Odd Couple Chronicle

Onroad 3 Borneo Revisited : See Abraham Lincoln March 21, 2006

Filed under: Malaysia,Travelling — ambar @ 1:39 pm

Sandakan-KK-Miri-Mulu, 5 -7 March 2006

Dari Uncle Tan Camp kami balik lagi ke Gum Gum menuju kota Sandakan jaraknya sekitar 25 km. Kami memilih naik mini biskota. Bis warna ijo ini terlihat tua, terkelupas sana sini, mesinnya juga sedikit ngrek..ngrek. Tapi yang menakjubkan adalah sound sysytem-nya. Dua speaker besar disamping sopir plus 3 speaker kecil mengelilingi bagian bis. Dengan volume yang ngg kalah dengan ravehouse sopir memasang lagu2 hip hop top 40. Dari 50cent, Dr Dre, Black Eye Peas sampe Eminem. Dentumnya yang keras sangat terasa di dinding kaca jendela di samping tempat duduk saya. Menggelegar diantara jalanan Sandakan di siang hari bolong. Wow !

Hari itu hari Minggu. Tujuan kami adalah ATM di Sandakan, sedang airportnya sendiri ada di luar kota. Disini saya baru sadar bahwa kami sehari lebih awal dari rencana semula. Jadi harus merubah seluruh penerbangan domestik yang sudah saya pesan. Di bandara seorang gadis dari Malaysia Airlines dengan simpatik membantu kami. Anehnya tiket yang saya ‘perintahkan’ untuk dikirim ke Sandakan malah terkirim di KL. Jadilah dengan dibantu manajernya kami menyelesaikan dengan cepat. Duh salut banged dengan kinerja mereka.

Sandakan – KK hanya sekitar 45menit, kali ini kami mencari hotel di sekitar chinatown dengan tarip RM65 untuk twin. Keesokan harinya kami mengejar pesawat paling pagi menuju Miri. Dari Miri kami nyambung menuju Mulu pukul 10:05. Tahun lalu ketika pertama mengunjungi Miri saya terpesona dengan bandara yang baru. Bandara Mulu juga bersolek diri dengan tambahan ruang. Kali ini kami memakai Fokker 50, isinya penuh dengan turis baik lokal dan asing. Dengan frekuensi 3X sehari terlihat Mulu mulai menunjukkan nama besarnya. Letaknya di tengah belantara Borneo membuat akses sangat terbatas. Kalau ingin jalan darat Mulu Nat Park bisa dicapai dengan perahu dalam 2 hari dengan 4 tahap. Dengan pesawat hanya membutuhkan 30 menit !

Hari pertama kami lalui dengan tour untuk 2 show cave : Lang Cave dan Deer Cave. Yang paling dramatis adalah Deer Cave karena jalan masuknya yang luar biasa gede. Meski sudah pernah kesana saya tetap terpesona. Di UK saya pernah caving dengan gua terbesar disana : Gapping Gyll yang tingginya 110m, panjang dan lebarnya 145m x 25m. Untuk Deer Cave ini mungkin tiga kali lebih besar dari Gapping Gyll. Bahkan orang Malaysia berujar : gua ini bisa dimasuki 47 biji pesawat Boeing. Hmm agak berlebihan nampaknya…

Salah satu yang menarik adalah bentukan batu di mulut gua membentuk siluet Abraham Lincoln. Untuk melihat siluet ini harus berjalan dulu melewati papan kayu sekitar 50m sebelum memasuki bagian gua yang gelap. Saat ini di Deer Cave sudah dipasang lampu kecil sepanjang jejaknya. Indah sekali kalau dilihat dari ketinggian. Jalan terus sembari membawa lampu senter hingga ke bagian terakhir Deer Cave yaitu Garden of Eden. Sebuah pemandangan mengesankan : mulut gua diterangi cahaya dari luar terlihat penuh tanaman yang kaya akan spesies baru seperti ketika ditemukan tim ekspedisi BCRA di tahun 80an.


Lang Cave meski kecil tapi ornament-nya indah. Ornament seperti curtain dimana-mana. Letak dua gua ini hanya sekitar 10 menit jalan, jadi biasanya diantar ke Lang dulu baru ke Deer Cave. Setelah puas maka segera tontonan berikutnya tak kalah menarik. Jutaan kelelawar keluar dari Deer Cave membentuk gelombang tak henti. Kali ini kami membawa perlengkapan untuk mengabadikan peristiwa ini. Kelelawar ini keluar sekitar pukul 5-6 petang dengan mengeluarkan suara buzzzz seperti lebah. Beberapa elang dan hornbill mengambil kesempatan, mencaplok keleawar yang terbang bergerombol. Sebuah adegan yang mengesankan.


