Friday, July 2, 2010

Trekking to Teluk Limau, Part 6 – there at last!


“Can’t… go… on… call me a heli!”

Part 6 – race against time!

From our campsite, we started trekking again just before 7AM. The night’s rest did me little good as I was awake for most of the night suffering from skin allergies (from bathing in blackwater). My two friends suffered no such reaction; they slept well for most of the night and could carry on the next morning with renewed energy and stamina. On the other hand, I became the slowest one, quickly left behind by several meters to trudge alone with sweat running profusely down my brow and stinging my eyes.


With just 5 kilometers left to cover, we were hoping to reach our destination before noon. We had made arrangements for our boatman (from the day before) to pick us up at 12:00pm. So it was important for us to reach the beach at Teluk Limau on time.


Oh by the way, the photo above, that situation isn’t real of course. While we were most definitely tired, we weren’t *that* tired! Took the photo just for laughs to show our friends. haha! When most saw it they initially thought it was real and were quite shocked. They thought that if regular trekkers could be so knackered, then it must be one seriously tough trail! We were supposed to go again in one big group but many voted to go by boat instead of on foot after hearing our stories. LOL! Will write about our second visit when I’m finished with this series.



One of the many hills encountered along the way. At this particular point, a small trail branches off to the left (note signboard) leading to Teluk Lakei beach about 500 meters away. Though near, we couldn’t visit the beach as we were short on time.


This second part of our adventure proved to be very strenuous as the Limau trail moves over multiple hills big and small. Every hill we encountered I marked in my GPS. Looking at the topo map of the peninsula confirms my hill count; we had walked over multiple hills, more than 10, perhaps close to 20. Most were easy; short climbs and gentle slopes until we reached the last few which were particularly tough. We were certainly not helped by the fact that we were already quite sapped of energy. I was also quickly running out of water and kept looking at my GPS to see how far the next stream was. Every 100 meters felt like a kilometer!



The milestones are placed about 100 meters apart and we took about an hour to cover each kilometer.


Loss of water became a serious threat as all of us were sweating like crazy in the warm and humid jungle. As I stood still to enter a waypoint in my GPS unit, sweat would literally stream down my forehead as if I had a leaky water bag placed on my head! No exaggeration! My entire shirt was totally soaked and I must have wrung out more than a liter of sweat from my towel. And that’s just the water that was soaked up or wiped away from my brow, face and neck, not including water lost dripping off my back, chest and hands. So, chugging down water constantly and refilling at key spots with flowing water were critical to our accomplishment. Making several rest stops was also key to enabling us to continue without complications.



In some places, pieces of hardwood timber with foot notches hacked into them had been put in place to aid trekkers. These looked very old and blackened with age so we tested them for structural integrity before using them. The alternative was to ascend or descend by grabbing at tree roots or tree branches and perform some acrobatic acts to get through some tricky spots.


The profuse sweating really made me feel very uncomfortable. Not only did the sweat sting my eyes but it attracted a lot of bees which buzzed around me landing on my body, bag, hat, towel, hands or legs whenever I stopped for even a moment. To keep them at bay, I whipped out a bottle of mosquito repellent and sprayed my arms and legs.


The brand of mosquito repellent I used is “Mosiguard”. While quite effective against mosquitoes, it also contains ethanol, which is why it has a sticker on the bottle that reads “proven effective against leeches too!” No surprise there, stinging extracts and ethanol would be lethal to any leech and I can definitely confirm this cause I used it on a different trek and a light spray killed a leech within seconds! Fortunately, one of the best things about trekking in Bako is there are no leeches to worry about! Conditions are not suitable to those pesky blood suckers; the jungle is too dry on the peninsula which is surrounded by salty sea water on three sides.


Like the first half of our adventure, we moved through different forest types and ever changing landscapes but this time, we passed through more mixed dipterocarp jungle with tall giants. We also passed through some swampy areas with a species of Hanguana which I later found out to be new and undescribed. Also came across many fallen trees, some right across our paths, taking down smaller saplings and clearing the undergrowth where they fell.



Treated tap water (left bottle) compared with water from the small streams we encountered. The tea color is due to iron oxides and tannins. No earthy smell whatsoever. I drank about 3 liters of this refilled blackwater which I had treated with NaDCC purifying tablets the night before. No bad chlorine smell as the water was left to sit overnight. Tasted pretty nice and sweet actually. All natural minerals. :)



A swampy area with submerged Nepenthes mirabilis pitcher plants and a new, yet-to-be-described Hanguana species.



“Warts” on a rock wall. Probably iron deposits. Friends said this looks like a wall with burst pimples hahaha



Refilling water from the only clear-water stream we encountered, about 1.5 hours away from our destination. It is also the last stream encountered along the way before reaching Teluk Limau beach. By this point I was nearly out of water so I gladly filled up my empty bottles before moving on.



Unlike the other blackwater streams we crossed, this last one was crystal clear. I was so thirsty I had to drink within an hour of dropping in the purifying tablets so had to put up with the nasty chlorine taste and smell! The maker of the tablets (Oasis) boasts no Cl smell or taste on their website shortly after dropping in the tablets but that’s total marketing BS. Even without personally testing it in the field, common sense would tell you otherwise. Best to fill up your bottles and let the water sit for a few hours or pass it through a portable filter before consumption.



