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Singapore - Kuching 17 December

The sky was grey when we woke up.  Due to the rush in getting out to the taxi, Flemming left the video camera at the apartment.  Fortunately he realized this before we took off, but not before we had arrived at Selatar airport.   So back I went in another taxi while Flemming and Ray refueled and got the plane ready.

During the taxi ride, the rain came and it pelted down in typical tropical fashion.  I thought it would be best to wait until it subsided before taking off, and therefore there was no point in rushing.  But when I arrived at the airport, it was just in the clear.  Flemming phoned me on the mobile to say "Hurry up!   The storm is heading this way." So I ran to the plane and we took off in the nick of time.  The stormscope was lit up like a Christmas tree in the direction of Singapore.  But in the direction we were heading - North East - all was calm.  As expected from the forecasts and infrared satellite images, it was a pleasantly smooth flight and we landed in Kuching, East Malaysia (Borneo) after just over 3 hours.

The next day we visited Baku National Park, home to the rare proboscis monkey, about an hour out of Kuching by taxi and boat.  There are several trails of varying lengths there and we chose a three-hour circular walk taking us through a variety of vegetation from lush, hot and steamy jungle to less lush, hot and dry. We saw the proboscis monkey in a tree near park HQ soon after arrival - distinguished by its long nose and pot belly.  Then nearby we saw several of the  more common long-tailed macaque.  About half way round the trail we met up with some Swedes.  We asked them whether they had spotted any pitcher plants, as we'd read that these strange jug-like plants  were to be found in the park.  They said "No".  Then Flemming looked carefully at the plant he was standing next to, and lo and behold it was a pitcher plant!  These plants are like jugs with a lid that opens up as the plant matures.  There are several varieties of pitcher plant and the largest ones can hold up to 2 liters of water.  The jug holds a nectar that attracts unsuspecting insects.   Most of them drown in the nectar, but even if they manage to scramble up the slippery walls of the jug, they meet with nasty spikey things on the rim.

We ate lunch at park HQ, carefully looking out for long-tailed macaques that were  quick to snatch not only one's food but also wallets, cameras, etc.  I bought some peanuts in their shells, wondering if the macaques would   bother to open them if they got their hands on them, or just eat them whole.   It didn't take long to get the answer to that question.  I was only distracted for a moment but the macaque swiftly scooped up  both the peanuts bag and the rubbish bag where I'd left the shells.  It quickly realized which was the interesting bag because it dropped the rubbish bag on the floor before making off.  It didn't go far.   A short while later, I found it deftly removing the shells before shovelling the peanuts into its mouth.

Back in Kuching, we found a restaurant with a great setting, overlooking the river Sarawak, for our sundowners and dinner.  We made up our minds to do a sunset cruise on the river the following evening, which was to be our last in Kuching.

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Approach to Kuching over Sarawak river

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Male proboscis monkey with long nose and pot belly

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Tarzan's Jane trying out the liana in the jungle of Baku

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Our first pitcher plant

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Returning from Baku: the water is grey due to all the mud from the Sarawak river

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