Hari itu kami balik ke penginapan. Sekitar 3.5 km kami tempuh untuk balik ke pintu depan Nat Park. Kami menginap di Royal Mulu Resort untuk merasakan empuknya kasur sebelum keesokan harinya pindah ke akomodasi di Mulu Nat Park. Royal Mulu adalah resort yang dibangun dengan tema natural. Rasanya sangat asing menemukan tempat senyaman ini di tengah lebatnya hutan Borneo.

 

Onroad 2 Borneo Revisited :This is not HILTON March 16, 2006

Filed under: Malaysia,Pictures,Travelling — ambar @ 3:02 pm


Kinabatangan River Borneo, 3-5 March 2005

After a really good night sleep at Summit Lodge in Kinabalu Parks we checked out about 11am to catch the SIDA Express bus to Sandakan. We waited outside the Park until the bright yellow coach turned up. On an email from Eugene, this bus recommended to go to Uncle Tan Wildlife Jungle Camp HQ in Gum Gum village. It took about 4 hours journey to the village. The night before I tried contact Eugene to get latest development about the camp at lower Kinabatangan River. It was flooding in last 3 weeks so we just want to know whether the water level started residing.

On the junction of KK-Sandakan-Tawau, we’ve been stop due the immigration control. The officer with blue uniform in military style carrying riffle jumped up to our bus to checking ID or passport. I sat on the very end of the bus and got my chance. He asked my ID and I gave him my scruffy Indonesian passport. He quick glanced on it and notice few things. Then he smiled (pfffff…thanks God), asked questions in a good manner including where I have been and what I have been doing. The two British bloke just left without checking.


The bus driver knew where we should go. So we ended up in the Batu 16 Gum Gum just by the Uncle Tan office. You can easily spot this office since they put a big sign on top of their second floor where several basic room for stay overnight. We would not stay in this place. We want straight down to the camp –about 2 hours away from the HQ. But we got problem. They did not mention that we should arrive in their office at least at 130pm, otherwise we will missed the shuttle transport to the boat point. I argued that last night when I rang them I clearly mention that we will arrive at 3pm. And we did, not missed a single minute. We understood that we would not get chance to see orang utans at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. But that what we wanted. We just want to go to the camp.

After negotiation and calling the big boss (Eugene –apparently he is the son of late Uncle Tan), he agreed to transport us with fancy Toyota 4wheel drive fully AC at 5pm. Thanks for the email correspondence before our arrival and also Mark’s tips about using camera flash. So here we are….on the fancy car. We drove back to the road junction and again met the immigration control. But now they seemed not bothered about us. I asked about these to Shahril -the Uncle Tan driver. He said that Malaysia aware about potential smuggle immigrants from either Indonesia nor Philippine.

About 6pm we reached the Batu Puteh village not far from Kinabatangan Bridge. I saw kids swimming happily in the muddy river when the sun started going down. These kids enjoyed the river just like their parents. Some of the parents went to fishing with nets on a simple boat. A lady showed me proudly her half day fishing : a bucket full of fresh water prawn and fishes. A lovely selection…She said that flooding led more fishes to go further, meant you can easily caught them in the net.

Someone coming with a warm welcome. The guy –about late 20s typical Asian, dark skin, well built, long hair with a black Uncle Tan T-shirt gave a hand to everybody. His name is Lan. He would take us to the camp along with two others kids. On the dark, we set off with the boat. On our way, Lan showed us animals that he’ve seen it in just a glance with his bright spotlight. It took about an hour to reach the camp through oxbow lake and floodplain of Kinabatangan river. As I mention before, the camp in flooding conditions, means that now the camp became a water camp. Actually the location of the camp is by Danau Girang or Lot No 6 on the Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary level means that people can across the land without permission but not allowed to logging or farming.

An oil lamp in the dining room was the only source of light, quietly dimmed the rooms. Sound of owls and frogs gave impression to remoteness of this place. The dining area was the only place that we can stay that night. The rest of the camp was about half on top of water level. The huts that supposed to stay were totally un habituated. On that room we met three people from Sweden that arrived earlier on that day. They been waiting for us for dinner and the night safari. I can see that the room already been set up with 4 matras with mosquito net hanging about 2ft from the floor. This is our dining, bathroom and also sleeping room for the next 3 days. Since I am the only women in this camp, Mark had to drag me out with the boat every time I need to wee (apparently we called it No 1 need and the No 2 need you can guess what it was…).

