Malaysia :: Bako National Park

“You have to go there.”
-Terje, showing me there’s a park with my name on it

For my birthday one year, Terje posted a picture of a sign from “Bako National Park” and told me I definitely had to go see it on my trip around the world.

Well, one has to inspect ones lands, I guess.

Bako National Park in Borneo is also home to the Proboscis Monkeys, the long-nosed monkey, a reddish-brown Old World monkey with an unusually large nose considered quite obscene by some. It is endemic to the southeast Asian island of Borneo.

Proboscis Monkey

Proboscis Monkey

I went here for two reasons: To survey my fabulous park, of course. After all, apparently one is The Queen now. And to see these monkeys.

I got up really early to grab a bus out to the park entrance and made it there by 9am. The park itself is only accessible by boat, so you have to organize transport at the entrance office and some local guys will take you when they fill up their boat at the next available time. What I didn’t know and didn’t read anywhere was that, of course, if there is extremely low tide, the boats wont go into the park at all. All the reviews I’d read just stated that if low tide the boat drops you “far away from the beach center”, but I didn’t mind walking a bit to get there so I didn’t pay it much attention.

Naturally, I had the good luck of happening upon such an extreme low tide. I was told the boats where stranded until noon, at least, maybe longer. I debated a bit whether or not I should take the bus back and try again tomorrow, but in the end I decided to wait it out. Ultimately this meant I had up to three hours less in the park itself, but I wasn’t planning on an 8 hour hike anyway, so I went for it.

I figured I wouldn’t be using the bathing suit I brought when I saw the sign saying “No swimming, crocodiles spotted i the park”…

At 12.30pm a boat was ready to go and me and my new friends from the Netherlands, Nadine & Fiona (and American Dan), happily climbed in.

After arriving, being dropped off at the beach and registering I was full of spirit, heading in to the forest to look for penis-nosed monkeys I was “guaranteed to see”.

Didn’t see a single one. I saw two bearded pigs (huge!) and a bunch of Macaques, one I named “Satan” tried to pry my backpack off me so he could get to the food he was sure was in there. (I had none, I learned from Africa, no carrying food around the monkeys). Satan didn’t care though, he had a mission and this stoopid human wasn’t getting in his way!!1

The other human with a stick got in his way though. Another tourist, Asian guy, obviously had experience because he raised his walking stick like a rifle and pretended to take aim. Satan ran off and that was that… for about 5 minutes… Short memory on that primate.

I did one of the shortest hikes, the one that’s supposed to give you monkeys and all things nice. It takes you down to the beach around the island and is a really nice, non-arduous hike. I would say anyone normally fit could do it, but there’s a lot of climbing ladders and up and down terrain (extremely slippery during rainy season, yeah thanks), so it’s not suitable for the very geriatric folks, but other than that it doesn’t require massive fitness.

On my way back I met several people going IN to the park and kept asking them if they’d seen the monkeys. “Have you seen the monkeyyyyssss??!?!” #MonkeysPlz
They kept telling me there were a bunch of them back by the accommodations, aka close to the visitors’ center, the place I started out. I headed back there, taking some photos and met up with Satan. Thought he was pretty cute until he wanted more from this relationship than I was willing to give and got obsessive. Walking bakcwards towards the visitors center I tried to reason with him, but I could see in his eyes there was no rational thought #ButYouSaid #WhoIsHe?

Right when I was about to give up, give Satan the slip and sneak over to the boat area I spotted a bunch of tourists unusually interested in a tree. And whaddaya know? There where proboscis monkeys up there. Two on them. With both their nose and their penis out. No joke.

I snapped about 300 pictures of them before I realized it was getting late and I hurried back to the boat area to find transport outta there. I met up with a couple of tourists from somewhere else in Malaysia who decided I was monkey enough to take a picture with and then we climbed in a boat and set sails for the park entrance. One problem: The woman who needed her photo taken with me was afraid of boats. She screamed and clutched her husbands arm the whole way there – funny as shit.

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