty about 130 km away — long drive on a busy road. We transferred to a boat to Mabul Island — a diving resort. What a great place — white sand, very clean, just like the pictures you see. Met our guide and got briefed on the program here. 3 dives a day are scheduled but you can choose what you want to do. The boats take you out to different areas to dive or snorkel. You can also dive from the beach any time. Went to bed early, tired from long day of travel.