We had a good dinner on that night, A pack of rice with lots of stir fried vegetables and chicken curry (with lots bones of course !). Then we have a half an hour briefing about what the Wildlife Jungle Camp about. Since flooding we were second guest in this camp. Most of them cancelled the program due the incapability of the place. Imagine that in the dry conditions the camp actually quite spartan and basic. With the flooding even drink water and toilet would be major problems. You’ve got to prepare for this situation. Previously we had to filling the disclaimer form regarding the flooding, including possibility that we couldn’t spot as many as animals that used to be easy to find in this area including elephants and orang utans.


The first night safari were great, we spotted frogs, owls, eagles, scorpions and flying foxes. In two hours we were scattering the river tried to find animals. Lan was really experienced guide. He told us the latin name, common habitat and the diet of each animal we found. I excited with this new experience, specially I am not a wildlife photographer. Lan himself is a keen wildlife photographer. Most of pictures on the board of the camp and the HQ were him. Eugene –his boss also a mad photographer. If you see some crocodile pictures or kingfisher or snake, they were all amazing. It needs a lots effort and determination to capture such beautiful moments.

In the next morning we started early to see how the animals moving from their territory to the jungle for feeding or daily activities. We went to the oxbow lakes to spot some of proboscis monkeys. We saw eagles as they moved to another area, also the famous one –Oriental hornbill. We had another safari in the mid day, then we had broken machine when we back to the camp. Problem was : we got to go upstream, so Lan decided to take a boat by river bank away from the main river. It took us more than 45 minutes through the swamp area with cutting the tree and leaves along the way. We survived by local boat just passed the river, carried us to the Observation Tower opposite the Uncle Tan camp.


There is a list of wildlife animal that we spotted in three days during our stay at Kinabatangan River.

  1. Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus )
  2. Long Tailed Macaque (Macaca facicularis)
  3. Silvered Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus cristatus)
  4. Red Leaf Monkey (Presbytis rubicunda)
  5. Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)
  6. Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)
  7. Asian Black Hornbill (Anthracocecos malayanus)
  8. Wrinkled Hornbill (Aceroscor rugatus)
  9. Great Egret (Egretta alba)
  10. Intermediate Egret – small version (Egretta intermedia)
  11. White Collared Kingfisher (Halcyon chloris)
  12. Stork Billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis)
  13. Grey Headed Kingfisher
  14. Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus)
  15. Crested Serpent Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus)
  16. Bornean Blue Flycatcher (Cyorniscaerulatus)
  17. Cricket Frog (Rananico bariensis)
  18. Brown Bull Frog
  19. Green Tree Lizard (Anolisbima culatus)
  20. Monitor Lizard (Varanus indicus)
  21. Buffy Fish Ow (Ketupa ketupu)
  22. Plyn Pygmy Squirrel (Exilisciurus)
  23. Stick Insect
  24. Orb Weaver (spider)
  25. Brown Bush Grasshopper
  26. Black Scorpion
  27. Dollar Bird (Eurystomus orientalis)
  28. Tractor Milipede (black )
  29. Giant Milipede (red)
  30. Storm Stork (Ciconia stormi)
  31. Pig Tailed Macaque (Macaca nemestrina)
  32. Short Billed Spiker Minter
  33. Flying Foxes (Pteropus hypomelanus)
  34. Civet Cat Viverridae
  35. White Bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis)
  36. Green Imperial Woodpecker
  37. Blue Eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting)
  38. Malay Badger (Mydaus meliceps)
  39. Wolf Spider
  40. Frilled Tree Frog
  41. Centipede
  42. Blue Totter Bee – eater

I m still looking for the latin name for all the animals above. Please inform or correct me.
Update 20 March 2006 : thanks Obot for the corrections !

 

Borneo Revisited : Uncle Tan Jungle Camp

Filed under: Malaysia,Pictures,Travelling — ambar @ 11:34 am


Kinabatangan River Borneo, 3-5 March 2005

After a really good night sleep at Summit Lodge in Kinabalu Parks we checked out about 11am to catch the SIDA Express bus to Sandakan. We waited outside the Park until the bright yellow coach turned up. On an email from Eugene, this bus recommended to go to Uncle Tan Wildlife Jungle Camp HQ in Gum Gum village. It took about 4 hours journey to the village. The night before I tried contact Eugene to get latest development about the camp at lower Kinabatangan River. It was flooding in last 3 weeks so we just want to know whether the water level started residing.

On the junction of KK-Sandakan-Tawau, we’ve been stop due the immigration control. The officer with blue uniform in military style carrying riffle jumped up to our bus to checking ID or passport. I sat on the very end of the bus and got my chance. He asked my ID and I gave him my scruffy Indonesian passport. He quick glanced on it and notice few things. Then he smiled (pfffff…thanks God), asked questions in a good manner including where I have been and what I have been doing. The two British bloke just left without checking.


The bus driver knew where we should go. So we ended up in the Batu 16 Gum Gum just by the Uncle Tan office. You can easily spot this office since they put a big sign on top of their second floor where several basic room for stay overnight. We would not stay in this place. We want straight down to the camp –about 2 hours away from the HQ. But we got problem. They did not mention that we should arrive in their office at least at 130pm, otherwise we will missed the shuttle transport to the boat point. I argued that last night when I rang them I clearly mention that we will arrive at 3pm. And we did, not missed a single minute. We understood that we would not get chance to see orang utans at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. But that what we wanted. We just want to go to the camp.

After negotiation and calling the big boss (Eugene –apparently he is the son of late Uncle Tan), he agreed to transport us with fancy Toyota 4wheel drive fully AC at 5pm. Thanks for the email correspondence before our arrival and also Mark’s tips about using camera flash. So here we are….on the fancy car. We drove back to the road junction and again met the immigration control. But now they seemed not bothered about us. I asked about these to Shahril -the Uncle Tan driver. He said that Malaysia aware about potential smuggle immigrants from either Indonesia nor Philippine.

About 6pm we reached the Batu Puteh village not far from Kinabatangan Bridge. I saw kids swimming happily in the muddy river when the sun started going down. These kids enjoyed the river just like their parents. Some of the parents went to fishing with nets on a simple boat. A lady showed me proudly her half day fishing : a bucket full of fresh water prawn and fishes. A lovely selection…She said that flooding led more fishes to go further, meant you can easily caught them in the net.

Someone coming with a warm welcome. The guy –about late 20s typical Asian, dark skin, well built, long hair with a black Uncle Tan T-shirt gave a hand to everybody. His name is Lan. He would take us to the camp along with two others kids. On the dark, we set off with the boat. On our way, Lan showed us animals that he’ve seen it in just a glance with his bright spotlight. It took about an hour to reach the camp through oxbow lake and floodplain of Kinabatangan river. As I mention before, the camp in flooding conditions, means that now the camp became a water camp. Actually the location of the camp is by Danau Girang or Lot No 6 on the Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary level means that people can across the land without permission but not allowed to logging or farming.

An oil lamp in the dining room was the only source of light, quietly dimmed the rooms. Sound of owls and frogs gave impression to remoteness of this place. The dining area was the only place that we can stay that night. The rest of the camp was about half on top of water level. The huts that supposed to stay were totally un habituated. On that room we met three people from Sweden that arrived earlier on that day. They been waiting for us for dinner and the night safari. I can see that the room already been set up with 4 matras with mosquito net hanging about 2ft from the floor. This is our dining, bathroom and also sleeping room for the next 3 days. Since I am the only women in this camp, Mark had to drag me out with the boat every time I need to wee (apparently we called it No 1 need and the No 2 need you can guess what it was…).


We had a good dinner on that night, A pack of rice with lots of stir fried vegetables and chicken curry (with lots bones of course !). Then we have a half an hour briefing about what the Wildlife Jungle Camp about. Since flooding we were second guest in this camp. Most of them cancelled the program due the incapability of the place. Imagine that in the dry conditions the camp actually quite spartan and basic. With the flooding even drink water and toilet would be major problems. You’ve got to prepare for this situation. Previously we had to filling the disclaimer form regarding the flooding, including possibility that we couldn’t spot as many as animals that used to be easy to find in this area including elephants and orang utans.


The first night safari were great, we spotted frogs, owls, eagles, scorpions and flying foxes. In two hours we were scattering the river tried to find animals. Lan was really experienced guide. He told us the latin name, common habitat and the diet of each animal we found. I excited with this new experience, specially I am not a wildlife photographer. Lan himself is a keen wildlife photographer. Most of pictures on the board of the camp and the HQ were him. Eugene –his boss also a mad photographer. If you see some crocodile pictures or kingfisher or snake, they were all amazing. It needs a lots effort and determination to capture such beautiful moments.

In the next morning we started early to see how the animals moving from their territory to the jungle for feeding or daily activities. We went to the oxbow lakes to spot some of proboscis monkeys. We saw eagles as they moved to another area, also the famous one –Oriental hornbill. We had another safari in the mid day, then we had broken machine when we back to the camp. Problem was : we got to go upstream, so Lan decided to take a boat by river bank away from the main river. It took us more than 45 minutes through the swamp area with cutting the tree and leaves along the way. We survived by local boat just passed the river, carried us to the Observation Tower opposite the Uncle Tan camp.


There is a list of wildlife animal that we spotted in three days during our stay at Kinabatangan River.

