Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trekking to Teluk Limau, Bako NP – Part 2

Part 2: Boat ride to Teluk Assam

From Kpg. Bako to Teluk Assam
It was a very busy morning at the boat terminal with lots of tourists waiting for their boats, paying park fees or making enquiries at the reception counter. Visitors are reminded that accommodation at Bako is limited and bookings must be made in advance. Walk-ins are highly discouraged during peak season (May-Sep) as you are most likely going to be sleeping under the stars with mosquitoes draining you dry if you intend to overnight without prior reservations.

We departed rather late, around 9AM as the tide wasn’t high enough for boats to travel at an earlier time. On the way to the Teluk Assam, our boatman took us close to many fishermen who were out fishing for small prawns and fish. It was a really fun experience as we got to see up close what they caught.

Seeing the patient kampung fishermen in their small boats under the hot morning sun really made me realize what a hard life they must lead. When out boatman brought us close to a group of boats, we could see clearly that their catch wasn’t much, small crustaceans and a few fish but it was all they had to help put food on the table.

We were also very lucky to see river dolphins (Irrawady dolphins) breaching the water surface when we reached the river mouth. Unfortunately, they were too fast for my pocket cam. Our boat guy said that three kinds of dolphins including Pacific dolphins (rare sighting) may be spotted here!

I have been to Bako many times and that was the first time we were lucky enough to see so many fishermen out at sea because of good weather and high tide. Plus, our boat guy was really great for taking the time to bring us to the small boats and pointing out the different fishing methods used to catch different types of fish. More photos below.

All photos on this trip taken with my Fujifilm F70EXR pocket cam (convenient 10x zoom but picture quality isn’t that nice).

Note the PET bottles used to float the fishing nets.

Catching small prawns (bubuk) for making a local delicacy called budu (a sauce made of fermented seafood).

This pakcik caught only some small fish and shrimp.

That’s Mount Santubong in the background. The entire Santubong peninsula is about the same size the Muara Tebas peninsula (Bako NP) and even though they are so close to each other, they have very different soil and vegetation types.

The wooden structures are constructed for attaching fishing nets.

These fishermen are catching ikan kembung. This is where the river meets the South China Sea. We saw river dolphins here.

Note the large ice box for keeping their catch.

Further info:
To get to Bako National Park, visitors must take a boat from Kampung Bako (Bako Village) to Teluk Assam where the park HQ is located. The boat ride takes about 20 minutes depending on sea conditions. In the rainy season, the sea could be very rough with huge swells rushing in with the tide. If you go with a big tour group or travel company, the tour proceeds rain or shine. Tourists who decide not the risk the rough waters normally do not get a refund.

On previous trips, we saw big groups of tourists being ferried out in the pouring rain. Some boatmen would also refuse to take anyone if conditions are too rough. In the past, there have been cases of boats being flipped over on the way to the park in bad weather. Just google it or visit some travel forums to read such accounts.

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