A wasteland for your disposal.

The tide was low as the boat pushed up the coastline of the Bako National Park. Far off the distance, some 6.3 metres away was the entrance sign, where the king tides would reach every six hours. Guarding the coastline were hard, porous rock formation known as sandstones that is a making of 23 millions of years. As everyone made their way to the park headquarter, I stayed back a little waiting for Yusman to photograph the sandstones, as I played with the jelly-like mud mixed with sand. (What can I say, I like cheap thrills). I looked around me and thought to myself there is something unusual about this place. All I ever know of a national park is lush greens of a bloated jungle. Seeing the faces of the rock formations, I believe there is a lot more about the great outdoors that I still need to learn of.

We were barely in the park for an hour and already I hated the sun. Mind you, I have never done any serious outdoor trekking and would probably always not look forward to the ones to come. God knows what I will run into in the jungle, and I will always have this perpetuous fear of leeches. (Kind of not helping whenever you colleagues come back from the jungle complaining about their leech-bites). The sun was unkind that day and every move I made felt like a thousand tonnes, and already I was whining mentally to go back to the city.

I was barely paying attention as the tour guide stopped every once too often to talk about the vegetation lining the trail, and as the tourists in front blocked the path talking gazillion shots of the Proboscis Monkeys. All I could think about was the cosy bed in my city hotel room and how much more sleep I could help myself to if I were there.

Suddenly, the scenery around me changed. The ambiance fell off as the trees stopped their stroll with us down the trail. It was like the curtains opened and I was face with something beyond the cloth in front of me. The canopying trees opened up to a clearing and my breath was taken away. My thoughts of the city just disappeared as suddenly as the scene before me emerged.

The first thing I thought of was “The Blasted Lands”. Blame it on the book I was reading then: Stephen King’s The Talisman. It was like a wasteland that stretched for miles. Broken tree trunks littered the muddy ground and everything was flattened out to connect to the waters miles away. Bald fig trees stood like crooked soldiers further off on the trail saluting you with their fractured limbs. Roots planted unsteadily on the dry soil beneath, as if trying to drink from the pathetic stream in front of them. The hills behind the setting seemed rocky and about to tumble down on us due to the dry weather.

We set foot along the creaking boardwalk with nothing over our heads. The sun glared down on us, threatening to burn us flat like the land around us. Short shadows imprinted their blacks on the soil that is peppered with Fidelious Crabs, tinting the sand with their inappropriately striking blue, crawling about drunkenly with their oversized claw. Half of me was drowsy from the heat, but another half of me could not believe the sight in front of me. How could a piece of land like this exist in my side of the world?

While everyone was taking interest in the Proboscis Monkeys basking in the sun, I was staring about at the fig trees, as if it were from a bad nightmare and at any moment now, one was going to reach forward, grab me and tear me to pieces. There was an eerie atmosphere hanging around that I could not get enough of.

It was not so fun anymore when we return to the mangrove forest later in the afternoon. The tide came up and the army of fig trees finally had their dips of sea water. The wasteland was no more, water filling in the empty space that it was supposed to be. The place seemed more alive. Even the Long-tailed Macaques came out to play, stealing food from the boatmen’s lunchboxes and crossing path with us on the bridge as if it were a normal affair.

I found a favourite spot in Sarawak as I sat in one of the porches waiting for our boat to bring us back to the city. Well, at least a favourite spot thus far.

Although Bako National Park is one of the smallest in Sarawak, it is still one of the oldeest, and its treasures are abundant from what I have read about it. With its rainforest housing interesting flora and fauna, an extensive network of trekking trails leading to jungle streams and waterfalls, secluded beaches with a panoramic rocky shoreline… if Mother Nature were to seat herself on the coastline of Borneo, Bako would probably be her womb. What I have seen then was probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Perhaps, I thought, it was not so bad throwing myself in the wilderness like that. It would definitely be nice to return to Bako and try out one of their 18 trails and who knows, I might come out a converted.

Also seen on VM @ Travel Talk.

++
Bako National Park
Opens daily @ 8AM-5.15PM
National Parks Booking Office
Visitors Information Centre
Jalan Tun Abang Haji openg
93000 Kuching
Sarawak
Malaysia
T: +6 082 248 088
W: http://www.ebooking.com.my

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