  1. Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus )
  2. Long Tailed Macaque (Macacafacicularis)
  3. Silvered Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus cristatus)
  4. Red Leaf Monkey (Presbytis rubicunda)
  5. Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster)
  6. Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)
  7. Asian Black Hornbill (Anthracocecos malayanus)
  8. Wrinkled Hornbill (Aceroscor rugatus)
  9. Great Egret (Egretta alba)
  10. Intermediate Egret – small version (Egretta intermedia)
  11. White Collared Kingfisher (Halcyonchloris)
  12. Stork Billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis)
  13. Grey Headed Kingfisher
  14. Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus)
  15. Crested Serpent Eagle (Ichthyopha gaichthyaetus)
  16. Bornean Blue Flycatcher (Cyorniscaerulatus)
  17. Cricket Frog (Rananico bariensis)
  18. Brown Bull Frog
  19. Green Tree Lizard (Anolisbima culatus)
  20. Monitor Lizard (Varanus indicus)
  21. Buffy Fish Ow (Ketupa ketupa)
  22. Plyn Pygmy Squirrel (Exilisciurus)
  23. Stick Insect
  24. Orb Weaver (spider)
  25. Brown Bush Grasshopper
  26. Black Scorpion
  27. Dollar Bird (Eurystomus orientalis)
  28. Tractor Milipede (black )
  29. Giant Milipede (red)
  30. Storm Stork (Ciconia stormi)
  31. Pig Tailed Macaque (Macaca nemestrina)
  32. Short Billed Spiker Minter
  33. Flying Foxes (Pteropus hypomelanus)
  34. Civet Cat Viverridae
  35. White Bellied Woodpecker
  36. Green Imperial Woodpecker
  37. Blue Eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting)
  38. Malay Badger (Mydaus meliceps)
  39. Wolf Spider
  40. Frilled Tree Frog
  41. Centipede
  42. Blue Totter Bee – eater

I m still looking for the latin name for all the animals above. Please inform or correct me.

 

Borneo Revisited 1 : Mt Kinabalu March 13, 2006

Filed under: Malaysia,Pictures,Travelling — ambar @ 2:28 pm

We arrived in Kota Kinabalu (KK) from JB at 28 Feb 2005 late evening. Flight been retimed two hours from the schedule. Air Asia sent sms regarding this matter that allow me to book domestic flight in Borneo. From airport to the Borneo Backpacker-place we stayed that night we took taxi cost RM17 (15minutes drive). Just book in and served with dormitory room without AC cost RM20 each. Not too bad though, soon we realized that this time was off peak season and not weekend days.

We couldn’t sleep that night. We reckoned the room was quite hot and loud. The location of the BB lied by the main road in KK. We heard motorcycle drove madly by skidding all around the city at 2am ! Next morning we were heading to National Parks by walk to the shuttle bus to bus station. Only 5 minutes walk from BB. We took 730am bus then catches the 745am express bus to Sandakan. We paid RM20 each on the site and jumped ourselves into it. The journey was quite pleasant with view of the villages and hill side of the Kinabalu. It took 2 hours then we reached the parks at 10am.

I straight to the Sutera Sanctuary Lodge counter to resume our booking. Then register on the Parks counter. All the paper work regarding our climbing and accommodation also pay by cash for climbing permits (RM100each for foreigner, guide RM70, insurance RM7 and plus storage for bag each RM10). But we did not have that all amount the money ! We got to pay in US dollars which is not recommended. We did not have choice, this is our fault that we forgot to get some cash while we were in JB. Never mind …

All sort it then we got climbing permits. Wow fancy badges (hmm make sure that we will swap in when we were on top Mt Kinabalu ) and several forms that gave in to our guide Ben John as checking note. At 1030 we started walking with several people behind. The first 2km were lovely, mainly lots people walked up and walked down. The vegetation just like jungle forest with fern and trees. Then we reached the km 4.5 where we found nepenthes or pitcher plants. Some of them were enormous with diameter of 20-30cm, some were tiny about 0.5cm in diameter. Bright red rhododendron were really pretty while mountain white orchid was everywhere near the path.
The last kilometer was hard and tough. I started feeling exhausted apart from not enough having sleep a night before, but also the gradient becoming more vertical. We pushed our luck to get the resthouse before dark. Ben Jon really helpful with carrying my rucksack on half way up. I was end up carrying camera and video/audio equipment instead. The Nat Park rule about porter carrying load was maximum at 10kg per person and you got to pay them about RM50. But mine was about 11kg !

