Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia, with a length of 560 kilometers from its headwaters in the mountains of southwest Sabah, to its outlet at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan. On our way, our road trip was filled with adventure from the start. We ended up getting stuck in a massive traffic jam, due to a wreck that had occurred earlier in the morning. We were stuck in traffic for about 3 hours, as the lunch hour passed we started to get hungry, so we decided to have our picnic lunch in the back of the car. On the menu was canned tuna, either with tomato sauce or mayo, bread and canned beans. Not the usually picnic lunch, but it filled our stomachs till dinner.
Photo by Ashley Haseley
Once we finally arrived to the “Ego Camp” on the riverside, we had a few minutes before we took our evening river cruise along the riverside. We saw a few monkeys and a few of the exotic birds of Borneo. The sunset was beautiful on the river and it also happened to be the same night as the eclipse, so the moon was large and bright as it started to rise into the evening sky. It was a perfect place to be one with nature, as the “Ego Camp” had no electricity. By the end of the night, you could see the red tint on the moon and every constellation – as I couldn’t help but point out every star and constellation I knew to the people I was with – see Dad I do listen to your random knowledge J. As we laid outside looking up at the night sky and listening to all the different sounds, we heard around seven different types that ranged from monkeys, to birds, to tree frogs, to insects. The night could have not felt more peaceful.
The accommodations, were similar to camping, we were just not place directly on the ground just in case any larger animals would be passing through. That night I woke up around 2am to an uncommon noise. I believe it was a monkey, but wasn’t for sure, as camping in the jungle is a new adventure for me. I played the game, if I can’t see him, he can’t see me – I quickly pulled the sheet over my head and tried to go back to sleep.
The next day we explored the river again for a sunrise cruise and then went hiking in the afternoon. Even though, we reviewed the map and was told to follow the yellow markings, we still managed to get off the trail and create another adventure. At one point, I was using the branches to pull myself out of the sinking mud. If you were to ask me if I would do it all over again, I would say “yes”. The frustrations of feeling like you are going in circles and being covered in mud was all worth it!
Our next stop was a homestay in Sukau. The family was very hospitable and treated us with freshwater prawns from the river. We explored the village, did some fishing (yet did not catch anything) and went to the Gomantong Caves.
The adventure as a whole was unpredictable, exciting and eventful – I am very blessed to able to have this experience.