Climbing over fallen trees. All three of us took falls but nothing serious. Tiredness led to clumsiness and at one point, as I was trying to climb over a fallen tree trunk by first sitting on it, the weight of my bag and gravity pulled me swinging down, crashing back first into the ground. Thankfully my bag and its contents cushioned my fall and protected my head or it could have been ugly…



Nasty looking thorns on a rattan species. Large plants are easy to spot and avoid, however some species send our long spines with sharp hooks (to aid climbing) that easily snag onto unsuspecting trekkers. They can cause quite a nasty gash so watch out for them!



In a moment of clumsiness, I was snagged by a rattan spine full of back-turned hooks! A small piece became embedded in my palm just below my thumb; thought I had squeezed it out on the spot but the wound continued to itch and swell over the week and I eventually removed the tiny tip of a rattan hook from my flesh before the wound started healing again.


The jungle scenery along the way is really beautiful. Open grassy areas, kerangas forests, swamps, mixed-dipterocarp forests, palm forests and lowland jungle full of Pandanus plants, I’m still amazed at just how many jungle types we passed through walking this 13km trail. I think about the only type of plant missing (which is often found in other parts of Sarawak) is bamboo! Don’t recall seeing any or I may have missed them. Would have loved to do a bit of light exploring off trail in search of interesting things to photograph if I wasn’t so tired and pressed for time.



The color-coded trails in Bako are clearly marked. However, fallen trees found across some parts may sometimes obscure the markings so you do need to be trekking in good light to reduce the risk of getting lost. The trail pictured above passes through a wet, soggy area overgrown with Pandanus plants with serrated leave edges. Be prepared to have scratches and cuts on your legs if you trek in shorts.


After walking for about 4 hours, we finally reached the Teluk Kruin and Teluk Limau trail junction. There is a location map here with signs indicating remaining trail length to either beaches. No time for Teluk Kruin (which I visited on a separate trip a few weeks after this one) so we rested for a bit before making our way to Teluk Limau, 1.6km away.



The Teluk Kruin/Teluk Limau junction with location map and trail markers. Right path takes you on a most scenic route to Teluk Kruin, left trail continues on to Teluk Limau. Both bays (and beaches) are about an hour and a half away from this point.



Time for a quick snack, a nut and fruits energy bar. The raisins I brought along on the trek also proved very useful and replenished energy almost instantly. Remember to bring along some sweet stuff like chocolate bars or raisins to quickly replenish your blood sugar levels.


As we neared Teluk Limau, the forest type changed a few more times from mixed dipterocarp to kerangas to hill slope forest with palms and rattans to beach vegetation. Even though we were already very close to our destination, we made a couple more stops to drink and rest. That’s how tired we were!



Some amazing sights to be seen along the way to the beach - giant boulders resting on each other and big fig trees sending out ramifying roots across the rock walls.



Imagine our relief when we finally reached this point, just a hundred meters away from the beach! From here one could see the bay and the sea.


So after what seemed like 10 miles, we completed the remaining 3 mile trek from our campsite and reached our destination, Teluk Limau at 20 minutes past noon.


Our boatman was already there waiting under some shady trees and he was quite impressed with just how far we had walked. He told us he had never done that trail before himself and that many who attempted it failed and gave up half way. If I heard correctly, some even had to be picked up for the return journey back to HQ from Teluk Lakei, a beach located about an hour from where we set camp.


The feeling of accomplishment was greatly muted when we arrived at Limau because of fatigue but hearing what our boatman said made us feel a great sense of satisfaction! We were also the first three among our group of regular hiking friends to complete this trail and realizing this made us feel even more proud of what we had accomplished! Seriously, the park should consider handing out certificates to all those who complete this trail and return in one piece, haha!


Unfortunately, time was passing by quickly and as it approached 1:00pm, we had to leave Limau for Pulau Lakei (Lakei Island) to do a bit of exploring.


Our boatman who waited for about half an hour for us. The beach at Teluk Limau is strewn with driftwood of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, the tide and waves not only bring in natural debris, but human refuse are swept in as well. Discarded plastic bottles, shoes, flip flops, tin cans, glass bottles, food wrappers, medicine bottles, paper boxes and who knows what else litter the upper part of the beach.



The lower part of the beach is absolutely beautiful. The bay is shallow and the water is crystal clear. We didn’t have time to swim here unfortunately…



Getting into the boat for the short journey to Pulau Lakei north of Teluk Limau.



Goodbye, Teluk Lakei!!


So there you have it, the end of part 6. Going through the pictures again and reliving the experience through words has made me realize how much fun this trek really was. Minus the heavy load, it would probably have been one of the most amazing trails I've ever done (instead of being one of the toughest). Beautiful scenery left and right and so much to see!


Next part in this series will be about Pulau Lakei! Thanks for reading and hope ya’ll enjoyed this entry.


Photo gallery – click on thumbnail for larger size

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b@wee said...

Love the pictures and love the adventure.

Very inspiring.

sarawaklens said...

glad u enjoyed it. :)

langkau said...

nice story. just got back from teluk limau yesterday. this is my sixth time there but it still took us about 8hrs to walk the trail on saturday. we camped there for the night. the boat picked us up on sunday morning. :)

sarawaklens said...

@langkau, sixth time?? congrats!! went camping for two nights not too long ago. walked to kruin then limau, went back by boat.

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