Around 330pm we arrived at Laban Rata resthouse –a two storey building with rooms for rest and a fancy restaurant. Actually there are three more huts in this area but only Laban Rata is the biggest and warmest. Eventually with RM69 per night for dormitory room sound luxury in this altitude. But I thought a cup of Sabah tea was reward for today walking.
We had to share a room with three Malaysian. The dorm itself was OK, quite tidy for us. We just need a good sleep and good food. There is NO hot shower even the parks promise that in their website. Imagine you had to do shower in temperature about 5C water ! The sensation was unbearable. I did manage though ! The foods were fantastic specially chicken and corn soup also deep fried banana with sabah tea. Hm lovely…

We went to bed early at 6pm ahead from the Malaysian gank. Then it came. The sound of snore from the girl next to me was so loud that I can’t believe those irritating sound from. I couldn’t sleep again until 1 o’clock while that girl woke up and put the light on. Oh Dear ! Started climbing about 230 after a light breakfast and cup a tea. The climbing was quite straight forward while we have to do in the dark. The weather helped quite lots. No rain during our walking earlier and those night was clear with stars. A big number of climber that night, I reckoned about 200 people attempted to conquer the summit.


The granite slope of Kinabalu actually not slippery at all. The life line that remark the path was helpful to see the way. But useless to hold your hands while their been set up too low to the ground. I thought it might be set for descent rather than accent Kinabalu. Then after quite taxing climb about 3.5 hours we managed to reach the Low’s Peak (4,095.2m) and watched the sunrise behind King Edward peak. The sheer rock from St John Peak and the Donkey Peak were amazing. After dark out and sun arise we could see the rock formations on the U shape that divide the Low’s peak with others. The chilly wind was not too bad apart from the temperature drop about zero.

We celebrated Mark’s birthday right on top of Kinabalu with flag that me and Paul prepared earlier on. The walked down through granite was quite easy. I did not need rope for most of the section, but few of them need descending in right way due the gradient. I can say that most of the stone walks were safe for fit and in good shape after spent hours ascending. The view still amazing, and with morning light was a perfect for photographing the peaks on that day. The weather still on our side, no fog and clouds appeared during our descent. The temperature was improving just like the sun started arising. It was gorgeous !

It took about 2.5 hours to reach Laban Rata. With cup a tea that heal our fatigue from sleepless night we started our day . Then another breakfast that make our morning looked perfect. Two hours later we were heading down back to the main gate. Again the pain of walking down start hurting my legs. We were keep moving specially in last 3km, stopped only when raining poring down. Believe me that was a maschocistic trekking down ..


We managed to take pictures of plants along the path, specially nepenthes and necklace orchids. Birds were everywhere, mainly they eats wild berry that grow abundantly in this area. The Mountain Blackeye and Yellow Breasted Warbler were move really quick if we try catch them. Anyway we had many pictures of plants and also many interesting species to see.


We headed down to the gate and arrived about 4pm. The shuttle bus that carry us to the park was waiting. Then we reported our descent and also get the key for our place in Summit Lodge. I need to negotiate with local driver to arrange transport for Mark to Kadazan village –the nearest place to get cash money. It cost RM15 about a half an hour for him before appeared at our pretty lodge. The lodge have two bedrooms and nice beds. That’s what we need. After not much sleep in last two days and a hard 11.5km walking, we definitely need proper sleep.

 

Onroad 1 Borneo Revisited : Mt Kinabalu March 5, 2006

Filed under: Malaysia,Travelling — ambar @ 10:38 pm


Setiba di Kota Kinabalu 28 Feb malam diputuskan menginap sebelum menuju Taman Nasional. Borneo Backpacker di tengan kota rasanya bukan pilihan yang tepat. Letaknya yang terlalu dekat jalan membuat mata tak bisa terpejam. Esoknya kami mengejar bis paling pagi pukul 0800 menuju Kinabalu Nat Parks dengan bas espress menuju Sandakan/Tawau. Ongkosnya RM20 per orang dengan fasilitas lengkap (AC, film malaysia terbaru dan air minum). Dari KK menuju pintu gerbang Kinabalu Parks adalah 2 jam perjalanan (tepatnya 88 km). Langsung menuju konter Sutera Sanctuary Lodge untuk resume booking. Semua paperwork seperti pembayaran climbing permits RM100, asuransi, fee guide dsb dilakukan di konter dengan bayar cash. Kami ngg sedia ringgit banyak, akibatnya terpaksa bayar dengan dollar. Gerundelan mulai dateng : ih kenapa seh Malaysia ini komersial banget dengan TN ini (ketauan jawabnya belakangan….)

