Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Deramakot - Day 6

Since we were content with our Gibbon sightings from the day before, we elected to sleep in today  so no morning drive was planned.  We didn't get up until 8AM...the horror!  Actually, it was very much needed for all of us and I think we all had a bit of pep in our step today because if it.

Since breakfast wouldn't be until 10:30AM today, Karen and I went for a little walk around the camp grounds. While my knee didn't hurt that much (I didn't need to take any painkiller). I lost a lot of flexibility between the stitches and bandage.  So, I couldn't fully straighten it or bend it close to 90 degrees.  That made walking the big hill real fun...let me tell you.

In any case, we had a good walk around the grounds.  This Whiskered Treeswift even posed for a photo:
Whiskered Treeswift

As we were walking the main road, we saw an otter scamper across the road and out of sight.  We hustled up to where it dove into the tall grass but saw no signs of it.  It must have headed for the nearby stream so we did as well but we never saw it again.

Back at the restaurant, we looked at the reference books there and couldn't decide whether it was a Smooth Otter (a common but still very cool sighting) or a Hairy-nosed Otter (which would be an incredibly unique and rare sighting).  Without a picture, there was no way to know for sure.  But, later in the trip Mike said he talked with some forestry guys who have seen Smooth Otters in that same area a lot.  So, we are going with Smooth Otter as our mystery sighting.

We had originally planned to do an afternoon drive but the rains came in the afternoon so we changed plans to have an earlier dinner (6PM) and do the Tarsier hike at 7PM if the rain stopped.

Luckily, the rain did stop and the Tarsier hike was a go!  At 7PM, I was once again excited but after slipping on my big rubber boots I VERY gingerly walked down the restaurant stairs holding on to the handrail the whole time.  I had learned my lesson.

The Tarsier hike ended up being an epic hike.  One that the 4 of us will not soon forget but it was probably no big deal to Mike and Addie (Addie is also a guide who had accompanied us the past few days).  I think I will share the events of this hike as they played out in my mind:

7:15 PM: With high spirits and even higher leech socks on, the 6 of us ventured off into the dark forest on a quest to find the elusive big-eyed little monster

7:16 PM: Damn it's hot!  And, muddy too!

7:30 PM: The first leech was found rapidly crawling up Karen's leg before I flicked it off

7:45 PM:  Whose idea was it to hike through a hot steamy leech invested Borneo jungle at night!  Oh yeah...mine.

8:00 PM: The leeches sense blood.  I have flicked numerous off Karen and she has done the same for me. Thank goodness the trail has leveled off now

8:05 PM: How many circles of Hell did Dante describe and which one are we currently in?

8:11 PM:  LIFE!  We have found life that doesn't want our blood. It's a Tree hole Frog that doesn't want to be photographed though

8:30 PM: Like zombies we shuffle along aimlessly with low groans

8:40 PM: Mike points out a real life zombie.  An insect that was taken over by a cordyceps fungus that will control it then kill it.  It's real, look it up.

8:56 PM: We have come face to face with a "prickly" creature.  It's a Malay Porcupine:

Malay Porcupine Encountered On Foot

8:57 PM:  The porcupine is now about 15 feet away and closing.  It has "puffed" up its quills and looked at us a bit funny.  I am slowly moving to the left...behind Mike.

Malay Porcupine

9:30 PM: The porcupine high has long ago worn off.  Where are the freakin Tarsiers!

9:48 PM: Mike is gesturing to come quickly!  It must be a Tarsier!  But wait, I don't see a fist sized primate...I see a big face.

9:48 PM and 2 seconds:  It's a Banded Civet!  Must take pictures!

Banded Civet

Banded Civet Encountered On Foot

9:48 PM and 4 seconds: Shit!  It's too close for the lens!

9:48 PM and 5 seconds:  The Civet is gone.  Only 3 of us got decent looks.

10:00 PM: We have just about finished the trail.  It's all downhill now back to the truck, yippee!!!

10:05 PM: Mike asks who want to do the trail again to avoid coming back another night and climbing up the hill again. My mind says "Oh, Hell No!" but my mouth says "I'm in".  I hate my mouth.

10:15 PM: Woman Down!  Karen slipped and fell but popped right back up again

10:30 PM: I don't think Tarsiers even exist...

10:45 PM: Ow!  Ow!  Mother F@#$#!  Something stung me on the arm.

11:11 PM: I am damn well taking a picture of something!

Another Millipede

11:30 PM: Woman Down!  This time it's Andrea that falls but she is also right back up again.

11:35 PM: I chuckle to myself when I realize that only the women have fallen and they are the ones that have the walking sticks.  Then I remember the stitches in my knee.  Doh...

12:00 AM: So hot...so tired...so thirsty...

12:05 AM: The Tarsier is now officially my nemesis animal.

12:30 AM: Is that the truck?  Fuck yeah, that's the truck!

So, after over 5 hours of hiking, our little adventure was done.  We slogged through countless puddles, slipped down countless slopes, and flicked off countless leeches (some after they had bitten Andrea).  But, there was no Tarsier to be found.  The Malay Porcupine and Banded Civet were incredible encounters especially on foot but I still came away a little disappointed.

Of course, I exaggerated my state of my a little bit.  We did see some other cool stuff like the Harlequin Flying Frog, a Striped Civet high in a tree, quick moving Mouse Deer plus tons of cool insects.

Mike worked exceptionally hard again looking for a damn Tarsier so even though we struck out it wasn't for lack of trying.  Hopefully, Tim and Andrea were still talking to us after this...

Back on the truck, Mike asked if we wanted to do a night drive now.  Really?  It was almost 1AM and we were hot, sweaty and tired so naturally we said...um yes!

Once the truck took off, Karen starting squirming around.  Turns out she had leeches coming out of her boots.  So, she had Mike stop the truck and she climbed out to take off her boots only to find around 8 on her boots and socks.  Luckily, the leech socks had done their job.  She managed to flick the leeches away and we were off again. I wonder if I should check my boots. Nah...

The drive started with another Buffy Fish Owl and then we spotted this large Bearded Pig:
Bearded Pig

Then an Island Palm Civet:
Island Palm Civet

On the way back to camp, I felt something on my neck.  I reached up and pulled something off my neck and tossed it away.  I had Karen look at my neck and there was blood.  A leech got me.  My first one ever and it was on the neck...nice.

We got back to our chalet at 3AM.  As we took our shoes/boots and leech socks off more leeches came out and started to crawl on the floor and even up the wall.  We stepped on them, ground our heels into them and whacked them with our shoes.  As soon as we thought we finally killed one and moved on, the first one started moving again.  It was like an endless game of Whack-A-Leech.  A game we could not win but one that did make a giggle a little bit since we were so tired.  Once we finally thought we got them all, we retired to our rooms.  However, a few minutes later we could hear Tim back out in the common room whacking leeches.  Ah, the game continued...

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