By Monday, a week after my arrival in Malaysia, I decided it was time to venture out on my own. Richard dropped me off at the visitor center where I booked a room and got the bus information to head out for an overnight trip to Bako National Park. I enjoyed being show around town and treated to many things I otherwise may not have experience but I was ready for some alone time and a little bit more nature. The journey to the park involved an hour bus ride followed by a half hour boat ride. I arrived at the jetty around 12pm but to my dismay was told that i'd have to wait until 1:30 for the tide to rise, with nothing but a small coffee/snack shop to entertain me the time passed a bit slow, but I was in no rush, after all this was vacation. The boat fare was 47RM regardless of the amount of people so I was excited when 3 other travelers turned up to split the cost with me.
The ride was enjoyable, if not a bit scary, I've come to realize i'm not the biggest fan of water related activity - I found myself with a death grip more than once during the trip. Two of the others in my boat were only staying for the day so they quickly took off to explore the park, leaving me with the guy from the UK whose name seems to have slipped my mind, we'll call him Rob. Anyway, we checked into our rooms, got some lunch (which Rob accidentally shared with the monkeys) and made our way out on the Pandan Besar/Kecil trail. The estimated time was about 3 hours round trip which gave us plenty of time, including a stop at the beach.
The night didn't hold much in terms of excitement, but I was expecting much from a National park. Rob and I hung out in the canteen sharing travel stories before heading to bed around 10:30, party animals for sure. I have to say one of the best parts of this park was that the accommodation (dorm room) was only 15RM (about $3) and there was no one else booked in my room so I basically had a log cabin to myself. The next morning we were up early, one of the first to the cafeteria for breakfast and soon after out on the trails. This time we chose the Lintang trail which made a nice loop of the grounds. About 6km, estimated to take around three and a half hours it sounded like a good task for the day
Feeling ambitious we also decided to add the Paku trail to the end of our hike, basically because it promised another beach at the end. This trail was even more up and down than the last and my knees were starting to scream at me, but still the scenery was enjoyable. Plus being the closest trail to the headquarters there were hikers of all ages, shapes and sizes along the way - I couldn't really give up or complain when there were old women along side me. We soon reached the beach and couldn't get in the water fast enough! The tide was low so there wasn't much swimming to be done but the water was perfect and the view was gorgeous. Realizing that the headquarters was just around a rock ledge and the tide being so low we decided to trek back through the water, a much faster and easier route than the jungle we took in.
My two days at the park were just what I wanted, plus the added bonus of my hiking buddy rob who provided good entertainment for the trip. I got my dose of nature, exercise and animals before returning back to wrap up my visit to Kuching.
I got lucky picking this as my first major, solo=backpacking trip. The locals that welcomed me into their homes and taught me about their culture fueled my fire for travel. The food is diverse and delicious, as is the country itself. With heavy influences from both China and India there is a lot on offer.