Kami start agak siang sekitar pukul 11. Ternyata mereka kehabisan guide hari itu, kami karus menunggu satu jam untuk dicarikan guide dari desa Kudasang -penduduk lokal yang tinggal sekitar 7km dari Nat Park. Tak lama seorang muda berbadan sedang dengan muka bulat cerah menghampiri. ia memperkenalkan diri sebagai Ben Jon -guide kami hari ini.
Dalam 2 km pertama rute sangat menyenangkan, kebanyakan berupa hutan tropik. Cuaca hari itu bersahabat. Hanya sedikit hujan hingga km 4.5 memasuki Layang-Layang Hut. Untuk 2km terakhir rasanya kaki makin berat. Bukan saja gradient makin tajam, namun bentukan tangga dari batu cukup melelahkan dengkul saya yang mulai terseret. Soal minum rasanya no problem. Setiap pos memang disediakan air dalam tong, cuma sayangnya ini tidak ditanggung bersih (untreated water). Sebaiknya memang bawa minum sendiri.


Sekitar pukul 330pm kami sampai di Laban Rata resthouse (sekitar 3200dpl). Kami terhitung agak telat karena start yang lambat. Setiba disana telah menunggu teh Sabah yang kental itu. Sisa hari kami habiskan makan minum tidur. Di Laban Rata kami harus sharing dengan tiga orang lainnya dalam satu kamar. Hari itu kami dicampur dengan pendaki dari Malaysia. Payahnya : cewek yang tidur samping saya mendengkur lumayan keras. Hasilnya cuma tidur efektif selama 4 jam.

Summit attack mulai pukul 0200 pagi. Tapi kami habiskan sarapan ringan di Laban Rata dengan secangkir teh dan roti seadanya. Lumayan seh daripada kosong. Kami dengar beberapa pendaki ada yang mengawali sekitar tengah malam. Dari resthouse mnuju puncak berjarak 2.5km dengan perkiraan tempuh normal 4-5 jam. Lalu lintas cukup padat malam itu membuat susah sekali menjaga jarak dan menikmati indahnya bintang2 di langit yang luar biasa jernih.

Sekitar gully di Donkey Ear sebenarnya lapisan batu granite Kinabalu tidaklah selicin yang saya duga. Tanpa tali pengamanpun bisa dilampaui tergantung pada kepercayaan diri dan jenis sepatu anda. Lagipula di beberapa bagian, setting tali pengaman terlalu rendah memaksa posisi badan menjadi seperti merambat. Ini malah makin membuat susah pergerakan. Sebelum sunset kami bisa melampaui Low’s peak dan menikmati sunrise. Suhu di puncak diperkirakan mencapai OC karena beberapa kolam air di puncak menunjukkan tanda adanya es di permukaan. Saya perkirakan hanya 60% yang bisa tiba di puncak hari itu. Ada tiga titik kontrol di Kinabalu. Satu di registrasi, kedua di Timpohon Gate ketiga di summit. Jadi memang tertata dan memudahkan monotoring para pendaki yang jumlahnya ratusan perhari. Keharusan menggunakan guide juga amat bagus sebagai pengawal dan memberikan pengetahuan lapangan tentang Taman Nasional terutama habitat flora dan fauna.

Next : jungle camp with mad man Lan
versi bahasa Inggris di sini

 

Travelcast untuk Mekong River Journey February 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ambar @ 12:24 pm


Tadinya ini semacam test case (hiks gara2 gagal jadi presenter milih jadi produser ajah) tapi akhirnya saya dedikasikan podcast untuk travelling khusus Asia. Masih butuh polesan skrip dan narasi yang bagus. Ada dua episode yakni : River Mekong Journey (video) dan Monk Chatting in Luang Prabang (audio). Podcasting tentang Indonesia masih sangat terbatas. Sumber kebanyakan berupa foto2 bukan sound.

Hari ini rencananya akan dirilis lewat iTunes Music Store, jadi anda bisa mulai subscribe (insyaalah aktif besok). Balapan dengan Equinox DMD yang dibiayai Djarum saya mencoba format beda. Maklum klas indie dengan kapasitas 100 MB per bulan di libsync sebenarnya cukup banget untuk pemula seperti saya.

Pendapat dan saran ditunggu dari rekan-rekan. Ada beberapa ide contents misalnya interview, diskusi dan juga semacam Globe Trekker yang menampilkan off beaten path -jalur yang ngg biasa. Thanks for listening and watching. Enjoy !

Update 25th Feb 23:12 : ternyata saya harus bayar (lagi) untuk subscribe di iTunes. Weksss….sementara ini mencari iklan di kiptronic dulu sambil meningkatkan kualitas.

 

Onroad Vietnam 6,5 : Gimana Baca Tiket Kereta February 17, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — ambar @ 7:14 pm


Sistem tiket kereta di Vietnam konon telah memakai komputer. Tetap saja masih ditemui kesemrawutan sana sini. Paling gampang adalah beli di stasiun di bagian booking for foreigners. Harga tiket untuk turis memang berlipat, tapi untuk kereta cepat seperti Reunification Train (klas SN) satu bed satu orang. Loket hanya dibuka beberapa jam sebelum kereta berangkat (untuk klas rakyat). Kalau waktunya mepet lebih baik menggunakan jasa travel agent yang tersebar dimana-mana. Pastikan mendapat tiket ditangan, bukan selembar kuitansi pembayaran. Tiket yang benar adalah seperti gambar diatas dengan ukuran 15X10cm. Saya beri angka warna merah untuk menunjukkan detail.

