Beauty of Nature

Beauty of Nature

Monday, April 2, 2012

Life-Changing Trip

(Bako National Park, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia)

Friday the 30th of March, 2012. The date that had been set up for the Park and Wildlife Management course trip for us Zoology students and other students who take this course as an elective course. Most of us have been there before, including me, we felt that there's nothing to be anticipated about in this trip. I was wrong. There's always something unpredictable going on. We went there by boat and arrived there at 11 am. On the way to the Bako National Park (Bako NP) Headquaters, I took a chance to observe some birds along the way which I spotted some Oriental Magpie Robins, a bird which may be a bulbul sp. and an egret along the coastal area. After briefing and took the hostel keys, we went to our rooms, washed up, pray and went to the cafeteria. Our major assignments were to conduct a survey about Proboscis Monkey and about the national park. So, we had to approach the tourists, better if they are foreigners, to begin the interview. I was like,"Oh God... please let it be one or two tourists that have never been interviewed by my friends." Haiyoo.. You know what, most of them had been interviewed. I was very dispirited and very down. Then, to ease my troubled mind I went for a short walk towards the jetty when a number of foreigners were looking upwards. I was curious so I looked up too. Then, I saw a Proboscis Monkey up close. It was just too awesome. Everyone was very quiet to not scare it away. After that, it was time to return to the cafeteria for the next activity. Dr Azlan Jayasilan (our course lecturer) wanted us to walk and observe what we can see along the trail from Bako NP Headquaters to the Jetty. It was 6.20pm. It was almost dusk and most birds were along their way home. My personal assignment there was to do birding. I was very excited as to what species of birds I would see there. Along the way, we saw a curlew (a migrant bird), a White-collared Kingfisher and I saw many swallows flying above us. That night, we were to discuss what we had observed during the walk. The pros, cons and recommendations or suggestions for the national park. It was a nice discussion with a tinge of humour mostly from Dr Azlan. LOL It was nice to know I could still laugh despite of my disappointment of not getting any interview from the tourists. I said to myself, "It's alright. There's still tomorrow. Do not lose hope. Be strong and you'll be alright." 
Upon Arrival at the Jetty

Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus)

Short Walk from Bako NP HQ to the Jetty

Discussion of our Observation during the Short Walk

The next day agenda was to go trekking along the Lintang Trail to Serait Trail and to the border or boundary of Bako NP. In the morning, we went to the HQ and waited for the lecturers, Zoology staffs and Park rangers to arrive. Other animals started to arrive too. The most abundant animals at Bako NP are the Long-tailed Macaque (kera) and the Bearded Pig (babi hutan). Yeah... If you've seen goats walking around in the village like it's a normal sight, the pigs were just like that. It was normal to see them walking about the national park. They're just foraging for food so it's best to just ignore them. There was once a pig so big I'm so sure it was the leader of the pack. It did nothing, just looking for food (thank God). Then, it was time to go for the trekking. The trails' difficulty was moderate, as said by Dr Azlan and he was right. So, we walked until the border or the boundary of Bako NP. We sat there, waiting for the arrival of the other teams. We took pictures, rested, talked, wrote notes, ate some crackers and chocolates for energy and joked around. After a few minutes, all of us were at the border and Dr Azlan wanted us to experience and observe the forest outside the boundary of Bako NP. The forest was logged a bit because there were gaps in the forest and some tree logs blocked our way inside. It was rather difficult and I accidentally cut my finger. Then, we sat down at a bit of a clearing with small plants around to listen to a briefing by Dr Azlan. After that, it was time to go back. On my way back, a small family of Long-tailed Macaques blocked the trail and we could not pass through. So, I just went around them carefully. It was a good thing that they did not come close to us. If that happened, marathon time. Hahaha! I went back to the hostel for a quick wash and pray. Then, it was time to go back to HQ as the Park Warden was already waiting for us. He talked about the history of Bako NP and showed us many pictures of wildlife on the presentation slides. Then, it was our turn to do the presentation. I had prepared but it was not properly prepared since we did not bring any laptops to do a slide presentation and no big size paper to write anything. I was the presenter and I felt it was the worst presentation ever. The time to prepare for the presentation was quite short and I couldn't talk properly because of my own silly nervousness. I could see Dr Azlan was covering his head and shaking his head of disapproval and disappointment. I was extremely disappointed. I was disappointed that I was not properly prepared, I was disappointed I could not explained properly and I was disappointed to see a disappointed Dr Azlan because of my own predicament in front of the lecturers, staffs, my friends and especially the Park Warden. After everyone left the room, I went to the Park Warden and apologized for my simple presentation with my improper explanation. He said, "No, no. It was good that you shared this with us. This is a part of a learning process and you did well. We need to know what students think of the national park and how we can improve it and share the idea at the same time. We need future generations to be able to think. It was nothing. Thank you for sharing." When he said that, I felt relieved that I could not control my tears. I think he noticed this that he said something like that. But, I could not deny the breaking of my heart when I saw Dr Azlan's face during the presentation. First, I was mad at him but then it was my fault so he did the right thing. By his actions, I knew that I did many mistakes and from there, I can learn from my own mistakes. Let my weaknesses become my strengths in the future undertakings. I am very sorry Dr Azlan, please forgive me for my own lack of preparation and quality during the presentation. After that, we went out and Dr Azlan told us there will be a night walk that night. Awesome!!! XD I could not wait. I went back to the hostel to pray and prepare myself to go to the surau for Solat Maghrib Berjemaah. After praying, I went to the cafeteria to try my luck with the tourists for the interview. I got two interviewers! XD I was very happy! Most of them have been interviewed and I got two. They're from France and they came to Bako NP to see the rainforest and the wildlife. I expected myself to get 5 interviewers but as I asked them, most of them had been interviewed. Some of them did not want to be interviewed so it's better not to ask any more. After that, a quick dinner and night walk time! We went to the jetty and watched fireflies on the mangrove trees. It was an amazing sight! It looked like Christmas or Hari Raya Aidlifitri came early this year with the blinking lights on the trees (can't get a picture of it since it's too dark to see the small lights in the camera). I expected myself to see an owl or a flying one but to no avail. Then, we went to the beach to see small crustaceans on the beach at night. We found a small number of hermit crabs walking, sand dollars and sea-shells. It was very fun since we walked together, laughed, talked, took pictures in the dark and played pranks on each other. It was ecstatic. After that, it was almost 10pm and we were told to go back so we went back, had a briefing from Dr Azlan and a quick discussion among ourselves about our trekking through the trails in the morning, the talk from the Park Warden and the night walk. Then, it was over and we went back to the hostel. 

