Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Exploring Sabah (Borneo) rainforest with a curious toddler

2D1N trip to Sukau/ Kinabatangan River/ Myne Kinabatangan Resort 

3 years ago, when I was conceived with Josh, I already knew school holidays will never be the same. It'll not be spending a couple of nights in nice luxury hotels and shopping away in air-conditioned malls. There will be lots of sun-kissed tan, mozzie bites, and cuts from trekking through the jungle. We have agreed that we want to raise child who knows what it's like to live in the wilderness, and that money don't just appear in their bank account, food don't just appear on supermarket shelves.  The child will have to work hard for it. The days has come much earlier than expected, and yes it was an indeed enriching experience making a trip to Sukau, the very luscious rainforest surrounding the amazing Kinabtangan river, with our 31month old toddler J. 

Sukau is about 2 hours drive from Sandakan. We have chosen to stay at Myne Kinabatangan Resort as it offers a reasonable rate for locals. Its price includes lunch, tea break, dinner, breakfast, guided jungle trekking, river cruise on the Kinabatangan river and lodging. 

View of our triple room chalet, facing the river. 

His first time on a this
This sort of 'sunbed' reminds me a lot of my childhood, as we used to have one of this in our estate house. I grew up in the palm oil plantation estates, where it was a norm to spot frogs in our bathroom, or snake in our garden.
Surreal view of the river outside our chalet in the morning. 

The river cruise on Kinabatangan river 
He was no stranger when comes to boating or river cruising. Compared to those we had chasing after dolphins in Bali, the river cruise on Kinabatangan river is definitely a luxurious one. There is proper seating and we still get to stretch our legs after a few hours cruise on the boat. We paid extra to go longer miles to persue the wild pygmy elephants, yet we have cruised (sped) for about 1.5 hours and seen no signs of the elephants, and it's been drizzling for about an hour, so we had to tell the boatman to call off the elephant chase. It was sad to not be able to see elephants in wild, but at least, we managed to see the elephants' dunk while doing jungle trekking the next day. Despite the fact that we couldn't catch glimpse of the elephants, we still saw lots of the primates on way back. We spotted many hornbills flying across, oh! He finally saw a real rainbow. There were proboscis monkey having sumptuous meals feasting on the mangrove leaves. There were also wild long-tailed macaques taking it easy resting high up on the tree branches. 

Proboscis monkey 
 Ask the little fella, and he will tell you, proboscis monkeys has big flat nose and big round tummy!

Long-tailed macaques

Just clouds. 
Jungle trekking and bugs and birds watching
I think my favorite part of this trip is the real bugs "learning" and "observation". So far, J had only come across 'caterpillar' in the form of pictorials and clip arts. He had done many activities related to Eric Carle's 'A very hungry caterpillar' yet he had not seen a real one. I am so glad that the hubby managed to spot this cute and fluffy green caterpillar resting away on a green leaf, it's exactly the scene from Eric Carle's book! 

There were many beetles, and let me emphasize this again with another MANY!, in the resort compound. I have never seen soooo many beetles (yes, third time emphasis) in my life. Coincidentally, for this trip, I have prepared for Josh to make a 'ladybird' craft and ladybird is a type of beetle.

Spot the real beetle. 

Here he is, observing the 'real' one closely. 

A minor fraction of the many beetles seen in the resort. 

More beetles! 

Lots of these colorful butterflies were seen in the jungle. 

Yes, you gotta hike to see more! 

.. and spider too! ... 

Bird watching tower 
View of Kinabatangan river from top of the bird watching tower. 
A mini canopy bridge in the jungle, not for those fear of height. 
Finally after about 45 minutes trekking in the jungle, we have arrived at the Merbau tree. Apparently, this tree (which is still alive at time of visiting) has been around for 100 years. There was a small entrance (about J's height as you can see from the following photo) and the tree can fit about 10 little kids in it at one time. It was dark, yet cooling in the tree. There were bats in the tree, again, it's J's first time seeing real bats. It was believed that the tree was a hiding place for the villagers to hide their daughters during the Japanese occupation era. 

Smack right outside the resort, just by the river, there is a very beautiful cottonwood tree that grows cotton! When the fruits (cotton fruit) ripen, it will turn yellow/ brown and will fall. And it can be opened easily, revealing the soft and fluffy cottons, used to stuff pillows or any other related purposes.   

Gua Gomantong 
After checked out from Myne Resort, we also made a trip to Gua Gomantong, which was situated somewhere along our way back, about 30minutes drive from Sukau. Again, it was another eye opening experience for J. The cave stank! Swiftlets, bats and cockroaches swamped the cave. We were also fortunate enough to see the way the workers risk their safety climbing those hanging stairs to get to the top of the caves to collect the bird nests. 

Two orang utan spotted in the wild as we left the cave. 

To know more about Myne Resort, please click here

Here are some of the crafts and works I have been doing with J on days leading up to this trip: 

Making proboscis monkey puppet 

Hornbill coloring activity with cotton bud

Elmer the elephant craft (coloring with pom pom)

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