Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trekking to Teluk Limau – part 3

Part 3 will include photos taken along the way from Teluk Assam to Tajor. For the other parts, click on the tag “Bako Adventure 2010.05.24” above.

Part 3 – From Teluk Assam to Tajor Waterfall

When we reached the park, we immediately made our way to the guest reception area to report ourselves and to pay camp ground fees (RM5 per person). Visitors doing any of the trails are required to sign in in case you get lost and do not return, then a search party can be mobilized. From the reception building, we headed to the canteen to buy some food for lunch and additional water.




Saw lots of macaques along the trail to the reception area but they were generally well behaved. When we got to the canteen, we saw a tourist shooing away a marauder which had grabbed food from the man’s plate. Bits and pieces of food fell to the ground, delighting the thieving macaque while a canteen attendant hurried over to help chase the little monkey away.


I bought 5 slices of honey dew and finished 2 before even reaching the trail head. The other three pieces were gone by noon. For water, I had in my bag four 1.5L bottles, one 500ml bottle, 3 or 4 325ml cans of isotonic drinks and 4 200ml Milo tetra-packs. Water alone totaled up to about 9 kilos. Together with my tent, clean clothes, medicine, flashlight, packed food and the weight of my backpack itself, I carried well over 10 kilos on my back that day!




We each had to carry lots of water because we weren’t sure how many flowing streams we would encounter (where we could refill empty bottles). It was our very first attempt at trekking to Teluk Limau (Bako’s longest trail). In fact, it was my two friends’ first experience up on the main Bako plateau! It was as if they skipped elementary school and went straight to PhD by tackling Bako’s longest and toughest trail on their first visit!




We began our trek at about a quarter past 10, myself finishing up 500ml of water even before the 1km mark. By the 2km mark, all three of us were already complaining of aching backs due to our rock heavy backpacks. I think my Deuter bag is really unsuitable for long hikes; the weight rests on the shoulders only with no distribution over the back.


From Teluk Assam (park HQ) to the Tajor Waterfall, we met a number of other tourists but after Tajor, there was only one other trekker, a lone Swiss who was going to spend two nights camping at Teluk Limau and Teluk Kruin. He went ahead of us from Tajor and we never saw him again. From Tajor onwards, we were the only ones out there, surrounded by nothing but peace and greenery.


It really was so quiet and beautiful on the plateau. I absolutely loved being there. Were it not for our heavy backpacks and the need to reach as far as we could before dusk, we would have liked to just sit and enjoy the surrounding beauty or do a bit of off-trail exploration. Alas, time was not on our side so we had to trudge ahead to find a suitable camping place before night fell.


Follow our journey from Teluk Assam to Tajor in pictures…



This was the first stream (blackwater) we came across.



Utricularia species. Bladderworts, a kind of carnivorous plant, form dense mats in many stream beds. They are also found growing in ditches and flooded patches along the trail.



Photographing bladderworts in the stream.



We picked a perfect day to take photos, nice, clear and sunny. The trail to Tajor passes through open shrub land and heath forest (kerangas).



Can’t see from this photo but there’s a big pool of water to the left of the wooden walk way. Thanks to heavy rain some days earlier, many streams were flowing so we actually didn’t need to carry so much water.



A natural water trough carved out by flowing water.



The little potholes are created by stones, sand or pebbles whirled around by flowing water.



Bako’s open grasslands are littered with bone-dry leaves and other organic debris. Smoking is strictly prohibited in many parts because bush fire risks.



After nearly 2 hours, we were nearly at Tajor.



It was extremely hot on the open areas of the plateau. The white sandy sand reflected sunlight and I regretted leaving my shades in the car.



Look at that sky! It was so hot that we wrapped our heads and shielded our faces with towels, looking like desert ninjas (see part 1).



I zoomed in to 270mm with my pocket cam, bringing into view the cargo ship in the distance (South China Sea).



Ant plants on a small tree - Dischidia rafflesiana (top), Dischidia nummularia (center) and Hydnophytum formicarum (bottom). See: Ant plants of Bako NP



Taking photos of ant plants.



Nepenthes mirabilis is one of the pitcher plant species that grow in Bako’s open grass lands.



Anyone planning to trek here must remember to bring sunblock unless they want to get burned!



We reached a point on the plateau which afforded us panoramic views of the Muara Tebas peninsula.



Many trees on the open sandy areas are small and stunted. This little tree provided some much needed shade from the burning sun as I stood under it taking photos.



As long as there is flowing water, one can actually refill their water bottles from these streams. Remember to bring along Chlorine tablets (to purify stream water) or a portable water filter on long hikes.



A beautiful stream which flowed down some big rocks creating small cascades before vanishing into a thicket of trees.



Small blackwater pool.


Tajor Waterfall photos will be posted in a separate entry.

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