Bearded Pig (Sus barbatus)

Team 4!! (I do look a bit fatzz.. XD)

Resting at the Border of Bako NP

Briefing by Dr Azlan at the Forest outside Bako NP (Dr Azlan is somewhere behind the leaves, couldn't capture a better picture)

Presentation by Me and My friend, Panimalar

The final day, 1st of April 2012. The agenda for the day was to clean up the beach from the rubbish and marine debris. We were divided into two groups: one would be going towards the cave part and the other would be going towards the jetty. I went for the jetty. You wouldn't believe how much trash, rubbish or garbage and marine debris we've thrown away until there were not enough trash bags. We were told to go back to the hostel first to finish-up packing. On the way, I saw a Common Iora (bird) on top of the tree flying from one branch to the other. Cool... After that, we cleaned up the room and went to the HQ for more details about the unfinished job at the beach. More trash bags were given and we went back to the places where we collected the trashes that will be thrown. There were too much that help arrived with a big trolley. Then, we walked back to the HQ for the closing ceremony. There were lots of negative but character-building and improvements from the lecturers and staffs. Some of the Committee Members (AJK) talked about how there were not enough communication among students and staffs, among AJK members and students, lack of co-operation and et cetera. Although it turned out this way, I felt like I have to improve myself more and from the bottom of my heart, I thank the Committee Members, lecturers (Dr Azlan Jayasilan, En Abbas Said and Miss Ratnawati), the Zoology staffs (Abg Wahap, Abg Huzal, Abg Jai and Abg Nas), Park Rangers of Bako NP and also the Park Warden, En. Abang Abdul Mutalib Abang Tajudin and many thanks to my dear Zoology and other department friends. :) You guys are the best! I had a great time. 

On the way back to the Bako National Park Jetty at Kg. Bako, I saw a White-bellied Sea Eagle soared quite low above us, a number of swallows flying low and a number of sea otters swimming nearby among the mangrove trees. It was a nice boat trip because 'Pak Cik' (the one steered the boat) was willingly slowed down and stopped the boat so that we could see the sea otters and for me, captured the White-bellied Sea Eagle picture. Since I only used a Nikon S2600 and not a DSLR, I could not capture a clear picture. (You can see the picture in this blog entitled "Soaring High"). 

All in all, it was quite a Life-Changing Trip. It taught me so much and I was be able to learn and find the solutions to my problems. I am entirely grateful to Allah SWT for giving me the chance to see His creations and the beauty of nature and a variety of wildlife. Subhanallah... :)

Cleaning the Beach

Goodbye Bako NP