Saturday, 21 April 2012

Trapped in Kota Kinabalu April 20th 2012

Trapped at Kota Kinabalu wetlands

Signal Hill viewpoint looks to be about 800 feet up, using a pilots eye for judgement, enough for a reasonable 180 degree elevated view of the surrounds. Well, it's far to soon for base, so I might as well see what's further along, and the road seems to climb a bit more too. It does, but not for long and in just a few yards starts a gentle meander downwards. Thick vegetation both sides and the occasional colourful bird appears, and disappears with haste. A sign indicates 'bird sanctuary ahead', doesn't say how far though, but it's a good enough reason to keep hiking in this direction, and it's downhill. A nice view across jungle, this time looking towards the mountains and Kinabalu Park. Some 'not previously spotted' flowers around here too, as the camera gets to work. Dark clouds on the horizon, afternoon rains on the way looks like. It always seems to rain between 3.30 and 5.45, if it doesn't then it probably won't at all.

A sign,  "Kinabalu Wetlands and Birds"' it says. This must be the bird sanctuary then, worth a look perhaps, see how much it costs first!  A treelined driveway, plenty of car parking, but no cars, no activity of any kind. It's 15 Rm, plush another 2 RM deposit for the pass badge. Sign the register, and I need to give my passport number. I hope I get to see something rather good for 3 quid.

It's a board walk through a mangrove swamp, and the birds to be seen are mainly herons, egrets and others that like to poke around in mud and methane! Prepared for an onslaught of mossies as the shirt collar rises and sleeves rolled back down - I wouldn't come here wearing shorts and sandals!, not that I do anyway, it's not really that hot anywhere in Malaysia. Plenty of crabs, red ones, blue ones and others. A rather wired little creature skipping across the mud, it's like a giant tadpole, could be a species of fish - for now, it's a mud skipper. Plenty of herons, the speciality being purple herons that like to breed in this place, but all to far for a decent photo. Plenty of things crawling around in, and on the mud as methane gas frequently explodes, well actually it just pops, but I wouldn't light a ciggy around here, that's for sure. Plenty of things in the water too, garbage sadly. Tourist garbage is visible, from cans to plastic bags, even a shoe. Haven't actually seen any mosquitoes yet, but plenty of those giant ants of the red variety - reminds me of a movie about giant ants, about 1980 I think.

Huts are available at frequent intervals, an ideal shelter from frequent showers. Actually, the showers are cooling things down significantly so I mustn't grumble! An observation tower along this part of the walk, about 200 ft up and since it's raining a little harder now, an ideal time to try it out, as it's all undercover. A nice view across the tree tops and a plan view of the mangrove trees below. A few birds, mostly herons, swallows and black starlings, all to far away for my little inadequate camera. Thunder, lightening and a downpour - trapped, 200 feet above a jungle. Rains and rains quite vigorously across the place. Nothing to do but sit it out and hope the lightening doesn't hit the tower - could be tricky if that happened! Thankfully it doesn't and I can continue, although the last 30 minutes was somewhat interesting, nature unleashed one could say. The board walk turns into a muddy track although a sign describes it as a gravel path! Anyway, little choice but to roll up the trousers, and try not to slip in the mud. Surprisingly firm actually, and in parts there is a little bit of gravel, even a couple of logs to balance on. Back at the reception then and all in one piece. An interesting hour or so, and with  good camera kit, some quite nice photographic spots can be utilised to their full potential, along with a little patience of course. don't forget though, lighting up that ciggy, might be the last!

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