We decide on heading out of town for the day and head for the nearest national park to us. The Bako National Park. Just a short drive from the main center of Kuching.
The only way to access the park is to hire a small speedboat from the end of the road out of town, while waiting for our ride, the first of a number of alarming notices is pinned to the wall, it shows the macabre attack on a local fisherman by a crocodile, all caught on camera and all there to follow along, including the removal of the poor mans remains from the, now dead, croc.
We board the boat with a new sense of respect for our surroundings.
The boat ride out is truly beautiful, small fishing villages along the estuary make way for open waters with grand vistas of the surrounding mountains, it’s as smooth as glass and very peaceful, we keep our hands in the boat though, those crocodiles could be anywhere.
After about 30 minutes we approach the main jetty area of the national park where the boatman will leave us with instructions to not miss the last boat back or we’ll have to stay the night, also to “beware of wild animal attack”, and, as he pulls away, something about don’t come back here, it’s low tide, “go the beach, go to beach”. With a friendly wave he’s gone.
We first decide we need to find the beach he’s talking about, we don’t want to be left behind.
A wander along the path leads us to a park information office, some more wild animal attack signs and a beach, we guess this is the correct beach and set off for an explore.
Along the path is a handy noticeboard, explaining were we should head.
We choose the easiest and shortest, Besar Beach, and head off into the jungle.
Despite claims it’s an easy walk, we’re pretty soon panting and dripping from the activity, some of the climbs are straight up through a tangle of ancient roots.
We twist ankles, jar knees and scrap skin from our shins, but still take time to marvel at the surrounds, beautiful filtered light, monkeys scampering through the trees and the sound of crashing waves as we make our way towards the beach.
Eventually arriving at the classic desert island beach, jungle falling right down to the sand, nobody to be seen or heard, and with a proboscis monkey hunting berries or seeds along the sand, perfect.
With time against us and the threat of “beware wild animal attack”, still ringing in our ears we resign ourselves to the trek back to the boat.
Where we eventually do come across the much threatened wild animal, a small and very friendly pig, snuffling about for something in a patch of grass in front of the information center.
And, as promised, our boatman arrives to whisk us homeward.
All photos and text copyright Ross Duncan