1. TN15 = nama kereta. Untuk klas rakyat dinamai TN sedang klas cepat adalah SN dengan nomor dibelakangnya. Nomor ganjil menuju Saigon dan nomor genap menuju Hanoi.

2. Soft Sleep = tipe tempat duduk. Untuk kereta malam biasanya ada compartment dengan tempat tidur. Soft artinya dengan kasur busa dengan 4 bed. Sedang hard sleep sebenarnya pake busa tapi tipis aja. Dua2nya diberi bantal dan selimut. Spesial kereta tipe SN, soft sleep dan hard sleep pake AC sedang yang rakyat kadang ada AC kadang pake fan.

3. Hue-Saigon = adalah rute yang dituju. Perlu diketahui nama resmi Saigon adalah Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), namun semua orang masih menggunakan nama Sai Gon untuk berbagai hal.

4. Ngay di/Date 05/02/2006 = tanggal perjalanan. Ketika menerima tiket pastikan dengan jelas. Kalau tukang tiket ngg bisa bhs inggris, tulis di secarik kertas menunjukkan tujuan, tanggal dan jenis tempat duduk. Serahkan dan dia akan mengerti. Bahasa tulisan lebih manjur.

5. Toa/Coach 11T = nama gerbong. Sebelum naik, teliti dulu apa gerbong kereta dimulai dari nomor kecil. Nama gerbong ditulis di papan, ditempel/digantung di gerbong. Untuk kereta cepat, satu petugas menunggu di tiap gerbong sembari meneliti tiket.

6. Loai ve/Ticket Foreigner = jenis tiket. Untuk turis memang lebih mahal. Klo mau ngakali (he..he) minta dibeliin temen di Vietnam ditanggung kita dapet harga lokal. Lumayan kan…

7. Giao/Time = jam kereta berangkat. Bisa dibilang jarang ontime, tapi bukan berarti lantas datengnya molor. Minimum datang setengah jam sebelum jadual. Karena harus mencari letak peron/platform ataupun posisi ruang tunggu. Jika ada perkembangan baru biasanya diumumkan keras-keras tapi tidak dengan bahasa inggris. maka “being nuisance’ alias nanya-nanya terus.

8. Tang/Level 2 = ini level tempat tidur. Saya dapet no2 soft sleep berarti tempat tidur paling atas. Harga termahal tentulah yang paling bawah. Untuk SN ada tangga besi naik, sedang kereta rakyat cuma pake pijakan kecil di dinding. Siap2 latihan panjat dinding dah….

9. Giung/Berth 12 = nomor tempat tidur. Biasanya ada di pintu compartment lengkap dengan posisinya. Tapi untuk yang rakyat cuma ditulis pake spidol gede2 di pintu compartment.

10. Gia ve/Price 611.000 dong = harga tiket. Jangan beli tiket dengan US dollar bila perlu tukar uang dulu. Jurusan Hue-Saigon lumayan mahal maka siap2 duit cash.

Tips lainnya :
• Jika punya pengaman ransel sebaiknya dikaitkan ke tepi bed. Sebenarnya aman2 saja hanya paling sering adalah jambret ketika tidur.
• Bawa air minum banyak karena walaupun dibagi aqua tapi cuma dalam botol kecil
• Toilet lumayan bersih, ngg jorok (ups.. don’t expect too much). Bawa toilet paper/wet tissue untuk membasuh.
• Untuk kereta SN ada konter air panas gratis. Jadi klo mau bikin kopi/teh/mie sendiri juga bisa. Ada penjual resmi dorongan di kereta tapi harganya agak mencekik. Mosok kopi dihargai 10,000vnd ?
• Bawa buku/musik untuk menghibur diri. Abis lama buanget… kecuali di gerbong bertemu dengan teman mengasyikkan. Terutama dengan orang setempat, banyak cerita menarik bisa digali.

Links:
Vietnam Railways : situs resmi perusahaan kereta Vietnam lengkap dengan rute, jam dan harga (lokal).
How to travel in Vietnam by Seat61 (khusus kereta) : sebuah situs yang didedikasikan untuk pemakai kereta. Seat61 adalah nomor tempat duduk favorit kereta Eurostar yang dipakai Mark Smith seorang mantan manajer keretaapi di Inggris yang empunya web ini.

 

 
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