Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Danum - Day 15

After another great night in our premium villa, we hit the restaurant for an early breakfast so we would have time to digest prior to our planned 7AM hike with Azmil.  I could certainly get used to someone making me eggs to order for breakfast all the time. Hear that Karen!

Once again, there was some mist in the trees this morning and the Gibbons were calling.  I don't think there could be a more perfect environment to do a hike.  All of our senses were being tingled by the great sights and sounds.

Morning Fog in Danum

Once again, Azmil did a great job getting us in position to see the very elusive North Bornean Gibbons.  We got even better looks today and were able to see a mother and baby. It was a great experience even if the pictures weren't great.  This is the best of the bunch:

Mother Gibbon and Baby

At one point, a huge male Bearded Pig came rambling out of the forest and almost ran into us before veering off.  He was actually too close for me to get a decent picture at my minimum 200mm focal distance.  But, Tim got another great video of him:

Not long after that, we came upon a Short-crested Forest Dragon having its breakfast:
Short-crested Forest Dragon

According to Azmil, this lizard has the ability to change its color a bit to blend into its surroundings which makes sense given that it blended in so well against the tree trunk from most angles.

During most of our hikes in Danum, we passed little mud columns and I finally remembered to ask Azmil about them during this hike:

Giant Earthworm Tube

They are actually tubes formed by Giant Earthworms as they dig in the ground.  The species in Borneo isn't that big but they have one called the Mekong Giant Earthworm in Vietnam that can get up to 10 feet long!  Imagine trying to get that on a fishing hook.

Our morning hike concluded with two great encounters.

First, Azmil took us to look for a male Orangutan that was last seen in the vicinity.  He was able to spot it high in a tree and we got some decent looks and pictures:

Climbing Up

Smiling Male Orangutan

Then, Azmil heard a Great Argus Pheasant calling so we left the Orangutan (imagine that!) to go find it.  The Great Argus is extremely rare and the last one seen at BRL was along time ago.  But, apparently this one had been hanging around a specific trail recently calling for the ladies.  It was this call that we followed.  Eventually, we got into position and we all got great looks at it:

Great Argus

With that excitement out of the way, Azmil left us on the trail for a bit because he wanted to go track down that male Orangutan again off trail.  So, we hung around and talked until he came back and led us off trail to a great vantage point of the male who was now resting up in a tree:

Just Chillin'

We watched him for a while until he moved further along the branch to take a snooze.   Wow, it was really cool to finally see a male with flanges (the large flappy check pads).  Apparently, the bigger flanges the better when it comes to finding a mate and this guy had some good sized ones.

The only other action during the hike were all the Tiger leeches that we flicked off, but amazingly none of us got bit.  Since we were all "experienced" leech food by now, they didn't bother us as much anymore.

We ended up hiking for over 5 hours but it sure was worth it.  The cold wet washcloth offered up by a BRL staff member on our return was AMAZING!

After a lunch that included HUGE prawns (boy, were we getting spoiled) and a Water Monitor "crawl by", we lounged around our premium villas until our planned later afternoon hike.

Wandering Water Monitor

The afternoon hike was going to be much easier than the morning one.  We planned to take a trail to the waterfall to experience a fish massage and would stop by a suspected Asian Fairy Flycatcher nest on the way.

Unfortunately, the nest was abandoned which is a shame because I really wanted some pictures of that flycatcher.  It's one of the more spectacular birds in Borneo.

So, next up we visited the waterfall for the famous fish massage.  But first, we spotted this Rock Hopper Frog:
Rock Skipper Frog

Now, if you have ever been to SE Asia you undoubtedly have seen road signs advertising fish massages.  Contrary to what you might think, they don't lay you face down and place a huge flopping fish on your back.  Although, I bet people would pay money for that so I will write that idea down...

Instead, you take off your shoes and socks and place your feet in a pool with certain species of fish that proceed to eat the dead skin off your feet.  I am sure it's all very comfy when down at one of these roadside locations.

But, we were in the middle of the jungle standing by a pool at the base of a waterfall with only large sharp rocks to walk on and nowhere to sit.  Tim and Andrea sat down near the water to take off their shoes and socks which was wise.  However, Karen and I sat on a rock about 10 yards from the water so once the shoes and socks came off we had to walk on the sharp rocks to the waters edge.  What followed were lots of high pitched "Ow...OW...OWWWW!" sounds and bit of profanity thrown in for good measure.  And, that was just from me.

Surely this brief agony would all be worth it when the pleasures of the fish "massage" overwhelmed my feet.  Right?


Instead of gentle satisfying nibbles, the fish around us must have been buck-toothed Piranha because they went at our feet like sailors scraping barnacles off a boat.  To top it off, they didn't go for the hard callouses (not that I have any of the those...).  They preferred the soft and delicate sides of our feet that really had no extra skin to give.

Karen was the first to yield and I only lasted a little longer.  Apparently, once we were out and yelping our way back to our shoes, the buffet going on around Tim and Andrea jumped into warp speed.  So, they were done not long after I was.

While I am glad I did this for the experience and story, I sure wouldn't call it a fish "massage".  A fish "foot feeding frenzy" or a fish "skin scraping" would have been much more appropriate names but those names would hurt sales for obvious reasons.

If we had brought flip flops at least all the screaming outside the water would have gone away.  So, we will remember that next time.  Yeah, like there will be a next time...

Now, while all of this was going on, some Red Leaf Monkeys were in the trees above us and looking on with much amusement I am sure.

"I'm limber":

On the hike back to the lodge I finally got a picture of the cool Pill Millipede.  When disturbed, this guy will roll into an armored ball that looks like a brown golf ball.  It would actually be great if they had golf ball markings on them so we could tell them apart.  That way the conversation would exactly match the ones I have on the golf course.  "Well, there's a Titleist 4 in the mud down by that pond and a Top Flight 2 over behind those trees."

Pill Millipede

We also found another daytime Colugo before reaching the lodge.  I have actually lost count of how many Colugos we saw this trip but we did see at least one in all locations and probably about 10 total.

Just as we got back to the lodge, the rain started and never stopped.  So, our night walk had to be cancelled.  Instead, we enjoyed some cocktails in the restaurant, a tasty dinner, and the usual battle over the best desserts.  We were all winners in that battle by the way.

But, we went to bed sad in our premium villas because it was our last night at the amazing Borneo Rainforest Lodge.  It's truly a special place and worth EVERY penny.

No comments: